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Best of 2020: Historical Fiction Favs

I read a lot of historical fiction and it's definitely one of my favorite genres. Here are a few of my recommended "best historical fiction" for 2020.

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

Goodreads Summary: Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine open nearby. She freezes; it's an image of a book she hasn't seen in 65 years - a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names. The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by Nazis across Europe during World War II - an experience Eva remembers well - and the search to reunite people with texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an 18th-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in one of Berlin's libraries, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don't know where it came from - or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer - but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

Review: This was a 5 star read for me and my favorite historical fiction book in 2020.

Told in alternating timelines from Eva's past in World War II and the present, the story moved very quickly and had me turning pages quickly to tie the mystery together. The book covered an unknown topic for me (Resistance forgers and their effort to rescue Jewish children and save their heritage) and was a beautifully moving love story. Ultimately though, this novel is a love letter to the power of the written word and books!

Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams

Goodreads Summary: In 1947, photographer and war correspondent Janey Everett arrives at a remote surfing village on the Hawaiian island of Kauai to research a planned biography of forgotten aviation pioneer Sam Mallory, who joined the loyalist forces in the Spanish Civil War and never returned. Obsessed with Sam’s fate, Janey has tracked down Irene Lindquist, the owner of a local island-hopping airline, whom she believes might actually be the legendary Irene Foster, Mallory’s onetime student and flying partner. Foster’s disappearance during a round-the-world flight in 1937 remains one of the world’s greatest unsolved mysteries.

At first, the flinty Mrs. Lindquist denies any connection to Foster. But Janey informs her that the wreck of Sam Mallory’s airplane has recently been discovered in a Spanish desert, and piece by piece, the details of Foster’s extraordinary life emerge: from the beginnings of her flying career in Southern California, to her complicated, passionate relationship with Mallory, to the collapse of her marriage to her aggressive career manager, the publishing scion George Morrow. As Irene spins her tale to its searing conclusion, Janey’s past gathers its own power. The duel between the two women takes a heart-stopping turn. To whom does Mallory rightfully belong? Can we ever come to terms with the loss of those we love, and the lives we might have lived?

Review: This novel was certainly inspired by the mysterious disappearance of Amelia Earhart and as a lifelong Earhart fan, this was right up my alley and triggered my fascination with the early days of flying and these aviation pioneers! I tore through the pages and was gripped by the story of Sam Mallory, Irene Foster and Jenny Everett. The timeline of the story also felt like a crazy puzzle that you have to figure out. I wholeheartedly recommend this wonderful book that will linger with me for some time. Thanks to #Netgalley for the early read!

And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Stephanie Marie Thornton

Goodreads Summary: Few of us can claim to be the authors of our fate. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy knows no other choice. With the eyes of the world watching, Jackie uses her effortless charm and keen intelligence to carve a place for herself among the men of history and weave a fairy tale for the American people, embodying a senator’s wife, a devoted mother, a First Lady—a queen in her own right. But all reigns must come to an end. Once JFK travels to Dallas and the clock ticks down those thousand days of magic in Camelot, Jackie is forced to pick up the ruined fragments of her life and forge herself into a new identity that is all her own, that of an American legend.

Review: This was a beautiful well-researched book that follows the entire life (and love) of America’s beloved icon. Her story was so richly drawn that my heart broke for her several times in the novel yet I was also amazed by her strength. I learned so much about Jackie from reading this book and am determined to read more on her now. This was everything I look for in historical fiction!

What were your favorite historical fiction books in 2020? I'd love to hear if I should any to my TBR list as well. Happy reading!

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