Historical Hardcore Lady Types

March is Women’s History Month, and we have two displays up at the library to honor the current and historical achievements of awesome women.  First up are our favorite historical hardcore ladies!  Click on a cover or a title to place a hold.  (And if you’re curious, the post title comes from the amazing graphic novel series Lumberjanes, which is another must-read for Women’s History Month!)

Fiction

The King’s Mistress by Emma Campion
FICTION CAMPION

“From childhood Alice Salisbury learned obedience in all things, so at the age of fourteen, she dutifully marries the man her father has chosen for her – at the cost of losing the love of her mother forever, as well as the family she holds dear. But merchant Janyn Perrers is a good and loving husband and Alice soon learns to enjoy her marriage. Her happiness is short-lived, however, ending when a messenger brings news of Janyn’s sudden disappearance. Alice discovers that her husband had many dangerous secrets, secrets which have now put a price on her own head and that of her beloved daughter. Brought under the protection of King Edward III and Queen Philippa, she must dutifully embrace her fate once more – as a virtual prisoner at Court. When the king singles her out for more than just royal patronage, she knows she has little choice but to accept his advances. But obeying the king brings with it many burdens as well as pleasures, as she forfeits her good name to keep her daughter free from harm.”

 

 


Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini
FICTION CHIAVERI

“Pledging her loyalty to the North at the risk of her life when her native Virginia secedes, Quaker-educated aristocrat Elizabeth Van Lew uses her innate skills for gathering military intelligence to help construct the Richmond underground and orchestrate escapes from the infamous Confederate Libby Prison.”

 

 

 

 

 


How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway
FICTION DILLOWAY

“The story of Shoko, a Japanese woman who married an American GI, and her grown daughter, Sue, a divorced mother whose life as an American housewife hasn’t been what she’d expected. When illness prevents Shoko from traveling to Japan, she asks Sue to go in her place. The trip reveals family secrets that change their lives in dramatic and unforeseen ways.”

 

 

 

 

 


The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman
FICTION FREEMAN

“Moving from a filthy brothel to a fine manor house, from the world of street fighters to the world of champions, The Fair Fight is a vivid, propulsive historical novel announcing the arrival of a dynamic new talent. Born in a brothel, Ruth doesn’t expect much for herself beyond abuse. While her sister’s beauty affords a certain degree of comfort, Ruth’s harsh looks set her on a path of drudgery. That is until she meets pugilist patron George Dryer and discovers her true calling–fighting bare knuckles in the prize rings of Bristol. Manor-born Charlotte has a different cross to bear. Scarred by smallpox, stifled by her social and romantic options, and trapped in twisted power games with her wastrel brother, she is desperate for an escape. After a disastrous, life-changing fight sidelines Ruth, the two women meet, and it alters the perspectives of both of them. When Charlotte presents Ruth with an extraordinary proposition, Ruth pushes dainty Charlotte to enter the ring herself and learn the power of her own strength.”

 

 


The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
FICTION GILBERT

“Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker–a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father’s money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma’s research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction–into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical.”

 

 

 


At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
FICTION GRUEN

“While her husband, Ellis, and his friend try to find the Loch Ness monster in an attempt to get back into his father’s good graces, Maddie is left on her own in World War II-era Scotland and experiences a social awakening.”

 

 

 

 

 


The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
FICTION KELLY

“On a September day in Manhattan in 1939, twenty-something Caroline Ferriday is consumed by her efforts to secure the perfect boutonniere for an important French diplomat and resisting the romantic advances of a married actor. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish Catholic teenager, is nervously anticipating the changes that are sure to come since Germany has declared war on Poland. As tensions rise abroad – and in her personal life – Caroline’s interest in aiding the war effort in France grows and she eventually comes to hear about the dire situation at the Ravensbruck all-female concentration camp. At the same time, Kasia’s carefree youth is quickly slipping away, only to be replaced by a fervor for the Polish resistance movement. Through Ravensbruck – and the horrific atrocities taking place there told in part by an infamous German surgeon, Herta Oberheuser – the two women’s lives will converge in unprecedented ways.”

