According to the various online dictionaries, "March Madness" has many meanings:
"The period of the annual NCAA college basketball tournament, with the majority of the competition set in March." Source: dictionary.com No, that's not what I mean
"The month of the government of Canada's fiscal year end (March 31), when departments traditionally rush to spend the remainder of their budgets in order that they not experience budget reductions the next year." Source: wikipedia. That's really not what I mean
- "The main part of the breeding season of the European hare." Source: wikipedia Oh, come ON
"The most wonderful time of year." Source: urban dictionary Yes!For the purposes of this blog post, March Madness is a time when readers can be transported across centuries and across continents into the stories of five different women. Some are from history, some are fictional, but all are enthralling. :)
These five historical novels constitute a very special March madness. Among your choices, an empress, a queen, a fashion designer, a witch and a nun:
Lady of the Eternal City, by Kate Quinn. (Go to Quinn's website here.) Publishes March 3rd
Rome, 2nd Century: Elegant, secretive Sabina is the wife of Hadrian, Rome's brilliant and sinister Emperor, and she must struggle to keep the peace between her husband and the battered warrior Vix, who was her first love.
"An epic, sexy romp," Publishers Weekly
"A feast for historical readers," RT Reviews
Rebel Queen, by Michelle Moran. (Go to Moran's website here.) Publishes March 3rd.
India, 19th century: The story of Queen Lakshmi--India's Joan of Arc--who against all odds defied the mighty British empire. The novel is told from the viewpoint of Sita, the queen's most favored companion and most trusted soldier in the all-female army.
"Filled with fascinating historical details about a subject that is not often portrayed, the novel looks at both the rights of women and the conflict between the British army and India"-- Library Journal
"A riveting and addictive glimpse of that era"--Historical Novel Society
Mademoiselle Chanel, by C.W. Gortner (Go to Gortner's website here) Publishes March 17th
France, 20th century: A novel of the life of Coco Chanel, the ambitious, gifted laundrywoman's daughter who revolutionized fashion, built an international empire and became one of the most influential and controversial figures of the 20th century.
"Gortner brings history to life in a fascinating study of one woman's unstoppable ambition," Booklist
"In this deliciously satisfying novel, C.W. Gortner tells the rags-to-riches tale of how this brilliant, mercurial, self-created woman became a legend." -- Christina Baker Kline
The Witch of Painted Sorrows, by M.J. Rose (Go to Rose's website here.) Publishes March 17th
France, 19th century: A woman named Sabine flees to her grandmother's Paris mansion to escape an abusive husband, but what she finds there is even more menacing. Sabine explores the forbidden night world of Paris, discovering both an occult underworld and her true nature as artist and lover.
"Rose's new series offers her specialty, a unique and captivating supernatural angle, set in an intriguing belle epoque Paris, a perfect match for the author's lush descriptions, intricate plot, and mesmerizing storytelling" -- Kirkus
"A haunting tale of possession" -- Publishers Weekly
The Tapestry, by Nancy Bilyeau (Yes, this is me! And you can find my website home page here) Publishes March 24th
England, 16th century: Joanna Stafford, an aristocrat and former novice of the Dominican Order, is summoned to the court of King Henry VIII because of her talent at the tapestry weave. Struggling to stay ahead of a formidable enemy, she becomes entangled in court politics when she tries to free her beautiful young friend, Catherine Howard, from the king's tightening web.
"Up to her ears in court intrigues, religious persecutions, beheadings galore and Henry VIII's volatile nature, Joanna shines, remaining ever vigilant." -- Historical Novel Society
"Fans of Ken Follett will devour Nancy Bilyeau's novel of political treachery and courageous love, set amid the endlessly fascinating Tudor landscape." -- Erika Robuck