Favorite historical fiction of 2011

(These are books that I read in 2011, but were not necessarily released in 2011.)

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
From my review: “Blake’s writing is descriptive and literary, but at the same time there is not a word to spare. Description, character development, setting details – each of these elements is exquisitely crafted to allow you be completely absorbed in the story.”

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
From my review: “Hannah is at the end of her life, and she looks back over the years behind her, telling her story and the stories of the people she loves. Wendell Berry is one of the only authors who could take such a simple premise and turn it into a work of beauty, a novel that reads like an ode to the simple things that make up a life: family, friends, a home, a place, love, children.”

Next to Love by Ellen Feldman
From my review: “The prologue of Next to Love is some of the most powerful writing I’ve read; I knew as soon as I finished it that this novel would be something special, and I wasn’t disappointed.”

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
From my review: “Mary is an extremely well-written character: a woman whose passion and dreams war with her love of family and sense of duty. Her strength in the face of the most horrific circumstances, her longing to simply learn, her matter-of-fact way of filling whatever need she sees – these things all made me love her.”

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
From my review: “I love sweeping historical fiction with star-crossed romance. I love fiction set anywhere in the British Isles, but particularly Ireland and Scotland. I love reading about an author’s writing process. I love books set by the ocean. In The Winter Sea, Susanna Kearsley has taken all of these elements and written a novel that is pretty close to perfect.”

Andy Catlett: Early Travels by Wendell Berry
From my review: “This is a deceptively simple book. On the surface, it is just the story of a young boy’s holiday visit to family, the things he did while there, the people he talked to and worked with. But look a little deeper, and you see how talented Berry is at weaving universal themes like war, love, grief, race relations, change, and the passage of time into Andy’s tale.”

A Place on Earth by Wendell Berry
From my review: “Focusing mainly on Mat Feltner as he waits for word of his son Virgil, who is in Europe fighting, Berry shows how the war devastated not only the young soldiers, but their parents, wives, and families left behind. It is truly a beautiful book.”

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23 Responses to Favorite historical fiction of 2011

  1. Too bad I failed in the Wendell Berry challenge!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Amy – ah, that’s okay – I failed some of my challenges this year, too. 🙂

  2. Anna says:

    Glad to see Next to Love make your list!

  3. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    I don’t read much historical fiction, so I’ve only read one of those books, and it was just okay to me.

  4. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    Someone had a Wendell Berry year! I agree with you about The Postmistress, it was gorgeous.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Sandy – yes, I did – Berry shows up twice on my favorite non-fiction list, too. 🙂

  5. Melissa
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks

    The Postmistress is on my TBR!

  6. Vasilly
    Twitter: Vasilly

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Next to Love. Will read your review of it.

  7. Melissa
    Twitter: avidreader12

    Hannah Coulter is high on my list for next year. I’ve never read anything by Wendell Berry!

  8. irene says:

    You’ve read some great reads.

  9. Marg
    Twitter: MargReads

    Next to Love is going to be one of my next reads! Glad to see Kearsley on your list, and I liked The Postmistress as well.

    Good HF year!

  10. Kathleen says:

    Thank you for sharing your favorites of 2011 with us. This is always a good way for me to add to my list for 2012!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Kathleen – I do that when I read other people’s end-of-year lists, too. 🙂

  11. Kailana says:

    You must really enjoy Wendell Berry… He is all over your lists! I will have to look into him. I really enjoyed Next to Love and The Postmistress.

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