by Paul Maier
This is the most extensively researched fiction I've yet to read. This amazing volume includes the Emperors Claudius, Nero, and Vespasian along with their famous scheming women as well as Paul, Peter, Priscilla, and Aquila. This long work is not for the fainthearted - if you've never read Ancient histories please beware. Professor Maier does not skimp on painting accurate, though often gory, descriptions of the old world. The storytelling is superb, but largely because it is only fictionalized where there are gaps in historical accounts and to allow more historical figures to interact. There are thorough notes with commentary references to original documents answering any questions the reader might have about how much of the story is fact or fiction.
by Jane Kirkpatrick
I've only recently been introduced to Jane Kirkpatrick, but evidently all (or at least most) of her fictional works are based on the true, but rarely told stories of women throughout American history. I'm currently reading All Together in One Place but before this I practically gobbled up The Daughter's Walk. A Norwegian-American family is struggling to keep the farm from foreclosing. The mother, Helga Estby decides to enter a newspaper competition that promises to reward $10,000 to the winner. Dragging her unwilling oldest daughter along, they trek from Washington state to New York City in just over 7 months, stopping along the way to earn their room and bread, meeting numerous obstacles, proving a woman's stamina, and modeling "reform dress." More obstacles await them in NYC and the book does an excellent job re-telling this true event and surmising how the daughter's character may have become the business woman she grew into. Despite the bits of historical feminism, which I found mostly accurate considering their involvement in the competition, I greatly enjoyed reading about an amazing journey and an entrepreneurial woman. Also, the book traces the daughter's story throughout almost all her life, not just giving a snippet of her story like most fiction tends towards. There was very little written that I couldn't imagine actually happening in Clara Estby's life.