This week, while much of the Fiction chart has stayed the same as ever, there has been an unexpected show of strength from the Historical Fiction genre. There are still plenty of books from the Thriller, Mystery, and Suspense, genre, and Romance is still doing well, as is Women’s Fiction, but this week it is Historical Fiction that is the surprise winner.
An interesting aspect of the positive trend for Historical Fiction this week is that it is not narrowly focused on one era or event, but is instead telling the stories of many different types of people in different places and years. A lot is given to the Second World War, something that should be no surprise to any of our readers since Fiction and Non-Fiction readers seem to have a fascination with WW2, but rather than focusing on the militaristic side of the war, it instead focuses on the civilian aspect. One of the few books to counteract this is, The Girls of Pearl Harbour, by Soraya M. Lane, which begins before the attack on the titular military base, and follows the lives of the young women as they are thrust into a war afterwards. Women as main characters is a continued trend in the niche, with many of the other books dealing with WW2 as a subject also using a female protagonist or protagonists. This may be because the stories the writers wish to tell are more in line with the lives of women at this time, or it may be a more cynical ploy focused on the fact that books that match the reader for representative factors are more likely to be bought.
Women are also the favoured protagonist in much of the other eras of history explored by writers in the charts this week, The Agincourt Bride, by Joanna Hickson. This focuses on the roles of both the young Princess Catherine de Valois, and her wet-nurse, Mette. By refocusing what is normally a very male driven, or romance driven, view of the era it works well to include people and points of view that have been otherwise neglected and so tells an interesting story that feels more original than might have otherwise been achieved if the usual characters were given the same amount of attention.
Colson Whitehead’s book, The Nickel Boys, tells the story of two African American boys in Jim Crow Era Florida, which similarly gives a voice to normally ignored. This seems to be the main theme of the books in the trend this week, above all else, that those who lacked the chance to make their journeys and challenges known are now being given that chance through modern writer’s pens.
Stepping away from Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense (or which ever order of those three you prefer) still has a large following if the number of books on the list is anything to go by. Serial Killers are as popular as ever, as are the Professional Investigators who hunt them. There is a definite lean towards the Police over Private Eyes this week, though again women are the preferred leads of these books. The few Non-Professional Investigators tend to be friends and family members of the deceased, such as in Relative Fortunes, by Marlowe Benn, which follows a young woman in the 1920s who is investigating the apparent suicide of her friend. This book intertwines the political issues of the day with the changing social mores, to give the world outside of the murder scene depth. Meanwhile, the main character, Julia Kydd, is attempting to find her own place in the world in a narrative arc that mirrors the murder victim’s in ways designed to worry the reader and add to the suspense.
Women’s Fiction and Romance are still as popular as ever, with much the same books doing well as have been pointed out in previous weeks. The main trends of women experiencing huge changes in their lives and deciding to change them even more, or having the change foisted upon them, is still ongoing. Relationships of Convenience and Sports Romance are both hitting the charts, though the latter in a more limited fashion. Dark Romance is also still on the list, though it tends to be intertwined with the trend of Relationships of Convenience.
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