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Top Hist Fic Picks for May 2023

By Linda Ulleseit
May 5, 2023

May is all about spring flowers and, for me, Mother’s Day. It’s the month when the weather once more allows outdoor activities, and the garden is the place to be! May was named for the goddess Maia, and in the more recent past, May 1 was May Day, celebrated with a maypole dance. This year, May brings a garden of beautiful historical fiction.

 

BEST COVER

The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese (May 2)

“A literary landmark, a monumental treatment of family and country, as sprawling in scope as Edna Ferber’s Giant . . . Writing with compassion and insight, Verghese creates distinct characters in Dickensian profusion, and his language is striking; even graphic descriptions of medical procedures are beautifully wrought. Throughout, there are joy, courage, and devotion, as well as tragedy; always there is water, the covenant that links all.”—Library Journal (starred review)

The soft reds and blues on this cover drew my eye immediately, and the title wouldn’t let me go. Set in the first 75 years of the 20th century on India’s Malabar Coast, this novel follows three generations of a family where one person in each generation drowns. A vividly told tale with wonderful characters.

BEST TITLE

Dulcinea by Ana Veciana-Suarez (May 2)

“A feminist reclamation of Don Quixote’s Dulcinea that explores what happens when the woman who inspired the character is able to confront the writer.” –Kirkus Reviews

The title spoke to me immediately. Dulcinea is the unseen perfect woman in Cervantes’ Don Quixote. This book is an opportunity to imagine what this paragon of femininity might actually be like if she were to exist. The novel explores her flirtation with Cervantes and her later confrontation with him.

MOST INTRIGUING

Silent Came the Monster by Amy Hill Hearth (May 16)

“A mere five words into this gripping story I could hear the thrum of the Jaws music inside my head. Based on real-life events, Amy Hill Hearth captures two weeks of terror in an age of innocence. A riveting tale. Be bold–make it your beach read.” — Marshall Karp, #1 New York Times bestselling author

There’s a wonderful cover on this one, and a great title, too. It’s a novelised account of the actual shark attacks on the New Jersey shore in 1916. Something that comes out of the hidden depths of the ocean to attack is pretty scary, so we’ve learned to be terrified of sharks. Dr. Halsey is an expert, though, and doesn’t believe it’s a shark. Local people have different theories, too. It will prove to be an intriguing tale.

MOST ANTICIPATED

The Emerald Necklace by Linda Rosen (May 11)

“Conflicts, hot topics, and the power of friendship are front and center in this engaging historical novel.” -Sublime Book Review

A struggling artist and her neighbor, an accomplished author, are at the center of this novel. The artist takes joy in her grandchildren, and the author, who has no children, is envious. In addition, the author can’t hide her fascination with the artist’s emerald necklace. Will they put aside their mutual jealousy to share the story of the necklace?

 

WORLD WAR II

The Secret World of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry (May 2)

The Paris Deception by Bryn Turnbull (May 30)

Good Night, Irene by Luis Alberto Urrea (May 30)

The Midnight News by Jo Baker (May 2)

Dawn of Hope by D. R. Bailey (May 9)

The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece by Tom Hanks (May 9)

BIOGRAPHICAL

The East Indian by Brinda Charry (May 2)

Such Good Friends: A Novel of Truman Capote & Lee Radziwill by Stephen Greco (May23)

The Tiffany Girls by Shelley Noble (May 9)

The Old Lion by Jeff Shaara (May 16)

20TH CENTURY

The Seeing Garden by Ginny Kubitz Moyer (May 9)

The Light at the End of the World by Siddhartha Deb (May 30)

The Lock-up by John Banville (May 23)

THRILLER/MYSTERY

The Bride Wore White by Amanda Quick (May 2)

A Novel Disguise by Samantha Larsen (May 16)

The Big Sugar by Mary Logue (May 23)

The Nightingale Affair by Tim Mason (May 9)

Citizen Orlov by Jonathan Payne (May 23)

A Thief’s Justice by Douglas Skelton (May 18)

WOMEN’S

Can’t I Go Instead by Lee Geum-yi (May 2) (Asian)

I am Ayah: The Way Home by Donna Hill (African-American) (May 23)

Blotto, Twinks, and the Conquistador’s Gold by Simon Brett (May 25)

Swan Light by Phoebe Rowe (May 1)

La Tercera by Gina Apostol (May 2)

In the Hands of Women by Jane Loeb Rubin

LGBTQ+

The Disenchantment by Celia Bell (May 16)

Atlas: the Story of Pa Salt by Lucinda Riley & Harry Whittaker (May 11)

An Island Princess Starts a Scandal by Adriana Herrera (May 30)

FAMILY

History of Burning by Janika Oza (May 2)

To Die Beautiful by Buzzy Jackson (May 2)

Hula by Jasmine Iolani Hakes (May 2)

Incident at San Miguel by A. J. Sidransky (May 19)

ANCIENT

In Feast or Famine by Mesu Andrews (May 9)

The Poisoner’s Ring by Kelly Armstrong (May 23) (dual timeline)

ROMANCE

The Heart’s Choice by Tracie Peterson May 16)

Queen Charlotte by Julia Quinn (May 9)

An Exquisite Sense of What is Beautiful by J. David Simons (May 9)

The Dueling Duchess by Minerva Spencer (May 23)

 

Need more books on your TBR? See more new release titles at Historical Novel Society.

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Linda Ulleseit

Written by Linda Ulleseit

Linda Ulleseit writes award-winning heritage fiction set in the United States. She is a member of Historical Novel Society, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Women Writing the West as well as a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. Get in touch with her on Instagram (lulleseit) and Facebook (Linda Ulleseit or SHINE with Paper Lantern Writers).

View Linda’s PLW Profile

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