I know. Once again, I’m so late!
And once again, I blame it on my day job and its hectic schedule.
I really hope to sort out my working time soon, so that I can start to plan a few of my things (read, ‘writing stuff’), but for now, I’m still trying to juggle everything in as I go.
Have you already bought all your Christmas presents?
Tell you what, I haven’t. Not even one.
And since I love giving books as a present, whenever I can, I thought I’d compile a collection of awesome books set in the 1920s available now!
The Bohemians by Jasmin Darznik
I don’t generally favour novels based on real people, but this one sounds interesting because it seems to mix fiction with reality in a very compelling way. The reason why I don’t prefer novels based on real people is that many times the real facts take precedence on the story, in a way that obscures the story and turns it into a mere prop for the real events (as if they needed it).
This one sounds like the story actually merges with the real facts. I’m quite intrigueg. Plus, the artistic setting is one of the least frequented by fiction set in the 1920s.
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.
In 1918, Dorothea Lange leaves the East Coast for California, where a disaster kick-starts a new life. Her friendship with Caroline Lee, a vivacious, straight-talking woman with a complicated past, gives her entrée into Monkey Block, an artists’ colony and the bohemian heart of San Francisco. Dazzled by Caroline and her friends, Dorothea is catapulted into a heady new world of freedom, art, and politics. She also finds herself unexpectedly–and unwisely–falling in love with Maynard Dixon, a brilliant but troubled painter. Dorothea and Caroline eventually create a flourishing portrait studio, but a devastating betrayal pushes their friendship to the breaking point and alters the course of their lives.
The Bohemians captures San Francisco in the glittering and gritty 1920s, with cameos from such legendary figures as Mabel Dodge, Frida Kahlo, Ansel Adams, and DH Lawrence . At the same time, it is eerily resonant with contemporary themes, as anti-immigration sentiment, corrupt politicians, and the Spanish flu bring tumult to the city–and as the gift of friendship and the possibility of self-invention persist against the ferocious pull of history.
A Hanging at Dawn by Charles Todd
It’s part of the Bess Crawford mystery series, this would be enough for me to read it. But the subject matter is also very intriguing.
In the series, Bess often thinks back to her life in India, and Simon Brandon is a strong supporting character in all of the novels. A fascinating character too. I’d love to learn more about him.
So yes, this goes straight to my to-be-read pile!
Years before the Great War summoned Bess Crawford to serve as a battlefield nurse, the indomitable heroine spent her childhood in India under the watchful eye of her friend and confidant, the young soldier Simon Brandon. The two formed an inseparable bond on the dangerous Northwest Frontier where her father’s Regiment held the Khyber Pass against all intruders. It was Simon who taught Bess to ride and shoot, escorted her to the bazaars and the Maharani’s Palace, and did his best to keep her out of trouble, after the Crawford family took an interest in the tall, angry boy with a mysterious past.
But the Crawfords have long guarded secrets for Simon and he owes them a debt that runs deeper than Bess could ever know. Told through the eyes of Melinda, Richard, Clarissa, and Bess, A Hanging at Dawn pieces together a mystery at the center of Bess’s family that will irrevocably change the course of her future.
The War Nurse by Tracey Enerson Wood
Can you imagine that once I’d never read a novel set in any war. I didn’t think it was a setting I may like.
But then, I became involved in WWI. I mean, my research forced me to get involved in WWI – and I discovered a fascinating new world. WWI is relevant to us more than we often think. So much of who we are is rooted in that time.
And so, of course, I started reading novels set in that time too. This one even involves the Spanish Flu. One more point to it!
She asked dozens of young women to lay their lives on the line during the Great War. Can she protect them?
Superintendent of Nurses Julia Stimson must recruit sixty-five nurses to relieve the battle-worn British during World War I, months before American troops are ready to be deployed.
She knows that the young nurses serving near the front lines of will face a challenging situation, but nothing could have prepared her for the chaos that awaits when they arrive at British Base Hospital 12 in Rouen, France. The primitive conditions, a convoluted, ineffective system, and horrific battle wounds are enough to discourage the most hardened nurses, and Julia can do nothing but lead by example―even as the military doctors undermine her authority and make her question her very place in the hospital tent.
