Historical Fiction Stars: 2001

Lists of historical fiction titles receiving starred reviews.

Annotated lists of books receiving at least one starred review from one of four major review sources: Booklist, Kirkus, LJ and PW. The review source assigns the star.

Annotations are from Advance, the Ingram Book Magazine, unless otherwise noted.

Historical fiction is loosely defined on this page - a book set 25 years ago may qualify for inclusion.

Categories on this page include general (period setting), mystery & suspense, and also worthy of note (time slip, alternate history, generational sagas, etc.)

2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1998-99


  • Gob's Grief
    Author: Adrian, Chris
    Publisher: Broadway $ 24.95 ISBN: 0767902815
    star Kirkus star LJ
    In 1863, 11-year-old Tomo Woodhill runs off to fight in the Civil War, during which he takes a bullet in the eye and dies. His brother, Gob, grows up in a state of grief. As an adult studying to be a doctor in New York City, he has an idea to build a machine that might bring Tomo--indeed, all the war dead--back to life.
    Suggested Reading: Civil War Stars

  • The Marriage Lesson
    Author: Alexander, Victoria
    Publisher: Avon $ 5.99 (paper) ISBN: 0380818205
    star PW
    Lady Marianne Shelton pens a scandalous book based on the exploits of real life nobleman, Thomas Effington. Now Thomas is going to teach the forward country miss a lesson in love she's never going to forget.
  • The Love Artist
    Author: Alison, Jane
    Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux $ 23 ISBN: 0374231796
    star Kirkus
    A darkly brilliant first novel that imagines a missing chapter in the life of Ovid, the most popular author of his day. Why do only two lines survive of his play Medea, reputedly his most passionate work? Between the known details of the poet's life and these enigmas, Alison has interpolated a haunting drama of passion and psychological manipulation.
  • Fire in Beulah
    Author: Askew, Rilla
    Publisher: Viking $ 25.95 ISBN: 0670888435
    star LJ
    Set in the tense days of the Oklahoma oil rush of the 1920s, Althea Whiteside and her enigmatic black maid, Graceful, are caught in the relentless currents of family and violence. Their stories unfold against a backdrop of fear, hate, and lynchings that climax in the Tulsa race riot of 1921, during which the city's prosperous black section is burned to the ground.
  • To the Hermitage
    Author: Bradbury, Malcolm
    Publisher: Overlook $ 27.95 ISBN: 1585671312
    star LJ
    Bradbury brilliantly recreates the climate of the 18th century and Diderot's journey to Russia to "enlighten" Catherine the Great. And the Diderot Project itself becomes a quest to recapture a lost world and illuminate our own.
  • The Devil's Oasis
    Author: Bull, Bartle
    Publisher: Carroll & Graf $ 25 ISBN: 0786708441
    star PW
    The master storyteller and author of A Cafe on the Nile presents a new tale of swaggering adventure, romance, and espionage set in war-torn North Africa. There, against the massive force of Rommel's Afrika Korps, a young English hussar named Wellington Rider fights beside the French Foreign Legion.
    Suggested Reading: World Wars Stars
  • In Sunlight, in a Beautiful Garden
    Author: Cambor, Kathleen
    Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux $ 23 ISBN: 0374165378
    star PW star Kirkus
    This elegantly crafted love story is set against the backdrop of the greatest industrial disaster in American history: the construction and subsequent collapse in 1889 of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, dam. It was a tragedy that cost 2,200 lives, implicated some of the most illustrious financiers of the day, and irreparably changed the lives of those who survived it.
  • Carry Me Across the Water
    Author: Canin, Ethan
    Publisher: Random $ 23.95 ISBN: 0679456791
    star Kirkus star PW
    A young boy escapes Nazi Germany and goes on to build a fortune, a family, and life on his own terms in America. At the defining moments that reveal character and shape fate, August's instincts are determinative in a way that illuminates how lives unfold at the deepest levels. This is a brilliant, suspenseful, surprising novel by one of America's finest writers.
    Suggested Reading: World Wars Stars
  • True History of the Kelly Gang
    Author: Carey, Peter
    Publisher: Knopf $ 25 ISBN: 0375410848
    star PW star Kirkus star LJ
    Speaking from the grave, out of 19th century Australia rides a hero of his people--Ned Kelly--a mythic outlaw whose life embodies tragedy, perseverance, and freedom. Executed more than a century ago, he resonates still as that country's most potent legend, now brought to life by the award-winning author of Oscar & Lucinda.
