The best historical fiction inspired by heroic women from around the world

Why am I passionate about this?

As a native Oregonian of Polish descent, I was born in the small town of Sweet Home, Oregon. After finishing high school, I moved to Portland where I graduated from Lewis and Clark College with a Master’s degree in psychology. I spent twelve years as a psychotherapist, publishing over a dozen articles. After joining a writing group and trying my hand at fiction, my stories, articles, and poems have been published in magazines and newspapers—including Sarasota Herald-Tribune, The Oregonian, Catholic Sentinel, Dziennik Związkowy, and The Polish American Journal. My debut novel, Victoria’s War, won CIBA’s Hemingway Award for 20th Century Wartime Fiction and was #1 Best Seller on Amazon Kindle Unlimited in German Historical Fiction.


I wrote...

Victoria's War

By Catherine A. Hamilton,

Book cover of Victoria's War

What is my book about?

Inspired by real-life events, my debut novel is about two women—Victoria Darski, a nineteen-year-old Polish Catholic woman sold into slavery during the Nazi occupation of Europe, and Etta Tod, the 20-year-old daughter of a German baker who buys Victoria at auction in Berlin. The lives of Victoria and Etta parallel, and then collide inside the bakery attic where Victoria is held—the same place where Etta has hidden her anti-Nazi paintings and drawings. The two women form a quick and enduring bond, but when they’re caught stealing bread from the bakery, and smuggling it to a nearby work camp, everything changes.

This is a story of the largest, most secretive wartime slave operation during WWII—a story that hasn’t been told before. Until now.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of When the Apricots Bloom

Catherine A. Hamilton Why did I love this book?

Inspired by her personal experience living in Baghdad, Wilkinson writes a fascinating book that is breathtakingly beautiful and powerfully true! I chose this debut novel because it is about three courageous women who risk it all to help the next generation of Iraqis—Huda, Rania, and Australian journalist Ally.

The story carried me away to Baghdad, and I willingly went on an exotic adventure with these fierce females, where mud-brick huts dot the landscape. The suspense unwinds along the Tigris in the undying gritty winds, during a time when Iraq was cut off from the world by Saddam Hussein.

Can Huda, Ally, and Rania, help two teenagers whose lives are endangered by the regime? Read Wilkinson’s enchanting When the Apricots Bloom and find out for yourself.

By Gina Wilkinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When the Apricots Bloom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Breathtaking…Riveting and profound! I adored this book!” —Ellen Marie Wiseman, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan Collector
 
“A deeply involving and important novel by a master storyteller.” —Susan Wiggs, # 1 New York Times bestselling author

INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

In this moving, suspenseful debut novel, three courageous women confront the complexities of trust, friendship, motherhood, and betrayal under the rule of a ruthless dictator and his brutal secret police. Former foreign correspondent Gina Wilkinson draws on her own experiences to take readers inside a haunting story of Iraq at the turn of the millennium and the impossible choices faced…


Book cover of The Queen of Paris: A Novel of Coco Chanel

Catherine A. Hamilton Why did I love this book?

We all know the name of the woman behind the perfume—Coco Chanel, right? But how many of us know the story behind this legendary woman? Very few! I didn’t really know the first thing about her! Still, I loved her! In The Queen of Paris, I got to know the woman who created Chânél No.5 and designed the first “little black dress.”

And I learned why Chânél No. 5 is made in Pairs. The secret is this: because the jasmine used in making this particular perfume is only grown in France! No more spoilers! Except to say that Ewen’s Coco enticed me from the start with gossip and truths about one of the most successful women in the fashion industry—and what lengths she was willing to go to save her life’s work during WWII.

A riveting historical novel that I would read again!

By Pamela Binnings Ewen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Queen of Paris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Barnes & Noble Pick of Best Indie eBooks of 2020
An iBooks Bestseller in Fiction
A Pop Sugar Pick of Books set in Paris

Legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel is revered for her sophisticated style—the iconic little black dress—and famed for her intoxicating perfume Chanel No. 5. Yet behind the public persona is a complicated woman of intrigue, shadowed by mysterious rumors. The Queen of Paris, the new novel from award-winning author Pamela Binnings Ewen, vividly imagines the hidden life of Chanel during the four years of Nazi occupation in Paris in the midst of WWII—as discovered in recently…


Book cover of Angels of the Pacific: A Novel of World War II

Catherine A. Hamilton Why did I love this book?

I loved this enchanting WWII story about two heroic women: Tess, an orphan turned US Army nurse, and Flor, a Filipina university student living in glamorous Manila where Tess is stationed. These resilient women face unimaginable challenges with hope and humility. Hooper’s storytelling amazed me from the moment I started reading.

Hooper’s Angels of the Pacific spoke to my heart like the music of great composers, revealing an unforgettable and little-known chapter of WWII history, inspired by the true story of 78 American nurses who were captured and imprisoned by the Japanese in Bataan. Hooper masterfully brings to life this awe-inspiring tale of sisterhood, bravery, sacrifice, and love.

I highly recommend this book!

