Friday, July 1, 2011

Local Interest Historical Fiction (North Carolina)

I'm always looking for good historical fiction set in North Carolina (and, selectively, in South Carolina and Virginia as well), so here's a list of some of the novels that I've found. Hopefully this list will be updated frequently. 
Plot synopses are from GoodReads.
Last updated 3/22/2014

Camp Follower by Suzanne Adair (2008)
American Revolution
As the year 1780 draws to a close, the publisher of a loyalist magazine in Wilmington, North Carolina offers an amazing assignment to Helen Chiswell, his society page writer: pose as the widowed sister of a British officer in the Seventeenth Light Dragoons, travel to the encampment of the British Legion in the Carolina backcountry, and write a feature on LtCol. Banastre Tarleton. But Helen's publisher has secret reasons for sending her into danger. And because Helen, a loyalist, has ties to the St. James family, who seem to be in perpetual hot water with the forces of the Crown, she comes under the suspicions of the brutal Lt. Dunstan Fairfax. Filled with action, mystery, and suspense that climaxes at the Battle of Cowpens, Camp Follower is the story of a woman forced to confront her past to save her life during the War for American Independence.

My Old True Love by Sheila Kay Adams (2005)
adult, Civil War/19th cent.
Sheila Kay Adams brings us a novel inspired by the ballads of the English, Scottish, and Irish. These long, sad stories of heartbreak and betrayal, violence and love, have been sung for generations by the descendents of those who settled the Appalachian mountains in the 1700s. As they raised their children, they taught them first to sing, for the songs told the children everything they needed to know about life. So it was with the Stanton family living in Marshall, North Carolina, during the 1800s. Even Larkin Stanton, just a baby when his parents die and he's taken in by his cousin Arty, starts humming before he starts talking. As he grows up, he hungrily learns every song he can, and goes head-to-head with his cousin Hackley for the best voice, and, of course, the best attentions of the women. It's not long before the two boys find themselves pursuing the affections of the same lovely girl, Mary, who eventually chooses Hackley for her husband. But, just as in the most tragic ballads, there is no stowing away of emotions. And when Hackley leaves his wife under his cousin's care in the midst of the Civil War, Larkin finds himself drawn back to the woman who's held his heart for years. What he does about that love defies all his learning of family and loyalty and reminds us that those mournful ballads didn't just come from the imagination, but from the imperfections of the heart.

Ghost Soldier by Elaine Marie Alphin (2001)
children's, Civil War
Alexander has the ability to see ghosts. But it's been several years since his last encounter. When he reluctantly joins his father on a long trip away from home, a surprise awaits him. In the unfamiliar territory of North Carolina, Alexander is confronted by the ghost of a young soldier who lost his life in the Civil War. As an unusual friendship develops between the two, Alexander is drawn into a new reality where he comes face to face with the haunting past of his soldier friend. But can Alexander help this troubled ghost, and can he, finally, come to terms with his own disturbing past?

Dominion by Calvin Baker (2006)
With Dominion, Baker has written a lush, incantatory novel about three generations of an African American family in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. Dominion tells the story of the Merian family who, at the close of the seventeenth century, settle in the wilderness of the Carolinas. Jasper is the patriarch, freed from bondage, who manages against all odds to build a thriving estate with his new wife and two sons — one enslaved, the other free. For one hundred years, the Merian family struggles against the natural (and occasionally supernatural) world, colonial politics, the injustices of slavery, the Revolutionary War and questions of fidelity and the heart.

The Lost Duchess by Jenny Barden (2013)
adult, Lost Colony
Emme Fitfield has fallen about as far as a gentlewoman can. Once a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, her only hope of surviving the scandal that threatens to engulf her is to escape England for a fresh start in the new America where nobody has ever heard of the Duchess of Somerset. Emme joins Kit Doonan's rag-tag band of idealists, desperados and misfits bound for Virginia. But such a voyage will be far from easy and Emme finds her attraction to the mysterious Doonan inconvenient to say the least. As for Kit, the handsome mariner has spent years imprisoned by the Spanish, and living as an outlaw with a band of escaped slaves; he has his own inner demons to confront, and his own dark secrets to keep...

Who Comes to King's Mountain? by John and Patricia Beatty (1975)
children's/YA, American Revolution
Living in the South Carolina hills in 1780, a young Scottish boy, whose own family is divided between Loyalist and rebel, must decide for himself which side he will follow.

Who Comes with Cannons? by Patricia Beatty (1992)
children's, Civil War *see my review*
When Truth Hopkins's father dies, she goes to live with her uncle and his family on their North Carolina farm. Like Truth, the Bardwells are Quakers. They oppose slavery but refuse to take up arms in the civil war that is now being waged to end this inhuman institution. Then one day, a runaway slave takes refuge on the Bardwell farm and, to Truth's amazement, her uncle hides him from the slave catchers. Even more puzzling, he asks her to accompany him when he deliverswagonload of hay to a neighbor late: that night. This ride, and the wagon's real cargo, involve Truth in a mysterious and dangerous underground movement -- and reveal how she can help further the cause of freedom without the use of a rifle.

Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins (2008)
adult, colonial
They call her Dark Maggie for her thick black hair, but the name also has a more sinister connotation. As the lone survivor of an attack on her village, she was thought to be cursed—and unfit for marriage. Maggie is also gifted with quick wits and skilled in medicine, trained as a midwife. Venturing to the colonies as an indentured servant, she hopes to escape the superstitions of the old country—and find a home of her own. But what she discovers is a New World fraught with new dangers.

Rachel's Story by Idella Bodie (2009)
children's, Great Wagon Road
Rachel and her family journey down the Great Wagon Road to join their relatives in South Carolina and start a new life. When their wagon breaks down and her family is attacked by Native Americans, Rachel finds herself forced to live without her parents. This historical novel is based upon actual events and shares an important moral message along with teaching about the challenges of the colonial period.

Drums by James Boyd (1928; 1995)
children's, American Revolution

Drums, set in Edenton, North Carolina, has been called the best novel written about the American Revolution. The author notes that in this book the main facts of history have been followed except in two cases: the Bonhomme Richard did not sail from Brest but from Lorient; the incident of the vagabond in Chapter XXXV did not occur at Brooks's Club but at another club in London.

Carolina Rain by Nancy B. Brewer (2010)
adult, Civil War

Theodosia Elizabeth Sanders, “Lizzie” was born October 6, 1842, but in many ways, she is no different than a modern young woman of our era. Her open heart is filled with hope and a desire for love. Yet, her innocence makes her a target for the less than trustworthy. See how this remarkable young woman rises above all prejudices to embrace the hearts of her true friends.

Beyond Sandy Ridge by Nancy B. Brewer (2011)
adult, Civil War
As The War Between the States closes in, Lizzie flees her home in Charleston, South Carolina leaving behind her hopes and dreams. She finds a new home, where finery and social graces will buy nothing, not even friends. To the people of Stanly County, North Carolina, Lizzie is a familiar story. She is just another young widow with a babe in her arms.

Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow (1959; 2008)
American Revolution
Bringing to life the heady days of the American Revolution through the eyes of a heroine who played a brave and dramatic part in the conflict, this novel follows Celia Garth, a Charleston native, as she transforms from a fashionable dressmaker to a patriot spy. When the king's army captures Charleston and sweeps through the Carolina countryside in a wave of blood, fire, and debauchery, the rebel cause seems all but lost. But when Francis Marion, a lieutenant colonel in the Continental Army known as "The Swamp Fox," recruits Celia as a spy, the tides of war begin to shift. This classic historical novel captures the fervor of 18th-century Charleston, the American Revolution, and a woman who risked her life for the patriot cause.

Cataloochee by Wayne Caldwell (2008)
adult, 19th/20th cent.
Nestled in the mountains of North Carolina sits Cataloochee. In a time when “where you was born was where God wanted you,” the Wrights and the Carters, both farming families, travel to the valley to escape the rapid growth of neighboring towns and to have a few hundred acres all to themselves. But progress eventually winds its way to Cataloochee, too, and year after year the population swells as more people come to the valley to stake their fortune. Never one to pass on opportunity, Ezra Banks, an ambitious young man seeking some land of his own, arrives in Cataloochee in the 1880s. His first order of business is to marry a Carter girl, Hannah, the daughter of the valley’s largest landowner. From there Ezra’s brood grows, as do those of the Carters and the Wrights. With hard work and determination, the burgeouning community transforms wilderness into home, to be passed on through generations. But the idyll is not to last, nor to be inherited: The government takes steps to relocate folks to make room for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and tragedy will touch one of the clans in a single, unimaginable act.

