Autumn reads | Guest post by Sarah Johnson

Autumn, my favorite season, is finally here. Students are back in school, the weather is getting cooler, and leaves are turning brilliant colors.  (The photo above was taken at the university where I work.)  It’s also a great time for curling up in an armchair and getting caught up in reading a good book. My preferred genre is historical fiction, so I thought I’d present some historical reads incorporating the theme of the current season, both literally and symbolically.

I spent a few days visiting Oxford last September, so the title of this historical thriller speaks to me.  Set around Oxford University during the Cold War with flashbacks to earlier times, Alex Rosenberg’s Autumn in Oxford features Tom Wrought, an American academic, who’s framed for the murder of his lover’s husband. As the investigation proceeds, secrets from Tom’s past are slowly unearthed.

This oldie but goodie (from 2004) alternates between Japan in the 14th and 19th centuries, as westerners are being permitted to enter the country once again, and deals with the magical family story and hidden prophecy revealed in ancient scrolls. For readers who enjoy stories of distant places combined with some mystery and romance.

As autumn signifies that the year is coming to a close, Elizabeth Chadwick’s The Autumn Throne is the final volume in her trilogy about Eleanor of Aquitaine (preceded by The Summer Queen and The Winter Crown). The series takes a fresh look at Alienor (the spelling used in the series) during the last three decades of her life, beginning with her imprisonment by her husband, England’s Henry II, and following her as she regains power after his death.

Jeffrey Lent’s writing always evokes the beauty of different American landscapes, and In the Fall focuses initially on rural Vermont in the post-Civil War era. Details on autumn apple-picking and cider-pressing are vividly rendered. The main thrust of the plot, though, deals with the unlikely marriage between two young people of different races, and how past events come to affect them and their descendants.

In autumn, the seed merchants of mid-19th century Gönningen, in Germany’s Swabian Mountains, begin travelling their annual routes, collecting orders for seeds that will be delivered the following spring. First in a series set amid the agricultural trade in Europe, Petra Durst-Benning’s The Seed Woman follows a young woman named Hannah who marries into a family of seed vendors and gets caught up unexpectedly in a love triangle.

Is it too soon to start looking ahead to November?  Ellen Cooney’s Thanksgiving celebrates this American holiday through linked stories, all set in late November, about the members of one Massachusetts family over a 350-year span. Read it to learn about how the traditional Thanksgiving meal was prepared at different points in time, and how family legends are created. It’s a good choice for anyone interested in social history. I reviewed it on my blog four years ago.


Thanks very much to Julie for giving me the chance to guest blog!


About me: I’m an American librarian who’s been blogging about historical novels since 2006 (and reading them for much longer).  Visit my site at: