Fiction, biographies and true crime for history fans

Historical fiction can introduce readers to new time periods, while true crime and biographies can introduce history making people.

The Great Depression and the Dustbowl is the backdrop of a story of one woman’s search to find love and worth in “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah.

Elsa has always felt unlovable to her family but a chance meeting one night leads her to a handsome young Italian man Rafe. When she ends up pregnant, her family kicks her out and Rafe’s family (and Rafe) reluctantly take her in. As Rafe’s wife, Elsa bonds with his mother and grows their family on the farm with his parents. But as times get harder, rain stops and crops die, Rafe grows more distant and even her young daughter pulls away. Elsa will soon be tested by the elements and abandonment and must find a way for she and her children to survive in the harsh world.

This is a well-written story and Elsa is a very sympathetic heroine. It seems like everything happens to her, and given the time period, it’s not a light reading kind of story. It’s good historical fiction, but depressing.

“The Four Winds” is published by St. Martin’s Press.


A historical novel about a real female spy during World War II is told in “The Invisible Woman” by Erika Robuck.

Virginia, an American, is acting as a spy in Europe during World War II, helping the French resistance by performing as a radio operator and helping get supplies in to those on the ground in the lead up to D-Day. Dressed as an old woman and also with a prosthetic leg due to an accident, she may not seem like a secret agent, but that’s why she makes it work. Along the way she faces a lot of danger and at any moment could be captured and killed, as what happened to some of her former aides.

This is an intriguing story about a real person in history that you haven’t heard much about.

“The Invisible Woman” is published by Berkley.


Since this month is President’s Day (and George’s birthday obviously) now is the perfect time to jump into a biography about our first president with “George Washington” by David O. Stewart.

The author takes the reader through Washington’s family, childhood, and rise to fame through his work in the military and then as the general during the Revolutionary War and then as the Commander in Chief after. The author looks at outside factors to Washington’s success and the people he encountered along the way.

For anyone wanting to know more about Washington, this is a good place to start. Those who have read a lot about him might not find any new surprises, but it is a well written read.

“George Washington” is published by Dutton.


A true crime book tackles famous con-women in “Confident Women” by Tori Felfer.

Love them or hate them, these women’s stories are still entertaining. From catfishing during the French Revolution to those who pretend to be part of headline making tragedies to a mom and a son with way too close of a relationship, these stories follow women who don’t bother to break the rules and get away with their scams — for a while. They are all eventually caught, but their charm seems to take them pretty far.

The author makes all these stories entertaining in her writing style, whether talking about the 1700s or modern day. This is a great winter read that will keep you wanting to know more.

“Confident Women” is published by HarperPerennial.

Contact Amy Phelps at aphelps@newsandsentinel.com.


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