Storm Warriors by Elisa Carbone (2001)

children's/YA, Jim Crow Era
Driven from his home by the Ku Klux Klan and still reeling from the death of his mother, Nathan moves with his father and grandfather to the desolate Pea Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina to start a new life. Fortunately, life on Pea Island at the end of the 19th century is far from quiet. The other island residents include the surfmen--the African American crew of the nearby U.S. Life-Saving Station--and soon Nathan is lending an extra hand to these men as they rescue sailors from sinking ships. Working and learning alongside the courageous surfmen, Nathan begins to dream of becoming one himself. But the reality of post-Civil War racism starts to show itself as he gradually realizes the futility of his dream. And then another dream begins to take shape, one that Nathan refuses to let anyone take from him.

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain (2013)
adult, 1960s
After losing her parents, fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister and nephew as tenants on a small tobacco farm.  As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give. When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County’s newest social worker, she doesn’t realize just how much her help is needed.  She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients' lives, causing tension with her boss and her new husband.  But as Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm—secrets much darker than she would have guessed.  Soon, she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing the battle against everything she believes is wrong. Set in rural Grace County, North Carolina in a time of state-mandated sterilizations and racial tension, Necessary Lies tells the story of these two young women, seemingly worlds apart, but both haunted by tragedy.  Jane and Ivy are thrown together and must ask themselves: how can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it’s wrong?

White Seed by Paul Clayton (2009)
Lost Colony
One of the most haunting mysteries in American history - The Lost Colony of Roanoke comes roaring back to life in White Seed, with a compelling cast of characters, among them - Maggie Hagger, indentured Irish serving girl, a victim of rape and intimidation, driven to desperate action against a tyrant when all around her have lost hope, Manteo, the Croatoan interpreter for the English, an inhabitant of two worlds, belonging to neither, who longs for love and acceptance and finally finds it in Maggie's arms, John White, ineffective Governor, painter and dreamer, drawn to the brink of insanity and back in his efforts to rescue his people, Captain Stafford, a brave, disciplined, but cruel soldier, with the seeds of class hatred imbedded in his soul years earlier, and Powhatan, the shrewd Tidewater warlord who wages a stealthy jihad against the colonists, waiting to ensure they have truly been abandoned before launching his final assault.

Beyond the Crossroad by Eugenia Collier (2010)
Set in the 1800s in the mountains of North Carolina, Beyond the Crossroad explores a little-known aspect of American history--the practice of holding Black people in bondage after legal slavery had ended. This is the journey of Caroline--a journey that is both physical and psychological. She is given or sold from owner to owner, encountering other re-enslaved Black people along the way. Her owners see her as a commodity and not as a person, and each gives her a different name, a name meaningful to themselves but not to her. Although Caroline answers to those names to survive, she always knows who she is. "My name is Caroline," she tells her fellow slaves. Later, imprisoned in a smokehouse with snakes slithering over her legs and rats nibbling her toenails, she realizes that she must choose to live or perish. At the moment when bondage has stripped her of virtually everything, she chooses life over death, and asserts, I AM CAROLINE! Now she is ready to risk everything for freedom. Now she is at the crossroad.

Cherokee Dragon by Robert J. Conley (2000)
children's/YA, colonial
Acclaimed novelist Robert J. Conley once again mines the history of his people, the Cherokee. In a fascinating and compelling novel, he explores the life of Dragging Canoe, the last great war chief of the united Cherokee tribe. In the late eighteenth century, as the English settlers begin steadily encroaching upon the Cherokee lands, the Nation-split up amongst several towns and many chiefs-unites in a series of battles under the war chief Dragging Canoe. But the united front is not one that lasts: Dragging Canoe's belief that they must fight the settlers to preserve their lands and their culture is far from universal. As strife wracks the Cherokee nation and the settlers begin to rebel against the English government, Dragging Canoe's fight-and the fight of his followers.

Soft Rain by Cornelia Cornelissen (1998)
children's, Trail of Tears
Affecting and accessible, here is the dramatic, moving story of a Cherokee family's bravery in the face of persecution, told from the perspective of nine-year-old Soft Rain. 

Keowee Valley by Katherine Scott Crawford (2012)
colonial/American Revolution
Spring, 1768. The Southern frontier is a treacherous wilderness inhabited by the powerful Cherokee people. In Charlestown, 25 year-old Quincy MacFadden receives news from beyond the grave: her cousin, a man she’d believed long dead, is alive—held captive by the Shawnee Indians. Unmarried, bookish, and plagued by visions of the future, Quinn is a woman out of place… and this is the opportunity for which she’s been longing. Determined to save two lives, her cousin’s and her own, Quinn travels the rugged Cherokee Path into the South Carolina Blue Ridge. Defying her furious grandfather and colonial law, she barters for leverage against the Shawnee with a notorious Cherokee chief—and begins building a daring new home in the Keowee River Valley, a fiercely beautiful place. But in order to rescue her cousin, Quinn must trust an enigmatic half-Cherokee tracker whose loyalties may lie elsewhere. As translator to the British army, Jack Wolf walks a perilous line between a King he hates and a homeland he loves. Together they journey across the Appalachian Mountains and into the heart of Cherokee country. They encounter wily trappers, warring Indians, British soldiers, desperate settlers, and a contested backcountry on the brink of changing forever. When Jack is ordered to negotiate for Indian loyalty in the Revolution to come, the pair must decide: obey the Crown, or commit treason…

Cherokee Sister by Debbie Dadey (2000)
children's, Trail of Tears
Allie MacAllister knows better than to run through the woods without a hat. But the sun feels so good on her skin, she barely minds when her mother scolds her for getting as dark as her dog. And Allie knows better than to slip out of Sunday worship to visit Leaf Sweetwater. But she hasn't seen her best friend for days, with all the trouble brewing between the Cherokees and the white settlers. Her parents will never notice she's missed the boring sermon if she hurries back. When Leaf lets Allie try on her new buckskin dress, Allie couldn't be happier. But blind hatred shatters her happiness when army men come to round up Leaf's family, forcing them from their home--and taking Allie with them to walk the cruel Trail of Tears. As conditions on the trail grow more desperate, the girls' hope of rescue fades away, and all that's left is a grueling nightmare of prejudice and terror. Throughout the harrowing journey, Allie and Leaf share each other's strength and courage, forging a bond of sisterhood greater than any blood tie.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani (2013)
adult, 1930s *see my review*
It is 1930, the midst of the Great Depression. After her mysterious role in a family tragedy, passionate, strong-willed Thea Atwell, age fifteen, has been cast out of her Florida home, exiled to an equestrienne boarding school for Southern debutantes. High in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with its complex social strata ordered by money, beauty, and girls’ friendships, the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a far remove from the free-roaming, dreamlike childhood Thea shared with her twin brother on their family’s citrus farm—a world now partially shattered. As Thea grapples with her responsibility for the events of the past year that led her here, she finds herself enmeshed in a new order, one that will change her sense of what is possible for herself, her family, her country.

The Outer Banks House by Diann Ducharme (2011)
adult, Reconstruction
In 1868, on the barren shores of post-war Outer Banks North Carolina, the once wealthy Sinclair family moves for the summer to one of the first cottages on the ocean side of the resort village of Nags Head. Seventeen-year-old Abigail is beautiful, book-smart, but sheltered by her plantation life and hemmed-in by her emotionally distant family. To make good use of time, she is encouraged by her family to teach her father’s fishing guide, the good-natured but penniless Benjamin Whimble, how to read and write. And in a twist of fate unforeseen by anyone around them, there on the porch of the cottage, the two come to love each other deeply, and to understand each other in a way that no one else does. But when, against everything he claims to represent, Ben becomes entangled in Abby's father's Ku Klux Klan work, the terrible tragedy and surprising revelations that one hot Outer Banks night brings forth threaten to tear them apart forever.

Jim the Boy by Tony Earley (2000)
children's, Great Depression
Selected by Granta as one of America's best young writers and featured in The New Yorker's best young fiction issue, Tony Earley now gives us a luminous portrait of a ten-year-old boy growing up in the Depression-era town of Aliceville, North Carolina.

