Memorial Hall Library

Historical Fiction Set in Massachusetts

As colder weather nears, it's a great time to engage in armchair travel across the state and through the ages with a selection of historical novels set in Massachusetts! From Lancaster in 1674 to Gloucester in 1814 to Nantucket in 1969, these books crisscross the Commonwealth and span the centuries. With thrillers, mysteries, family dramas, and beyond, there is as much variety in these books as there is across Massachusetts. We hope you'll find something to enjoy in these Bay State books!


	The romance reader's guide to life
The romance reader's guide to life
by Sharon L. Pywell

Left with few options when the end of World War II costs them their jobs, two sisters from Lynn--one flirtatious, the other bookish--launch a makeup business that is upended when one of them disappears on what may be a romantic adventure on the high seas. 

	The Dante Club : a novel
The Dante Club : a novel
by Matthew Pearl

In 1865, the preparations of the Dante Club--whose members include Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes--to release the first translation of Dante's The Divine Comedy are threatened by a series of murders that re-create episodes from the Inferno.

	Bowlaway : a novel
Bowlaway : a novel
by Elizabeth McCracken

An unconventional New England family faces scandal, inheritance battles, and questions of paternities as viewed through three generations of their owning and operating a candlepin bowling alley in Salford, Massachusetts.

	We love you, Charlie Freeman : a novel
We love you, Charlie Freeman : a novel
by Kaitlyn Greenidge

An African-American, sign-language-fluent family is hired by a private research institute in rural Massachusetts—with a shocking, secret past—to teach sign language to a chimpanzee who will live as part of their household.

	The given day : a novel
The given day : a novel
by Dennis Lehane

An epic tale set at the end of World War I follows the experiences of a Boston family whose lives mirror the political unrest of an America caught between its well-patterned past and an unpredictable future. 

	The Boston girl : a novel
The Boston girl : a novel
by Anita Diamant

Recounting the story of her life to her granddaughter, octogenarian Addie describes how she was raised in early 20th-century America by suspicious Jewish immigrant parents in a teeming multicultural neighborhood. 

	The Celestials : a novel
The Celestials : a novel
by Karen Shepard

In 1870, seventy-five Chinese laborers are unwittingly brought in as strikebreakers at a shoe factory in the town of North Adams, Massachusetts, setting off a conflict with the locals.

	The house of velvet and glass
The house of velvet and glass
by Katherine Howe

Her Boston family shattered by the deaths of her mother and sister on the Titanic, Sibyl attempts to contact her departed loved ones at a medium's table before reconnecting with former flame Ben, with whom she tackles a harrowing mystery. 

	The madman's tale : a novel
The madman's tale : a novel
by John Katzenbach

Twenty years after the asylum in western Mass. where he had spent much of his life is closed, Francis Petrel recounts dark memories about the unsolved murder of a young nurse and anticipates an upcoming reunion with his former fellow patients, an event that is haunted by the possible return of the killer.

	Flight of the sparrow : a novel of early America
Flight of the sparrow : a novel of early America
by Amy Belding Brown

In 1676, Mary Rowlandson is captured by Native Americans and sold into the service of a powerful woman tribal leader where she, a pawn in the ongoing bloody struggle between English settlers and native people, witnesses harrowing brutality as well as unexpected kindness and begins to question the traditions and assumptions that have governed her life.

	Leaving Lucy Pear
Leaving Lucy Pear
by Anna Solomon

Inadvertently reunited with the daughter she secretly abandoned on Cape Ann, MA, and the girl's Irish-Catholic adoptive mother during the height of America's xenophobic Prohibition era, the adult daughter of a Jewish industrialist finds her life turned upside down by her daughter's bold and unconventional personality. 

	The last days of Dogtown : a novel
The last days of Dogtown : a novel
by Anita Diamant

Endeavoring to build a life for herself in a dying early nineteenth-century New England town, Judy Rhines struggles with feelings of profound loneliness and impacts the lives of Black Ruth, a freed slave who dresses as a man and works as a stone mason; Mrs. Stanley, an imperious madam; and Oliver, who overcomes a painful childhood. 

	Summer of '69
Summer of '69
by Elin Hilderbrand

A pregnant eldest sibling confined to Boston, a middle-sister civil rights activist on Martha's Vineyard, an infantry soldier brother deployed to Vietnam, and a lonely 13-year-old youngest child stuck with her grandmother on Nantucket find their lives upended by troubling family secrets. 
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