Taghistorical fiction

Steve Matthews – Ted Watts’ Diary

Big Sky Publishing, Australia, 2023
Cover design Think Productions

Steve Matthews’ Hitler trilogy was inspired by a personal connection that led him to visit Auschwitz. This latest stand alone, still a war story but in a different theatre, is also born of personal connection.

Steve Matthews talks to Barbie about Ted Watts’ Diary
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Tania Blanchard – A Woman of Courage

HarperCollinsPublishers,  Australia, 2023

I think the thing about historical fiction that appeals to so many readers is the way it ties the present to the past. In writing a story about the growth of the suffragette movement in late 19th century and early 20th century Britain, Tania Blanchard has cogently placed the advancement of women’s rights on a continuum which includes the modern reader’s world.

Tania Blanchard talks to Barbie about A Woman of Courage
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Catherine McCullagh – Resistance and Revenge

Big Sky Publishing, Australia, 2023
Cover design Think Productions

This author is known for her World War 2 fiction. This book retains the period, but moves into the speculative scenario of an occupied Britain in 1941.

Catherine McCullagh talks to Barbie about Resistance and Revenge
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Robyn Cadwallader – The Fire and the Rose

Fourth Estate, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, Australia, 2023
Cover design Sandy Cull, gogo gingko
Cover images: Colourful ink by chavanon chalermchon/Alamy Stock Photo, black ink by Wilawan Khasawong/Alamy Stock Photo.

Set in the tempestuous world of the 13th century in England, Robyn Cadwallader’s The Fire and the Rose is a love story told within a bigger picture of politics and society.

Robyn Cadwallader talks to Barbie about The Fire and the Rose
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Suzanne Leal – Running with Ivan

Angus&Robertson, an imprint of HaperCollinsChildrensBooks, Australia, 2023
Cover design by HarperCollins Design Studio
Cover illustration by Hope McConnell

This novel for young readers brings together the author’s interests in 20th century German history and in the nature of family. Told in the youthful voice of Leo, the story takes place dually in Australia in 2002 and a span of years leading up to and during World War 2.

Barbie talks to Suzanne Leal about Running with Ivan
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Harry Treasure – King’s Spur

Austin Macauley Publishers, London, 2023
Cover design not acknowledged

In this historical fiction, Harry Treasure paints a graphic picture of the harsh and demanding lifestyle of the Victorian mountain cattlemen and their families around the turn of the 20th century. Unlike some in the genre, this is entirely a work of the author’s imagination.

Barbie talks to Harry Treasure about King’s Spur
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Paul Ashford Harris – Love, Oil and the Fortunes of War

Ventura Press Australia, 2023
Cover and internal design by Deborah Parry Graphics

In bringing together three figures from British late 19th/early 20th century history Paul Ashford Harris has created a monumental tale of historical fiction. The work delves into the military, the political and the personal in its central story as well as entertaining us with a myriad of interesting ‘side issues’ of the times.

Paul Ashford Harris talks to Barbie about Love, Oil and the Fortunes of War
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Ben Hobson – The Death of John Lacey

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2023

This is a tough, rough read, masculine, spare and utterly brilliant.

Set between 1847 and 1870, the story follows the parallel stories of two sets of brothers – Ernst and Joe Montague and John and Gray Lacey.

Ben Hobson talks to Barbie about The Death of John Lacey
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Steve Matthews – Hitler’s Resurrection

Big Sky Publishing, Australia, 2022
Cover design by Think Productions

This is final book in Steve Matthews’ Hitler trilogy and can be read as a stand-alone, though much of it is better contextualised if you have read the first two, Hitler’s Brothel and Hitler’s Assassins.

Steve Matthews talks to Barbie about Hitler’s Resurrection
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Natasha Lester – The Three Lives of Alix St Pierre

Hachette, Australia, 2022

The Three Lives of Alix St Pierre is the fifth of Natasha Lester’s World War 2 stories and she has adopted a fresh format.

Barbie speaks to Natasha Lester about The Three Lives of Alix St Pierre
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Petronella McGovern – The Liars

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2022
Cover design by Christabella Designs
Cover photograph by Elisabeth Ansley/Trevillion Images

A complex network of major contemporary social issues enfolds this story and it is this, I believe, that makes it such an absorbing and satisfying work of fiction.

Petronella McGovern talks to Barbie about The Liars
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Moira McAlister – Izzy

An Indiemosh book, MoshPit Publishing, Australia, 2021
Cover design and layout by Ally Mosher
Cover images used under licence from Adobe Stock

This book is historical fiction, inspired by the author’s slight secondary glimpse of her great, great grandmother, Inez Seville Fitzgerald along with a couple of original letters. Inez was married to Dr Barry Cotter, Melbourne’s first doctor, the subject of the author’s family history study, the results of which are published as https://drbarrycotter.com/

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Lauren Chater – The Winter Dress

Simon & Schuster, Australia, 2022
Cover design Nada Backovic
Cover images Beata Banach/Trevillion Images

Lauren Chater’s third historical novel is as finely woven as the 17th century silk dress which inspired it.

Lauren Chater talks to Barbie about The Winter Dress
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Ned Manning – Painting the Light

Broadcast Books, Australia, 2022
Cover design, artwork and internal design by Daniel New

This historical novel spans the period in Australian history from pre-World War 2 into the 1950s. It is inspired by the life of the author’s parents, drawing heavily on their experiences on the land and in wartime, and then in the political sphere of Labor politics.

Ned Manning talks to Barbie about Painting the Light
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Kelly Rimmer – The German Wife

Hachette, Australia, 2022

While Kelly Rimmer’s latest novel is entitled The German Wife, for me it is an American story. Perhaps it is a hole in my own knowledge that made the author’s graphic and heart-breaking account of the Black Sunday dust storm so powerful.

Kelly Rimmer talks to Barbie about The German Wife
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