The Blue Star by Tony Earley (2008)
children's, WWII
Seven years ago, readers everywhere fell in love with Jim Glass, the precocious ten-year-old at the heart of Tony Earley's bestseller Jim the Boy. Now a teenager, Jim returns in another tender and wise story of young love on the eve of World War Two. Jim Glass has fallen in love, as only a teenage boy can fall in love, with his classmate Chrissie Steppe. Unfortunately, Chrissie is Bucky Bucklaw's girlfriend, and Bucky has joined the Navy on the eve of war. Jim vows to win Chrissie's heart in his absence, but the war makes high school less than a safe haven, and gives a young man's emotions a grown man's gravity.

Betrayal at Cross Creek by Kathleen Ernst (2004)
children's, American Revolution
A little-known aspect of the American Revolution comes alive in this absorbing novel set in 1775. Elspeth Monro and her grandparents recently moved from Scotland to North Carolina to escape the poverty and political instability of their homeland and are forced to choose sides in the brewing conflict. Elspeth tries to live a normal life, spending time with friends and learning to become a weaver. However, local Patriots continually confront the members of her family, using scare tactics to try and persuade her grandfather and cousins to join their cause. Even more disturbing, the Patriots seem able to anticipate the family members' whereabouts, suggesting that someone is spying on them. This well-told story has an intriguing plot, and details about the Scottish settlers and life in the Colonies are carefully integrated into the narrative. 

Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier (2006)
At the age of twelve, under the Wind moon, Will is given a horse, a key, and a map, and sent alone into the Indian Nation to run a trading post as a bound boy. It is during this time that he grows into a man, learning, as he does, of the raw power it takes to create a life, to find a home. In a card game with a white Indian named Featherstone, Will wins – for a brief moment – a mysterious girl named Claire, and his passion and desire for her spans this novel. As Will’s destiny intertwines with the fate of the Cherokee Indians – including a Cherokee Chief named Bear – he learns how to fight and survive in the face of both nature and men, and eventually, under the Corn Tassel Moon, Will begins the fight against Washington City to preserve the Cherokee’s homeland and culture. And he will come to know the truth behind his belief that “only desire trumps time.” 

Cape Fear Rising by Philip Gerard (1994)
adult, Jim Crow Era
In August 1898, Wilmington, North Carolina, was a mecca for middle-class Negroes. Many of the city's lawyers, businessmen, and other professionals were black, as were all the tradesmen and stevedores. Negroes outnumbered whites by more than two to one. But the white civic leaders, many descended from the antebellum aristocracy, did not consider this progress. They looked around and saw working class whites out of jobs. They heard Negroes addressing whites "in the familiar." They hated the fact that local government was run by Republican "Fusionists" sympathetic to the black majority. Rumors began to fly. The newspaper office turned into an arsenal. Secret societies espousing white supremacy were formed. Isolated incidents occurred: a shot was fired through a streetcar bearing whites, a black cemetery was desecrated. This incendiary atmosphere was inflamed further by public speeches from an ex-Confederate colonel and a firebrand Negro preacher. One morning in November, the almost inevitable gunfire began. By the time order was restored, many of the city's most visible black leaders had been literally put on trains and told to leave town, hundreds of blacks were forced to hide out in the city's cemetery or the nearby swamps to avoid massacre, and dozens of victims lay dead. Based on actual events, Cape Fear Rising tells a story of one city's racial nightmare--a nightmare that was repeated throughout the South at the turn of the century. Although told as fiction, the core of this novel strikes at the heart of racial strife in America.

Road to Tater Hill by Edith M. Hemingway (2009)
children's, 1960s
Annie can always count on spending summers at her grandparents’. This summer should be even better because Mama is going to have a baby soon. Before Daddy leaves for his Air Force assignment, he gives Annie a journal for summer memories. But now Annie is grieving over the death of her newborn sister. How can she tell Daddy that ever since the baby died, Mama is slipping away? If Annie wrote those words, Mama might stay that way forever. The only comfort Annie finds is in holding a stone she calls her “rock baby.” Then Annie secretly befriends a mysterious woman who helps Annie accept her loss, while Annie hopes to draw her new friend back into the community. But all that is interrupted when a crisis reveals their unlikely alliance and leads to a surprising turn of events.

The Ballad of Jessie Pearl by Shannon Hitchcock (2013)
children's/YA, 1920s
Sometimes when the kerosene lamp casts shadows, I think I see Ma's ghost. If she were still alive, she'd say, Jessie Pearl, you keep on studying. Not everybody is cut out to be a farm wife. We'll find a way to pay for teachers' college. Leave your pa to me. And tonight, Ma would notice how my hands are trembling. I can almost hear her voice. Jessie, fourteen is too young to help birth a baby. Why don't you go and study in the kitchen? But Ma is just a memory. It's 1922, and Jessie has big plans for her future, but that's before tuberculosis strikes. Though she has no talent for cooking, cleaning, or nursing, Jessie puts her dreams on hold to help her family. She falls in love for the first time ever, and suddenly what she wants is not so simple anymore.

Ghost on Black Mountain by Ann Hite (2011)
adult, Great Depression *see my review*
Nellie Clay married Hobbs Pritchard without even noticing he was a spell conjured into a man, a walking, talking ghost story. But her mama knew. She saw it in her tea leaves: death. Folks told Nellie to get off the mountain while she could, to go back home before it was too late. Hobbs wasn't nothing but trouble. He'd even killed a man. No telling what else. That mountain was haunted, and soon enough, Nellie would feel it too. One way or another, Hobbs would get what was coming to him. The ghosts would see to that...

The Storycatcher by Ann Hite (2013)
adult, Great Depression
Shelly Parker, a sixteen-year-old servant who works for the tyrannical Pastor Dobbins and his family, has had the gift of sight for as long as she can remember. She’s grown accustomed to coexisting with the spirits of the dead who roam Black Mountain, telling Shelly their stories and warning her of the dangers that surround her. When the ghost of Arleen Brown, a poor woman who died on the mountain during childbirth five years earlier, begins to pursue Pastor’s daughter Faith—hell-bent on revealing a terrible secret that she took to her grave—Shelly is the only person that can help her. The two young women soon find themselves tangled up in a web of secrets and lies that takes them from Black Mountain to the murky saltwater marshes of Georgia, uncovering long-hidden truths that put their own lives in danger…

The Rising Shore - Roanoke by Deborah Homsher (2007)
Lost Colony
Here is the story of the Lost Colony told by two pioneering women who sail from London to the wild American shore in 1587. Elenor Dare is daughter of the governor. Margaret Lawrence is her servant. Members of the first English venture to colonize the New World, they both struggle bravely, angling against each other, to discover and grasp their dreams.

The Packhorseman by Charles Hudson (2009)
In April 1735, twenty-year-old William MacGregor, possessing little more than a bottle of Scotch whiskey and a set of Shakespeare’s plays, arrives in Charles Town, South Carolina, to make his fortune in the New World. The Scottish Highlands, while dear to his heart, were in steep economic decline and hopelessly entangled in dangerous political intrigue. With an uncle in Carolina, the long ocean voyage seemed his best chance for a new start. He soon discovers that the Jacobite politics of Scotland extend to Carolina, and when his mouth gets him in trouble with the Charles Town locals, dimming his employment opportunities, he seizes the one option still open for him and takes a job as a frontier packhorseman.   Soon young MacGregor is on the Cherokee trail to Indian country, where he settles in as a novice in the deerskin trade. Along the way William learns not only the arts of managing a pack train and trading with the Indians, but of reading the land and negotiating cultural differences with the Cherokee—whose clan system is much different from the Scottish clans of his homeland. William also learns that the Scottish enlightenment he so admires has not made much headway in the Carolina backcountry, where the real challenges are to survive, day to day, during the tense times after the Yamasee War and to remember that while in Indian country . . . it is their country. 

Nowhere Else on Earth by Josephine Humphreys (2000)
adult, Civil War and Reconstruction
In the summer of 1864, sixteen-year-old Rhoda Strong lives in the Lumbee Indian settlement of Robeson County, North Carolina, which has become a pawn in the bloody struggle between the Union and Confederate armies. The community is besieged by the marauding Union Army as well as the desperate Home Guard who are hell-bent on conscripting the young men into deadly forced labor. Daughter of a Scotsman and his formidable Lumbee wife, Rhoda is fiercely loyal to her family and desperately fears for their safety, but her love for the outlaw hero Henry Berry Lowrie forces her to cast her lot with danger. Her struggle becomes part of the community's in a powerful story of love and survival. Nowhere Else on Earth is a moving saga that magnificently captures a little-known piece of American history.

