The best fiction books to immerse yourself in a historical narrative

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for historical fiction writing stems from a lifelong interest in history and a love for creating stories that have rich characters, with deep and meaningful personalities. My interest in history led me to study the subject at university, which has worked hand-in-hand with the pleasure I get from writing. Researching stories is another aspect that I enjoy, and it has seen me travel to destinations all over the world, where I have made some wonderful friendships.


I wrote...

Beneath the Willow

By Michael J. Murphy,

Book cover of Beneath the Willow

What is my book about?

During the European summer of 1916, the horror of war spreads its tentacles to grip a working-class family in Balmain, New South Wales. The war has ended, but Clarence Miller carries wounds that cannot be seen. He returns home to a loving wife and infant son, but his life will never be the same again.

Together they seek a fresh start in the country, but memories of his trauma near the Northern French village of Fromelles still imprison him. Tragedy strikes and casts a heavy shadow over the ensuing generations of the Miller family. A voice from the past and a resolute young woman may be the family's only chance of finding peace.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Burial Rites

Michael J. Murphy Why did I love this book?

Burial Rites was a book that I became completely immersed in.

The story is set in Iceland amongst a small community during the 19th century, which is unique in itself, but it is the way in which Hannah Kent writes that makes this novel so exceptional. Description transports the reader to the frigid landscape, with the author having the capability to use simplistic symbols to convey deeper meaning in the narrative. This novel showed me that sometimes less is more when writing.

Based on a true story, Burial Rites has all the elements of an enthralling novel.

By Hannah Kent,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Burial Rites as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tv=ti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her.…


Book cover of Shame and the Captives

Michael J. Murphy Why did I love this book?

Shame and the Captives is by the award-winning Tom Keneally.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Tom, and the edition that I have is signed by him. The novel is set in World War Two and based on the escape of Japanese prisoners of war at Cowra, Australia. The story moves between the camp itself and residents of the town, which gives the narrative a strong base for dramatic tension.

Throughout the novel, Keneally displays his ability to convey the subtleties of each character, which adds depth to the story and feeds questions about the choices made under situations of stress and uncertainty.

By Thomas Keneally,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On the edge of a small town in New South Wales, far from the battlefields of the Second World War, lies a prisoner-of-war camp housing Italian, Korean and Japanese soldiers. For their guards and the locals, many with loved ones away fighting, captive or dead, it is hard to know how to treat them - with disdain, hatred or compassion?

Alice, a young woman leading a dull life on her father-in-law's farm, is one of those with a husband held prisoner in Europe. When Giancarlo, an Italian POW and anarchist, is assigned to work on the farm, she hopes that…


Book cover of The Pillars of the Earth

Michael J. Murphy Why did I love this book?

This is certainly a book that transports you to another time and place.

Follett paints a vivid picture of 12th Century England; it is a period that I am interested in, and the way in which the author writes allows you to see the action as it unfolds on the page. Research is important in historical fiction and Follett has a great attention to detail, especially in regards to cathedrals which is the element that his story revolves around.

His characters are interesting and engaging, to the point where you feel like you know them…a great sign in a book.

By Ken Follett,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Pillars of the Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestseller

Oprah's Book Club Selection

The "extraordinary . . . monumental masterpiece" (Booklist) that changed the course of Ken Follett's already phenomenal career-and begins where its prequel, The Evening and the Morning, ended.

"Follett risks all and comes out a clear winner," extolled Publishers Weekly on the release of The Pillars of the Earth. A departure for the bestselling thriller writer, the historical epic stunned readers and critics alike with its ambitious scope and gripping humanity. Today, it stands as a testament to Follett's unassailable command of the written word and to his universal appeal.

The…


Book cover of Friedr & Wim 1916-1927

Michael J. Murphy Why did I love this book?

Friedr and Wim is a novel that I can highly recommend and one of those gems you find outside of the mainstream.

The story moves from the trenches of World War One to a Germany in the 1920s that is in turmoil: politically, economically, and socially. The author gives the reader a different perspective to the one we might be used to in relation to the time period, by following the lives of two young German men as they move through arguably the most traumatic period in world history.

The author creates a story that is historically accurate, but rich in emotion and drama, while at the same time raising many questions for the reader.

By Teresa van der Kraan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Friedr & Wim 1916-1927 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For those long years on the Western Front, they had known only war. They carried it with them even now, as they marched home with holes in their boots, broken, defeated. The only thing keeping Friedrich upright, placing one foot in front of the other, was his best friend's presence by his side. While Wilhelm still cared for him, still needed him, he could never forget the promise they had made: together, or not at all. Friedrich had never wanted to be a soldier. He had questioned it every time he raised his Mauser on the front line. Now, he…


Book cover of When the Lion Feeds

Michael J. Murphy Why did I love this book?

I have included When The Lion Feeds because it is the first “grown up” book that I read as a young person.

It was many years ago, but Wilbur Smith’s novel had a big impact on me with his descriptive writing drawing me into the South African setting. The characters in Smith’s novel make for a strong and powerful narrative, and his imagery is captivating.

In many ways, When The Lions Feed is what could be described as a page-turner. I had mentioned in another review that an indicator of a good story is when the reader feels that they know the character(s), and it is certainly the case with this book.

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The Others

By Evette Davis,

Book cover of The Others

Evette Davis Author Of Woman King

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve worked in journalism, politics, and public policy for 30-plus years and watched as the extreme voices gained the most traction on either side of a debate. On social media, these minority views often dominate the discussion. 48 States is a stand-alone novel highlighting the problems of extremist viewpoints in a civil society. I also have another book series that features a political consultant who discovers she's a witch and joins a secret society that uses magic to manipulate elections to protect humanity. Bottom line: if I can’t fix political discourse for a living, I can write science fiction novels that contemplate how to do it.

Evette's book list on dystopian stories for the bada** feminist in us all

What is my book about?

True Blood meets Supernatural in the kickoff of this urban paranormal fantasy series from an acclaimed author. Readers enter a dystopian San Francisco filled with empaths and vampires embroiled in political unrest—and Book 1 is just the beginning.

Much as she wishes otherwise, superstar political consultant Olivia Shepherd was born a powerful empath. It’s a legacy she walked away from long ago—but when she wakes up one morning to find Elsa, a tenacious time-walker, standing in her kitchen, she realizes she can no longer ignore her gifts. She is quickly plunged into the hidden world of powerful “Others” and drafted to work for the Council, a shadowy organization that summons the fog to San Francisco to obscure their involvement in human affairs.

Complicating matters further is Olivia’s new love interest, William. A centuries-old vampire, William is far too jaded to take an interest in human affairs—but Olivia no longer has the luxury of remaining impartial. As shocking details from Olivia’s own past emerge and her role in the Council begins to take shape, will she rise to the challenge of her destiny?

The Others

By Evette Davis,

What is this book about?

True Blood meets Supernatural in the kickoff of this urban paranormal fantasy series from an acclaimed author. Readers enter a dystopian San Francisco filled with empaths and vampires embroiled in political unrest—and Book 1 is just the beginning.

Much as she wishes otherwise, superstar political consultant Olivia Shepherd was born a powerful empath. It’s a legacy she walked away from long ago—but when she wakes up one morning to find Elsa, a tenacious time-walker, standing in her kitchen, she realizes she can no longer ignore her gifts. She is quickly plunged into the hidden world of powerful “Others” and drafted…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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