The best historical fiction novels set in NYC

The Books I Picked & Why

The Personal Librarian

By Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray

Book cover of The Personal Librarian

Why this book?

A fascinating story about Belle da Costa Greene who, as J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian in the early 1900s, finds herself a part of New York society and the rarefied art and book worlds. But all is not as it seems for Belle who was born Belle Marion Greener, and is hiding her true identity as a Black woman to protect herself from a world that won’t accept her for who she truly is. Historical but topical in so many ways.

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The Address

By Fiona Davis

Book cover of The Address

Why this book?

Davis is well-known for basing her meticulously researched stories in famous NYC buildings and The Address, set at The Dakota, the famed apartment building on the Upper West Side, is no exception. It’s the story of Sara Smythe who comes from London to work for the Camden family upon the opening of The Dakota in the late 1800s. Her station rises along with opportunities, and her relationship with her employer becomes more complicated. Davis alternates this story with one set in the 1980s and masterfully connects the two in a way the reader will not have seen coming.

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The Show Girl

By Nicola Harrison

Book cover of The Show Girl

Why this book?

The Show Girl is a delicious and entertaining exploration of the life of a 1920s Ziegfield girl with authentic period details and Harrison’s trademark ability to plunge the reader deep into the experiences of her characters. I loved being along for the ride as Olive navigated her relationships and friendships, followed her dreams, and pursued the glamorous life—with all its attendant ups and downs—of a show girl. The Show Girl is a fast-paced and engaging read that will leave readers giving a standing ovation to Olive and to all women who choose to live life on their own terms.

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The Two-Family House

By Lynda Cohen Loigman

Book cover of The Two-Family House

Why this book?

A beautifully written family saga spanning decades, The Two-Family House, Cohen Loigman’s debut novel, is about brothers Mort and Abe along with their wives and children who occupy a two-family house in Brooklyn. It’s also about one major secret that further and inextricably links the two families and will ultimately work to tear them apart. You will feel so many feelings while reading this book and won’t be able to put it down.

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My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton

By Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie

Book cover of My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton

Why this book?

Ever since I saw Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton on Broadway, I’ve been fascinated with the life of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton (and all the Schuyler sisters!). Dray and Kamoie beautifully and vividly tell the story of this iconic woman from her coming-of-age as a general’s daughter in revolutionary New York to her meeting of Alexander Hamilton to the life she created and endured as Mrs. Hamilton with all of its heartbreaking challenges. This book illuminates Eliza in her own right the way she so richly deserves.

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