The best historical fiction featuring feisty and fearless females

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion is for writing stories about strong women. Most of my favourite characters in literature are strong women—Jo March, Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Eyre. It's their intelligence, and spirit that hooks me. Even when they're misguided or confronting overwhelming odds, they pull themselves back from the brink to begin on a slightly altered path to achieve their purpose. It's the heroine’s journey that draws me into a novel, and it's her journey I wish to describe in my own books. Unfortunately, studying history has shown me there's still a long way women need to travel in the journey towards gender equity. Let’s hope these characters can teach us all something.


I wrote...

The Hummingbird and the Sea

By Jenny Bond,

Book cover of The Hummingbird and the Sea

What is my book about?

Set in 1717, Book 1 of The Dawnland Chronicles tells the story of four people whose lives are inexorably linked when an enigmatic Englishman seeks shelter in the small, Puritan enclave of Eastham, Massachusetts. His brief presence upsets the balance of the close-knit town and sets in motion a series of events that overturns lives and forces even the most constant and devout to rebel against everything they hold sacred. Loyalties are tested and families are divided as individuals battle to deliver themselves from hardship, prejudice, and injustice.

Based on a true story of Puritans and pirates, The Hummingbird and the Sea is a powerful tale of love, faith, hidden passions, and the eternal search for freedom.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Good Wife of Bath

Jenny Bond Why did I love this book?

This is quite possibly the funniest book I have ever read. I recommend it for that reason. It will have you laughing out loud. Brooks gives Chaucer’s larger-than-life, serial monogamist an opportunity to tell her side of the story. And fair enough! Created by Geoffrey Chaucer for The Canterbury Tales in 1392, the Wife of Bath is literature’s first feminist hero. The outspoken and exuberant Alyson (the wife’s real name) suffers immeasurably—physically, emotionally, and financially—at the hands of the men she chooses to marry, yet she never loses her self-respect and humour. Likewise, she is never broken, despite her husbands' best efforts to tame her.

By Karen Brooks,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Good Wife of Bath as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A provocative, immersive medieval novel starring one of literature's most unforgettable characters in her own words-Chaucer's bold and libidinous Wife of Bath.

"So damned readable and fun...This is the story of a woman fighting for her rights; it breaches the walls of history."--The Australian

In the middle ages, a famous poet told a story that mocked a strong woman. It became a literary classic. But what if the woman in question had a chance to tell her own version?

England, 1364: When married off at aged twelve to an elderly farmer, brazen redheaded Eleanor quickly realizes it won't matter what…


Book cover of Summer of Monsters: The Scandalous Story of Mary Shelley

Jenny Bond Why did I love this book?

Thompson’s novel is another story about strong, intelligent, and powerful women who are manipulated and used by men. There have been numerous retellings of the birth of Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein. The fact that it occurred on a dark and stormy night is literary folklore. However, Thompson’s tale is the first time it has been told for a YA audience and he puts a wicked spin on the well-known origin story. This appealed to me as an English teacher. The characters—Mary, the poet Shelley, Claire Clairmont, and Lord Byron—are given a contemporary vibe. Mary is a lonely and moody teenager, swept off her feet by Shelley who is characterised as the 19th century’s version of a brooding and insatiable rock star, part Mick Jagger and part Nick Cave. 

By Tony Thompson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Summer of Monsters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mary's life began in shadow. Unwanted and overlooked, her desire was to make something of her existence. So how would meeting a young poet change her path forever? Scandal. Passion. Desire. Mary's choices were clear - but would she ever be free of her loneliness? Tony Thompson's enthralling novel explores Mary Shelley's early life and the famous summer she spent with Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, John Polidori and her stepsister Claire Clairmont, which inspired her iconic novel Frankenstein.


Book cover of March

Jenny Bond Why did I love this book?

Brooks’ novel won the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 2006. But it’s not the award that first attracted my attention to this Civil War novel. It was the strong connection to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. March tells the story of the March sisters’ absent father, who the reader meets only briefly in Alcott’s novel. What most drew me into the book was the character of Marmee, the beloved wife and mother in Alcott’s tale. Brooks’ backstory presents her as a passionate and sensual woman with a fiery temper. At times she must be restrained physically when her ire is raised! She is strong and forthright with progressive views, and it is she who holds the March family together while Mr. March is away. 

