The best historical novels that bring history alive

Who am I?

Charles Todd is part of the mother-and-son writing team who lives on the east coast of the United States. They are the New York Times best-selling authors of the Inspector Ian Rutledge Series and the Bess Crawford series. A Game of Fear (Ian Rutledge Mystery #24) 2-1-22 and The Cliffs Edge (Bess Crawford Mystery #13) 2-14-23. They have published forty titles including two stand-alone novels, an anthology of short stories, and over twenty short stories appearing in mystery magazines and anthologies worldwide. Their works have received the Mary Higgins Clark, Agatha, and Barry awards along with nominations for the Anthony, Edgar, and Dagger awards.   

I wrote...

An Irish Hostage

By Charles Todd,

Book cover of An Irish Hostage

What is my book about?

The Great War is over—but in Ireland, in the wake of the bloody 1916 Easter Rising, anyone who served in France is now considered a traitor, including nurse Eileen Flynn and former soldier Michael Sullivan. Even her grandmother is against it, and Eileen’s only protection is her cousin Terrence who was a hero of the Rising and is still being hunted by the British. 

Bess Crawford had promised to be there for the wedding. And in spite of the danger to her, she keeps that promise—only to be met with the shocking news that the groom has vanished. Eileen begs for her help, but how can Bess hope to find him when she doesn’t know the country, the people, or where to put her trust?

The books I picked & why

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The King's General

By Daphne du Maurier,

Book cover of The King's General

Why this book?

I love Daphne du Maurier and especially Cornwall. Her The King’s General, is truly historical, and covers the English Civil War, especially in Cornwall and associated with the house made memorable in Rebecca, Menebilly. I admire her other period books like Jamaica Inn, about smuggling, and probably one of the best mysteries, historical or otherwise, out there: My Cousin Rachel, set in Italy and England. Frenchman’s Creek, set in Cornwall, but not in the usual sense. A pirate tale, an account of a woman looking for adventure, and a sense of duty make it interesting.

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower

By C.S. Forester,

Book cover of Mr. Midshipman Hornblower

Why this book?

I love sailing and the sea. It comes from a family heritage of sailing and why I love being at the ocean. The Napoleonic Wars and sea adventures were fundamental in our historical novel's journey, Horatio Hornblower’s career in the Royal Navy, as documented by C. S. Forester, is just as exciting today as they were when written. Hornblower’s rise through the ranks is as fascinating as the real-life stories of Admiral Nelson.

Roanoke Hundred

By Inglis Clark Fletcher,

Book cover of Roanoke Hundred

Why this book?

Caroline Todd was born and raised in North Carolina, and Charles lived much of his adult life there. We love the Tarheel state, and Ingles Fletcher exposed us to the history of our home! It, too, speaks to my love of the ocean and the Outer Banks. Inglis Fletcher wrote the almost-forgotten Carolina Series, an early history of the coast of North Carolina, carrying it from its development through the Revolutionary War, with such a wealth of rich detail and a mixture of real people and well-drawn characters that the reader knows them intimately. The story begins with Roanoke Hundred, continuing through Men of Albemarle and Raleigh’s Eden, to The Scotswoman, which tells the story of Flora MacDonald’s years in the state after the Stuart Rebellion. 

King Hereafter

By Dorothy Dunnett,

Book cover of King Hereafter

Why this book?

Dorothy Dunnett visited 107 countries in her lifetime, and I am catching up. We owe our love of travel in part to Dorothy Dunnett and her two series, the Lymond Chronicles and The House of Niccolo, that takes the reader all over the Medieval world, from Scotland to Istanbul, from Italy to Timbuctoo, and keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat while presenting a view of life in a time few of us know about. Her King Hereafter explores the real MacBeth in the life of Thorfinn, Earl of Orkney, and introduces the reader to a new period and extraordinarily fascinating.  Both of us traveled to many of those places, and Dorothy visited them all.

A Morbid Taste for Bones: The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, Book 1

By Ellis Peters,

Book cover of A Morbid Taste for Bones: The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael, Book 1

Why this book?

One of the original reasons we love Great Britain is the Cathedrals and Castles. Stories of Knights, Kings, Queens, and important Clergy are at the heart of the early history of this land. Edith Pargeter’s The Heaven Tree trilogy fits that category, where the building of a cathedral is the main theme, and the masons who worked on it are the main characters. She also wrote as Ellis Peters The Cadfael Mysteries, set in Shrewsbury Abbey. Cadfael had fought in the Crusades and become a monk who cultivated herbs and served as the abbey’s medical man, while solving crimes through his knowledge of people and of medicine. As an adult I became a Free Mason and the history of the cathedrals, their architecture, and the men who built them took on a new meaning for me.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in North Carolina, Cornwall, and African Americans?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about North Carolina, Cornwall, and African Americans.

North Carolina Explore 61 books about North Carolina
Cornwall Explore 27 books about Cornwall
African Americans Explore 435 books about African Americans

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