Women in History: Fiction

Women’s History Month is almost over, but it’s never too late to read novels about times past and women who made history.

Daring-Young-Ladies-of-LowellThe Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
After trading the harsh life of farming for a textile factory job in Lowell, Massachusetts, Alice Barrow inadvertently moves into a role as spokesperson for workers’ rights after catching the eye of the mill owners’ son. Packed with details about the textile industry, working conditions and women’s roles in early 19th century life, this moving historical novel is also a complex mystery.


WenchWench by Dolan Perkins-Valdez
During the mid-1800s, resorts in slave-free states often hosted wealthy men and their slave mistresses. In this disturbing story, told from the perspective of four women whose masters bring them to vacation in Ohio each summer, modern readers catch a glimpse of emotional slavery’s insidious impact.


Pillow-Book-of-the-Flower-SamuraiPillow Book of the Flower Samurai by Barbara Lazar
Sold into slavery by her family in exchange for land, Kozaisho learns the skills of a geisha from her friend Tashiko and the ways of a warrior from her samurai teacher, Akio. Later, when Tashiko is murdered, Kozaisho hones her fighting skills to exact revenge. Anyone who thinks women can’t be warriors will think again after reading this fast-paced story.


Sleeping-DictionaryThe Sleeping Dictionary by Sujata Massey
Kamala’s coming-of-age story, set in the 1930s, parallels India’s move toward independence. Utterly engrossing and filled with historical details that immerse the reader in British colonial Calcutta, a forbidden romance between castes and a strong young woman’s fight for survival, this is a book to savor.


Little-RussianThe Little Russian by Susan Sherman
In early 20th century Soviet Union, Berta and Hershel’s good life together ends when she learns he smuggles arms for the Jewish Labour Bund. A failed operation forces Hershel to flee and Berta quickly loses everything. Her story of courage and devotion to her children in the face of civil war is a riveting paean to the feminine spirit.


For more historical fiction featuring strong female characters and famous women who made a difference in the world, check out a book list called “Feminism in Fiction” in our Library catalog.

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