The Night Flyers by Elizabeth McDavid Jones (2000)
children's, WWI
When Pam's homing pigeons disappear while her father's away fighting in World War I, she uncovers evidence of an enemy spy!

The Road to Devotion by Cameron Kent (2009)
Civil War
When Sarah Talton's father suddenly passes away in the summer of 1860, she is left with a teenaged sister to care for, and the family farm and slaves to oversee. Determined to keep their land out of the hands of opportunists, she embraces her father's iron will and hardhearted demeanor. But when she falls in love with a French merchant who speaks no English, and is given charge of a runaway slave who brings them both together, Sarah begins to question the values and beliefs instilled by her father and upheld by her Winston, North Carolina community. When the Civil War looms, and community leaders clamor for blood and obedience, Sarah finds herself traveling a road that will lead either to her ruin or to her freedom.

Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa M. Klein (2010)
YA, Lost Colony
Lady Catherine is one of Queen Elizabeth's favorite court maidens—until her forbidden romance with Sir Walter Ralegh is discovered. In a bitter twist of irony, the jealous queen banishes Cate to Ralegh's colony of Roanoke, in the New World. Ralegh pledges to come for Cate, but as the months stretch out, Cate begins to doubt his promise and his love. Instead it is Manteo, a Croatoan Indian, whom the colonists—and Cate—increasingly turn to. Yet just as Cate's longings for England and Ralegh fade and she discovers a new love in Manteo, Ralegh will finally set sail for the New World.

What Lies Buried: A Novel of Old Cape Fear by Dewey Lambdin (2005)
Respected political leader Harry Tresmayne has been found murdered beside a lonely road on Cape Fear. Harry's friend, Matthew Livesey, is drawn to investigate the truth, and the more Livesey learns about Harry's private life, the more reasons for murder he finds.

Whisper Falls and series by Elizabeth Langston (2013-2014)
YA, late 18th cent.
While training for a mountain bike race, high-school senior Mark Lewis spots a mysterious girl dressed in odd clothing, standing behind a waterfall in the woods near his North Carolina home. When she comments on the strange machine that he rides, he suspects something isn’t right. When Susanna claims to be an indentured servant from 1796, he wonders if she's crazy. Yet he feels compelled to find out more. Mark enters a ‘long-distance’ relationship with Susanna through the shimmering--and temperamental--barrier of Whisper Falls. Curious about her world, Mark combs through history to learn about the brutal life she's trapped in. But knowledge can be dangerous. Soon he must choose between the risk of changing history or dooming the girl he can't stop thinking about to a lifetime of misery.

Hazel Creek by Walt Larimore (2012)
Christian fiction, 1920s
In the Hazel Creek Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains, Nathan and Callie Randolph, with their five unique daughters, wrestle to maintain their farm, forests, family, and faith against an unforgiving wilderness. An evil lumber company manager is seeking by every means possible to pilfer their land and clear-cut their virgin forest. A cast of colorful characters, including a menacing stranger, gypsy siblings, a granny midwife, and a world-famous writer—even a flesh-and-blood Haint—collide in a gripping struggle of good and evil amid eruptions of violence and tragedy. Our heroine, fifteen-year-old Abbie Randolph, has to help save her family’s farm and raise her sisters while preserving her faith. 

Roanoke by Sonia Levitin (1973; 2000)
YA, Lost Colony
Sixteen-year-old orphan William Wythers, is eager to try life in the New World. He and the other settlers face an arduous voyage and difficult months ahead on Roanoke Island, off the coast of Virginia. Yet there is a wonderful freedom in defining the rules for this new world in America. And when William falls in love with a young Native American woman, it seems that life is going to be happy after all. But when John White arrives from England with fresh supplies for the settlement, not a single person remains. Who knows what happened? An unsolved mystery in American history comes brilliantly alive in Sonia Levitin's historical novel about the lost colony in Roanoke.

Letters from a Slave Girl by Mary E. Lyons (1992)
children's/YA, slavery

Harriet Jacobs was born into slavery; it's the only life she has ever known. Now, with the death of her mistress, there is a chance she will be given her freedom, and for the first time Harriet feels hopeful. But hoping can be dangerous, because disappointment is devastating. Harriet has one last hope, though: escape to the North. And as she faces numerous ordeals, this hope gives her the strength she needs to survive. Based on the true story of Harriet Ann Jacobs, Letters from a Slave Girl reveals in poignant detail what thousands of African-American women had to endure not long ago. It's a story that will enlighten, anger, and never be forgotten.

Letters from a Slave Boy by Mary E. Lyons (2007)

children's/YA, slavery
Like his mother and grandmother before him, Joseph Jacobs was born into slavery. Joseph lives with his grandmother and sister in North Carolina, but he has not seen his mother for more than seven years. Unbeknownst to Joseph, his mother, Harriet, has been hiding from her owner in the attic of the house that Joseph lives in. But when Harriet's hiding place is in danger of being revealed, she is forced to flee north to safety only moments after being reunited with her family. Devastated by losing his mother for the second time, Joseph begins to ponder the nature of the world he lives in. Soon Joseph, seeking freedom and a place where he can be himself, follows his mother north. As he searches for answers, Joseph experiences life in Massachusetts, California, Australia, and aboard a whaling ship — but there's no place where Joseph feels that he can truly be free. In this companion novel to Letters from a Slave Girl, Joseph's stirring quest for freedom and identity is told through letters imagined by the author. Based on the real-life stories of Harriet and Joseph Jacobs, Letters from a Slave Boy is set against the backdrop of some of the most exciting and turbulent times in American history.

Gentle's Holler by Kerry Madden (2005)

children's/YA, 1960s

The sixties may have come to other parts of North Carolina, but with Mama pregnant again, Daddy struggling to find work, and nine siblings underfoot, nobody in the holler has much time for modern-day notions. Especially not twelve-year-old Livy Two, aspiring songwriter and self-appointed guardian of little sister Gentle, whose eyes "don't work so good yet." Even after a doctor confirms her fears, Livy Two is determined to make the best of Gentle's situation and sets out to transform the family's scrappy dachshund into a genuine Seeing-Eye dog. But when tragedy strikes, can Livy Two continue to stay strong for her family?

Louisiana's Song by Kerry Madden (2007)
children's/YA, 1960s
Livy Two is happy that Daddy is finally out of his coma, but the befuddled man who comes home is not the daddy the Weems family once knew. He forgets their names, he wanders off—he won’t even touch his beloved banjo. Set in Appalachia in 1963, this heartwarming, and heart-wrenching, follow-up to Gentle’s Holler is narrated by the irrepressible Livy Two, and traces the ups and downs of her large mountain family. Shy and awkward 11-year-old Louise (Louisiana) becomes the reluctant hero as she develops a talent for painting, takes care of Daddy, and shows a surprised Livy Two that sometimes the quietest sibling turns out to be the strongest.

Jessie's Mountain by Kerry Madden (2008)
children's/YA, 1960s
Livy Two has always dreamed of becoming a singer, and her decision to run off to Nashville’s Music Row is made with confidence—she figures the money she’ll bring home will buy the family’s house as well as forgiveness for running away. The Nashville adventure is a disaster, though; even her cherished guitar is stolen. Livy Two takes her failure hard, but finds comfort in the girlhood diary of her mother, Jessie. Outraged to discover that young Jessie had dreams now long-forgotten, Livy Two puts the whole family to work and makes Mama’s ultimate dream come true.

The Ballad of Tom Dooley by Sharyn McCrumb (2011)
adult, 1860s
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley; The folk song, made famous by the Kingston Trio, recounts a tragedy in the North Carolina mountains after the Civil War. Laura Foster, a simple country girl, was murdered and her lover Tom Dula was hanged for the crime. The sensational elements in the case attracted national attention: a man and his beautiful, married lover accused of murdering the other-woman; the former governor of North Carolina spearheading the defense; and a noble gesture from the prisoner on the eve of his execution, saving the woman he really loved. With the help of historians, lawyers, and researchers, Sharyn McCrumb visited the actual sites, studied the legal evidence, and uncovered a missing piece of the story that will shock those who think they already know what happened and may also bring belated justice to an innocent man. What seemed at first to be a sordid tale of adultery and betrayal was transformed by the new discoveries into an Appalachian Wuthering Heights. Tom Dula and Ann Melton had a profound romance spoiled by the machinations of their servant, Pauline Foster.

