My primary historic interest is very much the twentieth century, so there is a bias here.
Nonetheless, here are 12 top reads published in January or February 2016…
If you have any suggestions for any additions, let me know.
(Thumbnail click for Amazon).
Lilly Kaiser had come to terms with her solitary, uncomplicated life after becoming a young widow. So when a stranger delivers an old violin to her Berlin antiques shop and tells Lilly it belongs to her, she’s completely bewildered. Why should she be the one to inherit such an exquisite instrument?
In But You Did Not Come Back, Marceline writes a letter to the father she would never know as an adult, to the man whose death enveloped her whole life. Her testimony is a haunting and challenging reminder of one of the worst crimes humanity has ever seen, and an affecting personal story of a woman whose life was shattered and never totally rebuilt.
In May 1937 a man in his early thirties waits by the lift of a Leningrad apartment block. He waits all through the night, expecting to be taken away to the Big House. Any celebrity he has known in the previous decade is no use to him now. And few who are taken to the Big House ever return.
Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, THE BALLROOM is a tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.
A 19th-century whaling ship sets sail for the Arctic with a killer aboard in this dark, sharp and highly original tale that grips like a thriller.
Suffolk, 1939: Julia Compton has a beautifully well-ordered life. Once a promising musician, she now has a handsome husband who pays the bills, a young son she adores and a housekeeper who takes care of her comfortable home. Then on the eve of war something unexpected happens. She falls in love.
A canny, captivating, humorous portrayal of a Boston-Irish woman’s struggle to find her feet, love, and a quotient of tranquillity in 1980s dirty ol’ Dublin.
A debut novel of daring originality, The Yid guarantees that you will never think of Stalinist Russia, Shakespeare, theatre, Yiddish or history the same way again.
In the idyllic hill country of Sri Lanka, a young girl grows up with her loving family; but even in the midst of this paradise, terror lurks in the shadows. When tragedy strikes, she and her mother must seek safety by immigrating to America.
In mid-nineteenth-century Ireland, charming Kathleen and dashing Michael harbor secrets and dreams. Imagining a life beyond the kitchen and fields of the wealthy family they both work for, they plot to leave their homeland, marry, and raise the child Kathleen is secretly carrying. The luck of the Irish, however, is not on their side.
Berlin, 1938. Newly-appointed military attaché Noel Macrae and his extrovert wife Primrose arrive at the British Embassy. Prime Minister Chamberlain is intent on placating Nazi Germany, but Macrae is less so. Convinced Hitler can be stopped by other means than appeasement, he soon discovers he is not the only dissenting voice in the Embassy and finds that some senior officers in the German military are prepared to turn against the Fuhrer.
On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter–one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island–has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.