Maybe you’re here because you recently discovered Netflix’s adaptation of Kristin Hannah’s novel Firefly Lane, or maybe you’ve been following Hannah’s work for years. Either way, you clearly have an affinity for memorable female characters, emotionally resonant story lines, and poignant reminders of the undeniable power of love in all its forms. Armed with this knowledge, I’ve put together a list of six books to pick up if you love Kristin Hannah and wish to discover similar authors.
Still thinking about THE NIGHTINGALE? Return to France in Kristin Harmel’s powerful novel THE ROOM ON RUE AMÉLIE, which is also set during World War II. This story centers on a young widow named Ruby, an American who learns that her husband, Marcel, had been working for the French resistance when he was killed. To honor his memory, she takes up his mission. Soon Ruby is risking her own life to hide Allied soldiers, including a handsome pilot, as well as one of her neighbors, a little girl named Charlotte, after her parents are captured by the Gestapo.
It’s common to come away from Kristin Hannah’s books full of awe about human beings’ endless capacity for hope and love even in the face of extreme adversity. This same theme rings throughout Sadeqa Johnson’s historical fiction tale YELLOW WIFE. Born into slavery on a plantation in Virginia, heroine Pheby Delores Brown dreams of a brighter future where she can be with the man she loves. When another cruel twist of fate lands her in an infamous jail, however, Pheby must risk everything for a chance at starting over.
“A fully immersive, intricately crafted story inspired by the pages of history. In Pheby, Sadeqa Johnson has created a woman whose struggle to survive and to protect the ones she loves will have readers turning the pages as fast as their fingers can fly. Simply enthralling.” —Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours
Called "wholly engrossing" by New York Times bestselling author Kathleen Grissom, this harrowing story follows an enslaved woman forced to barter love and freedom while living in the most infamous slave jail in Virginia.
Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown has lived a relatively sheltered life. Shielded by her mother’s position as the estate’s medicine woman and cherished by the Master’s sister, she is set apart from the others on the plantation, belonging to neither world.
She’d been promised freedom on her eighteenth birthday, but instead of the idyllic life she imagined with her true love, Essex Henry, Pheby is forced to leave the only home she has ever known. She unexpectedly finds herself thrust into the bowels of slavery at the infamous Devil’s Half Acre, a jail in Richmond, Virginia, where the enslaved are broken, tortured, and sold every day. There, Pheby is exposed not just to her Jailer’s cruelty but also to his contradictions. To survive, Pheby will have to outwit him, and she soon faces the ultimate sacrifice.
While Europe is a popular setting for World War II fiction, there are more incredible stories to read about what it was like to live through this tumultuous period all across the globe. One novel that offers a different perspective is WHITE CHRYSANTHEMUM by Mary Lynn Bracht, which takes place in Korea, a country that was under Japanese occupation when the war broke out. Talented diver Hana sacrifices her own freedom to save her beloved sister, Emi, from a Japanese soldier. Sixty years later, Emi is still haunted by the knowledge of what her sister endured in captivity. Can she reckon with the past and find peace in her present?
Before she became known for her historical fiction, Kristin Hannah made her mark on contemporary fiction. Debut author R.J. Hoffman is primed to do the same, starting with OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN, a moving novel about the meaning of family. After several devastating miscarriages, Gail and Jon Durbin are pursuing adoption when, at last, they’re given a chance to become doting parents thanks to Carli, a pregnant teenager who’s not yet ready to be a mom. The only issue is that her own mother, Marla, can’t bear the idea of her grandchild growing up in someone else’s home. With a child’s happiness hanging in the balance, what are they to do?
A riveting debut novel about a couple whose dream of adopting a baby is shattered when the teenage mother reclaims her child.
What makes a family?
Gail and Jon Durbin moved to the Chicago suburbs to set up house as soon as Gail got pregnant. But then she miscarried—once, twice, three times. Determined to expand their family, the Durbins turn to adoption. When several adoptions fall through, Gail’s desire for a child overwhelms her.
Carli is a pregnant teenager from a blue-collar town nearby, with dreams of going to college and getting out of her mother’s home. When she makes the gut-wrenching decision to give her baby up for adoption, she chooses the Durbins. But Carli’s mother, Marla, has other plans for her grandbaby.
In Other People’s Children, three mothers make excruciating choices to protect their families and their dreams—choices that put them at decided odds against one another. You will root for each one of them and wonder just how far you’d go in the same situation. This riveting debut is a thoughtful exploration of love and family, and a heart-pounding page-turner you’ll find impossible to put down.
If Tully and Kate’s unshakable bond in FIREFLY LANE struck a chord with you, try Tif Marcelo’s IN A BOOK CLUB FAR AWAY. The novel welcomes us into the lives of three Army wives—Adelaide, Regina, and Sophie—who met in a book club and used to be best friends, until an abrupt falling out sent them in different directions. And yet, when Adelaide contacts Regina and Sophie out of the blue eight years later, they are unable to deny her request for help taking care of her young daughter while she undergoes emergency surgery. Is there a chance the three women can repair their friendship?
From the author of Once Upon a Sunset and The Key to Happily Ever After comes a heartwarming and moving novel following three Army wives—estranged friends—who must overcome their differences when one of them is desperate for help.
Regina Castro, Adelaide Wilson-Chang, and Sophie Walden used to be best friends. As Army wives at Fort East, they bonded during their book club and soon became inseparable. But when an unimaginable betrayal happened amongst the group, the friendship abruptly ended, and they haven’t spoken since.
That’s why, eight years later, Regina and Sophie are shocked when they get a call for help from Adelaide. Adelaide’s husband is stationed abroad, and without any friends or family near her new home of Alexandria, Virginia, she has no one to help take care of her young daughter when she has to undergo emergency surgery. For the sake of an innocent child, Regina and Sophie reluctantly put their differences aside to help an old friend.
As the three women reunite, they must overcome past hurts and see if there’s any future for their friendship. Featuring Tif Marcelo’s signature “enchanting prose” (Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake) and the books that brought them together in the first place, In a Book Club Far Away honors the immense power of female friendship and how love can defy time, distance, and all old wounds.
In her most recent release, THE FOUR WINDS, Kristin Hannah transports readers back in time to the Great Depression era, when a tough-as-nails woman makes the brave choice to move her family west from the Great Plains to California. For an equally moving story in the same period, check out William Kent Krueger’s THIS TENDER LAND. In it you’ll meet the spirited young troublemaker Odie O’Banion, who decides to run away from his school with his brother, Albert, and their friends Mose and Emmy. Fueled by dreams of finding a new home along the Mississippi River, the four kids embark on the trip of a lifetime.
For fans of Before We Were Yours and Where the Crawdads Sing, “a gripping, poignant tale swathed in both mythical and mystical overtones” (Bob Drury, New York Times bestselling author) that follows four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the New York Times bestselling author of Ordinary Grace.
1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.
Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will fly into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an enthralling, big-hearted epic that is “more than a simple journey; it is a deeply satisfying odyssey, a quest in search of self and home” (Booklist).
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