King's Mountain by Sharon McCrumb (2013)
adult, American Revolution
John Sevier had not taken much interest in the American Revolution, he was too busy fighting Indians in the Carolinas and taming the wilderness. But when an arrogant British officer threatened his settlement—promising to burn the farms and kill families—the war became personal. That arrogant officer is Patrick Ferguson of the British Army—who is both charmingly antagonistic and surprisingly endearing. Inventor of the Ferguson rifle, and the devoted lover to his mistress, Virginia Sal, Patrick becomes a delightful anti-hero under McCrumb’s watchful eye. Through varying perspectives, King’s Mountain is an elegant saga of the Carolina Overmountain Men—the militia organized by Sevier (who would later become the first governor of Tennessee) and their victory in 1780 against the Tories in a battle that Thomas Jefferson later called, "The turning point of the American Revolution."

The Hinterlands by Robert Morgan (1994)
Robert Morgan's first novel skillfully weaves Appalachian oral tradition about such things as prowling panthers, outlaws, and marauding Cherokees into a "tale in three parts." The first part centers on Petal Richards, who as a young bride leaves her family to accompany her husband into the mountains in search of a new frontier. In the second part, Petal's grandson, Solomon, describes how he surveyed the best route down the mountain in preparation for building the region's first road. In the third part, Solomon's son David, tells of building the first turnpike through the wilderness.

The Truest Pleasure by Robert Morgan (1995)
Ginny, who marries Tom at the turn of the century after her family has given up on her ever marrying, narrates THE TRUEST PLEASURE--the story of their life together on her father's farm in the western North Carolina mountains. They have a lot in common--love of the land and fathers who fought in the Civil War. Tom's father died in the war, but Ginny's father came back to western North Carolina to hold on to the farm and turn a profit. Ginny's was a childhood of relative security, Tom's one of landlessness. Truth be known--and they both know it--their marriage is mutually beneficial in purely practical terms. Tom wants land to call his own. Ginny knows she can't manage her aging father's farm by herself. But there is also mutual attraction, and indeed their "loving" is deeply gratifying. What keeps getting in the way of it, though, are their obsessions. Tom Powell's obsession is easy to understand. He's a workaholic who hoards time and money. Ginny is obsessed by Pentecostal preaching. That she loses control of her dignity, that she speaks "in tongues," that she is "saved," seem to her a blessing and to Tom a disgrace. It's not until Tom lies unconscious and at the mercy of a disease for which the mountain doctor has no cure that Ginny realizes her truest pleasure is her love for her husband.

Gap Creek by Robert Morgan (1999)
There is a most unusual woman living in Gap Creek. Julie Harmon works hard, "hard as a man," they say, so hard that at times she's not sure she can stop. People depend on her to slaughter the hogs and nurse the dying. People are weak, and there is so much to do. She is just a teenager when her little brother dies in her arms. That same year she marries and moves down into the valley where floods and fire and visions visit themselves on her, and con men and drunks and lawyers come calling. Julie and her husband discover that the modern world is complex and that it grinds ever on without pause or concern for their hard work. To survive, they must find out whether love can keep chaos and madness at bay.

This Rock by Robert Morgan (2001)
From the author of Gap Creek-an international best-seller and winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award-comes the gripping story of two brothers struggling against each other and the confines of their mountain world in 1920s Appalachia. The Powell brothers-Muir and Moody-are as different as Cain and Abel. Muir is an innocent, a shy young man with big dreams. Moody, the older and wilder brother-embittered by the death of his father, by years of fighting his mother, and by his jealousy of Muir's place in the family-takes to moonshine and gambling and turns his anger on his brother. Muir escapes by wandering, making his way around the country in attempts to find something-an occupation, a calling-to match his ambition. Through it all, their mother, Ginny, tries to steer her boys right, all the while remembering her own losses: her husband (whose touch still haunts her), her youth, and the fiery sense of God that once ordered her world. When Muir, in a drunken vision, decides that his purpose in life is to clear a space on a hill and build a stone church with his own hands, the consequences of his plan are far-reaching and irrevocable: a community threatens to tear itself apart, men die, and his family is forever changed. All that's left in the aftermath are the ghosts and the memories of a new man.

Brave Enemies by Robert Morgan (2003)
American Revolution
In the 1780s, unrest ruled the Carolinas. Settlers were arriving to clear forest glades and ridges as the Cherokees withdrew; British forces were pillaging as the patriots mustered for battle. Robert Morgan's stunning new novel tells a story of two young people caught in the chaos and war raging in the wilderness. Only sixteen years old, Josie Summers murders her abusive stepfather and, wearing his clothes to disguise herself as a man, flees the family farm. Almost immediately lost in the snowy woods, she accepts a young Methodist preacher's invitation to assist in his itinerant ministry. When Joseph's true identity is revealed, the Reverend John Trethman is racked with guilt at having shared his home with a young woman and then falling in love with her. His solution is to marry Josie, performing as both minister and bridegroom. Not long after their wedding, John is kidnapped by British soldiers and forced to minister to their wounded and bury their dead. Josie again disguises herself as a man and joins the North Carolina militia to avoid being taken for a spy. On January 17, 1781, in a wooded pasture called the Cowpens, Josie is gravely wounded in the patriots' victorious battle and despairs of ever seeing John again. 

Velva Jean Learns to Drive by Jennifer Niven (2009)
YA, Great Depression
Set in Appalachia in the years before World War II, Velva Jean Learns to Drive is a poignant story of a spirited young girl growing up in the gold- mining and moonshining South. Before she dies, Velva Jean's mother urges her to "live out there in the great wide world". Velva Jean dreams of becoming a big-time singer in Nashville until she falls in love with Harley Bright, a handsome juvenile delinquent turned revival preacher. As their tumultuous love story unfolds, Velva Jean must choose between keeping her hard-won home and pursuing her dream of singing in the Grand Ole Opry. 

Velva Jean Learns to Fly by Jennifer Niven (2011)
YA, WWII *see my review*
Velva Jean Hart, the fiercely independent heroine of Jennifer Niven's spectacular debut novel, Velva Jean Learns to Drive, returns in a captivating adventure that literally sends her soaring. Bristling at the limitations faced by a woman in rural Appalachia and fuelled by the memory of her late Mama telling her to "live out there," Velva Jean hits the road to pursue her dream of singing at the Grand Ole Opry. But after a string of auditions, she begins to lose hope- until her brother pays her a surprise visit and treats Velva Jean to a flying lesson that ignites a brand-new dream: to become a female pilot. Funny, poignant, and utterly unforgettable, Velva Jean Learns to Fly will have fans cheering all over again

These Same Long Bones by Gwendolyn M. Parker (1994)
The Hay-Ti section of Durham, North Carolina - the "colored" part of town - is a self-sufficient, middle-class enclave carefully guarding its fragile independence on the eve of integration. At the center of Hay-Ti's bustling prosperity is Sirus McDougald, president of the bank, a man whose integrity and warmth are matched by his sense of responsibility to the people he loves. But Sirus has suffered an unthinkable tragedy: the death of his young daughter, Mattie, in a fall from her slide. Mattie was his treasure, his heart, and with her death Sirus has lost all his dreams, all his hope, and all his will to fight. And so when Durham's white power brokers make an ominous incursion into Hay-Ti, endangering its cohesion, Sirus must rally himself to act. Strength can come only from one source - the people who are as much a part of him as his own skin and bones - but they, too, are badly shaken. Torn between private sorrow and public duty, Sirus makes a courageous decision that turns his grief to grace. From Sirus to his bereft wife, from the local busy body to the ambitious preacher, These Same Long Bones embraces its unforgettable characters with warmth, humor, and deep affection. Through its intimate glimpse of a close-knit black community that presciently viewed integration as both a promise and a threat, it poignantly recalls a way of life poised at an irreversible moment of change.

