The best historical fiction books about WWI (from a history lover)

Who am I?

I’ve always loved history and historical stories, but like the majority of people, didn’t really know very much about WWI. That changed in early 2017 when I read The Zimmermann Telegram by Barbara W Tuchman. I immediately fell into a vortex of further reading, resulting in my writing The War in Our Hearts at the end of that year--because although there is a lot of great non-fiction out there about WWI, there aren’t nearly as many novels that quite scratched the itch I had for fiction…so I wrote the book I wanted to read!


I wrote...

The War in Our Hearts

By Eva Seyler,

Book cover of The War in Our Hearts

What is my book about?

France, 1916: In a farmhouse near the Somme, Captain Jamie Graham is forever changed when he meets young Aveline Perrault. Damaged by the cold, cruel world around them—made even colder by the war—the pair form an unlikely bond. Aveline finds in her capitaine the father she never had, and with her help, Graham faces the pain from his own childhood that even his loving marriage could not heal. Discover the depth of love and faith in the face of brutality as they learn to live while surviving the Great War.

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The books I picked & why

The Alice Network

By Kate Quinn,

Book cover of The Alice Network

Why did I love this book?

This book has parallel, connected storylines: an American girl, Charlie, teams up with Eve, a former British WWI spy. Charlie’s trying to find a lost cousin; Eve is out for revenge on the man who destroyed her life. The fact that they have a hot ex-convict Scotsman in tow just adds to the appeal. I love the glimpse into WWI espionage, something I haven’t seen elsewhere in fiction yet. 

By Kate Quinn,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Alice Network as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women-a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947-are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption. 1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might…


All Quiet on the Western Front

By Erich Maria Remarque, Arthur Wesley Wheen (translator),

Book cover of All Quiet on the Western Front

Why did I love this book?

The first book I ever read about WWI, this is a classic not to be missed. It’s of particular interest because it’s from the viewpoint of a conscripted German boy (so often novels are from the Allied perspective). It really cuts deep, with a strong anti-war message, and pulls no punches in its vivid descriptions of the physical and emotional conditions of the boys who fought. 

By Erich Maria Remarque, Arthur Wesley Wheen (translator),

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked All Quiet on the Western Front as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story is told by a young 'unknown soldier' in the trenches of Flanders during the First World War. Through his eyes we see all the realities of war; under fire, on patrol, waiting in the trenches, at home on leave, and in hospitals and dressing stations. Although there are vividly described incidents which remain in mind, there is no sense of adventure here, only the feeling of youth betrayed and a deceptively simple indictment of war - of any war - told for a whole generation of victims.


Open Fire

By Amber Lough,

Book cover of Open Fire

Why did I love this book?

This is a fantastic novel about a girl soldier in Russia who joins the Women’s Battalion of Death, during the time that the Russian Revolution was beginning and morale among male soldiers was flagging. The Russian army thought the men’s morale might be boosted if girls came along and gave the men a little competition. I love the camaraderie and amazing determination of these women to do their bit for their country.

By Amber Lough,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Open Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A dramatic page-turner that captures the devastating toll of war and the impact of women's struggles and solidarity, through the lens of a little-known slice of history.

In 1917, Russia is losing the war with Germany, soldiers are deserting in droves, and food shortages on the home front are pushing people to the brink of revolution. Seventeen-year-old Katya is politically conflicted, but she wants Russia to win the war. Working at a munitions factory seems like the most she can do to serve her country―until the government begins recruiting an all-female army battalion. Inspired, Katya enlists. Training with other brave…


The Skylarks' War

By Hilary McKay, Rebecca Green (illustrator),

Book cover of The Skylarks' War

Why did I love this book?

My absolute favourite WWI novel, this is the story of several English young people who come of age during the Great War. It gives glimpses into home front life as well as life at the front. As usual, McKay’s characters are vibrant, maddening, loveable, ridiculous--sometimes all at once. The prose is elegant, poetic, subtle, will smack you in the feels, and stay in your mind long after.

By Hilary McKay, Rebecca Green (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Skylarks' War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Costa Children's Book Award 2018.

The Skylarks' War is a beautiful story following the loves and losses of a family growing up against the harsh backdrop of World War One, from the award-winning Hilary McKay.

Clarry and her older brother Peter live for their summers in Cornwall, staying with their grandparents and running free with their charismatic cousin, Rupert. But normal life resumes each September - boarding school for Peter and Rupert, and a boring life for Clarry at home with her absent father, as the shadow of a terrible war looms ever closer.

When Rupert goes…


The Summer Before the War

By Helen Simonson,

Book cover of The Summer Before the War

Why did I love this book?

This book is leisurely, reminiscent of Elizabeth Gaskell’s works (such as North and South or Wives and Daughters); it reads and feels like a warm summer day. It takes place in a small English town in the tense and uncertain months leading up to the war and a little beyond, featuring family dramas, romantic entanglements, spunky schoolteachers, Belgian refugees, underage recruits, life, and death, and love.

By Helen Simonson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Summer Before the War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Helen Simonson's characters enchant us, her English countryside beguiles us, and her historical intelligence keeps us at the edge of our seats.' - Annie Barrows, co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.East Sussex, 1914. It's the end of an idyllic summer and Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha in the pretty coastal town of Rye. Casting aside the recent sabre rattling over the Balkans, Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master.When Beatrice…


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