 

 


The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
FICTION MATHIS

In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for a chance at a better life. Instead, she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins succumb to an illness a few pennies could have prevented.  Hattie gives birth to nine more children whom she raises with grit and mettle and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave.  She vows to prepare them for the calamitous difficulty they are sure to face in their later lives, to meet a world that will not love them, a world that will not be kind. Captured here in twelve luminous narrative threads, their lives tell the story of a mother’s monumental courage and the journey of a nation.”

 

 

 


Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal
FICTION MCNEAL

“When Ibby Bell’s father dies in a tragic accident in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother, Fannie, and throws in her father’s urn for good measure. Fannie’s Victorian house is like no place Ibby has ever been–and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum every once in a while–is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, her black cook, Queenie … and Queenie’s feisty daughter Dollbaby take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets”

 

 

 


The Last Empress by Anchee Min
FICTION MIN

“The last decades of the nineteenth century were a violent period in China’s history marked by humiliating foreign incursions and domestic rebellion, ultimately ending in the demise of the Ch’ing dynasty. The only constant during this tumultuous time was the power wielded by one person, the resilient, ever-resourceful Tzu Hsi, Lady Yehonala — or Empress Orchid, as readers came to know her in Anchee Min’s critically acclaimed novel covering the first part of her life. The Last Empress is the story of Orchid’s dramatic transition from a strong-willed, instinctive young woman to a wise and politically savvy leader who ruled China for more than four decades. Moving from the intimacy of the concubine quarters into the spotlight of the world stage, Orchid must face not only the perilous condition of her empire but also a series of devastating personal losses, as first her son and then her adopted son succumb to early death. Yearning only to step aside, and yet growing constantly into her role, only she–allied with the progressives, but loyal to the conservative Manchu clan of her dynasty–can hold the nation’s rival factions together.”

 


Mary Coin by Marisa Silver
FICTION SILVER

“In 1936, a young mother resting by the side of a road in central California is spontaneously photographed by a woman documenting the migrant laborers who have taken to America’s farms in search of work. Little personal information is exchanged, and neither woman has any way of knowing that they have produced what will become the most iconic image of the Great Depression.”

 

 

 

 

 


Nonfiction

The Witches: Salem 1629 by Stacy Schiff
133.4309 SCHIFF

“The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cleopatra analyzes the Salem Witch Trials to offer key insights into the role of women in its events while explaining how its tragedies became possible. It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister’s daughter began to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, but not before 19 men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death.”

 

 

 

 


The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers Who Inspired Chicago by Douglas Perry
364.1523 PERRY

“The true story of the murderesses who became media sensations and inspired the musical Chicago. There was nothing surprising about men turning up dead in Jazz Age Chicago. Life was cheaper than a quart of illicit gin in the gangland capital of the world. But two murders that spring were special, or so believed Maurine Watkins, a “girl reporter” for the Chicago Tribune, the city’s “hanging paper.” Newspaperwomen were supposed to write about clubs, cooking and clothes, but the intrepid Miss Watkins zeroed in on murderers instead. She made “Stylish Belva” Gaertner and “Beautiful Beulah” Annan–both of whom had brazenly shot down their lovers–the talk of the town. Soon more than a dozen women preened and strutted on “Murderesses’ Row” as they awaited trial, desperate for the same attention that was being lavished on Maurine Watkins’s favorites.”

 

 


Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science – and the World by Rachel Swaby
509.252 SWABY

“Fifty-two inspiring and insightful profiles of history’s brightest female scientists. In 2013, the New York Times published an obituary for Yvonne Brill. It began: “She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job, and took eight years off from work to raise three children.” It wasn’t until the second paragraph that readers discovered why the Times had devoted several hundred words to her life: Brill was a brilliant rocket scientist who invented a propulsion system to keep communications satellites in orbit, and had recently been awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Among the questions the obituary — and consequent outcry — prompted were, Who are the role models for today’s female scientists, and where can we find the stories that cast them in their true light? Headstrong delivers a powerful, global, and engaging response. Covering Nobel Prize winners and major innovators, as well as lesser-known but hugely significant scientists who influence our every day, Rachel Swaby’s vibrant profiles span centuries of courageous thinkers and illustrate how each one’s ideas developed, from their first moment of scientific engagement through the research and discovery for which they’re best known.”

 


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
616.0277 SKLOOT

“Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her cells–taken without her knowledge–became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer and viruses; helped lead to in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks is buried in an unmarked grave. Her family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. The story of the Lacks family is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.”

