I'm getting ready to query my latest novel, and I'm not sure what category it falls into. It's set in London, spanning 1938-1971, and while the historical time period influences it somewhat, I don't think it's enough to count as "historical" fiction. The focus of the novel is the relationship between a mother and daughter and is told from both of their perspectives. It's about the relationships between women (these two women, an aunt, and two sisters) and various struggles specific to women (childbirth, what it means to be a mother). I was thinking about calling it women's fiction, but it doesn't have the more traditional "hopeful" ending that I've seen in much of the women's fiction I've read. I was also thinking of simply calling it a family saga. Any thoughts?
You're right to avoid categorizing anything from 1971 as historical. More than a few agents tsk tsk at anything called historical that takes place during their lifetimes.
It's not a family saga because it's only 30+ years. I think of family sagas as multi-generational, somewhat like the Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy, Roots by Alex Haley, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, The Godfather by Mario Puzo. Those are the ones I've read. There are a lot of books in this category that I haven't read but you probably have.
Women's fiction doesn't require "hopeful endings" so much as emotionally satisfying ones. Sometimes that's a distinction without a difference; sometimes it's a pretty subtle distinction at all.
I'm pretty sure that's what you've got here, and womens fiction is a nice big juicy category so you're probably not shooting yourself in the footnote to call it that.