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19 Novels Inspired by Real Women to Read for Women's History Month

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These historical fiction reads are based on the lives, accomplishments, and challenges of real women.

Her Hidden Genius

Her Hidden Genius

Books

From the New York Times bestselling author of THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE and THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM Rosalind Franklin has always been an outsider—brilliant, but different. Whether working at the laboratory she adored in Paris or toiling at a university in London, she feels closest to the science, those unchanging laws of physics and chemistry that guide her experiments. When she is assigned to work on DNA, she believes she can unearth its secrets. Rosalind knows if she just takes one more X-ray picture—one more after thousands—she can unlock the building blocks of life. Never again will she have to listen to her colleagues complain about her, especially Maurice Wilkins who'd rather conspire about genetics with James Watson and Francis Crick than work alongside her. Then it finally happens—the double helix structure of DNA reveals itself to her with perfect clarity. But what unfolds next, Rosalind could have never predicted. Marie Benedict's powerful new novel shines a light on a woman who sacrificed her life to discover the nature of our very DNA, a woman whose world-changing contributions were hidden by the men around her but whose relentless drive advanced our understanding of humankind.

The Diamond Eye

The Diamond Eye

Books

The New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code returns with an unforgettable World War II tale of a quiet librarian who becomes history's deadliest female sniper. Based on a true story. In the snowbound city of Kiev, wry and bookish history student Mila Pavlichenko organizes her life around her library job and her young son--but Hitler's invasion of Russia sends her on a different path. Given a rifle and sent to join the fight, Mila must forge herself from studious girl to deadly sniper--a lethal hunter of Nazis known as Lady Death. When news of her three hundredth kill makes her a national heroine, Mila finds herself torn from the bloody battlefields of the eastern front and sent to America on a goodwill tour. Still reeling from war wounds and devastated by loss, Mila finds herself isolated and lonely in the glittering world of Washington, DC--until an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and an even more unexpected connection with a silent fellow sniper offer the possibility of happiness. But when an old enemy from Mila's past joins forces with a deadly new foe lurking in the shadows, Lady Death finds herself battling her own demons and enemy bullets in the deadliest duel of her life. Based on a true story, The Diamond Eye is a haunting novel of heroism born of desperation, of a mother who became a soldier, of a woman who found her place in the world and changed the course of history forever.

Sisters of Night and Fog

Sisters of Night and Fog

Books

“Profoundly moving.”—Jennifer Robson Two women, two countries. Nothing in common but a call to fight. A heart-stopping new novel based on the extraordinary true stories of an American socialite and a British secret agent whose stunning acts of courage collide in the darkest hours of World War II. 1940. In a world newly burning with war, and in spite of her American family’s wishes, Virginia d’Albert-Lake decides to stay in occupied France with her French husband. She’s sure that if they keep their heads down, they’ll survive. But is surviving enough? Nineteen-year-old Violette Szabo has seen the Nazis’ evil up close and is desperate to fight them. But when she meets the man who’ll change her life only for tragedy to strike, Violette’s adrift. Until she enters the radar of Britain’s secret war organization—the Special Operations Executive—and a new fire is lit in her as she decides just how much she’s willing to risk to enlist. As Virginia and Violette navigate resistance, their clandestine deeds come to a staggering halt when they are brought together at Ravensbrück concentration camp. The decisions they make will change their lives, and the world, forever.

The Engineer's Wife

The Engineer's Wife

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THE USA TODAY BESTSELLER!THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER!She built the Brooklyn Bridge, so why don't you know her name?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. Perfect for book clubs and fans of Marie Benedict.Emily refuses to live conventionally—she knows who she is and what she wants, and she's determined to make change. But then her husband asks the unthinkable: give up her dreams to make his possible.Emily's 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. But 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?Based on the true story of an American icon, The Engineer's Wife delivers an emotional portrait of a woman transformed by a project of unfathomable scale, which takes her into the bowels of the East River, suffragette riots, the halls of Manhattan's elite, and the heady, freewheeling temptations of P.T. Barnum. The biography of a husband and wife determined to build something that lasts—even at the risk of losing each other."Historical fiction at its finest."—Andrea Bobotis, author of The Last List of Miss Judith KrattOther Bestselling Historical Fiction from Sourcebooks Landmark:The Only Woman in the Room by Marie BenedictThe Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie BenedictThe Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele RichardsonSold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

Jam on the Vine

Jam on the Vine

Books

In this “captivating saga” of the post-Reconstruction era, a black female journalist blazes her own trail—“unforgettable; gripping; an instant classic” (Elle).   Ivoe Williams, the precocious daughter of a Muslim cook and a metalsmith from central-east Texas, discovers a lifelong obsession with journalism when she steals a newspaper from her mother’s white employer. Living in the segregated quarter of Little Tunis, Ivoe immerses herself in the printed word until she earns a scholarship to the prestigious Willetson Collegiate in Austin. Finally fleeing the Jim Crow South to settle in Kansas City, Ivoe and Ona, her former teacher and present lover, start the first female-run African American newspaper, Jam On the Vine. In the throes of the Red Summer—the 1919 outbreak of lynchings and race riots across the Midwest—Ivoe risks her freedom and her life to call attention to the atrocities of the American prison system.   Inspired by the legacy of trailblazing black women like Ida B. Wells and Charlotta Bass, LaShonda Katrice Barnett’s Jam On the Vine is both an epic vision of the hardships that defined an era and “an ode to activism, writ[ten] with a scholar’s eye and a poet’s soul” (Tayari Jones, O The Oprah Magazine).

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