When trainloads of soldiers stricken by a mysterious respiratory illness arrive one after the other, overwhelming the hospital’s limited resources, and threatening the health of her staff, Julia faces an unthinkable choice―to step outside the bounds of her profession and risk the career she has fought so hard for, or to watch the people she cares for most die in her arms.
Based on a true story, The War Nurse is a sweeping historical novel by international bestselling author Tracey Enerson Wood that takes readers on an unforgettable journey through WWI France.
Felicity Carrol and the Perilous Pursuit by Patricia Santos Marcantonio
So, this may be a very good cosy mystery or one of those that barely qualify as real mysteries, but there are some elements here that I really can’t resist. I mean, medieval relics? The underworld relic market? The down of forensics? Yes, yes, yes, please!
Amidst the heraldry of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, a string of brutal murders rocks Britain’s upper crust—and could threaten the realm itself—in the spellbinding debut of Patricia Marcantonio’s Felicity Carrol mysteries.
Felicity Carrol is interested in everything—except being a proper young matron of Victorian society. Brilliant and resourceful, Felicity took refuge in science and education after her mother died and her father abandoned her to servants. Now, all he wants is for her to marry into a family of status and money.
Felicity has other ambitions—but her plans shudder to a halt when her mentor is murdered at the British Museum and his priceless manuscript of King Arthur lore is stolen. Tapping into her photographic memory and the latest in the burgeoning field of forensic detection, Felicity launches an investigation. Handsome Scotland Yard Inspector Jackson Davies is also on the case, and finds Felicity as meddlesome as she is intelligent. But when more nobles are murdered and their King Arthur relics stolen, Felicity must journey on her own into the dark underworld of antiquity theft, where she uncovers a motive far more nefarious than simple profit.
As the killer sets his sights on a new victim—a charismatic duke who has captured Felicity’s imagination—the stakes rise to impossible heights. It’s a case that could shake the kingdom in Patricia Marcantonio’s series debut, Felicity Carrol and the Perilous Pursuit.
The Girl with the Golden Scissors by by Julia Drosten
See? Another one concerned with WWI.
Have you noticed that it is quite hard to read novels set around WWI that are centered on ‘the other part’, that is the Central Powers. I’ve read many novels set somewhere in the Allied Forces (usually Britain), but very very few set somewhere in the Central Powers. This alone intrigues me.
The story seems great true. Friendship, loyalty, self-discovery: I’m always up for it.
From the bestselling author of The Lioness of Morocco and The Elephant Keeper’s Daughter, the story of an ambitious young woman discovering friendship, love, and her own identity on the eve of World War I.
Christmas 1889. A baby is born in the early hours at Vienna General Hospital, only to be abandoned by her unwed mother and entrusted to a foundling home and its loving caretaker.
Fanny Schindler grows from a precocious girl into a strong-willed young woman. Undeterred by the rules of her station, she’s determined to rise above her humble origins and pursue her dreams at all costs, becoming an apprentice to one of the most glamorous fashion houses in Austria-Hungary. All the while, as Fanny searches for a sense of belonging, her path crosses with those of three people who will change her future. To one, she is a cherished friend. To another, a confidant. And to a handsome career soldier, something more.
When hostilities in Europe burst into flame as a brutal world war, the future of the dual monarchy is at stake, friendships are strained, loyalties are tested, and everything is at risk. And when long-buried secrets about Fanny’s past come to light, she must decide what truly matters—and what is worth fighting for in a new world of infinite possibilities.
Paper Wife by Laila Ibrahim
There are so many aspects to the 1920s, and though it is not every day that you find these different aspects to emerge in fiction set at that time, sometimes you get lucky.
I love reading of stories set in the 1920s, but in divers environments and touching on divers, sometimes little known experiences of the time. This is one such novel.
