Share Stand By Your Man: 11 Novels of Not-So-Famous Women and Their Very Famous Men

Stand By Your Man: 11 Novels of Not-So-Famous Women and Their Very Famous Men

Caitlin Kleinschmidt is part of the sales team at Workman Publishing. She has previously held positions at Viking/Riverhead, Simon & Schuster, Oxford University Press, and Macmillan. A Navy brat, she lived on both coasts and credits the Dear America series for her lifelong love of history. She has a special place in her heart for narrative nonfiction, as well as books about Eastern Europe and ballet.

History is replete with men who have reigned over empires, written great novels, and created lasting works of art. But behind nearly every great man, there’s a great woman. Through the magic of storytelling, novelists are illuminating the love stories and betrayals behind history’s greatest artistic and political figures—and bringing the women who loved and inspired them to life.


The Paris Wife
by Paula McLain

This deeply intimate novel captures the love affair between two unforgettable figures: Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Despite their extraordinary bond, the Hemingways are ill-prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, and they find themselves facing a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

The Paris Wife
Paula McLain

This deeply intimate novel captures the love affair between two unforgettable figures: Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Despite their extraordinary bond, the Hemingways are ill-prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, and they find themselves facing a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

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The Aviator's Wife
by Melanie Benjamin

Anne Morrow always stood in the shadows of those around her, but when she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic, the famous aviator sees a kindred sprit, a fellow adventurer. Married in a headline-making wedding, her fairy-tale life brings heartbreak and hardships, and ultimately pushes her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence.

The Aviator's Wife
Melanie Benjamin

Anne Morrow always stood in the shadows of those around her, but when she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic, the famous aviator sees a kindred sprit, a fellow adventurer. Married in a headline-making wedding, her fairy-tale life brings heartbreak and hardships, and ultimately pushes her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence.

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Stand By Your Man: 11 Novels of Not-So-Famous Women and Their Very Famous Men

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 26, 2015

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Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
by Therese Anne Fowler

When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1918, the “ungettable” Zelda falls for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or even a Southerner, and he keeps insisting that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. What comes next, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
Therese Anne Fowler

When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1918, the “ungettable” Zelda falls for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or even a Southerner, and he keeps insisting that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. What comes next, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time.

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Stand By Your Man: 11 Novels of Not-So-Famous Women and Their Very Famous Men

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 26, 2015

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Ahab's Wife
by Sena Jeter Naslund
Una Spenser's marriage to Captain Ahab (from the classic Moby Dick) is a crucial element in this novel, but the story covers vastly more territory. The story flashes back to Una's childhood in Kentucky; her adventures disguised as a cabin boy on a whaling ship; her first marriage which descends into violent madness; her courtship and marriage to Ahab; involvement with Frederick Douglass; and a man in Nantucket writing about his time on her ex-husband's ship.
Ahab's Wife
Sena Jeter Naslund

Inspired by a brief passage in Moby-Dick and informed by the spirit of the greatest American novel from its famous opening line—“Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last”—this book lets you know that you are in the hands of a master storyteller. Sure, Captain Ahab is a fictional character, but this novel is so rich and enthralling, we just had to bend the rules for it.

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Stand By Your Man: 11 Novels of Not-So-Famous Women and Their Very Famous Men

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Loving Frank
by Nancy Horan

After he was commissioned to design a new house for her and her husband in 1903, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney embarked on an affair that shocked Chicago society. While scholars have largely relegated her to a footnote in Wright’s life, this novel brilliantly weaves together fact and fiction to illuminate Mamah’s profound influence on America’s greatest architect.

Loving Frank
Nancy Horan

After he was commissioned to design a new house for her and her husband in 1903, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney embarked on an affair that shocked Chicago society. While scholars have largely relegated her to a footnote in Wright’s life, this novel brilliantly weaves together fact and fiction to illuminate Mamah’s profound influence on America’s greatest architect.

