The best historical fiction books that will make you feel like you are there

Who am I?

I’m an author of historical fiction as well as an artist, so love to read books that capture my imagination and show me other times and places in a realistic and visual way. My love of history, particularly European history, is fuelled by a lifetime of travel visiting museums, castles, and ancient sites. Being transported into a story is something I both try and achieve as a writer and crave as a reader. 

I wrote...

The Orange Grove

By Kate Murdoch,

Book cover of The Orange Grove

What is my book about?

Blois, 1705. The château of Duc Hugo d’Amboise simmers with rivalry and intrigue. Henriette d’Augustin, one of five mistresses of the Duc, lives at the chateau with her daughter. When the Duc’s wife, Duchesse Charlotte, maliciously undermines a new mistress, Letitia, Henriette is forced to choose between position and morality. She fights to maintain her status whilst targeted by the Duchesse who will do anything to harm her enemies. The arrival of charismatic tarot reader, Romain de Villiers, further escalates tensions as rivals in love and domestic politics strive for supremacy.

In a society where status is a matter of life and death, Henriette must stay true to herself, her daughter, and her heart, all the while hiding a painful secret of her own.
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The books I picked & why

Book cover of All the Light We Cannot See

Kate Murdoch Why did I love this book?

Reading this novel, I was completely immersed in the settings of a Nazi training school in Germany, and Paris and St Malo in France. Feeling connected with the setting as a reader is so important for a story to come to life, and the author’s depiction of wartime St Malo made me feel as if I had visited the town in real life. The rhythms of the sea, the ancient buildings, and landmarks were all depicted in detail. Anthony Doerr’s sense of place is intimate, sensory, and absorbing. When you combine this with a tale that explores moral integrity, the deep attachments we make with others, and the horrors of war, you have a story that will take you on a vivid and emotional journey.

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

37 authors picked All the Light We Cannot See as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.'

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic…

Book cover of The Miniaturist

Kate Murdoch Why did I love this book?

The setting of 17th century Amsterdam was one I was unfamiliar with, so it was a delight to be taken into the intimate domestic life of Petronella Oortman and the intrigue of her dollhouse, the secret lives of her servants, and the complex social hierarchy of this time and place. Jessie Burton’s writing is both rich in detail and emotive, so I felt privy to both the psychological complexity of the characters and the life they spend traversing the canals and streets of the city.

By Jessie Burton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Miniaturist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The phenomenal number one bestseller and a major BBC TV series.
Winner of the Specsavers National Book Award and Waterstones Book of the Year.
A Richard and Judy Book Club selection.

Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, Jessie Burton's historical novel set in Amsterdam, The Miniaturist, is a story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant…

Book cover of The Good Wife of Bath

Kate Murdoch Why did I love this book?

14th century England was another period I knew little about, and this wonderfully researched story made it real to me. With authentic and witty dialogue, a setting where sheep farming and weaving are predominant as means to make a living, and women are the property of their husbands, I was transported into Eleanor’s world and deeply invested in her fate. The true-to-life setting and emotional subtleties made it an immersive and enjoyable read.

By Karen Brooks,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Good Wife of Bath as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A provocative, immersive medieval novel starring one of literature's most unforgettable characters in her own words-Chaucer's bold and libidinous Wife of Bath.

"So damned readable and fun...This is the story of a woman fighting for her rights; it breaches the walls of history."--The Australian

In the middle ages, a famous poet told a story that mocked a strong woman. It became a literary classic. But what if the woman in question had a chance to tell her own version?

England, 1364: When married off at aged twelve to an elderly farmer, brazen redheaded Eleanor quickly realizes it won't matter what…

Book cover of Anna Karenina

Kate Murdoch Why did I love this book?

The upper echelons of Russian society of the 19th century and their surroundings are realistically depicted in this classic novel, where a doomed love story is set against the opulent backdrops of St Petersburg, Moscow, and rural Russia. The balls, luxurious restaurants, and parties of pre-revolutionary Russia are rendered in exquisite detail, the yearnings and preoccupations of the nobility well drawn. It’s even more fascinating to read about this society knowing that it was coming to an end.   

By Leo Tolstoy,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Anna Karenina as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1872 the mistress of a neighbouring landowner threw herself under a train at a station near Tolstoy's home. This gave Tolstoy the starting point he needed for composing what many believe to be the greatest novel ever written.

In writing Anna Karenina he moved away from the vast historical sweep of War and Peace to tell, with extraordinary understanding, the story of an aristocratic woman who brings ruin on herself. Anna's tragedy is interwoven with not only the courtship and marriage of Kitty and Levin but also the lives of many other characters. Rich in incident, powerful in characterization,…

Book cover of The Signature of All Things

Kate Murdoch Why did I love this book?

In this epic story spanning multiple locations and the 18th and 19th centuries, we follow Alma Whittaker, heiress and lover of moss, whose quick wit and adventuring spirit make her a wonderful heroine. But it’s also the finely observed settings of this novel that make it a story to fully inhabit and read compulsively. It’s a book to travel through as we inhabit Philadelphia, Tahiti, London, and Peru, seeing everything in vivid detail through Alma’s eyes.

By Elizabeth Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Signature of All Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_______________ SHORTLISTED FOR THE WELLCOME BOOK PRIZE LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION _______________ 'Quite simply one of the best novels I have read in years' - Elizabeth Day, Observer 'Charming ... extensively researched, compellingly readable' - Jane Shilling, Daily Telegraph 'Sumptuous ... Gilbert's prose is by turns flinty, funny, and incandescent' - New Yorker _______________ A captivating story of botany, exploration and desire, by the multimillion copy bestselling author of Eat Pray Love Everything about life intrigues Alma Whittaker. Her passion for botany leads her far from home, from London to Peru to Tahiti, in pursuit of…

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The Emerald Necklace

By Linda Rosen,

Book cover of The Emerald Necklace

Linda Rosen Author Of The Emerald Necklace

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Novelist Swimmer Public Speaker Reader Lover of gardens

Linda's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

It’s 1969. Women are fighting for equality. Rosalee, an insecure sculptor, and Fran, a best-selling novelist, have their issues. Will their bitter envy of each other and long-held secrets destroy their tenuous friendship? Or will Jill, Rosalee’s granddaughter, and the story behind her emerald necklace bind them together?

A multi-generational novel of friendship and frenemies, envy, and long-held secrets that explores current issues through a historical lens. The Emerald Necklace sheds light on that inevitable time when lovers, family, friends, and circumstances change and force you to reinvent yourself whether you want to or not.

The Emerald Necklace

By Linda Rosen,

What is this book about?

"Engaging and mysterious, The Emerald Necklace sheds light on that inevitable time when lovers, family, friends and circumstances change and force you to reinvent yourself whether you want to or not." –Rebecca Rosenberg, award-winning Champagne Widows series

Three months after her husband's death in 1969, Rosalee Linoff is determined to jump back into life.

For her, that means returning to her art. She desperately wants to be accepted as a talented sculptor, but that requires she dig up the courage to submit her work again - and be judged. Her paralyzing insecurity mounts when she meets her new neighbor, best-selling…

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