By Elise Hooper,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Angels of the Pacific as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Absolutely riveting. A stay-up-all night read about two very different women who discover just how strong they can be-and just how much they'll dare-during the brutal Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II. This story of endurance and sisterhood will have you turning pages late into the night." -Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author

If you loved Beantown Girls by Jane Healey and Hazel Gaynor's When We Were Young & Brave, then you won't want to miss critically acclaimed author Elise Hooper's powerful new novel of the Angels of Bataan, nurses held as prisoners during the occupation…


Book cover of The Age of Light

Catherine A. Hamilton Why did I love this book?

I am a lover of art and photography. The Age of Light taught me about both. Plus, it promised to show me a steamy romance, a snapshot of a passionate woman desperate to heal from childhood sexual abuse, and the high price she paid for her artistic success. Enter—former Vogue model Lee Miller.

This clearly is a story of turning trauma into creativity. As the Me Too movement has demonstrated how many women have survived sexual assault, the value of this novel should not be overlooked.

I found myself reading outside my comfort zone when Miller meets her lover on the page—the famous Surrealist Man Ray. But because of my love of art, photography, 1920s–1940s historical fiction, and exceptional prose, I enjoyed this sensuous novel! I am sure if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy it too.

By Whitney Scharer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Scharer captures the thrill of artistic creation and the swirling hedonism of Paris's beautiful people.' The Times

Model. Muse. Lover. Artist.

'I'd rather take a picture than be one,' Lee Miller declares, as she arrives in Paris one cool day in 1929. Lee has left behind her life in New York and a successful modelling career at Vogue to pursue her dream of becoming a photographer. She soon catches the eye of renowned Surrealist artist Man Ray and convinces him to hire her as his assistant. Man is an egotistical, charismatic force, and as Lee becomes both his muse and…


Book cover of The Bohemians

Catherine A. Hamilton Why did I love this book?

An interesting thing about reading this book is that I had read a novel about Dorothea Lange only months earlier. But when Darznik’s publicist reached out and asked me to read it, I couldn’t resist! Why? Because I love Dorothea and can’t get enough of her.

Dorothea is exactly the kind of woman I want to be BFFs with. But whose story would give me the intimate connection I was looking for? Jasmin Darznik, in her enchanting new novel, The Bohemians, that’s who.

On page one, I stepped into the relationship of two daring and talented women who seem different as night and day. Dorothea, a blond from New York and Caroline Lee, a black-haired Chinese American, raised in an orphanage.

By Jasmin Darznik,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A dazzling novel of one of America’s most celebrated photographers, Dorothea Lange, exploring the wild years in San Francisco that awakened her career-defining grit, compassion, and daring.

“Jasmin Darznik expertly delivers an intriguing glimpse into the woman behind those unforgettable photographs of the Great Depression, and their impact on humanity.”—Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things

In this novel of the glittering and gritty Jazz Age, a young aspiring photographer named Dorothea Lange arrives in San Francisco in 1918. As a newcomer—and naïve one at that—Dorothea is grateful for the fast friendship of Caroline Lee, a vivacious,…


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Cold War: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift

By Helena P. Schrader,

Book cover of Cold War: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift

Helena P. Schrader Author Of Cold Peace: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift, Part I

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I first went to Berlin after college, determined to write a novel about the German Resistance; I stayed a quarter of a century. Initially, the Berlin Airlift, something remembered with pride and affection, helped create common ground between me as an American and the Berliners. Later, I was commissioned to write a book about the Airlift and studied the topic in depth. My research included interviews with many participants including Gail Halvorsen. These encounters with eyewitnesses inspired me to write my current three-part fiction project, Bridge to Tomorrow. With Russian aggression again threatening Europe, the story of the airlift that defeated Soviet state terrorism has never been more topical. 

Helena's book list on the Russian blockade of Berlin and the Allied Airlift

What is my book about?

Stopping Russian Aggression with milk, coal, and candy bars….

Berlin is under siege. More than two million civilians will starve unless they receive food, medicine, and more by air.

USAF Captain J.B. Baronowsky and RAF Flight Lieutenant Kit Moran once risked their lives to drop high explosives on Berlin. They are about to deliver milk, flour, and children’s shoes instead. Meanwhile, two women pilots are flying an air ambulance that carries malnourished and abandoned children to freedom in the West. Until General Winter deploys on the side of Russia...

Based on historical events, award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader delivers an insightful, exciting and moving tale about how former enemies became friends in the face of Russian aggression — and how close the Berlin Airlift came to failing under the assault of “General Winter.”

Cold War: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift

By Helena P. Schrader,

What is this book about?

Fighting a war with milk, coal and candy bars....

In the second book of the Bridge to Tomorrow Series, the story continues where "Cold Peace" left off.

Berlin is under siege. More than two million civilians in Hitler's former capital will starve unless they receive food, medicine and more by air.

USAF Captain J.B. Baronowsky and RAF Flight Lieutenant Kit Moran once risked their lives to drop high explosives on Berlin. They are about to deliver milk, flour and children's shoes instead. Meanwhile, two women pilots are flying an air ambulance that carries malnourished and abandoned children to freedom in…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the German occupation of Europe, San Francisco, and presidential biography?

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