BookTrib is honored to bring you another Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) curated list of books, this time to close a month dedicated to women’s history. Now fourteen-hundred members strong, WFWA is an international professional organization for writers of women’s fiction.

As we usher in spring and look ahead to abundance in nature, we have cause to celebrate; as women around the world, we embrace the spirit of empowerment and recognition of women’s roles throughout history. The chosen books for this month’s Historical Fiction are carefully woven tales that highlight the courage and resilience of women. 

We Came Here to Shine (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2020)
by Susie Orman Schnall

At the iconic 1939 New York World’s Fair, a down-on-her-luck actress and an aspiring journalist form an unlikely and enduring friendship that teaches them to go after what matters most. Together, they navigate a world of possibility and find out what they are truly made of.

Vivi is about to begin filming her first starring role in a Hollywood picture when the studio head ships her off to New York instead, assigning her the leading role in the heralded Aquacade synchronized swimming spectacular at the World’s Fair. If she performs well, she’ll have another chance at stardom. Max dreams of becoming a serious journalist, but when her job at The New York Times doesn’t pan out she finds herself begrudgingly working for the daily paper covering the World’s Fair. Continually overlooked by her male counterparts and with her career prospects in jeopardy, Max must risk everything to change the course of her life.

The Last Bathing Beauty (Lake Union Publishing, 2020)
by Amy Sue Nathan

Everything seemed possible in the summer of 1951. Back then Betty Stern was an eighteen-year-old knockout working at her grandparents’ lakeside resort. The “Catskills of the Midwest” was the perfect place for Betty to prepare for bigger things; she’d then head to college in New York City where her career as a fashion editor would flourish. First, she’d enjoy a wondrous last summer at the beach falling deeply in love with an irresistible college boy and competing in the annual Miss South Haven pageant. On the precipice of a well-planned life, Betty’s future was limitless.

Decades later, the choices of that long-ago season still reverberate for Betty, now known as Boop. When her granddaughter comes to her with a dilemma that echoes Boop’s memories and faraway dreams, it’s time to finally face the past and reconcile the life she once imagined with the life she’s lived. Read the BookTrib review here.

The Engineer’s Wife (Sourcebooks Landmark, 2020)
by Tracey Enerson Wood

Emily Roebling built a monument for all time, then she was lost in its shadow. Discover the fascinating woman who helped design and construct the Brooklyn Bridge. Emily refuses to live conventionally — she knows who she is and what she wants, and she’s determined to incite change. Her fight for women’s suffrage is put on hold and her life transformed when her husband Washington Roebling, the Chief Engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, is injured on the job. Untrained for the task, but under his guidance, she assumes his role despite stern resistance and overwhelming obstacles. As the project takes shape under Emily’s direction, she wonders whose legacy she is building, hers, or her husband’s; as the monument rises, Emily’s marriage, principles, and identity threaten to collapse. When the bridge finally stands finished, will she recognize the woman who built it?

Salt the Snow (Amberjack Publishing, 2020)
by Carrie Callaghan

Milly Bennett was one of the first female war correspondents whose work has been all but lost to history. The American journalist covered murders in San Francisco, fires in Hawaii, and a civil war in China, but 1930s Moscow presents her greatest challenge yet. When her young Russian husband is suddenly arrested by the secret police, Milly tries to get him released. His arrest, however, reveals both painful secrets about her marriage and hard truths about the Soviet state she has been working to serve. Disillusioned, and pulled toward the front lines of a captivating new conflict, Milly must find a way to do the right thing for her husband, her conscience and her heart.

Sisters of the Vine (Black Rose Writing, 2021)
by Linda Rosen

Set in the 1960s and 1970s tracing the rise of the second phase of feminism, this is the story of one woman’s determination to keep the land she loves and the sisterhood that has formed around her. Liz has only ever wanted to be a housewife and mother; despite her father’s objections, she drops out of college to marry Rick, a man who dreams of living off the land. They buy a farm on a verdant hillside in the Hudson Valley, but can’t agree on what to plant until they discover French-American hybrid grapes.

As the rich soil sinks into her soul and the vines begin to thrive, the marriage grows rocky. Refusing to disappoint her father again, Liz is determined to make her marriage work . . . until she discovers a photograph hidden in the old barn. Faced with impossible decisions, Liz is desperate. She has a vineyard ready to harvest and no idea how to accomplish the task. Does she have the moxie to flourish, or will she and the land turn fallow?

The Fourteenth of September (She Writes Press, 2018)
by Rita Dragonette

On September 14, 1969, Private First Class Judy Talton celebrated her nineteenth birthday by secretly joining the campus anti-Vietnam War movement. In doing so, she jeopardizes both the Army scholarship that will secure her future and her relationship with her military family. Judy’s doubts have escalated with the travesties of the war; who is she if she stays in the Army? What is she if she leaves?

When the first date pulled in the draft lottery is her birthday, she realizes that if she were a man she’d have been Number One, off to Vietnam with an under-fire life expectancy of six seconds. The stakes become clear, propelling her toward a life-altering choice as fateful as that of any draftee. Read BookTrib’s review here.

Becoming Lady Washington (Mystic Owl Publishing, 2020)
by Betty Bolte

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony, but as a young widow, she’s hard-pressed to balance running her business and caring for her two young children. They need a father and protector; she needs a husband and business partner whom she can trust as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far, but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him quite sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond. She is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and a suitable father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, the two working together to provide for their extended family. When trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and to Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband … no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

Standing Tall (BookBaby, 2021)
by Debora De Farias

Although she dazzled Argentina at the end of the 19th century as the first woman to become a doctor, Cecilia Grierson is haunted by disturbing dreams. Cecilia believed she had left the traumas of past relationships behind, but when chance brings her first love back into her life, Cecilia realizes that she wants closure. Standing Tall is a moving story set in the progressive era of the Gilded Age. From the Pampas to Buenos Aires and to Paris, the story reveals much of the vibrant culture and realities of life in South America, replete with historical details, personal conflicts and love.

Imperfect Alchemist (Allison & Busby, 2020)
by Naomi Miller

We are in England in 1575. Mary Sidney is a fourteen-year-old navigating grief and her first awareness of love and desire. Her sharp mind is less interested in the dynastic alliances and marriages that concern her father and more with wondering if she will be able to forge a place for herself and her writing in the years to come. Rose Commin, a young country girl with a surprising talent for drawing, is desperate to shrug off the whispers of witchcraft that have tarnished life at home. The opportunity to work at Wilton House, the Earl of Pembroke’s Wiltshire residence, is her chance. Defying the conventions of their time, these two women, mistress and maid, will find themselves together facing the triumphs, revelations and dangers that lie ahead.

Beautiful Invention: A Novel of Hedy Lamarr (Gallica Press, 2018)
by Margaret Porter

A Hollywood beauty and brilliant inventor stars in the incredible story of a remarkable and misunderstood woman. Hedy Kiesler, an Austrian actress of Jewish heritage, scandalizes Europe with her nudity in the art film Ecstasy. Her hasty marriage to a wealthy munitions merchant disintegrates as he grows increasingly controlling and possessive. Even worse is that he supplies deadly weapons to Hitler’s regime. She flees her husband and homeland for Hollywood, where Louis B. Mayer transforms her into Hedy Lamarr, an icon of exotic glamour. Professional success clashes with her personal life as marriage and motherhood compete with the demands of studio and stardom. Motivated by the atrocities of World War II, Hedy secretly invents a new technology intended for her adopted country’s defense —and unexpectedly changes the world.