From queens to activists to wives to mothers, there is no shortage of strong, tenacious women throughout history. These inspiring and powerful historical fiction novels about real women offer the perfect glance at women facing challenging circumstances head-on while remaining true to who they are. If you’re interested in learning a thing or two about women in history during Women’s History Month or just want to be entertained by some great books, I highly recommend these captivating novels.
Set in the mid-1500s, this historical fiction novel follows the life of Lady Jane Grey, who was the queen of England for only nine short days. Her father and his allies crowned her queen instead of the Catholic Mary Tudor, who quickly gathered an army and conquered the throne before locking Jane in the Tower of London. Anyone who has read Philippa Gregory knows that her books are extremely well researched, and THE LAST TUDOR is no exception!
This book tells the extraordinary story of Rachel, the mother of the famous painter Camille Pissarro. As she grows up in a Jewish refugee community in St. Thomas in the early 1800s, Rachel’s life has never been her own. To save her father’s business, Rachel is forced to marry an old widower with three children, even though she doesn’t love him. But when her husband suddenly dies and Rachel meets the young and handsome Frédérick, Rachel seizes her own life and begins a defiant and passionate love affair that sparks a scandal affecting her whole family—even her favorite son, who will become one of the greatest artists in France.
Wendy’s Fictional Dinner Party Guest: Rachel Pomié Petit Pizzarro
Rachel Pomié Petit Pizzarro is a woman full of fire and life. A businesswoman, a romantic, a renegade, she’s quite the nineteenth-century badass, not taking anyone else’s advice on how to live her life. I respect and admire her passion, vulnerability, and fearlessness in the face of the judgment of her insular St. Thomas community. She followed her heart, suffered for it, and lived the life she wanted—with a great love and many children, one of whom was the artist Camille Pissarro, father of Impressionism. No doubt, she would command the room.
Following the life of my favorite royals and the companion novel to the TV show on PBS Masterpiece, this book takes you back to the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign. From the timid, sheltered eighteen-year-old girl to the woman who will rule an empire, Victoria’s transformation is an inspiring tale of perseverance and tenacity. Touching on the very real romance between Victoria and her husband, Albert, this impeccably researched and vividly imagined book offers readers a glance at Queen Victoria as they’ve never seen her before.
Taking us back to the days of the American Revolution, America’s First Daughter tells the inspiring tale of Thomas Jefferson’s daughter Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph. As Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Patsy becomes his helper, protector, and constant companion following her mother’s death. Traveling back and forth between France and Virginia, Patsy falls in love with her father’s protégé, William Short. Torn between her love for William and being a devoted daughter, Patsy must decide how much she is willing to sacrifice to protect her family.
Another story set during the American Revolution, this one follows Eliza Hamilton, wife of Alexander Hamilton and a strong-willed heroine in her own right. After marrying Alexander, Eliza becomes an adored member of society and is respected for her fierce devotion to her husband as well as her own social work. Faced with public scandal, betrayal, personal heartbreak, and tragedy, Eliza is tested over and over again. But despite all the many hardships that come her way, she remains Alexander’s—and America’s—most loyal advocate.
This book, which inspired an Amazon series, tells the story of how Zelda Sayre became Zelda Fitzgerald despite F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unsuitability. This novel will transport you to the glamorous Jazz Age and chronicles Zelda’s life of parties, novels, scandals, and ultimately, tragedy, taking you around the globe. This alluring book reveals the real and complicated woman behind the scandals and gives readers a glimpse into one of the most famous wives in literary history.
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.
Based on the legendary performer and activist Josephine Baker, this book brings to life Josephine’s early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. Josephine’s life is encouraging and devastating and portrays both the triumph of fame as well as the losses suffered along the way. This impeccably researched book is a joyous celebration of a powerful woman who continues to inspire people today.
From the author of The Jewel of Medina, a moving and insightful novel based on the life of legendary performer and activist Josephine Baker, perfect for fans of The Paris Wife and Hidden Figures.
Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.
In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine's early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.
With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry Jones brings this remarkable and compelling public figure into focus for the first time in a joyous celebration of a life lived in technicolor, a powerful woman who continues to inspire today.