Stolen Beauty: a novel / Laurie Lico Albanese
A tale based on the true story behind the creation and near destruction of Gustav Klimt’s most remarkable paintings traces the experiences of one of the master artist’s lovers in 1900 Vienna, whose experiences with anti-Semitism inspire the survival of her niece when the Nazis invade Austria decades later.
The Paris Key / Juliet Blackwell
An American in Paris navigates her family’s secret past and unlocks her own future, in this emotionally evocative novel. As a girl, Genevieve Martin spent the happiest summer of her life in Paris, learning the delicate art of locksmithing at her uncle’s side. But since then, living back in the States, she has become more private, more subdued. She has been an observer of life rather than an active participant, holding herself back from those around her, including her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Paris never really left Genevieve, and, as her marriage crumbles, she finds herself faced with an incredible opportunity: return to the magical city of her youth to take over her late uncle’s shop. But as she absorbs all that Parisian culture has to offer, she realizes the city also holds secrets about her family that could change her forever, and that locked doors can protect you or imprison you, depending on which side of them you stand.
Possession: a romance / A.S. Byatt
Possession is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once an intellectual mystery and triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets. As they uncover their letters, journals, and poems, and track their movements from London to Yorkshire—from spiritualist séances to the fairy-haunted far west of Brittany—what emerges is an extraordinary counterpoint of passions and ideas.
The Lost Letter / Jillian Cantor
A heartbreaking, heartwarming historical novel of love and survival inspired by real resistance workers during World War II in Austria, and the mysterious love letter that connects generations of Jewish families.
The Chemistry of Tears / Peter Carey
Museum curator Catherine’s affair comes to an abrupt end with her married lover’s untimely death. Denied outward grief by the nature of their relationship, Catherine retreats into isolation. Delving into notebooks more than a century old, she feels a growing connection to Henry Brandling, who in 1854 gave life to a mechanical creature.
The Cloister: a novel / James Carroll
Father Michael Kavanagh is shocked to see a friend from his seminary days named Runner Malloy at the altar of his humble Inwood community parish. Wondering about their past, he wanders into the medieval haven of The Cloisters, and begins a conversation with a lovely and intriguing museum guide, Rachel Vedette. Rachel, a scholar of medieval history, has retreated to the quiet of The Cloisters after her harrowing experience as a Jewish woman in France during the Holocaust. She ponders her late father’s greatest intellectual work: a study demonstrating the relationship between the famously discredited monk Peter Abelard and Jewish scholars. Something about Father Kavanagh makes Rachel think he might appreciate her continued studies, and she shares with him the work that cost her father his life. At the center of these interrelated stories is the classic romance between the great scholar Peter Abelard and his intellectual equal Héloïse. For Rachel, Abelard is the key to understanding her people’s place in intellectual history. For Kavanagh, he is a doorway to understanding the life he might have had outside of the Church.
The Virgin Blue / Tracy Chevalier
Meet Ella Turner and Isabelle du Moulin—two women born centuries apart, yet bound by a fateful family legacy. When Ella and her husband move to a small town in France, Ella hopes to brush up on her French, qualify to practice as a midwife, and start a family of her own. Village life turns out to be less idyllic than she expected, however, and a peculiar dream of the color blue propels her on a quest to uncover her family’s French ancestry. As the novel unfolds—alternating between Ella’s story and that of Isabelle du Moulin four hundred years earlier—a common thread emerges that unexpectedly links the two women.
The Debt of Tamar: a novel / Nicole Dweck
Four hundred years before Oskar Schindler there was Suleiman the Magnificent, an Ottoman sultan who rescued thousands of Jews from the Inquisition. In 1544, as Inquisition fires rage in Portugal, young Josâe Mendez discovers he’s Jewish–and that his parents died for their faith. With the help of the Ottoman sultan, he escapes and makes a new life in Istanbul, where he digs deeper into his Jewish roots. But when his own daughter secretly falls in love with the sultan’s Muslim grandson, Josâe finds himself in a life-changing dilemma, one that will shape generations to come. In 2002, Selim Osman, the last living descendant of the Ottoman sultanate, flees Istanbul for New York. In a twist of fate he meets Hannah, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. Unaware the connection they share goes back centuries, Hannah and Selim feel an immediate pull to one another. But when something from Selim’s past comes to light, the act that bound two families’ ages ago ripples into the future, threatening to tear them apart.
