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The top 10 historical fiction novels of 2013

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2013 was a special year for historical fiction. Some authors made their exciting historical fiction debuts while famed authors of the genre continued to give readers wonderful and captivating stories. Many historical figures were focused on this year ranging from the famous Marie Antoinette and alluring Zelda Fitzgerald while lesser known historical figures including Jane Shore and Frances Osgood got their chances to shine. Readers were transported back to Queen Elizabeth’s court and even the 1920’s. It was a wonderful year for historical fiction thanks to these tremendous ten novels and the authors who brought them to life. Here are the 10 best novels of 2013.

1. “Mrs. Poe” by Lynn Cullen:

Edgar Allan Poe is famous for his writing and interesting life, but behind every great man is a great woman and in Poe’s case, two great women. Lynn Cullen’s novel on the wife and beloved mistress of Edgar Allan Poe is an absolute delight and page turner. Seen through the eyes of his beloved muse and love, Frances “Fanny” Osgood, readers get to experience the world of Edgar Allan Poe and his relationship with his young and fragile wife Virginia and his intelligent and captivating Fanny. Cullen’s novel is brilliant as you feel an instant connection with all the characters and you disappear into their world. The novel is detailed, passionate, and hard to put down. Cullen’s writing is beautiful, the characters are fascinating, and the story is powerful. This is Cullen’s finest work and the best read for 2013. It is a novel for fans of Poe, fans of literature, fans of the time period, and fans of just amazing storytelling and characters.

Book Review: http://www.examiner.com/article/book-review-mrs-poe-by-lynn-cullen

To purchase: http://www.amazon.com/Mrs-Poe-Lynn-Cullen/dp/1476702918?tag=vglnkc3623-20

2. “Call Me Zelda” by Erika Robuck:

It was the year of Zelda Fitzgerald! The alluring and complex wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald had her story told twice this year in very different ways. Erika Robuck’s version features a darker and sadder Zelda, broken from a lifestyle of heartache, sorrow, and a complicated marriage. Robuck’s story focuses on the relationship between Zelda and a kind nurse named Anne assigned to help Zelda. A powerful bond develops between Zelda and Anne and Anne becomes a fixture in the dark and painful Fitzgerald home and life, all while dealing with her own personal pain and demons. This novel explores the darker side of Zelda Fitzgerald and is a truly character driven story through the fantastic portrayals of Zelda, Anne, and even F. Scott. Roebuck’s amazing storytelling and strong characters are a delight.

Book Review: http://www.examiner.com/article/book-review-call-me-zelda-by-erika-robuck

To purchase: http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/045123992X

3. “Confessions of Marie Antoinette” by Juliet Grey:

Grab your tissues, this one is a tearjerker! Juliet Grey’s trilogy on the story of Marie Antoinette has been magnificent to read and each book has been a great and special read, but it is her final story in the trilogy that is the most beautiful. This novel follows Marie Antoinette’s final days living in fear and experiencing tremendous loss. Grey powerfully portrays the end of the glittering, scandalous, and fascinating French queen and leaves readers in tears. Grey’s portrayal of Marie Antoinette is one that cannot be forgotten. She has created a portrait of Marie Antointte that shows her as a devoted wife, loving mother, and true friend. This novel on Marie Antoinette is particularly moving because of Grey’s research, detail, writing, and most importantly, her understanding, respect, and love of Marie Antoinette. This is a truly respectful and moving tribute to Marie Antoinette.

Book Review: http://www.examiner.com/article/book-review-confessions-of-marie-antoinette-by-juliet-grey

To purchase: http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Marie-Antoinette-Novel-Trilogy/dp/0345523903

4. “Dollface: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties” by Renee Rosen:

This 1920’s novel is one of the most fun and fascinating reads of 2013! This novel explores the world of the fictional Vera Abramowitz, the wife and lover of two rival gangsters. Set during the Roaring 1920’s, this novel is just delicious to read. Renee Rosen is such a talented writer that she makes you feel as if you have been transported back to 1920’s Chicago and living Vera’s life. Rosen pays such attention to the details of the time period and also creates a fascinating heroine in Vera. No one captured a time period in historical fiction in 2013 better than Rosen!

Book Review: http://www.examiner.com/article/book-review-dollface-a-novel-of-the-roaring-twenties-by-renee-rosen

To purchase: http://www.amazon.com/Dollface-A-Novel-Roaring-Twenties/dp/0451419200

5. “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald” by Therese Anne Fowler:

Zelda Fitzgerald was beautifully portrayed in historical fiction in 2013 and Therese Anne Fowler was another author who gave the charming and sassy Zelda another wonderful portrayal. Fowler’s novel focuses on the story of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald from their very beginning together, the glittering days they had together traveling the world and experiencing Fitzgerald’s success, and the darker days when the marriage turned ugly and both fell apart as people and as a couple. Fowler’s portrayal of Zelda is beautiful. You see her develop and change throughout the novel and experience her highs and lows alongside her. Fowler’s portrayal of the relationship between Scott and Zelda is also particularly special, full of love, hate, and pain. This novel on the woman behind F. Scott Fitzgerald was a highlight of 2013.