  • The Raven Mocker
    Author: Coldsmith, Don
    Publisher: U of Oklahoma $ 22.95 ISBN: 0806133163
    star Booklist
    Snakewater, the oldest Cherokee in her village, flees when she is accused of being the Raven Mocker, a feared creature of legend who steals the life-years of those who die young to ensure his own immortality. Her path takes her across the Mississippi to a surprising confrontation at the Elk-dog People's annual Sun Dance.
    Suggested Reading: Western Stars
  • Sharpe's Trafalgar
    Author: Cornwell, Bernard
    Publisher: HarperCollins $ 25 ISBN: 0060194251
    star PW star LJ
    This number one international bestseller sends Richard Sharpe into a breathtaking sea chase and a savage battle off Cape Trafalgar in 1805.
    Suggested Reading: Sea Stories
  • Slammerkin
    Author: Donoghue, Emma
    Publisher: Harcourt $ 24 ISBN: 0151006725
    star Kirkus star PW
    Inspired by a teenage girl who murdered her mistress in 1763 because she "longed for fine clothes", Slammerkin is the bestselling classic story of a lower-class Roxana, a female Tom Jones.
  • Gabriel's Story
    Author: Durham, David Anthony
    Publisher: Doubleday $ 23.95 ISBN: 0385498144
    star PW star Booklist star Kirkus
    In this literary debut, Durham recounts the adventures and trials of a black pioneer family in the late 1870s. At the center of the story is Gabriel, a young man who moves reluctantly from the urban North with his mother and younger brother to join his stepfather, a homesteader in Kansas. When he runs away to become a cowboy, his search for excitement brings trouble and danger.
    Suggested Reading: Western Stars
  • The Master Executioner
    Author: Estleman, Loren D.
    Publisher: Forge $ 23.95 ISBN: 0312869703
    star Kirkus star PW
    Ordinary people do not understand hangman Oscar Stone or his motives. For more than a quarter of a century he has been a man peerless in his craft, the master executioner. One day a single piece of knowledge brings Oscar to a moment of devastating truth, and for the first time, he knows himself.
    Suggested Reading: Western Stars
  • Rising Sun: Being the True Account of the Voyage of the Great Ship of That Name, the Author's Adventures in the Wastes of the New World . . .
    Author: Galbraith, Douglas
    Publisher: Atlantic $ 25 ISBN: 087113781x
    star Kirkus
    In 1698, five vessels led by the flagship Rising Sun embarked on a perilous voyage for what is now Panama, where the passengers intended to found a colony at Darien. With them went the hopes and fortunes of the nation of Scotland, which sought to build an overseas empire so that it could compete on the world stage with England. Galbraith's debut novel is the story of this mission and its tragic outcome, as recorded by the ship's superintendent of cargoes, Roderick Mackenzie.
    Suggested Reading: Sea Stories
  • The Glass Palace
    Author: Ghosh, Amitov
    Publisher: Broadway $ 24.95 ISBN: 0375501487
    star Kirkus
    A poor boy lifted on the tides of political and social chaos to create an empire in the Burmese teak forests, Rajkumar cannot forget the girl he befriended during the British invasion of 1885 when soldiers forced the royal family into exile from the glass palace. Rajkumar then saw the woman whose love would shape his life, and later, as a rich man, he goes in search of her.
  • The House of Sight and Shadow
    Author: Griffin, Nicholas
    Publisher: Villard $ 23.95 ISBN: 0375504729
    star PW
    Early 18th-century London is still recovering from the ravages of plague and fire. Sir Edmund Calcraft, an eminent and notorious anatomist, and Joseph Bendix, his ambitious young student, are drawn into a dark game with the growing criminal underworld. In gallows, madhouses, and in anatomical laboratories, the two men engage in a competition involving both head and heart.
  • Crimes of War
    Author: Hogg, Peter
    Publisher: St Martins $ 22.95 ISBN: 0312269544
    star LJ
    The 1999 winner of the Robertson Davies/Chapters Prize, Crimes of War is a riveting novel of the hidden lives of two men: a Nazi war criminal and the investigator who tracks him. "An extraordinary historical fiction that leaves many unsettling questions in the reader's mind long after the last page is turned".-- Quill & Quire (Canada).
    Suggested Reading: World Wars Stars
  • Snow Mountain Passage
    Author: Houston, James Stewart
    Publisher: Knopf $ 24 ISBN: 0375411038
    star Kirkus star PW