Hiwassee by Charles F. Price (2003)
adult, Civil War
Set near the end of the Civil War in the mountainous farm country of North Carolina, this story centres on Madison Curtis and his wife Sarah, whose mansion lies in the path of a gang of Union partisans. They are hiding their oldest son, Andy, who was wounded in the Confederate Army, risking torture and death to protect him. We meet also the Curtis' younger sons, who are caught up in the great battle of Chickamauga in Georgia, and we are offered a unique glimpse of war as the common soldier saw it-confusing, monotonous and terrifying by turns.

Freedom's Altar by Charles F. Price (1999)
adult, Reconstruction
Judge Madison Curtis has just pronounced the benediction over the grave of his oldest daughter when two grimy women riding double on a mule enter his driveway. "Have ye got misfortune, I wonder?" the elder one calls. "Iffen ye do, I rejoice in hit." The Curtises have misfortune indeed. The Civil War has left them a dead daughter, two dead sons, vengeful neighbors, and a once-grand home now broken down. Just as debilitating is Judge Curtis's guilt over his actions in wartime, when he sacrificed another family to save his own. The most immediate reminder of the judge's past sins is a man he once held in bondage, who has returned to the mountains of western North Carolina after serving with the Union army. In slavery, the Curtises knew him as Black Gamaliel, but he now insists on being known by his proper name-Daniel McFee. They achieve an uneasy peace as Daniel proposes a sharecropping arrangement and begins a new life in freedom. But the judge perceives that the opportunity for true racial reconciliation after the war is being squandered. Militating against it is an antihero who would elevate the blacks by crushing the landed whites-a demagogue by day and a killer by night. He is Nahum Bellamy the Pilot, and he means to hold Judge Curtis accountable even unto death. In this, the sequel to his critically acclaimed novel Hiwassee, Charles F. Price examines those sacrificed on freedom's altar; carefree Andy Curtis, who returns from war to assume burdens beyond his capacity; Oliver Price, who must weigh his responsibility toward his dying wife against the need of his friends; and, foremost, the Curtises' former slaves, who struggle against bitterness and discover their better selves at an hour of need.

The Cock's Spur by Charles F. Price (2000)
adult, Reconstruction
The mulatto ex-slave Hamby McFee dreams of leaving the valley of the Hiwassee in western North Carolina, and cockfighting is his means to that end. A renowned trainer of some of the meanest birds in the pit, he rests his hopes on the aged,much-feared Gouger, the apricot-tinted Pile-Driver, the strangely calm, lightening quick Buttermilk. Out of loyalty, fifteen years after the Civil War, he still inhabits the farm where he was once chattel. As Andy Curtis, the leader of the household, drifts into insanity and his once-lovely sister Rebecca withers on the vine, Hamby finds himself assuming all the responsibilities of a land owner without reaping any of the benefits. The other thread of the story involves Ves Price, the son of a close friend of the Curtis family, who is imprisoned by a moonshining competitor, Webb Darling in his mountaintop fortress. McFee, who holds a grudge against Darling, arranges a climactic chicken fight on the king's home ground. In it, and with considerable reluctance, he well discover just how deeply his home and friends lie in his heart.

Where the Water-Dogs Laughed by Charles F. Price (2003)
This fourth novel weaving together family history and rich fiction about 19th century Appalachian life, Price offers us mortal love and loss, mythic renewal, set against traditional culture beset by irrevocable change. Price weaves together families from earlier books in this saga of endings and beginnings, and provides the sage, ageless viewpoint of Yan-e'gwa D the bear D crafting ultimately human stories.

Nor the Battle to the Strong by Charles F. Price (2008)
adult, American Revolution
A novel about the American Revolution in the South.

Serena by Ron Rash (2008)
adult, 1920s
The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.

The Cove by Ron Rash (2012)
adult, WWI
Deep in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina lies the cove, a dark, forbidding place where spirits and fetches wander, and even the light fears to travel. Or so the townsfolk of Mars Hill believe–just as they know that Laurel Shelton, the lonely young woman who lives within its shadows, is a witch. Alone except for her brother, Hank, newly returned from the trenches of France, she aches for her life to begin. Then it happens–a stranger appears, carrying nothing but a beautiful silver flute and a note explaining that his name is Walter, he is mute, and is bound for New York. Laurel finds him in the woods, nearly stung to death by yellow jackets, and nurses him back to health. As the days pass, Walter slips easily into life in the cove and into Laurel's heart, bringing her the only real happiness she has ever known. But Walter harbors a secret that could destroy everything–and danger is closer than they know. Though the war in Europe is near its end, patriotic fervor flourishes thanks to the likes of Chauncey Feith, an ambitious young army recruiter who stokes fear and outrage throughout the county. In a time of uncertainty, when fear and ignorance reign, Laurel and Walter will discover that love may not be enough to protect them.

Cast Two Shadows by Ann Rinaldi (1998)
children's/YA, American Revolution
A young girl living in South Carolina during the American Revolution discovers the duplicity within herself and others. It's 1780, and war has come to Camden, South Carolina. Caroline Whitaker's father is in prison for refusing to pledge allegiance to the king; her brother, Johnny, is away fighting for the Loyalists; and she, her mother, and her sister are confined to an upstairs chamber as British colonel Lord Francis Rawdon occupies their spacious plantation house. Caroline soon learns that Johnny is injured and needs her help to get home. Caroline receives permission from Rawdon to fetch Johnny, but she is not to make this journey alone. Her black grandmother, a slave on the plantation, accompanies her...on a trip that turns Caroline's already tumultuous world upside down and forces her to question all that she holds dear.

Cotton Mill Girl by Flora Ann Scearce (2007)
early 20th century
Joining the other lintheads at the local cotton mill, Selena 'Sippy' Wright gave up the world of a child and took on the responsibility of a woman as her family joined the emerging middle class on the landscape of the nation's fledgling economy. Facing the harsh realities of America's Industrial Revolution, Sippy learns to find her joy through the love of her friends and family, and eventually though the art of poetry. Join author Flora Ann Scearce as she shares her own mother's story, a story of life and learning, but more importantly a story of love and finding one's self during a time when the only thing constant in the world was change.

Shadow of a Quarter Moon by Eileen Clymer Schwab (2011)

adult, slavery *see my review*

1839, North Carolina. As the daughter of a plantation owner, Jacy has been raised in privilege- until she discovers that she's the offspring of a dalliance between her father and a slave. The revelation destroys Jacy's sense of who she is and where she belongs in the world. Equally shocking, her biological mother and brother are still slaves on the property. As she gets to know them-and the handsome horse trainer, Rafe-she begins to see life in the South with fresh eyes. And soon Jacy will have to make a treacherous journey that she hopes will end in freedom for them all...

The Mystery of Beautiful Nell Cropsey by Bland Simpson (1993)
As compelling as fiction, The Mystery of Beautiful Nell Cropsey tells the dramatic story of the disappearance of nineteen-year-old Nell Cropsey from her riverside home in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, in November 1901. Bloodhounds, detectives, divers, and even a psychic were brought in to search for her, and the case immediately became a national sensation.

On Agate Hill by Lee Smith (2006)
adult, Reconstruction
The story of orphan Molly Petree emerges from a dusty box discovered in an abandoned North Carolina plantation house. The box contains the vestiges of a life that began in Reconstruction days and continued deep into the 20th century, registering the efforts of a heroic woman determined to salvage her few chances. Lee Smith, the author of Fair and Tender Ladies, unwraps this personal saga through ephemera, notes, and court records. In sum, these washed-up pieces become a carefully modulated character portrait of a brave woman. 

Guests on Earth by Lee Smith (2013)
adult, 1930s
Evalina Toussaint, the orphaned child of an exotic dancer in New Orleans, is just thirteen when she is admitted to Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. The year is 1936, and the mental hospital is under the direction of the celebrated psychiatrist Robert S. Carroll. His innovative program of treatment for mental and nervous disorders and addictions is based on exercise, diet, art, and occupational therapies and experimental shock therapy.Evalina finds herself in the company of some notable fellow patients, including Zelda Fitzgerald, estranged wife of F. Scott, who takes the young piano prodigy under her wing. Evalina becomes the accompanist for the musical programs at the hospital. This provides privileged insight into the events that transpire over the next twelve years, culminating in a tragic fire its mystery unsolved to this day that killed nine women in a locked ward, Zelda among them. At all costs, Evalina listens, observes, remembers and tells us everything.