Book Review: http://www.examiner.com/article/book-review-z-a-novel-of-zelda-fitzgerald-by-therese-anne-fowler

To purchase: http://www.amazon.com/Z-A-Novel-Zelda-Fitzgerald/dp/1250028655

6. “Venus in Winter” by Gillian Bagwell:

A list on the best novels of the year in historical fiction always has to feature a work by Gillian Bagwell. Bagwell always writes novels on such fascinating and complex women. She gives female historical figures such a voice and a special portrayal. Bagwell does just this with her portrayal of Elizabeth “Bess” of Hardwick, an intelligent and admirable woman of the Tudor period. Bagwell’s portrayal of the strong, independent, and formidable woman is so detailed and well-crafted and readers get to experience her journey alongside her. This is Bagwell’s first venture into the Tudor period and it is a true success!

Book Review: http://www.examiner.com/article/book-review-venus-winter-by-gillian-bagwell

To purchase: http://www.amazon.com/Venus-Winter-Novel-Bess-Hardwick/dp/0425258025?tag=vglnkc3623-20

7. “The Forgotten Queen” by DL Bogdan:

Many women of the Tudor period have been featured in historical fiction, but King Henry VIII’s older sister who went on to be Queen of Scotland often is ignored. Margaret Tudor finally gets her chance to shine thanks to DL Bogdan. Bogdan’s novel on the life of Margaret Tudor from Tudor princess to Queen of Scotland to strong and protective mother of a king is a delight to read. Bogdan does a great job in portraying Margaret as a woman who is as strong and passionate, makes mistakes, is selfish, but loves fiercely. Bogdan does an amazing job giving readers a strong, complex, and fascinating queen to learn more about and root for.

Book Review: http://www.examiner.com/article/book-review-the-forgotten-queen-by-dl-bogdan

To purchase: http://www.amazon.com/The-Forgotten-Queen-D-L-Bogdan/dp/0758271387

8. “The Painted Girls” by Cathy Marie Buchanan:

A novel about two very different sisters, ballet, and Belle Époque Paris is simply irresistible for fans of historical fiction. Cathy Marie Buchanan’s novel on two sisters in love with two very different things: ballet and a man and how it changes their lives forever is a truly special read from 2013. The novel follows the tragic lives of Antoinette and Marie van Goethem and their very different lives and passions. Buchanan powerfully portrays each sister and both the glamour and darkness of Belle Époque Paris. Whether it be strong storytelling, a love of the time period, ballet, or art, Buchanan gives readers everything and more in this novel!

Book Review: http://www.examiner.com/article/book-review-the-painted-girls-by-cathy-marie-buchanan

To purchase: http://www.amazon.com/The-Painted-Girls-A-Novel/dp/1594486247

9. “Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I” by Sandra Byrd:

No one portrays female friendship better than Sandra Byrd. Byrd has a gift at showing the bond between a queen and her lady-in-waiting Byrd’s novel on the life of Elin von Snakenborg, a young woman who left her home of Sweden for England, became a marchioness, and faithful lady-in-waiting and friend to Queen Elizabeth is a portrayal of beautiful friendship. Most historical fiction novels have shown Queen Elizabeth as being cruel and harsh to her ladies, but Byrd’s novel portrays that female friendship, even between a queen and her lady-in-waiting can be positive, uplifting, and complex. Byrd gives readers yet another well-written and “girl power” novel that is a joy to read!

Book Review: http://www.examiner.com/article/book-review-roses-have-thorns-a-novel-of-elizabeth-i-by-sandra-byrd

To purchase: http://www.amazon.com/Roses-Have-Thorns-Novel-Elizabeth/dp/1439183163

10. “Royal Mistress” by Anne Easter Smith:

It is a gift to write a story about a royal mistress and make the royal mistress likable and root-worthy. Anne Easter Smith does just that in her novel on Jane Shore, the mistress of King Edward IV of England. Smith’s story of the beautiful and kind daughter of a silk merchant who becomes the beloved mistress of a king is an enjoyable read. Smith always has the strength and skill of giving readers entertainment and history. Her novel is entertaining as you read about Jane’s life, but she also provides history about the time period such as King Edward’s reign and the mystery of the Lost Princes in the Tower that is impeccably researched. Fans of historical fiction are particular about history and getting the facts right and “Royal Mistress” is the beautiful blend of entertainment and history

Book Review: http://www.examiner.com/article/book-review-royal-mistress-by-anne-easter-smith

To purchase: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1451648626

2013 was a delightful year in historical fiction! Here’s to what 2014 will bring fans of historical fiction!

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