The Weight of a Piano
The love of Katya’s life is her Blüthner piano, which she received when she was an eight-year-old in the Soviet Union. But she’s forced to leave it behind when she marries and leaves for America, and it’s lost to her. Decades later, Clara Lundy decides to sell the piano her father gave her as a birthday gift when she was young, and it turns out that a piano’s weight is measured in much, much more than just pounds or kilograms.
The Lost Letter
These two narratives, told 50 years apart, focus on World War II-era Austria. In 1938, a young apprentice stamp maker named Kristoff is forced to work for the Nazis, but he helps the Austrian underground resistance in secret. Five decades later, Katie and an appraiser, Benjamin, find a fascinating Austrian stamp in Katie’s dad’s old stamp collection, and the two of them go on a journey to dig into and uncover a lost bit of history.
Next Year in Havana
Nineteen-year-old Elisa lives the high life in Cuba as the scion of a wealthy family. But when she meets a young revolutionary, she opens her eyes to the political turmoil in her country, and her actions will change the course of her life. Decades later, Marisol returns to Cuba to scatter her grandmother Elisa’s ashes, but while there she learns more about the secrets of her family’s history.
When Evie Carter is found holding a gun over dead husband, she claims that she’s innocent. But Detective D. D. Warren recognizes Evie from a previous case — Evie’s father was killed in a similar manner. Flora Dana, one of Detective Warren’s sources who now works as an investigator, decides to mount her own investigation into Evie’s case, which forces her to relive parts of her own horrific past while she tries to find justice in this compelling psychological thriller.
The Chelsea Girls
Told from the point of view of two main characters over 20 years, Fiona Davis’s chunky novel tells the story of The Chelsea Hotel during the McCarthy era. As actress Maxine Mead and playwright Hazel Riley try to make their way through 1950’s New York, they discover their biggest challenge isn’t making a name for themselves: It’s navigating the frightening politics of the era thanks to Senator Joseph McCarthy and his witch hunt for communists.
This gorgeous novel features the story of one of the greatest living chefs — a rock star female chef in a world where men dominate the profession. Told by her former assistant, the book weaves back and forth between his present, as an old man, and their shared past as he follows her illustrious career and her personality of contradictions.
Before We Were Yours
When Rill is left in charge of her four younger siblings as her father takes their mother to the hospital, she believes everything will be okay. That is, until she and her sisters and brothers are kidnapped and sent to an orphanage, to eventually be sold to a wealthy family. Decades later, Avery Stafford returns home to help her family and discovers that there are skeletons in their closet that no one should have to live with.
I Was Anastasia
The year is 1918, and Vladimir Lenin has ordered the Bolsheviks to execute the former czar and his family. Everyone is killed, or so goes the prevailing wisdom. But a few years later, a young woman surfaces who claims to be Grand Duchess Anastasia, daughter of Nicolas II. Is this young woman the last member of Russia’s imperial family, or is this a pretender seeking to claim Anastasia’s identity for her own personal gain?
A. S. Byatt
This novel, a modern classic, is perfect for book lovers, as it follows academics Roland and Maud as they uncover the truth behind a literary mystery. When they discover evidence that Randolph Ash, a well-known Victorian writer, may have known the poet Christabel La Motte, they start digging to see if there’s more — and it turns out that the two may have been closer than anyone suspected.
One incredible way to tell stories is to travel back and forth between two different time periods. It’s a great framework with which to unravel a literary mystery, as some fictional person in the present day (or close to it) searches for the same answers as the reader. Telling the story in multiple time periods allows for the reader to fully experience the narrative, rather than merely watch as events unfold.
If you’re looking for books with parallel narratives, that have multiple narrators, and will transport you into a different time entirely, then you should absolutely check out the ones on this list. From Bolshevik Russia to World War II, Austria and beyond, there’s something on this list for everyone.
Featured image: Kei Yan Wat