The best historical fiction featuring feisty and fearless females

Who am I?

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.

The books I picked & why

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The Good Wife of Bath

By Karen Brooks,

Book cover of The Good Wife of Bath

Why 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.

The Good Wife of Bath

By Karen Brooks,

Why should I read it?

2 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…


Summer of Monsters: The Scandalous Story of Mary Shelley

By Tony Thompson,

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

Why 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. 

Summer of Monsters: The Scandalous Story of Mary Shelley

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.


March

By Geraldine Brooks,

Book cover of March

Why 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. 

March

By Geraldine Brooks,

Why should I read it?

2 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,…

The English Patient

By Michael Ondaatje,

Book cover of The English Patient

Why 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. 

The English Patient

By Michael Ondaatje,

Why should I read it?

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


Manhattan Beach

By Jennifer Egan,

Book cover of Manhattan Beach

Why 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.

Manhattan Beach

By Jennifer Egan,

Why should I read it?

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


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in World War 2, Irish Americans, and war?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about World War 2, Irish Americans, and war.

World War 2 Explore 1045 books about World War 2
Irish Americans Explore 17 books about Irish Americans
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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