Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
In the 1660s, on the island now known as Martha's Vineyard, minister's daughter Bethia Mayfield befriends a Wampanoag boy named Caleb. While scholarly Caleb accepts the tutelage of Bethia's father, who aims to convert the young man to Christianity and make a clergyman out of him, Bethia is expected to abandon her own desire for an education in favor of marriage and motherhood. Although it seems that their paths must diverge, tragedy ensures that their lives remain entwined as they travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts--he as a student, she as an indentured servant. Based on the life of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, the first Native American student to graduate from Harvard College, Caleb's Crossing is a "thoroughly researched" story told in "stunningly lyrical prose" (Booklist, starred review).
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
When their boss, the enigmatic Commodore, sends gun-toting brothers Charlie and Eli Sisters to kill a gold prospector named Hermann Kermit Warm, the boys set out on a quest that takes them from trail's end Oregon City all the way to bustling San Francisco. But as their target proves elusive, the siblings--particularly Eli--begin to question the purpose of their mission. Set during the boom times of the California Gold Rush and narrated by Eli in a matter-of-fact voice that recalls Mattie Ross of Charles Portis' True Grit, The Sisters Brothers is a gritty, darkly humorous Western.
22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson
The Nowaks, a Polish immigrant family in 1946 Suffolk, England, live in a red brick house at 22 Britannia Road. But the tranquil suburban façade masks a dark past. Just seven years before, Januscz and Silvana Nowak were newlyweds in Warsaw whose happiness was abruptly shattered by the German invasion of 1939. Januscz joined the army while Silvana hid in the forest and raised their son Aurek, who, after years of isolation, is practically feral. Now reunited, the couple attempts to rebuild their marriage and family, but wartime trauma and devastating secrets threaten their fragile stability. Don't miss this powerful debut, which Publishers Weekly calls "a sweeping tale of survival and redemption."
Doc: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell
Years before the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral secured his place in history, John Henry "Doc" Holliday was a Southern gentleman who "began to die when he was 21." In 1878, following a diagnosis of consumption (tuberculosis), Doc relocates his dental practice to the frontier town of Dodge City, Kansas. Soon abandoning dentistry for a life of drinking (which eases his symptoms) and gambling (which pays better than pulling teeth), Doc befriends the Earp brothers and finds his soul mate in Hungarian prostitute "Big Nose" Kate Harony. This atmospheric novel of the Old West offers an unsentimental look at the early years of an American legend.
My Dear I Wanted to Tell You: A Novel by Louisa Young
When working-class boy Riley Purefoy becomes the protégé of Sir Alfred Waveney, he befriends Sir Alfred's daughter, Nadine. As the years pass, friendship blossoms into love, but the couple's different backgrounds prevent them from being together. Further separation comes with the start of WWI, as Riley enlists and Nadine becomes a nurse. However, the greatest challenge of all comes when Riley sustains terrible injuries on the battlefield that leave him permanently scarred--both physically and psychologically. Although My Dear I Wanted to Tell You takes place in a different time period than Ian McEwan's Atonement, both books present poignant wartime love stories that also delve into issues of social class.