The Confidant / Helene Gremillon
Paris, 1975. Camille sifts through letters of condolence after her mother’s death when a strange, handwritten missive stops her short. At first she believes she received it by mistake. But then, a new letter arrives each week from a mysterious stranger, Louis, who seems intent on recounting the story of his first love, Annie. They were separated in the years before World War II when Annie befriended a wealthy, barren couple and fell victim to a merciless plot just as German troops arrive in Paris. But also awaiting Camille’s discovery is the other side of the story, which will call into question Annie’s innocence and reveal the devastating consequences of jealousy and revenge. As Camille reads on, she begins to realize that her own life may be the next chapter in this tragic story.
A Guide for the Perplexed: a novel / Dara Horn
While consulting at an Egyptian library, software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi is kidnapped and her talent for preserving memories becomes her only means of escape as the power of her ingenious work is revealed, while jealous sister Judith takes over Josie’s life at home.
The Weight of Ink / Rachel Kadish
An ailing historian with a fondness for Jewish history reviews 17th century documents discovered during a renovation in Amsterdam, and learns the story of an emigrant who worked as a scribe for a blind rabbi just before the onslaught of the plague.
The Time Traveler’s Wife / Audrey Niffenegger
Passionately in love, Clare and Henry vow to hold onto each other and their marriage as they struggle with the effects of Chrono-Displacement Disorder, a condition that casts Henry involuntarily into the world of time travel.
The Maze at Windermere / Gregory Blake Smith
A richly layered novel of love, ambition, and duplicity, set against the storied seascape of Newport, Rhode Island. A reckless wager between a tennis pro with a fading career and a drunken party guest–the stakes are an antique motorcycle and an heiress’s diamond necklace–launches a narrative odyssey that braids together three centuries of aspiration and adversity. A witty and urbane bachelor of the Gilded Age embarks on a high-risk scheme to marry into a fortune; a young writer soon to make his mark turns himself to his craft with harrowing social consequences; an aristocratic British officer during the American Revolution carries on a courtship that leads to murder; and, in Newport’s earliest days, a tragically orphaned Quaker girl imagines a way forward for herself and the slave girl she has inherited.
The Volcano Lover: a romance / Susan Sontag
Set in 18th century Naples, based on the lives of Sir William Hamilton, his celebrated wife Emma, and Lord Nelson, and peopled with many of the great figures of the day, this unconventional, bestselling historical romance from the National Book Award-winning author of In America touches on themes of sex and revolution, the fate of nature, art and the collector’s obsessions, and, above all, love.
The Map of Love / Ahdaf Soueif
Isabel Parkman, an American journalist, discovers that her romance with an Egyptian-American conductor is paralleled by her great-grandparents’ romance.
The Secret Life of Violet Grant / Beatriz Williams
Manhattan, 1964. Vivian Schuyler, newly graduated from Bryn Mawr College, has recently defied the privilege of her storied old Fifth Avenue family to do the unthinkable for a budding Kennedy-era socialite: break into the Mad Men world of razor-stylish Metropolitan magazine. But when she receives a bulky overseas parcel in the mail, the unexpected contents draw her inexorably back into her family’s past, and the hushed-over crime of an aunt she never knew, whose existence has been wiped from the record of history. Berlin, 1914. Violet Schuyler Grant endures her marriage to the philandering and decades-older scientist Dr. Walter Grant for one reason: for all his faults, he provides the necessary support to her liminal position as a young American female physicist in prewar Germany. Lionel Richardson, a captain in the British Army, challenges Violet to escape her husband’s perverse hold. As the iridescent and fractured Vivian digs deeper into her aunt’s past and the mystery of her ultimate fate, Violet’s story of determination and desire unfolds, shedding light on the darkness of her years abroad and teaching Vivian to reach forward with grace for the ambitious future–and the love–she wants most.
The Scribe of Siena: a novel / Melodie Winawer
Deep into medieval Italy, where the past and present blur and a twenty-first century woman will discover a plot to destroy Siena. Accomplished neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato knows that her deep empathy for her patients is starting to impede her work. So when her beloved brother passes away, she welcomes the unexpected trip to the Tuscan city of Siena to resolve his estate, even as she wrestles with grief. But as she delves deeper into her brother’s affairs, she discovers intrigue she never imagined–a 700-year-old conspiracy to decimate the city. After uncovering the journal and paintings of Gabriele Accorsi, the fourteenth-century artist at the heart of the plot, Beatrice finds a startling image of her own face and is suddenly transported to the year 1347. She awakens in a Siena unfamiliar to her, one that will soon be hit by the Plague. Yet when Beatrice meets Accorsi, something unexpected happens: she falls in love–not only with Gabriele, but also with the beauty and cadence of medieval life.