From the bestselling author of Yellow Crocus comes a heart-wrenching story about finding strength in a new world.
Southern China, 1923. Desperate to secure her future, Mei Ling’s parents arrange a marriage to a widower in California. To enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife.
On the perilous voyage, Mei Ling takes an orphan girl named Siew under her wing. Dreams of a better life in America give Mei Ling the strength to endure the treacherous journey and detainment on Angel Island. But when she finally reaches San Francisco, she’s met with a surprise. Her husband, Chinn Kai Li, is a houseboy, not the successful merchant he led her to believe.
Mei Ling is penniless, pregnant, and bound to a man she doesn’t know. Her fragile marriage is tested further when she discovers that Siew will likely be forced into prostitution. Desperate to rescue Siew, she must convince her husband that an orphan’s life is worth fighting for. Can Mei Ling find a way to make a real family—even if it’s built on a paper foundation?
Luminous: The Story of a Radium Girl by Samantha Wilcoxson
The two World Wars bought about so many bad things, but among them, I think the fate of these girls, who worked in the radium industry and believed to be advancing their independence, when if fact many were slowly killing themselves, is particularly sad. And still, in the sadness of this situation, Samantha Wilcoxson seem to find the way to affirm her characters’ indomitable heart.
The kind of story I like.
Catherine Donohue’s life was set on a new course when she applied for a job as a dial painter at Radium Dial. The pay was great, and her co-workers became her best friends. But a secret was lurking in the greenish-grey paint that magically made things glow in the dark. When Catherine and her friends started becoming sick, this shy Catholic girl stood up to the might of the radium industry, the legal and medical communities, and townspeople who told her to be quiet. Would she be too late? Catherine’s quest for social justice in the era between World Wars is emotive and inspiring.
It’s too late for me, but maybe it will help some of the others.
~ Catherine Wolfe Donohue
The Roar in the 20s by Yolanda Allard
Fantasy stories set in the 1920s are so rare that I can hardly resist them when I find them.
I’m not super-fond of dual timeline stories, but with a mysterious speakeasy and some form of shifting in nature, this has all the things I like most about this time.
The Roaring 20’s
In trying to help out her struggling single mother and younger sister, Marjorie “Jorie” Bane gets convinced by her tarty friend Stella to work with her in a speakeasy. It’s hardly easy, but she needs the money. Soon, Jorie begins to notice something is awry in the hottest secret club in town. With its weird owners, a family called the Locke’s, and secret doors where some patrons disappear, she doesn’t know if working for bootleggers during the prohibition is the best idea…
Asher Getty wants nothing more than any normal kid in a boring small town: to grow up, leave and play a lot of ball until then. One day, a weird club opens up in the old town theatre, waking up the sleepy town. It’s run by a creeptastic family- the Locke’s, who all act and dress as if they are in the 1920’s New York. He visits the club because, what else is there to do on a Friday night? He gets more than he bargains for when he meets a strange girl named Stella who takes his breath away, along with his gum when she shoves her tongue down his throat. Immediately after the kiss, Asher feels ill and by the next morning a strange mark appears on his chest that gives him newfound strength and agility. Blown away by this, Asher soon realizes his gifts may actually be a curse – a deadly one. Determined to find out what’s happened to himself and who or what the club girl really is, he has to wake up as well and realize the word normal doesn’t fit in his life anymore.
Two different teens, in two different worlds. Separated by time; but joined by the mystery of a speakeasy and the secrets it holds. Both must unravel the Locke family in order to survive.
Sarah Plugs Her Stuff
And so this is it for now!
I hope you’ll find something of your taste among these books. Maybe you’ll finish the year reading about the 1920s!
By the way, my book Ghosts Through the Cracks is half the price on Smashwords up to the beginning of the new year. Just so you know.
If you don’t know if it may be your jam, Smashwords allows downloading a semple totally free.
And talking about free reads, you can always get my short story Sea Phantom for free. It’s my special gift to you.
Have a serene Christmas. It won’t be what we normally consider merry, but being together (even when we are not physically together) is more important than ever this year.