Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland: Against the unforgettable backdrop of New York near the turn of the twentieth century, from the Gilded Age world of formal balls and opera to the immigrant poverty of the Lower East Side, bestselling author Susan Vreeland again breathes life into a work of art in this extraordinary novel, which brings a woman once lost in the shadows into vivid color.
It’s 1893, and at the Chicago World’s Fair, Louis Comfort Tiffany makes his debut with a luminous exhibition of innovative stained-glass windows, which he hopes will honor his family business and earn him a place on the international artistic stage. But behind the scenes in his New York studio is the freethinking Clara Driscoll, head of his women’s division. Publicly unrecognized by Tiffany, Clara conceives of and designs nearly all of the iconic leaded-glass lamps for which he is long remembered.
Clara struggles with her desire for artistic recognition and the seemingly insurmountable challenges that she faces as a professional woman, which ultimately force her to protest against the company she has worked so hard to cultivate. She also yearns for love and companionship, and is devoted in different ways to five men, including Tiffany, who enforces to a strict policy: he does not hire married women, and any who do marry while under his employ must resign immediately. Eventually, like many women, Clara must decide what makes her happiest—the professional world of her hands or the personal world of her heart.
Among Others by Jo Walton: Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.
Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled—and her twin sister dead.
Fleeing to her father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England–a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off…
Combining elements of autobiography with flights of imagination in the manner of novels like Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude, this is potentially a breakout book for an author whose genius has already been hailed by peers like Kelly Link, Sarah Weinman, and Ursula K. Le Guin.
Home Fires by Gene Wolfe: Gene Wolfe takes us to a future North America at once familiar and utterly strange. A young man and woman, Skip and Chelle, fall in love in college and marry, but she is enlisted in the military, there is a war on, and she must serve her tour of duty before they can settle down. But the military is fighting a war with aliens in distant solar systems, and her months in the service will be years in relative time on Earth. Chelle returns to recuperate from severe injuries, after months of service, still a young woman but not necessarily the same person—while Skip is in his forties and a wealthy businessman, but eager for her return.
Still in love (somewhat to his surprise and delight), they go on a Caribbean cruise to resume their marriage. Their vacation rapidly becomes a complex series of challenges, not the least of which are spies, aliens, and battles with pirates who capture the ship for ransom. There is no writer in SF like Gene Wolfe and no SF novel like Home Fires.
Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony by Lee G. Miller: “November 1587. A report reaches London that Sir Walter Raleigh’s expedition, which left England months before to land the first English settlers in America, has foundered. On Roanoke Island, off the coast of North Carolina, a tragedy is unfolding. Something has gone very wrong, and the colony – 115 men, women, and children – is in trouble. But there will be no rescue. Before help can reach them, all will vanish with barely a trace.” “The Lost Colony is America’s oldest unsolved mystery. For four hundred years, the question of what became of the doomed settlers has remained unanswered. Where did they go? What really happened? And yet, as compelling as this riddle is, Roanoke holds a further surprise, for it comprises not one mystery but two – not only what happened to the colonists but why? Why were they marooned on Roanoke Island when their true destination was elsewhere?” “In this work of historical detection, Lee Miller goes back to the original evidence and offers a fresh solution to the enduring riddle. She establishes beyond doubt that the tragedy of the Lost Colony did not begin on the shores of Roanoke but within the inner circle of Queen Elizabeth’s government. Powerful men had reason to want Raleigh’s mission to fail.”
And a few more:
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
The Chosen by Chaim Potok
Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford
The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
Bound by Antonya Nelson
Have you read any of these?