MENTIONED IN:

Stand By Your Man: 11 Novels of Not-So-Famous Women and Their Very Famous Men

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 26, 2015

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The Traitor's Wife
by Allison Pataki

This historical novel follows the love triangle that nearly destroyed America’s fight for freedom. It focuses on Peggy Shippen Arnold, the cunning wife of Benedict Arnold and the mastermind behind America’s most infamous—and misunderstood—act of treason.

The Traitor's Wife
Allison Pataki

This historical novel follows the love triangle that nearly destroyed America’s fight for freedom. It focuses on Peggy Shippen Arnold, the cunning wife of Benedict Arnold and the mastermind behind America’s most infamous—and misunderstood—act of treason.

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The White Queen
by Philippa Gregory

The wars of the Plantagenets are brought to life through the dramatic story of Elizabeth Woodville, a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who secretly married the newly crowned boy king, and whose sons become the central figures in an unsolved mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the murdered princes in the Tower of London.

The White Queen
Philippa Gregory

The wars of the Plantagenets are brought to life through the dramatic story of Elizabeth Woodville, a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who secretly married the newly crowned boy king, and whose sons become the central figures in an unsolved mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the murdered princes in the Tower of London.

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The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.
by Sandra Gulland

The first of three books inspired by the life of Josephine Bonaparte follows the life of the French empress from the remote village of her birth to the height of European elegance. Her extraordinary charm, cunning, and will to survive catapult her into the heart of society where she meets Napoleon, whose destiny will prove to be irrevocably intertwined with hers.

The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.
Sandra Gulland

The first of three books inspired by the life of Josephine Bonaparte follows the life of the French empress from the remote village of her birth to the height of European elegance. Her extraordinary charm, cunning, and will to survive catapult her into the heart of society where she meets Napoleon, whose destiny will prove to be irrevocably intertwined with hers.

MENTIONED IN:

Stand By Your Man: 11 Novels of Not-So-Famous Women and Their Very Famous Men

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 26, 2015

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The Master's Muse
by Varley O'Connor

This unforgettable novel about the love affair between two dance legends has all the pathos of a great tragic ballet. When Tanaquil Le Clercq, a star ballerina at the height of her powers, is paralyzed after a battle with polio, her marriage to the influential choreographer George Balanchine is challenged as he continues to choreograph ballets inspired by ever-younger talented dancers.

The Master's Muse
Varley O'Connor

This unforgettable novel about the love affair between two dance legends has all the pathos of a great tragic ballet. When Tanaquil Le Clercq, a star ballerina at the height of her powers, is paralyzed after a battle with polio, her marriage to the influential choreographer George Balanchine is challenged as he continues to choreograph ballets inspired by ever-younger talented dancers.

MENTIONED IN:

Stand By Your Man: 11 Novels of Not-So-Famous Women and Their Very Famous Men

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 26, 2015

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Mrs. Poe
by Lynn Cullen
Inspired by literature’s most haunting love triangle, this vivid and compelling novel is about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe. But when Poe’s frail wife insists on befriending her as well, the relationship becomes as dark and twisted as one of Poe’s gothic tales.
Mrs. Poe
Lynn Cullen

Lynn Cullen had me from the first paragraph.

“When given bad news, most women of my station can afford to slump onto their divans, their china cups slipping from their fingers to the carpet, their hair falling prettily from its pins, their 14 starched petticoats compacting with a plush crunch. I am not one of them.”

Read Juliette Fay’s review here.

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Mrs. Hemingway
by Naomi Wood

Each of Ernest Hemingway’s four wives thought their love would last forever, and each one was wrong. Spanning 1920s bohemian Paris through 1960s Cold War America and based on real love letters and telegrams, and this novel explores how it was to love, and be loved by, the most famous writer of his generation.

Mrs. Hemingway
Naomi Wood

Each of Ernest Hemingway’s four wives thought their love would last forever, and each one was wrong. Spanning 1920s bohemian Paris through 1960s Cold War America and based on real love letters and telegrams, and this novel explores how it was to love, and be loved by, the most famous writer of his generation.

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