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Top 10 Historical Fiction: 2013.
Hooper, Brad (author).
FEATURE. First published April 15, 2013 (Booklist).
From an intriguing new way of looking at WWII, to a masterful reconstruction of the court of Henry VIII, to an authentic depiction of Montana in 1960, these historical novels, the best Booklist has reviewed between April 15, 2012, and April 1, 2013, make exceptionally good time-transporters.
The Accursed. By Joyce Carol Oates. Ecco, $27.99 (9780062231703). Oates brings her dark humor and extraordinary fluency in eroticism and violence to this effective novel—set in Princeton, New Jersey, in the early years of the twentieth century—about the devastating toll of repression and prejudice, sexism and class warfare.
The Bartender’s Tale. By Ivan Doig. Riverhead, $27.95 (9781594487354). This coming-of-age drama, set in Montana in 1960 but often flashing back to the Depression, is involving and subtly portrayed.
Bring Up the Bodies. By Hilary Mantel. Holt, $28 (9780805090031). The sequel to Wolf Hall (2009) takes the dramatic story of Thomas Cromwell, chief secretary to King Henry VIII, through the edge-of-your-seat events in the fall of Anne Boleyn, the monarch’s second and doomed consort.
Coup d’Etat. By Harry Turtledove. Del Rey, $28 (9780345524652).The author’s masterful presentation of an alternate WWII reaches its fourth volume with its quality undiminished.
The Dream of the Celt. By Mario Vargas Llosa. Tr. by Edith Grossman. Farrar, $28 (9780374143466). An Irishman in the British diplomatic service in the immediate pre-WWI years—an actual historical figure—is the main character in the Peruvian Nobel laureate’s latest novel.
Heading out to Wonderful. By Robert Goolrick. Algonquin, $24.95 (9781565129238). With understated delicacy, the author creates a mesmerizing gothic tale of a good man gone wrong in the post-WWII years.
The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln. By Stephen L. Carter, Knopf, $26.95 (9780307272638). Carter draws on historical documents and a vivid imagination to render a fascinating mix of murder mystery, political thriller, and courtroom drama.
In Sunlight and in Shadow. By Mark Helprin. Houghton, $28 (9780547819235). In this prodigious saga of exalted romance in corrupt, post-WWII New York, the author creates a supremely gifted and principled hero.
Merivel: A Man of His Time. By Rose Tremain. Norton, $26.95 (9780393079579). In this wonderful sequel to Restoration (1990), set 16 years later, Tremain’s lovingly flawed protagonist, Sir Robert Merivel, pens a second riveting memoir as King Charles II’s once glorious reign winds down.
The Testament of Mary. By Colm Tóibín. Scribner, $23 (9781451688382). This stunning interpretation of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is as beautiful in its presentation as it is provocative in its intention.