by Leslie Farin
In honor of Women’s History Month this March, I want to highlight seven books about the untold stories of women in history to read in 2021.
The Untold Stories of Women in History
In these pages, discover the story of a woman who fought for her freedom from the Jacksonville Insane Asylum; of a famous author who disappeared for 11 days and took control of her own story; of a nurse who fought on the front lines of WWI, saving soldiers and battling a mysterious respiratory disease; and of a young surgical assistant who longs to be a doctor despite the laws of the state that forbid her from doing so.
Our Recommended Books With the Untold Stories of Women in History
Here are our favorites for 2021:
by Kate More
One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear.
1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her because he feels increasingly threatened―by Elizabeth’s intellect, independence, and unwillingness to stifle her own thoughts. So Theophilus makes a plan to put his wife back in her place. One summer morning, he has her committed to an insane asylum.
The horrific conditions inside the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois, are overseen by Dr. Andrew McFarland, a man who will prove to be even more dangerous to Elizabeth than her traitorous husband. But most disturbing is that Elizabeth is not the only sane woman confined to the institution. There are many rational women on her ward who tell the same story: they’ve been committed not because they need medical treatment, but to keep them in line―conveniently labeled “crazy” so their voices are ignored.
No one is willing to fight for their freedom and, disenfranchised both by gender and the stigma of their supposed madness, they cannot possibly fight for themselves. But Elizabeth is about to discover that the merit of losing everything is that you then have nothing to lose…
Bestselling author Kate Moore brings her sparkling narrative voice to The Woman They Could Not Silence, an unputdownable story of the forgotten woman who courageously fought for her own freedom―and in so doing freed millions more. Elizabeth’s refusal to be silenced and her ceaseless quest for justice not only challenged the medical science of the day, and led to a giant leap forward in human rights, it also showcased the most salutary lesson: sometimes, the greatest heroes we have are those inside ourselves. COMING SOON
by Audrey Blake
The story of one woman who believed in scientific medicine before the world believed in her.
Raised by the eccentric surgeon Dr. Horace Croft after losing her parents to a deadly pandemic, the orphan Nora Beady knows little about conventional life. While other young ladies were raised to busy themselves with needlework and watercolors, Nora was trained to perfect her suturing and anatomical illustrations of dissections.
Women face dire consequences if caught practicing medicine, but in Croft’s private clinic Nora is his most trusted—and secret—assistant. That is until the new surgical resident Dr. Daniel Gibson arrives. Dr. Gibson has no idea that Horace’s bright and quiet young ward is a surgeon more qualified and ingenuitive than even himself. In order to protect Dr. Croft and his practice from scandal and collapse Nora must learn to play a new and uncomfortable role—that of a proper young lady.
But pretense has its limits. Nora cannot turn away and ignore the suffering of patients even if it means giving Gibson the power to ruin everything she’s worked for. And when she makes a discovery that could change the field forever, Nora faces an impossible choice. Remain invisible and let the men around her take credit for her work, or let the world see her for what she is—even if it means being destroyed by her own legacy.
by Tracey Enerson Wood
Superintendent of Nurses Julia Stimson must recruit sixty-five nurses to relieve the battle-worn British, months before American troops are ready to be deployed. She knows that the young nurses serving near the front lines of will face a challenging situation, but nothing could have prepared her for the chaos that awaits when they arrive at British Base Hospital 12 in Rouen, France. The primitive conditions, a convoluted, ineffective system, and horrific battle wounds are enough to discourage the most hardened nurses, and Julia can do nothing but lead by example—even as the military doctors undermine her authority and make her question her very place in the hospital tent.
When trainloads of soldiers stricken by a mysterious respiratory illness arrive one after the other, overwhelming the hospital’s limited resources, and threatening the health of her staff, Julia faces an unthinkable choice—to step outside the bounds of her profession and risk the career she has fought so hard for, or to watch the people she cares for most die in her arms. Based on a true story, The War Nurse is a sweeping historical novel by international bestselling author Tracey Enerson Wood that takes readers on an unforgettable journey through WWI France.
by Marie Benedict
THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER!
In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing. Investigators find her empty car on the edge of a deep, gloomy pond, the only clues some tire tracks nearby and a fur coat left in the car—strange for a frigid night. Her World War I veteran husband and her daughter have no knowledge of her whereabouts, and England unleashes an unprecedented manhunt to find the up-and-coming mystery author. Eleven days later, she reappears, just as mysteriously as she disappeared, claiming amnesia and providing no explanations for her time away.
The puzzle of those missing eleven days has persisted. With her trademark historical fiction exploration into the shadows of the past, acclaimed author Marie Benedict brings us into the world of Agatha Christie, imagining why such a brilliant woman would find herself at the center of such murky historical mysteries.
What is real, and what is mystery? What role did her unfaithful husband play, and what was he not telling investigators?
Agatha Christie novels have withstood the test of time, due in no small part to Christie’s masterful storytelling and clever mind that may never be matched, but Agatha Christie’s untold history offers perhaps her greatest mystery of all.
Fans of The Secrets We Kept, The Lions of Fifth Avenue, and The Alice Network will enjoy this riveting saga of literary history, suspense, and love gone wrong.
by Kim Michele Richardson
THE NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY BESTSELLER!
The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.
Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.
Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere—even back home.
by Greer Macallister
A dozen women join a secret 1850s Arctic expedition—and a sensational murder trial unfolds when some of them don’t come back.
Eccentric Lady Jane Franklin makes an outlandish offer to adventurer Virginia Reeve: take a dozen women, trek into the Arctic, and find her husband’s lost expedition. Four parties have failed to find him, and Lady Franklin wants a radical new approach: put the women in charge.
A year later, Virginia stands trial for murder. Survivors of the expedition willing to publicly support her sit in the front row. There are only five. What happened out there on the ice?
Set against the unforgiving backdrop of one of the world’s most inhospitable locations, USA Today bestselling author Greer Macallister uses the true story of Lady Jane Franklin’s tireless attempts to find her husband’s lost expedition as a jumping-off point to spin a tale of bravery, intrigue, perseverance and hope.
by Tracey Enerson Wood
Emily Roebling refuses to live conventionally—she knows who she is and what she wants, and she’s determined to make change. But then her husband asks the unthinkable: give up her dreams to make his possible.
Emily’s fight for women’s suffrage is put on hold, and her life transformed when her husband Washington Roebling, the Chief Engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, is injured on the job. Untrained for the task, but under his guidance, she assumes his role, despite stern resistance and overwhelming obstacles. But as the project takes shape under Emily’s direction, she wonders whose legacy she is building—hers, or her husband’s. As the monument rises, Emily’s marriage, principles, and identity threaten to collapse. When the bridge finally stands finished, will she recognize the woman who built it?
Based on the true story of an American icon, The Engineer’s Wife delivers an emotional portrait of a woman transformed by a project of unfathomable scale, which takes her into the bowels of the East River, suffragette riots, the halls of Manhattan’s elite, and the heady, freewheeling temptations of P.T. Barnum. The biography of a husband and wife determined to build something that lasts—even at the risk of losing each other.
Which Untold Stories of Women in History Did You Read?
We loved every single one of these books. Which did you read? And what did you think? Do you have other books about women in history you recommend? Please leave your comments below. We would love to hear form you!