Historical fiction lovers have it good: they can travel to distant places and times, and learn by immersion. The American Civil War is one piece of history that is filled with treats for fans of the form -- high drama, hazy battle lines between good and bad, black and white; and the sights and sounds of a nascent America still struggling to forge its identity. There are plenty of good books in this category, March by Geraldine Brooks and Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier being two classics. Here are some others worth checking out. Please fee free to add your own suggestions at the bottom.

The Second Mrs. Hockaday The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

Hardcover Jan 2017; Paperback Nov 2017. 272 pages.
Published by Algonquin Books

Placidia Hockaday is just a teenager when her husband is called back to fight on behalf of the Confederacy in the Civil War. He leaves her behind along with her slaves. When he returns two years later he finds that she is charged with a crime she won't speak about. Vividly transporting readers to the old South, this novel is about deep-rooted beliefs and the life events that make us challenge our own assumptions.
Review, article, excerpt & reading guide

Fallen Land Fallen Land by Taylor Brown

Paperback Jan 2017. 288 pages.
Published by St. Martin's Griffin

One young couple's love and drive is tested as they travel the war-ravaged South escaping a band of bounty hunters hot on their trail. All they have is their beloved steed, Reiver, and the kindness of strangers in a land that is decimated by bloodshed. This debut is an eloquent exploration of the capacity of love to overcome the mightiest of odds, especially as it plays out against one of the Civil War's most iconic events: Sherman's March to the Sea.
Review, article, excerpt & reading guide

I Shall Be Near To You I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

Paperback Sep 2014. 320 pages.
Published by Broadway Books

When her husband, Jeremiah, goes off to fight in the Civil War, Rosetta has been told that her place is in the home. But the young woman has other plans. Based on the real-life stories of close to 250 women who actually fought along men in the Civil War by dressing up as men, this novel explores the effects of war on the young couple and on Rosetta as she laces up her boots, hems her pants and goes off to fight with a concealed identity.
Review, article, excerpt & reading guide

The Secrets of Mary Bowser The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen

Paperback May 2012. 496 pages.
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks

You've heard it often: when you are against something, take a stance even if you're the only one doing so. Mary Bowser stands tall, working against the institution of slavery at great personal costs. Based on a true story and peppered with real-life anecdotes, this historical novel shines light on abolitionists and the plight of slaves who faced new dangers every day.
Review, article, excerpt & reading guide

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

Paperback Sep 2015. 528 pages.
Published by Harper Perennial

This well-researched book of nonfiction details the lives of four women spies, two on the Confederacy side and two Unionists, exploring an aspect of the Civil War most readers will not have heard about. The intriguing methods these women used to garner crucial intelligence and the vital work they did in the war effort will delight history buffs and readers of historical fiction.
Review, article, excerpt & reading guide

The House Girl The House Girl by Tara Conklin

Paperback Nov 2013. 384 pages.
Published by William Morrow

Is truth more important than justice? This moving story tracks between antebellum Virginia and contemporary New York to tell us the story of a young woman slave who flees her master's home, and her unlikely connection to a lawyer in today's Big Apple. The novel skilfully visits the topics of reparation, art and secrets even as it shows just how events from centuries ago can have ramifications generations down the line.
Review, article, excerpt & reading guide

The Underground Railroad The Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead

Hardcover Aug 2016. 320 pages.
Published by Doubleday

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the National Book Award, in this brilliant novel, the underground railroad is not just a metaphor but an actual network of tracks and stations that helps slaves on the road to freedom. Young Cora is one such slave who flees from the deep South but especially after she kills a white boy, things get complicated very quickly. An insightful portrayal of slavery and its dark shadow over subsequent American history, this novel is one of the talented Whitehead's best.
Review, article, excerpt & reading guide

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