The Lyon's Roar and series by M.L. Stainer (1997-2004)
children's/YA, Lost Colony
The Lyon's Roar  is the first book in a series of five entitled The Lyon Saga. This historical novel is the story of 14 year old Jessabel Archarde and her family, original members of the 1587 Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. The story traces their voyage across the Atlantic, the founding of the colony and Jess's growing fascination with the Indians of Croatoan Island.

Conditions are Favorable by Tara Staley (2013)
adult, turn-of-the-century
The year is 1900, when turn-of-the-century life on the Outer Banks of North Carolina consists of shipwrecks, shoot-outs…and flying machines. Orville and Wilbur Wright have arrived to conduct flight experiments, and their posh dignity stands in stark contrast to a community of rough old salts who believe in a “good God, a bad devil, a hot hell, and more than anything else, that the same good God did not intend for man to ever fly.” The Wright brothers may be able to defy divine edicts, theorize about relative velocities and engineer the world’s first flying machine - but when it comes to women, they are terribly love-shy. When Kitty Hawker Madeleine Tate meets these two odd bicycle mechanics from Ohio, she is struck by the brothers’ intellect, dandy appearance—and their grip on bachelorhood. Their shyness and fixation on flight puzzles her, too, but she finds her growing affections for Orville hard to resist. He represents a splendid taste of the Outside World, the place where she can escape the poverty and fear that define life on a stormy sandbar. And Orville would reciprocate her affections, but he has long-accepted the fact that he and Wilbur are social misfits who let one bad experience with courtship harden their hearts forever. He finds his shyness, obsessions and memories tough enough to overcome. But when Wilbur sabotages Madeleine’s every move to connect with him, Orville realizes he must ultimately make a choice between bonding with the woman who loves him, or with a machine that can take him into the sky.

Bonny Kate's Honeymoon: Victory at King's Mountain by Mark Strength (2009)
American Revolution
Catharine "Bonny Kate" Sherrill discovers true love when she marries John Sevier, a popular leader of the backwater country of North Carolina. But her happiness is short-lived when their world is turned upside down by war. John is called to lead his little band of rag-tag frontier riflemen against the professional soldiers of the invading army of the British Empire. Even before he can get his men organized, Tory assassins hatch a plot to kill him and massacre his family. Bonny Kate rides to the rescue to save her husband and helps him launch the campaign to save North Carolina. John Sevier, outranked and inexperienced, emerges as the creative genius of the patriot army who gets a band of contentious, competitive colonels to cooperate in a very unconventional battle strategy. At home, Bonny Kate faces financial ruin as county politics, Indian threats, seven hundred Georgia war refugees, and the care of her eight stepchildren demand all the resources of her husband's estate, and every moment of her time and attention. 

Black Crows and White Cockades by Christine R. Swager (1999)
children's/YA, American Revolution

This is a story about a young girl living near Camden, South Carolina during the occupation by the British during the Americana Revolution. Although fictional, the story is weaved around historically accurate facts that include Francis Marion, Thomas Sumter, Lord Cornwallis, Banastre Tarleton, and even includes a young Andy Jackson and his mother who nursed sick and wounded American prisoners who were kept on board ships in Charleston Harbor. Mrs. Jackson died from a fever she contracted conducting this "mercy mission."

If Ever Your Country Needs You by Christine R. Swager (2001)
children's/YA, American Revolution

This is the sequel to Dr. Swager's popular Black Crows and White Cockades, a historical novel about the America's Revolutionary War in South Carolina. It follows the first novels main characters, Ann Bixby, a 14 year old spy for the rebel army and Jamie McCaskill, a young patriot scout riding with Col. Francil Marion.

Teetoncey by Theodore Taylor (1974; 2004)
children's, turn-of-the-century
In 1898, twelve-year-old Ben rescues a near-drowned girl from a shipwreck off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Although the girl, named Teetoncey, becomes part of his family, she will not utter a single word.

Teetoncey and Ben O'Neal by Theodore Taylor (1975; 2004)
children's, turn-of-the-century
Now recovered from the shipwreck that killed her parents, Teetoncey reveals a secret: Two chests full of silver went down with her ship. Can Tee, Ben, and his friends dredge up the treasure without arousing suspicions?

The Odyssey of Ben O'Neal by Theodore Taylor (1984; 2004)
children's, turn-of-the-century
Ben and Teetoncey take to the sea--he, to find his brother, and she, to escape a forced return to England. But can they survive storms, harsh ship life, and a relentless pursuer?

Spirit Up the People by Gerald F. Teaster (2006)
children's/YA, American Revolution
Cowpens was one of the most important battles in the American Revolutionary War. The story of this battle and the events leading up to it are told through the eyes of three Upcountry South Carolina children and their families. Two of these families were Patriots, or Whigs, who were in favor of gaining independence. The other family was Loyalist, or Tory, who supported the British efforts. The children and their families are fictional but the details relating to the battle are very real. This book tries to capture what it must have been like to the people caught up in the events leading up to and surrounding the battle. Two large armies were traveling through the sparsely settled Carolina Upcountry. These armies generated fear, hope, excitement and dread throughout the population, adults and children alike.

Love and Lament by John Milken Thompson (2013)
Set in rural North Carolina between the Civil War and the Great War,Love and Lament chronicles the hardships and misfortunes of the Hartsoe family. Mary Bet, the youngest of nine children, was born the same year that the first railroad arrived in their county. As she matures, against the backdrop of Reconstruction and rapid industrialization, she must learn to deal with the deaths of her mother and siblings, a deaf and damaged older brother, and her father’s growing insanity and rejection of God.

The Sands of Pride by William R. Trotter (2002)
Civil War
In this grandly ambitious masterpiece of Civil War fiction, noted novelist and historian William R. Trotter has created nothing less than an epic re-creation of the whole experience of the war—from secession to Gettysburg—within the microcosm of North Carolina, a theater of war never before brought to life in a major novel of the Civil War. Trotter's powerful story follows the intertwined fates of over two dozen major characters—real and fictional, Union and Confederate, combatants and civilians—swept up in the hurricane of war. In The Sands of Pride, he chronicles the exploits of bold blockade-runners like Southerner Matthew Sloane, intrepid naval warriors like Federal officer William Barker Cushings, sadistic bushwhackers like Cyrus Bone, and spies like the Confederacy's seductive Belle O'Neal. The novel's center of gravity is the beautiful coastal city of Wilmington, North Carolina, in the midst of a vibrant, bawdy "Golden Age". It was the South's most vital port and guarded by the largest, most formidable earthen fortress ever built in America, Fort Fisher, a stupendous feat of engineering and a symbol of Southern defiance. After every other significant Rebel port had been vanquished, Fort Fisher's guns kept open Wilmington's boisterous docks, which poured supplies from Europe that kept the Confederacy alive. The Sands of Pride tells a story both vast and intimate. Civil War buffs will be stunned by the stirring events depicted here. All readers will be fascinated by its colorful, passionate characters and swept along by its page-turning momentum.

The Fires of Pride by William R. Trotter (2005)
Civil War
As William R. Trotter once more takes up the stunning array of characters—Union and Confederate, fictional and historical, combatant and civilian—that he introduced in the inaugural novel of his epic series, The Sands of Pride, it is now the closing days of July 1863. Robert E. Lee's army has been repulsed at Gettysburg, the tide of history has shifted, and the fortunes of the Rebel side have begun, inexorably, to decline. Featuring the brief but glorious career of the mighty ironclad ram, the CSS Hatteras, which emerges from the hollows and backwaters of North Carolina to challenge the might of the Union navy, The Fires of Pride is a richly textured, sweepingly dramatic epic, a towering work that combines deep scholarship with an intensely human understanding of the men and women of the period.

Blood Oath by Jimmy Cherokee Waters (2008)
adult, colonial/American Revolution
Epic in scope, seeped in history, this novel presents the settlement of the Southern Mountains of the American frontier. From the Great Smokies of Tennessee and the Carolinas, through the Georgia Blue Ridge, follow the lives of both the white settlers and the Cherokee, their interactions governed by the famed Blood Oath. Runs-To-Water, a Cherokee Chief and his grandson Ridge both struggle to come to terms with the threat of the white man. Feel the sense of destiny of the four white men, heroes of the Battle of King's Mountain, as they capture and tame the lower mountain ridges. Experience the world of the prostitute, captured from the docks of Savannah, and shanghaied to the frontier of the Georgia gold fields. Sense the isolation of the toothless white man, an early trader with the Cherokee, as he views, first hand, the destruction of a whole First American Nation. The ancient Blood Oath of the Cherokee demanded blood for blood, and carnage soon followed, as the war hatchet, the screams of captives, and the crack of muskets transformed the quiet stillness of the mountain river valleys into an eighteenth century war zone.