By Geraldine Brooks,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked March as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the acclaimed YEAR OF WONDERS, a historical novel and love story set during a time of catastrophe, on the front lines of the American Civil War. Set during the American Civil War, MARCH tells the story of John March, known to us as the father away from his family of girls in LITTLE WOMEN, Louisa May Alcott's classic American novel. In Brooks' telling, March emerges as an abolitionist and idealistic chaplain on the front lines of a war that tests his faith in himself and in the Union cause when he learns that his side, too,…


Book cover of The English Patient

Jenny Bond Why did I love this book?

I first read Ondaatje’s WW2 novel when it won the Booker Prize in 1992. I hated it. "Booker Prize, schmooker prize," I cried. I was at university studying English literature and I believed I knew more than the Booker judges. I didn’t connect with any of the characters, especially the title character. He was too enigmatic to be sympathetic. Having recently reread it (the same copy, actually) the story has taken on new life. It's interesting how one's perception can evolve and change with age and experience. It is Hana who resonates with me, and I now view the novel as her story, a coming-of-age story, despite the title. Ondaatje tells her story subtly and beautifully, perhaps in a way that is only possible from a male author. 

By Michael Ondaatje,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The English Patient as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hana, a Canadian nurse, exhausted by death, and grieving for her own dead father; the maimed thief-turned-Allied-agent, Caravaggio; Kip, the emotionally detached Indian sapper - each is haunted in different ways by the man they know only as the English patient, a nameless burn victim who lies in an upstairs room. His extraordinary knowledge and morphine-induced memories - of the North African desert, of explorers and tribes, of history and cartography; and also of forbidden love, suffering and betrayal - illuminate the story, and leave all the characters for ever changed.


Book cover of Manhattan Beach

Jenny Bond Why did I love this book?

Another WW2 story, this is the first Jennifer Egan novel I read, and I can’t remember why I pulled it from the shelf in the bookstore. Nevertheless, the noir tale of a young woman, Anna Kerrigan, working at a Brooklyn Navy Yard who "longs to walk along the bottom of the sea" had me hooked from that line. It is, in fact, something I once attempted as a child, weighing myself down with my father’s diving weights. I wasn’t successful, but I understand the longing to be underwater rather than above. I never achieved my dream, but Anna does. She becomes the only female navy diver, taking on the dangerous wartime role of repairing ships below the water line. It’s her guts and determination that drive the novel forward and she has so much to teach young, contemporary women.

By Jennifer Egan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Manhattan Beach as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A New York Times Notable Book

Winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction

The daring and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author.

Named One of the Best Books of the Year by NPR, Esquire, Vogue, The Washington Post, The Guardian, USA TODAY, and Time

Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.…


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Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

By Patrick G. Cox, Janet Angelo (editor),

Book cover of Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

Patrick G. Cox Author Of Ned Farrier Master Mariner: Call of the Cape

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

On the expertise I claim only a deep interest in history, leadership, and social history. After some thirty-six years in the fire and emergency services I can, I think, claim to have seen the best and the worst of human behaviour and condition. History, particularly naval history, has always been one of my interests and the Battle of Jutland is a truly fascinating study in the importance of communication between the leader and every level between him/her and the people performing whatever task is required.  In my own career, on a very much smaller scale, this is a lesson every officer learns very quickly.

Patrick's book list on the Battle of Jutland

What is my book about?

Captain Heron finds himself embroiled in a conflict that threatens to bring down the world order he is sworn to defend when a secretive Consortium seeks to undermine the World Treaty Organisation and the democracies it represents as he oversees the building and commissioning of a new starship.

When the Consortium employs an assassin from the Pantheon, it becomes personal.

Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

By Patrick G. Cox, Janet Angelo (editor),

What is this book about?

The year is 2202, and the recently widowed Captain James Heron is appointed to stand by his next command, the starship NECS Vanguard, while she is being built. He and his team soon discover that they are battling the Consortium, a shadowy corporate group that seeks to steal the specs for the ship’s new super weapon. The Consortium hires the Pantheon, a mysterious espionage agency, to do their dirty work as they lay plans to take down the Fleet and gain supreme power on an intergalactic scale. When Pantheon Agent Bast and her team kidnap Felicity Rowanberg, a Fleet agent…


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