Historical Fiction That Is Not Set During WWII

I am a huge historical fiction fan.  I love experiencing an era's culture and feel through books.  Like many of us, I inhaled the wave that was World War II based fiction.  I read about spies, soldiers, and victims of the awful tragedies that occurred during such an awful time.....and finally, I was burned out.  I went searching for more historical fiction that wasn't set during the 1940s, and man was it hard to find.  After some digging, I was able to read about parts of history I had never even heard about (the beauty of literature am I right?) without sitting in a classroom falling asleep at my desk.  So here it is, my favorite historical fiction novels not set against the backdrop of WWII.

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Fever 1793 follows fourteen year old Mattie Cook in late-18th century Philadelphia.  The United States is just a young country trying to find its way, similar to Mattie herself.  After her father passes away in a tragic accident, she helps her mother run the family coffeehouse.  Life is business as usual until Yellowfever starts to spread quickly and close to home.  Mattie must fight for family and her own livelihood and survival. 

Purchase here.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah 

Written by the QUEEN herself, The Great Alone is set in 1970s Alaska.  We follow a young teen, Leni, and her mother, Cora, and their tumultuous life with their father and husband who is recently home from the Vietnam War.  On a sudden decision to move his family to a desolate and freezing cold state, Leni and Cora, face the tortures of human nature as well as the brutal Alaskan winter.  Hannah writes about perseverance and the importance of community.

Purchase here.

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

Rachel Kalama is a seven year old living in Hawaii in the late 1890s.  She dreams of far off adventures similar to her father's, who works as a merchant seaman.  Her dreams coming to a stunning halt when marks of leprosy begin to appear.  She is quarantined onto an island with others suffering of the disease at a young, tender age.  Moloka'i transports us a time before advances in medicine and the stigma that can quickly take over a disease.  

Purchase here.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours is set in 1939 Memphis, Tennessee and tells the tragic story of generations affected by the dark truth behind the Tennessee Children's Home Society orphanage.  Based on a true story, the orphanage's director, Georgia Tann, would kidnap and sell poor children to wealthy families.  We follow Avery Stafford in this duel timeline novel, who is about to unearth a plethora of family secrets that are threatening to be buried in the past.

Purchase here.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Lavinia is a seven year old orphan, who recently immigrated to the United States from Ireland.  In this pre-civil war era, she is set to work as a servant on a plantation in Virginia where she serves the mistress of the house who's ongoing struggle with opium addiction is getting more severe each day.  Lavinia is raised by Belle, the master's illegitimate slave daughter.  Her white skin causes divisions among her adopted family as she struggles to fit into plantation life while growing up.

Purchase here.

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