Every so often I have a feature on the blog called Thematic Thursdays, wherein I feature some books according to a favorite theme of mine. Today my theme is World War II historical fiction. I’m a big fan of Teen Historicals in general, but World War II settings are a particular favorite of mine. I love the mix of modern v. historical. There’s still a lot of Old World charm, but tempered with things like beautiful old cars and modern ideas of bathing. You know, the important things.
I’ll start with one of my all-time favorites:
- The Morning Gift and A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson–There is, without question, no better choice for Historical Fiction than Eva Ibbotson. She hits all the right notes for me. Smart, nature-loving, family-and-friend-loving heroines, delightfully bad villains, settings that will make you ache to travel, and romances to satisfy even the hardest cases. The Morning Gift is one of my all-time Ibbotson faves, but they’re like french fries–you can’t eat just one.
Twenty-year-old Ruth Berger is desperate. The daughter of a Jewish-Austrian professor, she was supposed to have escaped Vienna before the Nazis marched into the city. Yet the plan went completely wrong, and while her family and fiancé are waiting for her in safety, Ruth is stuck in Vienna with no way to escape. Then she encounters her father’s younger college professor, the dashing British paleontologist Quin Sommerville. Together, they strike a bargain: a marriage of convenience, to be annulled as soon as they return to safety. But dissolving the marriage proves to be more difficult than either of them thought; not least because of the undeniable attraction Quin and Ruth share. To make matters worse, Ruth is enrolled in Quin’s university, in his very classes. Can their secret survive, or will circumstances destroy their love?
Ellen never expected the Hallendorf school to be quite so unusual. Her life back in England with her suffragette mother and liberated aunts certainly couldn’t be called normal, but buried deep in the beautiful Austrian countryside, Ellen discovers an eccentric world occupied by wild children and even wilder teachers, experimental dancers and a tortoise on wheels. And then there is the particularly intriguing, enigmatic, and very handsome Marek, part-time gardener and fencing teacher. Ellen is instantly attracted to the mysterious gardener, but Hitler’s Reich is already threatening their peaceful world, and only when she discovers Marek’s true identity and his dangerous mission does Ellen realize the depth of her feelings for him – and the danger their newfound love faces in the shadow of war.
- A Brief History of Montmaray and The FitzOsbornes in Exile by Michelle Cooper–These are really, technically, pre-World War II, but they definitely deserve a mention. The first book takes place on the fictional island kingdom of Montmaray, and the second moves to pre-War London. They have a delightful, practical, down-to-earth and yet socially awkward heroine for narration. Good stuff.
- Shelter Me by Alex McAulay–I have this one on my TBR shelf. I picked it up at a library booksale and, once I read the description, I knew I’d have to try it. Anyone read it? Let me know if I should bump it up the old TBR pile.
Maggie Leigh just wants to be a normal teenager, but when German bombs tear apart London during World War II, her ultra-religious mother sees the destruction as divine punishment. She sends Maggie to a remote boarding school in coastal Wales, supposedly to keep her safe, but also to keep her in line. The school is creepy, the headmistress is a lunatic, and the students range from spoiled rich girls to speechless trauma victims. But when a tragic accident happens on the beach, Maggie and three friends are forced to flee the school, plunging into the nightmarish world of Europe during wartime. Now every decision Maggie makes is fraught with danger, and living to see another day depends on how quickly she can think and act…and how far she’s willing to go.
- The Girl Is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines–Again, this is a book I own but haven’t read yet. I’m interested in it for the mystery factory, plus the fact that it’s billed for “fans of Veronica Mars.” There’s a sequel in the works, too: The Girl Is Trouble.
Iris Anderson is only 15, but she’s quickly mastering the art of deception in this YA novel for fans of Veronica Mars. It’s the Fall of 1942 and Iris’s world is rapidly changing. Her Pop is back from the war with a missing leg, limiting his ability to do the physically grueling part of his detective work. Iris is dying to help, especially when she discovers that one of Pop’s cases involves a boy at her school. Now, instead of sitting at home watching Deanna Durbin movies, Iris is sneaking out of the house, double crossing her friends, and dancing at the Savoy till all hours of the night. There’s certainly never a dull moment in the private eye business.
- Code Name: Verity by Elizabeth Wein–This was published this month, and I’m not in possession of it, yet. You can be sure that I’ll try my best to rectify this one. It sounds great. I’m intrigued by the death-bed confession-tone of the blurb.
I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do. That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine – and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.
He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France – an Allied Invasion of Two.
We are a sensational team.
So…what World War II titles are on your list?