Historical Fiction Spotlight is a new feature that I came up with in order to highlight some books from one of my favorite genres — historical fiction. I feel like sometimes this genre gets pushed to the wayside, but there are so many great books about so many different things! In each spotlight, I’ll share 10 books from a different time period. While I might not have read every book I show, I promise that they come fully vetted and are all on my TBR list!
Since I’m participating in this month’s Jazz Age January, hosted by Books Speak Volumes, I thought that it would be the perfect time to share another Historical Fiction Spotlight with you guys, this time focusing on some great books set in the 1920s. I love reading about the time period. It’s just such a fun atmosphere for a book to be set in, and when done right, makes for a very special reading experience.
10 Historical Fiction Novels Set in the Jazz Age
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
“Rose Baker is an orphaned young woman working for her bread as a typist in a police precinct on the lower East Side… When the captivating Odalie begins work at the precinct Rose finds herself falling under the new typist’s spell…it is not long before Rose’s fascination for her new colleague turns to obsession. But just who is the real Odalie, and how far will Rose go to find out?”
This is the second book that I chose for Jazz Age January! I just started it, and so far it seems really interesting and different.
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
Only a few years before becoming a famous silent-film star and an icon of her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita, Kansas, to study with the prestigious Denishawn School of Dancing in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone, who is neither mother nor friend… Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will transform their lives forever.
I just finished this book recently and I loved it! You can check out my review here.
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
This book is a must-read for YA historical fiction fans! Or even if you’re not quite so into historical fiction! The Diviners is a book with some of the best description that I’ve ever read. I was thinking about this book for weeks afterwards, wanting to dive right back into Evie’s life in 1920s NYC. Check out my review here!
Vixen by Jillian Larkin
Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody wants the flapper lifestyle and the bobbed hair, cigarettes, and music-filled nights that go with it. Now that she’s engaged to Sebastian Grey, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun…or are they?
This is the first book in the Flappers series, of which I own two books but haven’t started reading yet. But I love the covers of these books and I’m excited to try out another YA novel set in the 1920s.
Bright Young Things by Anna Godberson
Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York’s glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star…. Cordelia is searching for the father she’s never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined — and more dangerous. It’s a life anyone would kill for…and someone will.
This is another first book in a YA series about the 1920s that I own and haven’t read yet! I couldn’t resist buying it when I found out that it was another novel about flappers…I’m kinda obsessed. And the storyline sounds really thrilling and mysterious.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.
I haven’t read this book and I don’t own it, but I’ve heard such great things about it from a bunch of different people. I don’t know much about Ernest Hemingway, but I love reading historical fiction stories that are actually based on real people. It’s a little bit different than the other ones I mentioned, because this one is set in 1920s Paris vs. 1920s New York City.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the “ungettable” Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, “This Side of Paradise, ” to Scribner’s, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and take the rest as it comes.
Another novel about the lives of historical real-life people, Z documents the glamorous relationship between Zelda and the famous writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Although I’ve read The Great Gatsby, I don’t know much else about Fitzgerald, so I’d be really interested to read this book about get some more background information on his life and great romance.
Dollface by Renee Rosen
Vera Abramowitz is determined to leave her gritty childhood behind and live a more exciting life, one that her mother never dreamed of. Bobbing her hair and showing her knees, the lipsticked beauty dazzles, doing the Charleston in nightclubs and earning the nickname “Dollface.” As the ultimate flapper, Vera captures the attention of two high rollers, a handsome nightclub owner and a sexy gambler. On their arms, she gains entrée into a world filled with bootleg bourbon, wailing jazz, and money to burn. She thinks her biggest problem is choosing between them until the truth comes out. Her two lovers are really mobsters from rival gangs during Chicago’s infamous Beer Wars, a battle Al Capone refuses to lose.
Ooh the cover of this one is really cool! And the story sounds so intriguing. I’ve never heard of the “Beer Wars,” but it definitely sounds like something I want to know more about! Flappers, men, illegal alcohol, and the mafia?! Sign me up.
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
Summer 1924: On the eve of a glittering society party, by the lake of a grand English country house, a young poet takes his life. The only witnesses, sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford, will never speak to each other again.
Winter 1999: Grace Bradley, ninety-eight, one-time housemaid of Riverton Manor, is visited by a young director making a film about the poet’s suicide. Ghosts awaken and old memories – long consigned to the dark reaches of Grace’s mind – begin to sneak back through the cracks. A shocking secret threatens to emerge, something history has forgotten but Grace never could.
Kate Morton is one of my favorite authors, and I think that this is the only book by her that I haven’t read. I’m definitely going to pick it up soon! She’s great at psychological-thriller type reads.
Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck
Committed to a Baltimore psychiatric hospital in 1932, Zelda vacillates between lucidity and madness as she fights to forge an identity independent of her famous husband. She discovers a sympathetic ear in her nurse Anna Howard, who finds herself drawn into the Fitzgerald’s tumultuous lives and wonders which of them is the true genius. But in taking greater emotional risks to save Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she ever intended.
I honestly hate this book’s cover (doesn’t it look like her ankles are broken?), but this is another book about Zelda, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, and it looks really interesting. It seems to be focused more on the side of the story that deals with Zelda’s mental health vs. her romantic relationship with Fitzgerald.