The best Second World War historical fiction books that will touch your heart

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a multi-genre-inspired reader and writer. The story is what motivates my interest and captivates my attention. The connection I have to my love of WWII-inspired Historical Fiction is drawn from the sheer strength and perseverance that millions of people had to pull from in order to survive one of the darkest moments in humanity. As a writer, I wanted to bring stories to life – to entertain and inform.


I wrote...

Our Forgotten Year

By L.L. Abbott,

Book cover of Our Forgotten Year

What is my book about?

Our Forgotten Year is based on stories from my father’s youth in Italy during the war. It was through stories he shared that I became aware of more than the history books revealed, and his uniquely personal perspective gave the horror a human emotion. The story follows the Gallo family, torn by the events of the war in their southern Italian village. Morals and loyalty begin to collide as people in the small Italian village are torn between doing what’s right and what needs to be done when the fascists and Nazis begin to rip innocent lives apart.

An enthralling historical fiction novel that illuminates the bravery, love, and moral struggles faced by a small southern Italian town in 1942 as a young boy teaches them the true value of hope.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Rose Code

L.L. Abbott Why did I love this book?

Kate Quinn masterfully captures the bravery of the secret of Bletchley Park. The clandestineness that has surrounded the unknown code breakers has always intrigued me. In The Rose Code, we are able to look back in time as the author weaves very different personalities together as she creates a mystery around the already intriguing Bletchley Park women. The story is entertaining with the inclusion of Prince Philip and sleuthing that is worthy of Agatha Christie fans. This is a book that keeps you turning the pages and reading past the ‘one more chapter’ promise.

By Kate Quinn,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Rose Code as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network returns with another heart-stopping World War II story of three female code breakers at Bletchley Park and the spy they must root out after the war is over.

1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything-beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses-but she burns to…


Book cover of The Paris Library

L.L. Abbott Why did I love this book?

Books, Paris and WWII. Three things I love and Janet Skeslien Charles creates an intriguing and emotional story based on the true story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris during the Second World War. Joining the resistance and fighting the enemy are themes present in The Paris Library; however, through the young Odile Souchet, the author brings to life the importance of books and libraries at the very core of our culture. Layered with betrayal, suspense, and emotion, The Paris Library is a must-read.

By Janet Skeslien Charles,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Paris Library as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

IN THE DARKNESS OF WAR, THE LIGHT OF BOOKS - HOW LIBRARIANS DEFIED THE NAZIS

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

'A wonderful novel celebrating the power of books and libraries to change people's lives' JILL MANSELL

'Heart-breaking and heart-lifting and always enchanting' RUTH HOGAN

'An irresistible and utterly compelling novel that will appeal to bibliophiles and historical fiction fans alike' SUNDAY EXPRESS

'I devoured The Paris Library in one hungry gulp . . . charming and moving' TATIANA DE ROSNAY

'An irresistible, compelling read' FIONA DAVIS

'Paris and libraries. What's not to love?!' NATASHA LESTER

'Compelling' WOMAN & HOME

'Delightful,…


Book cover of Under the Light of the Italian Moon

L.L. Abbott Why did I love this book?

The bravery and sacrifice of women in the Second World War is repeated in several European countries as families struggle to fight back and survive simultaneously. The novel spans over two decades as the author brings to life a young woman’s fight to survive and protect everything she loves. Although trapped in a turbulent time, the importance that rural Italian midwives during unimaginable circumstances is revealed in a touching and emotional manner. Under the Light of the Italian Moon shines a light on bravery, sacrifice, and humanity.

By Jennifer Anton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Under the Light of the Italian Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

‘An enthralling, richly crafted story of bold women resisting destruction, death and fascism.’

- Robin Pickering-Iazzi, Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

A promise keeps them apart until WWII threatens to destroy their love forever

Fonzaso, Italy, between two wars

Nina Argenta doesn’t want the traditional life of a rural Italian woman. The daughter of a strong-willed midwife, she is determined to define her own destiny. But when her brother emigrates to America, she promises her mother to never leave. When childhood friend Pietro Pante briefly returns to their mountain town, passion between them ignites while Mussolini…


Book cover of Beneath a Scarlet Sky

L.L. Abbott Why did I love this book?

One of the first Italian WWII Historical Fiction books that I read, and still one of my favorites. I was initially intrigued by this novel because it was based on a true story. One forgotten to time. Mark Sullivan does a remarkable job of bringing to life the incredible courage of a young man as he is faced with the unimaginable reality that the war has brought to his family and village. The innocence of youth, dreams of a young man, and hope for the future are challenged because of the Nazi invasion. This story is emotional, entertaining, and reminds the reader that despite the war, young lives still held dreams and were the reason that humanity survived.

By Mark Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Beneath a Scarlet Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major television event from Pascal Pictures, starring Tom Holland.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, the USA Today and #1 Amazon Charts bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man's incredible courage and resilience during one of history's darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He's a normal Italian teenager-obsessed with music, food, and girls-but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape…


Book cover of All the Light We Cannot See

L.L. Abbott Why did I love this book?

I was captivated by the first sentence. As the life of a young French girl (who is blind) collides with that of a German boy, they both struggle to survive in a seemingly impossible time. Despite the tragedy of the war, this story manages to reveal the heartwarming and beautiful grace that proves that humanity is not lost. It is no surprise that All the Light We Cannot See is an award-winning novel. It is beautifully written, filled with layered characters, and is mesmerizing at every turn in the story.

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

40 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?

WINNER OF THE 2015 PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR FICTION

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…


You might also like...

A Theory of Expanded Love

By Caitlin Hicks,

Book cover of A Theory of Expanded Love

Caitlin Hicks Author Of A Theory of Expanded Love

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

My life and work have been profoundly affected by the central circumstance of my existence: I was born into a very large military Catholic family in the United States of America. As a child surrounded by many others in the 60s, I wrote, performed, and directed family plays with my numerous brothers and sisters. Although I fell in love with a Canadian and moved to Canada, my family of origin still exerts considerable personal influence. My central struggle, coming from that place of chaos, order, and conformity, is to have the courage to live an authentic life based on my own experience of connectedness and individuality, to speak and be heard. 

Caitlin's book list on coming-of-age books that explore belonging, identity, family, and beat with an emotional and/or humorous pulse

What is my book about?

Trapped in her enormous, devout Catholic family in 1963, Annie creates a hilarious campaign of lies when the pope dies and their family friend, Cardinal Stefanucci, is unexpectedly on the shortlist to be elected the first American pope.

Driven to elevate her family to the holiest of holy rollers in the parish, Annie is tortured by her own dishonesty. But when “The Hands” visits her in her bed and when her sister finds herself facing a scandal, Annie discovers her parents will do almost anything to uphold their reputation and keep their secrets safe. 

Questioning all she has believed and torn between her own gut instinct and years of Catholic guilt, Annie takes courageous risks to wrest salvation from the tragic sequence of events set in motion by her parents’ betrayal.

A Theory of Expanded Love

By Caitlin Hicks,


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the German occupation of Europe, romantic love, and Bletchley Park?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the German occupation of Europe, romantic love, and Bletchley Park.

The German Occupation Of Europe Explore 70 books about the German occupation of Europe
Romantic Love Explore 852 books about romantic love
Bletchley Park Explore 9 books about Bletchley Park