    From the author of Farewell to Manzanar comes a powerful retelling of the Donner story through the eyes of one member of the party and his eight-year-old daughter. Snow Mountain Passage is an extraordinary tale of pride and redemption, of the sheer endurance and bravery required in the creation of a new country, and of the thrilling early days of California.
    Suggested Reading: Western Stars
  • Afterimage
    Author: Humphreys, Helen
    Publisher: Metropolitan $ 23 ISBN: 0805066667
    star Booklist
    When Annie Phelan arrives at the Dashells' Victorian England farm to work as a maid, she finds the master dreaming of explorations, and the mistress struggling with the new technology of photography for her art. Drawn into a fateful love triangle, Annie nearly loses herself until disaster reveals her power over the Dashells' work and hearts.
  • Indiscretion
    Author: Ivory, Judith
    Publisher: Avon $ 6.50 (paper) ISBN: 0380812967
    star PW
    When her coach crashes on the treacherous Dartmoor, the sheltered Lady Lydia Bedford-Brown is stranded with wealthy Texas cowboy, Sam J. Cody. Being marooned on the English moor causes Cody to miss his own wedding to an unforgiving bride. But Liddy starts to reveal her hidden passions and courageous spirit that dare Sam to pursue even further what his heart desperately desires.
  • In the Company of Angels
    Author: Kelby, N.M.
    Publisher: Hyperion $21 ISBN:0786866667
    star PW
    A compelling novel of dark miracles and angelic visitation, set in a Nazi-occupied Belgian town that is scented by chocolate. A young French Jew girl is saved by Belgian nuns after a bomb kills her grandmother. Then the miracles begin. In a town haunted by memories of the past and the desperation of the present, the miraculous is hard to recognize.
    Suggested Reading: World Wars Stars
  • Badger Boy
    Author: Kelton, Elmer
    Publisher: Forge $ 23.95 ISBN: 0312873190
    star PW
    In the year following the Civil War, Rusty Shannon returns to the Red River, hoping to take up the life of a farmer. His youth as a captive of the Comanches returns to haunt him when, in pursuit of Indian raiders, he takes as prisoner Badger Boy, a white child taken from his murdered parents by a Comanche warrior.
    Suggested Reading: Western Stars
  • Hot House
    Author: Koeppen, Wolfgang
    Publisher: Norton $ 23.95 ISBN: 0393049027
    star Kirkus
    Harrowing, moody, and supremely powerful, The Hothouse, first published in 1953, stands among the finest novels written in postwar Germany. Largely unrecognized beyond Germany during his lifetime, Koeppen sought to make sense of German life amid the vast political and social reconstruction of the war-ravaged nation.
    Suggested Reading: World Wars Stars
  • The Far Field: A Novel of Ceylon
    Author: Meidav, Edie
    Publisher: Houghton $ 25 ISBN: 0618013660
    star PW
    Meidav explores the tragedy of colonialism in an epic first novel of stirring intensity. It's 1936, the world is sliding into war, and Henry Fyre Gould has left behind the salons and sheepish spiritualists of New York City for the British Colony of Ceylon. Expecting to win the people's hearts, Henry instead begins to slowly unravel on a hallucinatory journey through madness and ultimately to salvation.
  • Grimm's Last Fairy Tale
    Author: Middleton, Haydn
    Publisher: St. Martins $ 23.95 ISBN: 0312272901
    star Kirkus
    This compelling historical novel recreates the life story of literature's most famous brothers and could almost be a fairytale itself with its changes of fortune, tests of duty and honor, lost loves, and twisted family relationships. As Auguste, a niece, attempts to learn an old family secret, classic fairytales are retold, and the mysterious German woods forever haunt in the background.
  • Taps
    Author: Morris, Willie
    Publisher: Houghton Mifflin $ 26 ISBN: 0618098593
    star PW
    The final work by one of America's most celebrated authors. Called upon to play "Taps" at the funeral of a hometown boy killed early in the Korean War, 16-year-old Swayze Barksdale Swayze soon paces his life by these all-too-frequent funerals, where his horn sounds the tragic note of the times.
  • Gunman's Rhapsody
    Author: Parker, Robert B.
    Publisher: Putnam $ 22.95 ISBN: 0399147624
    star Kirkus
    This muscular yet sensitive take on the story of Wyatt Earp, the legendary late-19th-century lawman, is filled with all the danger and uncertainty of the Old West and set against the backdrop of his real-life romance with showgirl Josie Marcus. A novel of the Old West, imagined as only Robert B. Parker can.
    Suggested Reading: Western Stars
