The best historical novels featuring a relationship between characters on opposing sides of WWII

The Books I Picked & Why

All the Light We Cannot See

By Anthony Doerr

Book cover of All the Light We Cannot See

Why this book?

Similar to my own book, this book explores a relationship between two people on different sides of the war. Marie-Laure is a blind girl living in Nazi-occupied Paris and must live with a reclusive great-uncle in a tall house by the sea, guarding a valuable gemstone. Meanwhile, a German orphan named Werner is forced into the Hitler Youth, where his talent with radios is discovered, plunging him into service across enemy lines. I could not put this book down as the characters’ journeys collided in a heart-wrenching story of love, devotion, and compassion.


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The Nightingale

By Kristin Hannah

Book cover of The Nightingale

Why this book?

I’ve only published one split-time novel to date, but it remains my most popular. If you adore split-time as well, you’ll love how Kristin Hannah keeps the contemporary portions of The Nightingale a mystery throughout, as you wonder which of the two sisters remains to receive recognition for her contribution during WWII. I loved the contrast between Isabelle and Vianne—one bold and wild, the other cautious and responsible—but both prove themselves irrefutably courageous in the face of impossible odds. Though technically on the same side of the war, their approach to it could not be more different. The story provided a unique and eye-opening glimpse into the horrors faced by average French citizens during the occupation by the Nazis. 


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Snow on the Tulips

By Liz Tolsma

Book cover of Snow on the Tulips

Why this book?

I love how Tolsma sets up a very believable story of a Dutch war widow who ends up harboring a wounded Resistance worker. Although saving him means risking everything and although liberation is within sight, Cornelia’s faith won’t allow her to turn the man out. Fearing their story will end before it even begins, she must make an impossible choice between relative safety for her brother and herself, or joining Gerrit in the Resistance. I learned so much about what the Dutch went through during WWII.


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Come from Away

By Genevieve Graham

Book cover of Come from Away

Why this book?

Obviously, I love that this book is set in Canada, like all my own novels. A little-known story coming out of Nova Scotia involves Nazi sailors leaving their U-Boat one evening, on a bet, to attend a small-town dance without their identity being discovered. Graham has artfully taken this possibility on its ultimate “what-if?” journey. What if one of those sailors didn’t make it back to his submarine before it blew up, killing everyone aboard? What if he found a deserted trapper’s cabin to hole up in? What if he met a young Canadian woman whose three brothers were serving overseas? Isn’t it a tantalizing setup? Graham totally delivers in this page-turner.


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All We Left Behind

By Danielle R. Graham

Book cover of All We Left Behind

Why this book?

Of all my choices, this book is the most like mine in that it involves a Japanese-Canadian family removed from their home in British Columbia and forced into an internment camp during WWII. Hayden and Chidori are in love. But after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Chidori and her family are seen as the enemy. Longing more than anything to help them, Hayden joins the Royal Canadian Air Force believing it’s the swiftest way to bring the war to an end. Thoughts of Chidori are all that keep him alive. You’ll learn so much history as you absorb this story and cheer for its valiant characters.


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