More than just a wonderful Monday off from the daily grind, Veterans Day is a homage to the men and women who served in the Great War which we now call World War I. The “war to end all wars” ended at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and like all times of great heroism, sacrifice, and determination, stories were forged out of its echoes. Here are seven timely novels featuring unforgettable female characters and set during the crucible of the first World War.

  1. The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

This heartbreaking but necessary story of the chilling fate of 1.5 million Armenians during WWI is peopled with wonderful characters and tells a story that simply must be told. Heart-wrenching at times and devastating at others, this novel pairs two women in different timelines; Elizabeth in 1915 – an English-speaking volunteer who travels to Syria to help deliver aid to refugees of the Armenian genocide – and Laura in the current day, an NYC novelist on the cusp of discovering the true details of her Armenian heritage. Genocide is never easy to read about because it reveals to us the horrific depths to which people can plunge in their treatment of other people, and yet we learn best how to be better humans by letting silenced voices speak to us at last.

  1. Lost Roses by Martha Kelly

If you loved the runaway bestseller, The Lilac Girls, this is the perfect November read for you. Author Martha Kelly introduced us to the real-life heroine Caroline Ferriday in The Lilac Girls, and in this novel, set a generation earlier and in the shadow of WWI, readers sojourn from St. Petersburg to Paris with Caroline’s mother, Eliza. Booklist, which gave Lost Roses a starred review said, “[Martha] Kelly’s gift is bringing to life and to light the untold stories of women and families far away from the war front yet deeply affected by the decisions of leaders and the efforts of fighters. Fans of historical fiction . . . and viewers of period dramas will want to clear their calendars…” So there you go. You have been warned about the calendar…

  1. Girls on the Line by Aimie K. Runyan

Here is a novel set within the backdrop of the Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit — also known as the Hello Girls — the American female switchboard operators of World War I. As one of the trailblazing “Hello Girls” deployed to war-torn France, former Philadelphia society girl Ruby Wagner not only endeavors to aid in the war effort but gain elusive respect among Allied soldiers. Balancing service to country becomes even more complicated by a burgeoning relationship with an army medic. The story was inspired by the courage, dedication, and love of the unsung heroines of the Great War.

  1. Fall of Poppies by Heather Webb, et al.

This beautifully rendered anthology features WWI stories by nine beloved historical fiction authors – Heather Webb, Hazel Gaynor, Beatriz Williams, Jennifer Robson, Jennifer Brockmole, Kate Kerrigan, Evangeline Holland, Lauren Willig, and Marci Jefferson. One reviewer said, “… the publishers seem to have enlisted nine of their most talented historical fiction writers with a challenge – write a short story that includes both of these two elements: love and November 11, 1918. The first element is, of course, a vast subject. The second, however – the end of WWI – is far more specific. The combination of the two gives us something just right – focused stories that have the depth of different viewpoints.” The added bonus of reading an anthology of short stories by various writers is the opportunity to discover a new author. Go forth and discover!

  1. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

If you’re hungry for a classic WWI tale that is still being read in high school and college classrooms everywhere (and if you love a good cry and lots of rain), you can’t go wrong with A Farewell to Arms. Here is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front who falls in love with a beautiful English nurse. Considered semiautobiographical, this novel “captures the harsh realities of war and the pain of lovers caught in its inexorable sweep.” Ernest Hemingway famously said that he rewrote his ending to A Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times to get the words right.

  1. The Ambassador’s Daughter by Pam Jenoff

From the author of The Orphan’s Tale and The Lost Girls of Paris, here is one of Pam Jenoff’s earlier titles. It’s Paris in 1919 and the leaders of the world have gathered to formulate a plan to rebuild out of the destruction of the Great War. Margot, dragged to the peace conference by her German diplomat father and torn between duty and the desire to be free, forges unlikely alliances while in the City of Light and begins to question everything she thought she knew about where her true loyalties should lie. “Against the backdrop of one of the most significant events of the century, a delicate web of lies obscures the line between the casualties of war and of the heart, making trust a luxury that no one can afford.” Fans of Kate Morton and Allyson Richman will enjoy this one.

  1. The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

Named one of the best books of the year by NPR and the Washington Post, this gem from the author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand has been said to be “A novel to cure your Downton Abbey withdrawal . . . a delightful story about nontraditional romantic relationships, class snobbery and the everybody-knows-everybody complications of living in a small community.” Here is more delicately paced novel of love on the eve of World War that reaches far beyond the small English town in which it is set. And that cover is just downright delightful. The world is going to get difficult and complex and harrowing but not quite yet…