  • The Cloud Sketcher
    Author: Rayner, Richard
    Publisher: HarperCollins $ 25 ISBN: 0060196343
    star PW star LJ
    From the ice fields of rural Finland to the ruthless world of New York real estate speculation in 1928, The Cloud Sketcher traces the life of Esko Vaananen, a young architect who dreams of building skyscrapers and winning the love of a beautiful Russian aristocrat.
  • Monstruary
    Author: Rios, Julian
    Publisher: Knopf $ 25 ISBN: 0375408231
    star Kirkus
    The new novel by the author of the acclaimed Loves That Bind is a sensual exploration of art, literature, and the darker side of the human heart. - publisher marketing.
  • The Carpenter's Pencil
    Author: Rivas, Manuel
    Publisher: Overlook $ 24.95 ISBN: 1585671452
    star Kirkus
    Set in the dark days of the Spanish Civil War, this story charts the linked destinies of a doctor, his assistant and an unnamed painter who carries a carpenter's pencil.
  • The Dark Room
    Author: Seiffert, Rachel
    Publisher: Pantheon $ 24 ISBN: 0375421041
    star Kirkus star LJ
    A debut work of major importance, this novel retells the history of 20th-century Germany through the experiences of three ordinary Germans before, during and after World War II.
    Suggested Reading: World Wars Stars
  • I, Roger Williams: A Fragment of an Autobiograpy
    Author: Settle, Mary Lee
    Publisher: Norton $ 24.95 ISBN: 0393049051
    star Booklist
    Banished by his fellow colonists in the dead of winter, Roger Williams endured years of exile among the Narragansett Indians and narrates this tumultuous tale in the peaceful last years of his life. In this panorama of war and love, the reader finds the freedom of conscience is an idea worth dying for.
  • Frida
    Author: Mujica, Barbara
    Publisher: Overlook $ 26.95 ISBN: 158567074x
    star LJ
    Based on the life of artist and icon Frida Kahlo, this historical novel is told from the point of view of Frida's sister, Christine. What unfolds is both an intense tale of sibling rivalry, as both sisters vie for muralist Diego Rivera's affection, and a fascinating history of Mexico at the first half of the 20th century.
  • America's Children
    Author: Thackara, James
    Publisher: Overlook $ 26.95 ISBN: 1585671118
    Thackara's debut novel, published in the U.S. for the first time, explores the enigmatic J. Robert Oppenheimer and chronicles the birth of the nuclear age in America.
  • The Gardens of Kyoto
    Author: Walbert, Kate
    Publisher: Scribner $ 24 ISBN: 0684869489
    star LJ
    In a mesmerizing debut novel of romance and grief, a woman looks back on her coming of age in the long shadow of World War II and tells about the death of her favorite cousin, Randall, at Iwo Jima. When Ellen receives a package containing Randall's diary and a book called The Gardens of Kyoto, her bond to him is cemented and the mysteries of his short life starts to unravel.
    Suggested Reading: World Wars Stars
  • John Henry Days
    Author: Whitehead, Colson
    Publisher: Doubleday $ 24.95 ISBN: 0385498195
    star Kirkus star PW star Booklist
    From the author of The Intuitionist comes a retelling of the legend of John Henry that sweeps across generations and cultures in a stunning, hilarious, and unsettling portrait of American society.
  • The Right Hand of Sleep
    Author: Wray, John
    Publisher: Knopf $ 24 ISBN: 0375406514
    star PW star Kirkus
    Oskar Voxlauer, a teenage deserter from the Austro-Hungarian army in the World War I, returns to his birthplace after almost 20 years' exile in Communist Ukraine and faces the ghosts of his past including his fathers suicide and a love he can't forget.
    Suggested Reading: World Wars Stars
  • Visible Spirits
    Author: Yarbrough, Steve
    Publisher: Knopf $ 23 ISBN: 0375411593
    star PW
    In Loring, Mississippi, circa 1902, the tenure of a black postmistress is compromised by the prodigal son of a once proud planting family. So when President Roosevelt intervenes, this local, even personal dispute inevitably erupts, fueled by all the dark, brutal memories of slavery, war, and emancipation.


Historical Mysteries
Soon's Historical Fiction Site
Uchronia: Alternate History

Starred Review Lists

Books that received at least one starred review from Booklist, Kirkus, LJ, and PW.

2013 Crime Fiction: Jan-June | Fiction: Jan-June | Speculative Fiction

2012 Crime Fiction: July-Dec | Fiction: July-Dec | Speculative Fiction

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Crime Fiction... 2013 | 2012 | 2011

Fiction... 2013 | 2012 | 2011

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