 

 


Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott
973.785 ABBOTT

“Karen Abbott illuminates one of the most fascinating yet little known aspects of the Civil War: the stories of four courageous women—a socialite, a farmgirl, an abolitionist, and a widow—who were spies. After shooting a Union soldier in her front hall with a pocket pistol, Belle Boyd became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds cut off her hair and assumed the identity of a man to enlist as a Union private, witnessing the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The beautiful widow, Rose O’Neale Greenhow, engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians to gather intelligence for the Confederacy, and used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring, right under the noses of suspicious rebel detectives. Using a wealth of primary source material and interviews with the spies’ descendants, Abbott seamlessly weaves the adventures of these four heroines throughout the tumultuous years of the war. With a cast of real-life characters including Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, General Stonewall Jackson, detective Allan Pinkerton, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Emperor Napoleon III, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy draws you into the war as these daring women lived it.”


The Witch of Lime Street: Seance, Seduction,and Houdini in the Spirit World by David Jaher
B MAR

“The 1920s are famous as the golden age of jazz and glamour, but it was also an era of fevered yearning for communion with the spirit world, after the loss of tens of millions in the First World War and the Spanish-flu epidemic. A desperate search for reunion with dead loved ones precipitated a tidal wave of self-proclaimed psychics—and, as reputable media sought stories on occult phenomena, mediums became celebrities. Against this backdrop, in 1924, the pretty wife of a distinguished Boston surgeon came to embody the raging national debate over Spiritualism, a movement devoted to communication with the dead. Reporters dubbed her the blonde Witch of Lime Street, but she was known to her followers simply as Margery. Her most vocal advocate was none other than Sherlock Holmes’ creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who believed so thoroughly in Margery’s powers that he urged her to enter a controversial contest, sponsored by Scientific American and offering a large cash prize to the first medium declared authentic by its impressive five-man investigative committee. Admired for both her exceptional charm and her dazzling effects, Margery was the best hope for the psychic practice to be empirically verified. Her supernatural gifts beguiled four of the judges. There was only one left to convince…the acclaimed escape artist, Harry Houdini.”


Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography by Julia Baird
B VIC

“An account of the life of the English monarch offers insight into the passionate and sensuous aspects of her character, placing her reign against a backdrop of dynamic world events while sharing insights into her relationship with Albert and her pivotal role in building the British empire.”

 

 

 

 

 


Young Adult

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
TEEN BIGGS

“In 1909 London, as the world of debutante balls and high society obligations closes in around her, seventeen-year-old Victoria must figure out just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dream of becoming an artist.”

 

 

 

 

 


Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
TEEN CARSON

“Lee Westfall, a young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold, must flee her home to avoid people who would abuse her powers, so when her best friend Jefferson heads out across Gold Rush-era America to stake his claim, she disguises herself as a boy and sets out on her own dangerous journey.”

 

 

 

 

 


Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
TEEN LEE

“In 1845, Sammy, a Chinese American girl, and Annamae, an African American slave girl, disguise themselves as boys and travel on the Oregon Trail to California from Missouri.”

 

 

 

 

 


Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
YA FICTION MEDINA

“Nora Lopez is seventeen during the summer of 1977, when New York is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam. Meg Medina transports us to a time when tempers and temperatures ran high to share the story of a young woman who discovers that the greatest dangers are often closer than we like to admit.”

 

 

 

 

 


Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
YA FICTION SEPETYS

“Josie, the seventeen-year-old daughter of a French Quarter prostitute, is striving to escape 1950 New Orleans and enroll at prestigious Smith College when she becomes entangled in a murder investigation.”

 

 

 

 

 


Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
TEEN SMITH

“Ida’s daddy was a pilot, and when he took her flying, she never want to come down again. But after his death, the sky is off-limits to a young black woman such as herself. When America enters World War II, the Army forms the WASP-Women Airforce Service Pilots-and Ida has a chance to join, if she’s willing to use her light skin to pass as a white girl. She want to fly more than anything, but Ida soon learns that denying one’s identity and family is a heavy burden. Can she fulfil her dream with losing herself?”

 

 

 

 


Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
YA FICTION WEIN

“In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy reading!

—Katie, Adult Reference

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