The best historical fiction books to open your heart as well as your mind

Who am I?

I am an Amazon Best-Selling author, playwright, songwriter, American-born daughter of immigrants, and mom to two amazing sons. What inspires me to write are untold stories of hope, heroism, and humanity that I, too, hope to share with the world. Personally, I knew from the time I first began hearing my grandparents’ stories of their lives in Germany and Czechoslovakia during WWII, how important it was to preserve them for future generations. With that in mind – their tribulations and refusal to allow what they endured to dominate their lives for the rest of their days – I became determined to ensure that what my grandparents had experienced would not be forgotten.


I wrote...

Roses in a Forbidden Garden; A Holocaust Love Story

By Elise Garibaldi,

Book cover of Roses in a Forbidden Garden; A Holocaust Love Story

What is my book about?

Amidst the unspeakable horrors of Hitler’s Concentration Camps, a young German girl finds beauty and love for a man that will span a lifetime. This story is the true account of Inge Katz; the striking daughter of a successful businessman who meets and falls in love with a handsome fellow inmate. But when he gets shipped “Out East” to a Death Camp, she goes years not knowing if he is alive or dead. Her love for this man endures against all odds – from Nazi rifles to starvation, to disease, to assaults of allied fire. But as time passes without word or confirmation of his survival, should she remain loyal, or, as everyone suggests, move on with another?

Garibaldi reveals her grandmother’s most intimate feelings during those terrible times.

The books I picked & why

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The Red Tent

By Anita Diamant,

Book cover of The Red Tent

Why this book?

This interpretation of the Biblical story of Dinah is beautifully written in the first-person perspective. It exquisitely and vividly invokes a lost and fascinating ancient world. I particularly enjoy Diamant’s depiction and celebration of the love between mothers and daughters, all while honoring the resilience and resolve of the female spirit.


The Joy Luck Club

By Amy Tan,

Book cover of The Joy Luck Club

Why this book?

An intricately written, and profoundly conveyed, multi-generational story that explores the complex yet loving relationships between mothers and their daughters. The author enchantingly weaves tales of four different women and their struggles in China with the modern lives of their American-born daughters. The way Tan delves into cultural conflict through the generations, and eventually has the characters evolve into more appreciation and kindness, thereby strengthening their familial bonds, really resonates with me and my experiences writing my book with my grandmother.


The Girl with a Pearl Earring

By Tracy Chevalier,

Book cover of The Girl with a Pearl Earring

Why this book?

Chevalier transports her readers to a bygone time and place of art, inspiration, and sensuality. This is the story of the young subject of famed painter, Johannes Vermeer’s, most famous portrait. The book offers the reader a little slice of what life was like in Delft, Holland in the 1600s, and offers a very thoughtful perspective on the very flawed, complex, and human characters and relationships through the eyes of an insightful and intelligent 16-year-old girl.


Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies

By Laura Esquivel,

Book cover of Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies

Why this book?

A classic, bitter-sweet love story taking place in turn-of-the-century Mexico. Tita, the youngest daughter on the De la Garza Ranch, grows up to be a master chef. Through whimsy, wit, and a dash of magic, she expresses her heartaches, hopes, and dreams, through her dishes. Esquivel takes us on a journey that is both meaningful, emotional, and heartfelt, as Tita discovers her worth, strength, and passion for life and love. Emotionally, this book can be a challenging read, but perhaps that bit of realism is what resonates with me so profoundly.


River God

By Wilbur Smith,

Book cover of River God

Why this book?

We follow the slave, Taita, an expert in art, poetry, medicine, and engineering after he is commanded to look after a young princess married off to the Pharoah. Smith’s portrayal of ancient Egypt during the era of the pharaohs will enthrall you, all while weaving a heart-racing tale of bravery, heroism, revenge, and love. I particularly had a fondness for the faithful and affectionate friendship he had with the Queen all throughout her life.


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