The best historical novels that are light and silly

Who am I?

I teach writing and children's literature at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, and for many years worked as a librarian. (Once a librarian, always a librarian!) First and foremost, I'm a reader. The real world can be an unpleasant and depressing place, so I regularly escape inside books. Although serious books are great, it's also nice to escape to a world where you can laugh and not worry about anything too bad happening.


I wrote...

Wilde Wagers

By Elizabeth Caulfield Felt,

Book cover of Wilde Wagers

What is my book about?

Oscar Wilde bets that actress Olivia Snow can fool a group of country bumpkins into believing she is Genevieve Lamb, the wealthy beauty of the recent Season. The weekend will prove a challenge for the old-fashioned actress and Genevieve’s handsome and old-fashioned brother, Philip, because the manor is filled with ridiculous and eccentric characters, as well as one murderous criminal. While Olivia pretends to be Genevieve, Genevieve wagers on her own performance–as Olivia Snow. She and Oscar Wilde go out on the town, a decision that will have both wishing they’d stayed at home. These two charades take unexpected turns during a wild weekend of kidnapping, cucumber sandwiches, bee stings, and love. This Oscar Wilde-esque romantic comedy mystery will keep you guessing–and craving teacake.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Importance of Being Earnest

Elizabeth Caulfield Felt Why did I love this book?

Jack pretends to be his brother, Earnest, blaming the made-up man for all mishandled affairs. But when Jack's friend "becomes" the infamous Earnest and begins to woo Jack's ward Cecily, all sorts of craziness ensues. This classic play is perhaps the best example of wacky characters creating mayhem in a world where even bad things turn out to be only silly mishaps.  

By Oscar Wilde,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ever since the first night at the St James' Theatre on 14 February 1895, "The Importance of Being Earnest" has been recognised as one of the world's finest comic dramas. Now Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell leads an outstanding cast in this superb new production of Wilde's masterpiece, mounted to celebrate the centenary of the first performance.


Book cover of Sprig Muslin

Elizabeth Caulfield Felt Why did I love this book?

I'd list every one of Georgette Heyer's romance novels if I could. She's the master of creating plots so entangled you have no idea how they'll be pulled apart. Her characters are unique, if not exactly crazy, and love is always in the air. Heyer's world is Regency England as it never really was.

By Georgette Heyer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A charming "accidental" love triangle enchants readers in this delightful romp by the Queen of Regency Romance, bestselling author Georgette Heyer.

A dashing man of honor...

En route to propose to his sensible acquaintance Lady Hester, Sir Gareth Ludlow finds young, pretty Amanda wandering unattended and knows it is his duty to bring her back to her family. This turns out to be a challenge as Amanda seems to possess an imagination as intriguing as it is dangerous.

A shocking refusal...

Lady Hester stuns both him and her family when she refuses him. At her age, no one would expect…


Book cover of Playing the Part

Elizabeth Caulfield Felt Why did I love this book?

Let me introduce you to the wonderful world of Turano's historical romances. Playing the Part is my favorite; it is about a 19th-century New York City actress who hides away at a friend's country estate. Every character is quirky and engaging. I laughed out loud, over and over, at the myriad of crazy situations they got themselves into.

By Jen Turano,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Playing the Part as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"One of the funniest voices in the inspirational genre."--Booklist

Lucetta Plum is an actress on the rise in New York City, but is forced to abandon her starring role when a fan's interest turns threatening. Lucetta's widowed friend, Abigail Hart, is delighted at the opportunity to meddle in Lucetta's life and promptly whisks her away to her grandson's estate to hide out.

Bram Haverstein may appear to simply be a somewhat eccentric gentleman of means, but a mysterious career and a secret fascination with a certain actress mean there's much more to him than society knows.

Lucetta, who has no…


Book cover of A Brazen Curiosity

Elizabeth Caulfield Felt Why did I love this book?

This is the first in the Beatrice Hyde-Clare series of Regency romance, murder mysteries, and it is an absolute delight. Despite writing about murder, Messina has light and silly down to perfection, and the series gets more silly as it goes on. I recommend all her books. Be careful where you read because your sudden bursts of laughter may disturb others.

By Lynn Messina,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Brazen Curiosity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nothing ruins a lovely house party like bloody murder.

At the decrepit old age of six-and-twenty, Miss Beatrice Hyde-Clare has virtually no hope of landing a husband. An orphan living off her relatives' charity, her job is to sit with her needlework and to keep her thoughts to herself.

When Bea receives an invitation to an elegant country party, she intends to do just that. Not even the presence of the aggravatingly handsome Duke of Kesgrave could lead this young lady to scandal. True, she might wish to pour her bowl of turtle soup on his aristocratic head - however,…


Book cover of Cress

Elizabeth Caulfield Felt Why did I love this book?

I may be cheating here. Rapunzel is an old-time fairy tale, and Cress is a science fiction re-writing of that story, so I'm going to count it in this list as "historical." This is the third book in Meyers' Lunar Chronicles and it is my favorite of the bunch. Cress (Rapunzel) is incredibly smart and completely naive to the world. Her romantic interest is a completely dopey bad guy, who you shouldn't waste your time disliking. The odd situations they get themselves into mirror, to an extent, the famous fairy tale. Lots of fun.

By Marissa Meyer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Cress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Cress is the third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, following Cinder and Scarlet.

Incarcerated in a satellite, an expert hacker and out to save the world - Cress isn't your usual damsel in distress.

CRESS grew-up as a prisoner. With only netscreens for company she's forced to do the bidding of the evil Queen Levana. Now that means tracking down Cinder and her handsome accomplice Emperor Kai. But little does Levana know that those she seeks, and the man she loves, are plotting her downfall . . .

As paths cross and the price of freedom rises, happily…


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Terra Blanca - Insurrection: Gaia Prequel

By Zoe Routh,

Book cover of Terra Blanca - Insurrection: Gaia Prequel

Zoe Routh Author Of The Olympus Project

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Leadership futurist Adventurist Former bellydancer Historical and speculative fiction nut Marathoner

Zoe's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A test of leadership, loyalty, and legacy. Rylie Addison faces the greatest leadership challenge of her life. As climate change ravages the world, leaving millions displaced, Rylie is handpicked by the enigmatic Maja Garcia of Gaia Enterprises to govern Terra Blanca, an unprecedented man-made island community for climate refugees.

As the stakes rise and the fragile foundations of Terra Blanca begin to crumble, Rylie is forced to confront her own beliefs and faces a leadership decision that could change the course of history. Can she find the strength to make the right choice, or will her actions lead to the downfall of the very people she has vowed to protect?

Terra Blanca - Insurrection: Gaia Prequel

By Zoe Routh,

What is this book about?

Rylie Addison faces the greatest leadership challenge of her life. As climate change ravages the world, leaving millions displaced, Rylie is handpicked by the enigmatic Maja Garcia of Gaia Enterprises to govern Terra Blanca, an unprecedented man-made island community for climate refugees.


Thrust into a new world of power and responsibility, Rylie must navigate the treacherous waters of team dynamics and power struggles as she fights to make Terra Blanca a beacon of hope amidst the chaos. But her mission takes a sinister turn when a secret agent infiltrates the community, hell-bent on testing the innovative governance and social structures…


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