Love historical fiction? Check out these 12 Canadian novels this summer
Yearning for a good book set in earlier times? These 12 Canadian novels will scratch that itch.
Sofie & Cecilia by Katherine Ashenburg
Sofie & Cecilia is the story of the friendship between two women, both of whom are married to prominent Swedish artists in the early 20th-century. At the time, marriage and motherhood were considered to be a woman's purpose in life, but Sofie and Cecilia have greater aspirations — even as they act as helpmates to their famous husbands.
- Why journalist Katherine Ashenburg wanted to explore the nature of female friendships in her debut novel
Song of Batoche by Maia Caron
The experiences of women during the 1885 North-West Rebellion are largely absent from historical documents, an oversight Maia Caron seeks to rectify in Song of Batoche. Her epic tale is largely told from the perspective of a character named Josette Lavoie, a Métis woman and confidant to leader Louis Riel. The book follows the Métis community's struggle with prime minister John A. Macdonald over Batoche, an area of fertile land along the Saskatchewan River.
The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
The Home for Unwanted Girls was inspired by the Duplessis Orphan Scandal. This dark chapter of Quebec history led to thousands of healthy orphans being declared mentally ill in the 1950s because patients received more federal funding than orphans. The novel follows the story of a teenage girl named Maggie who is forced by her family to give up her baby Elodie for adoption. Bright Elodie, among those affected by the Duplessis Orphan Scandal, is abused in the orphanage until her release at the age of 17. Over the years, Elodie and Maggie struggle with the choice to reconnect.
- How the history of unmarried Quebec women forced to give up their children inspired Joanna Goodman's new novel
Come From Away by Genevieve Graham
This war time romance follows Grace Baker, a young woman who runs the local general store in her community in Nova Scotia while her three brothers are shipped off to war in 1939. As the war drags on, Grace busies herself in the store and ends up falling for a handsome newcomer named Rudi, who turns out to be much more than meets the eye. Genevieve Graham has additionally written two bestselling works of historical fiction: Promises to Keep and Tides of Honour.
My Name is a Knife by Alix Hawley
Alix Hawley fictionalises the life of Daniel Boone in My Name is a Knife. After being captured by the Shawnee, Boone has become an adopted son of the chief and is happily married to a Shawnee woman. But Boone begins to feel guilty about a planned attack on a settler village where his white wife and children live. He escapes to warn them, only to discover his wife has left and Boone is not exactly welcome in his old community.
Chasing the Wind by C.C. Humphreys
Set in the 1930s, Chasing the Wind tells the story of pilot Roxy Loewen and her pursuit of the famous Bruegel painting Fall of Icarus. The original has been located in Spain by her fellow pilot Jocco Zomack's father — but the Nazis get to it first. Roxy and Jocco embark on an adventure to steal it back.
The Water Beetles by Michael Kaan
Winner of the 2018 Amazon.ca First Novel Award, The Water Beetles begins with the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong. A young boy named Chung-Man is forced to leave his home and heads deep into the countryside to hide only to be captured and tortured by Japanese soldiers. Chung-Man survives this torment, but lives with deep, unyielding psychological scars.
Michael Ondaatje's Warlight is the lushly told story of a young man trying to understand his strange childhood. In the days following the Second World War, Nathaniel and his sister are abandoned by their parents in their London home and left in the care of two devoted men. It's a story that traces the journey of a son attempting to understand war and his family's involvement in it.
Frank by Ben Rankel
In 1903, a rockslide buried the eastern side of a mining town called Frank, Alta. and killed over 90 people. Calgary artist Ben Rankel sets his murder mystery graphic novel during these events, following a woman named Eve Lee who's investigating the disappearance of a former lover.
- Why Ben Rankel decided to write Frank, a murder mystery set during one of Alberta's deadliest disasters
Mary Cyr by David Adams Richards
In Mary Cyr, New Brunswick meets Mexico as the titular character, a Canadian mining heiress, travels to the Spanish-speaking country in the wake of a mining disaster. The events of her complicated life come to a head when she ends up in a Mexican jail suspected of murdering a 13-year-old boy.
The Dictionary of Animal Languages by Heidi Sopinka
Acoustic biologist Ivory Frame, 92, is compiling her recordings of animals for a dictionary of animal languages when a letter throws her life into upheaval. Never having been married or had children, the painter-turned-biologist is shocked to learn she has a granddaughter living in New York. The discovery sends Ivory deep into her past, unearthing painful secrets along the way.
The Three Pleasures by Terry Watada
The Three Pleasures revolves around a dark period in Canada's history involving the removal and detainment of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War. The story is told through three main characters in British Columbia — Watanabe Etsuo, Morii Etsuji and Etsu Kaga — just as the Japanese military bombs Pearl Harbour and racial tension builds in 1940s Vancouver.
- Terry Watada explores the dark history of Japanese-Canadian internment with novel The Three Pleasures