4 New Historical Fiction Novels That Reinvent Real-Life Characters You’ll Know Best

The last daughter of York

by Nicola Cornick

Graydon House, 368 pages, $21.99

Based on the mystery of what happened to the princes of York in the Tower of London during the reign of Richard III and an arrowhead that seems to have “miraculous power beyond man’s wildest imaginations”, this dual narrative cleverly switches between Oxfordshire in 2020 and Yorkshire. in the late 1400s.

For 11 years, Serena Warren has been haunted by the disappearance of her twin sister Caitlin, so when police identify her remains at Minster Lovell, where the girls spent their childhood summers with their paternal grandparents, she is both relieved and heartbroken. again.

Francis Lovell, betrothed to Anne Neville as children in 1465, becomes Richard III’s right-hand man. Through a magical lodestone, his legacy is connected to the Burrows five centuries later.

Fans of Josephine Tey’s “The Daughter of Time” will be eager to read this vibrant reimagining of the end of the Plantagenet line.

a beautiful spy

By Rachel Hore

Simon and Schuster, 432 pages, $22.00

At a provincial garden party in 1928, Minnie Gray meets the glamorous Dolly Pyle, an independent woman who enjoys her freedom too much “to leave it for any man.” Dolly tells Minnie that she plans to recommend her to her boss, but it is another three years before Minnie receives a cryptic letter that leads her to be hired by Section M of British intelligence.

Minnie, now known by the codename M12, is tasked by her handler, Captain Maxwell King, to infiltrate the Friends of the Soviet Union, a communist network in London, by volunteering as a typist; meanwhile, he investigates her extremist behavior during most of the 1930s. Hidden in plain sight, Minnie’s contribution is part of the long intelligence game, one that ultimately sees her testify as “Miss X,” the main witness, in a 1938 trial.

Leading a double life comes with its own unique pressures, as Minnie struggles with conflicting emotions and personal sacrifices to do what she believes is her duty to her country.

Based on the life and works of spy Olga Gray, the fearless and scheming Minnie Gray is a heroine who will have you rooting for her from start to finish.

The Paris Bookseller, by Kerri Maher, Berkley, 336 pages, $35.00

the bookseller of paris

By Kerri Maher

Berkley, 336 pages, $35.00

This fictional portrait of the legendary owner of Shakespeare and Company, Sylvia Beach, is a literary stroll along Paris’s Left Bank from 1919 to 1936, featuring the expatriate writers whose work she championed, including Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and especially James Joyce. .

In 1919, Beach’s mistress, Adrienne Monnier, owner of “La Maison des Amis des Livres”, helps her secure a space to open her English-language bookstore and lending library in an old laundry not far from rue de l’ Odéon where he will move. A few years later. As talismans, Sylvia frames precious pages of Whitman’s poetry, as well as drawings by William Blake. Enjoying the spoils of peace, writers and patrons gather there for “literature, conversation, friendship, debate.”

When an excerpt from James Joyce’s “Ulysses” appears in an American magazine and his work is banned, Beach decides to publish it for his 40th birthday in 1922, rightly noting that “censorship is not proportional to democracy. Or the art. 1,000 copies of the first edition are reserved by such luminaries as TS Eliot, WB Yeats, and Winston Churchill.

A charming vision of the historical lost generation through the feminine gaze of a woman who embraced the progressive literature of her time.

Learwife, by JR Thorp, Pegasus Books, 336 pages, $34.95

learning wife

By J.R. Thorp

Pegasus Books, 336 pages, $34.95

From the absence of Shakespeare, Thorp has created an iron presence in this surprising debut that is both a poetic ode to pain and the story of one of the most famous characters written in literary history: King Lear’s wife who he never appears in the play, his story told. on your own terms.

A messenger brings the news to the convent where the queen has been exiled for an unknown crime for fifteen years: King Lear is dead and so are his three daughters Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. In the weeks that follow, she looks back on her life with her first husband and her early years with Lear and wonders what happened to Kent, her ally who knew them all. She misses the Fool who “pierced her wits like a spear” and acknowledges that she must “survive their deaths in order to remake” herself.

The queen’s grief is riddled with rage and “demands space, desert. Or else it will break the earth.” It’s a “kind of snow blindness, snow deafness”, a touching nothingness. The narrative leads to his perfect ending, his unforgettable voice, and his name reclaimed from the void.

Janet Somerville is the author of “Yours, for Probably Always: Martha Gellhorn’s Letters of Love & War 1930-1949,” available now on audio, read by Ellen Barkin.


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