Kings Mountain by G. Clifton Wisler (2002)
children's/YA, American Revolution
On his fourteenth birthday, Francis Livingstone receives a Dickert rifle, some pencils, and two boxes of paper for doing what he loves best -- drawing. He could not know then just how important these gifts would become -- not only to him and to his family, but to the entire Patriot cause. It's the spring of 1780, and the Revolutionary War is raging. Before the war reaches Francis's South Carolina home, Francis travels straight into the heart of conflict -- to his grandmother's tavern in Camden, where he must watch his every move while he is forced to host the enemy. There he gets his first taste of what war is really like, but it won't be his last. When the fighting spreads closer to home, he discovers how he might use his gifts to protect his family and their way of life.

Crow by Barbara Wright (2012)
children's/YA, Jim Crow Era
The summer of 1898 is filled with ups and downs for 11-year-old Moses. He's growing apart from his best friend, his superstitious Boo-Nanny butts heads constantly with his pragmatic, educated father, and his mother is reeling from the discovery of a family secret. Yet there are good times, too. He's teaching his grandmother how to read. For the first time she's sharing stories about her life as a slave. And his father and his friends are finally getting the respect and positions of power they've earned in the Wilmington, North Carolina, community. But not everyone is happy with the political changes at play and some will do anything, including a violent plot against the government, to maintain the status quo. One generation away from slavery, a thriving African American community—enfranchised and emancipated—suddenly and violently loses its freedom in turn of the century North Carolina when a group of local politicians stages the only successful coup d'├ętat in US history.

The Anchor: P. Moore Proprietor by Blonnie Bunn Wyche (2003)
children's/YA, colonial
It's 1764, and 15-year-old Polly Moore finds herself running her ne'er-do-well father's tavern in Brunswick, a village on the Cape Fear River in the North Carolina colony. Polly also assumes responsibility for her two younger sisters and for her family's slaves and servants, since her mentally fragile, pregnant mother refuses to get out of bed. Like all colonial taverns, The Anchor is the center of village news and activity. Polly hears everything while she cooks and serves meals, runs the turpentine operations and sawmill, and cares for her family. Women are not supposed to be political, but Polly learns just how personal politics can be after Lieutenant Governor William Tryon arrives at Brunswick, the infamous Stamp Act goes into effect, and ships in the river can't unload supplies she desperately needs. She hears news of the growing dissatisfaction with King George. She witnesses the first armed pre-Revolution rebellion at Tryon's plantation house in 1766. Along the way, she forms her own opinions about slavery, freedom, and the treatment of women.p In this meticulously researched story populated with historical figures, spunky Polly rises to the challenges that confront her and grows wise beyond her years.

Cecilia's Harvest by Blonnie Bunn Wyche (2009)
children's/YA, American Revolution
Sixteen-year-old Cecilia Moore marries Kenneth Black as the first battles of the American Revolution swirl through the southern colonies. What Cecilia wants is to leave Three Sisters Tavern in Wilmington, North Carolina, and be mistress of her own home. What she finds at the lonely Black farm at Rocky Point are neglect and betrayal. Then Kenneth's murder leaves her no choice but to take charge and use her skills to survive. Cecilia has her baby, starts a salt works at Topsail Sound, opens a cheese factory in her kitchen and learns to grow tobacco as a cash crop. She deals with roving vandals, and British troops when redcoats move into Wilmington. With the words of he Declaration of Independence alive in her head, she frees her slaves. Cecilia knows she has played a small part in spreading the sparks of freedom. Then she surprises everyone with her plans for the future in the new state. Cecilia sees fields ripe for harvest in this sequel to the acclaimed "The Anchor - P. Moore, Proprietor."

Scarecrow in Gray by Barry D. Yelton (2006)
Civil War
We ran headlong across the fields. Minie balls filled the air with that strange, buzzing sound. Every now and again I could feel the air whip my neck as one flew close by. One of the balls ripped a chunk out of my left ear. Dirt flew up all around us where balls struck the ground. Men were dropped everywhere, most dead where they fell. A peaceful hill country farmer from North Carolina, Francis Marion Yelton, is torn from his beloved family and thrust into the barbarity of America's deadliest conflict: the War Between the States. Forced to become a soldier and fight a war in which he has no stake, Francis struggles to come to grips with his new role. Blood and battle threaten to transform Francis from a man of peace to a brutal warrior, and he struggles to hold on to his ideals. Wracked with doubt and guilt, tormented by the violent acts he has been forced to commit, Francis looks to his faith in God and to the memory of his devoted wife and loving children to sustain him through the dark night of war's insensate butchery. Battle after battle, through hailstorms of lead and waves of cold steel, Francis fights to survive. Will he ever see home again?


  1. I truly enjoyed browsing through your local historical fiction listing. As a native North Carolinian, I plan on using your list as a new source for historical NC Fiction reading. Thanks, janeaustennut

    1. Oh, good, I'm glad someone is finding this useful! Which reminds me, there's about five more books I need to add...
      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Thanks for the list. I'm visiting South Carolina soon and appreciate finding your site.

  3. I enjoyed your extensive list very much. I am a N. C. writer and currently finishing a novel set on the Outer Banks. Hopefully, you can add it someday if all goes well. Wish me LUCK!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the list! I added about half a dozen more books to it just now; this is the 4th or 5th time I've updated the list this summer, so it seems like this is a good time for finding/publishing NC fiction.

      Good luck on your novel! I would love to add it if you get it finished and published. I'm from the western part of the state, and the representation of the east seems a bit sparse on this list right now.

  4. Some other historical novels set NC are those by Robert J. Conley such as the War Trail North and several others that make up his real Real People Series. Also Loving Lynn Celia has about a third of it set in the Franklin County area in the 1760s as does the Red Wind if you can find a copy.

    1. I'm somewhat familiar with Conley's novels but wasn't sure where they all take place. I wasn't aware of the others - thanks for putting them on my radar! I need to update this list soon, anyway. Who's the author of the last book you mentioned?

    2. The last book, Loving lynn Celia, is by G.G. Stokes, Jr. Book two of his Colonial Southeast series.

  5. The Red Wind by Sarah M. Traylor. Its old and out of print and is one of those YA novels that adults like too.

  6. Oh! almost forgot all of the Inglis Fletcher novels.

    1. Thanks! I think I had nixed putting Inglis Fletcher on here (I have several of her books and have read Bennett's Welcome) because I'm not sure if her books are still in print. Oooh, The Red Wind is about Ft. Loudoun...I really need to check it out!

  7. Thank you for your list. I've been trying to find the Teetoncey books for years without remembering correctly the author or title.

  8. Good list and summaries. Thank you!

  9. I read a book about 15 years ago about a family in the Carolinas during war, I can't remember what war but the War of 1812 sticks with me. What I remember most is that every other chapter was about a family of storks, or cranes that was breeding, building nest, migrating. I can not remember the author or title. I have been trying to find it for a few years.Within your knowledge of this area of historical fiction does this ring a bell? Thanks for your time.

  10. Excellent list. Thank you for notating the era of each novel.

  11. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is just want I need for my 4th grade classroom. I can't wait to plan my Historical Fiction Unit, now!

  12. Just read Blue Birds, by Caroline Starr Rose. Excellent poetry story about Roanoke and natives/colonists. Highly recommended.

  13. Thanks for this. I really like what you've posted here and wish you the best of luck with this blog and thanks for sharing. North carolina authors

  14. I am doing advanced lesson planning for the 2019-2020 school year. Plan on using many of these for my reading groups to supplement the social studies curriculum on North Carolina. Thank you for a great list of options.

  15. I read 3 of these in a week and have downloaded samples for a few more. Thanks for the list. Keep them coming!

  16. Thank you so much for this list! I'm making my own list from it with the books found in our statewide library system. I plan to use it for home schooling and for my own personal reading.

    1. I'm also trying to put the ones I find in the statewide system (NC Cardinal Consortium) in chronological order. :)

  17. I love how thorough this list is! I'm working on a novel whose main character grew up in rural NC in the 1960s and I'm trying to do some background research, so it's super useful to see a list that classifies books by the era in which they're set.