100 books like The Ebony Tower

By John Fowles,

Here are 100 books that The Ebony Tower fans have personally recommended if you like The Ebony Tower. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Lost Domain: Le Grand Meaulnes

Rosalind Brackenbury Author Of The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier

From my list on set in France with themes to match.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by these themes – love, France, mystery, women’s lives, war, and peace. My parents took me to France when I was 12 and I’ve spent years there in between and go back whenever I can. I started reading in French when sent to be an au pair in Switzerland when I was 17. My own novel, The Lost Love Letters Of Henri Fournier was absorbing to write as it contains all of the above. I found an unpublished novel of Fournier’s in a village in rural France a few years ago and decided I had to write about him and his lover, Pauline, who was a famous French actress. 

Rosalind's book list on set in France with themes to match

Rosalind Brackenbury Why did Rosalind love this book?

The story of a boy growing up in France before World War 1, of friendship and love and a mysterious house to which the hero finds it hard to return, I have been mesmerized for a lifetime by this short novel, and it’s the basis for my own novel about Fournier’s life and loves.  

By Hermione Lee, Alain-Fournier, Frank Davison (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lost Domain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The arrival of Augustin Meaulnes at a small provincial secondary school sets in train a series of events that will have a profound effect on his life, and that of his new friend Francois Seurel. It is Seurel who recalls the impact of le grand Meaulnes, disruptive and charismatic, on his schoolmates, and the encounter that is to haunt them both. Lost, and alone, Meaulnes stumbles upon an isolated house, mysterious revels, and a beautiful
girl. When he returns to Seurel it is with the fixed determination to find the house again, and the girl with whom he has fallen…


Book cover of Divisadero

Rosalind Brackenbury Author Of The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier

From my list on set in France with themes to match.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by these themes – love, France, mystery, women’s lives, war, and peace. My parents took me to France when I was 12 and I’ve spent years there in between and go back whenever I can. I started reading in French when sent to be an au pair in Switzerland when I was 17. My own novel, The Lost Love Letters Of Henri Fournier was absorbing to write as it contains all of the above. I found an unpublished novel of Fournier’s in a village in rural France a few years ago and decided I had to write about him and his lover, Pauline, who was a famous French actress. 

Rosalind's book list on set in France with themes to match

Rosalind Brackenbury Why did Rosalind love this book?

Although it begins in California, this novel develops into a story set in France. Two sisters, separated by their father after a violent incident, search for each other and eventually connect via a French recluse, whose life one sister is researching. I love Michael Ondaatje’s writing and this book in particular for its daring sweep of geographical and emotional territory. 

By Michael Ondaatje,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is the 1970s in Northern California. A farmer and his teenage daughters, Anna and Claire, work the land with the help of Coop, the enigmatic young man who lives with them. Theirs' is a makeshift family, until they are riven by an incident of violence - of both hand and heart - that 'sets fire to the rest of their lives'. This is a story of possession and loss, about the often discordant demands of family, love, and memory. Written in the sensuous prose for which Michael Ondaatje's fiction is celebrated, "Divisadero" is the work of a master story-teller.


Book cover of The Parisian

Rosalind Brackenbury Author Of The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier

From my list on set in France with themes to match.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by these themes – love, France, mystery, women’s lives, war, and peace. My parents took me to France when I was 12 and I’ve spent years there in between and go back whenever I can. I started reading in French when sent to be an au pair in Switzerland when I was 17. My own novel, The Lost Love Letters Of Henri Fournier was absorbing to write as it contains all of the above. I found an unpublished novel of Fournier’s in a village in rural France a few years ago and decided I had to write about him and his lover, Pauline, who was a famous French actress. 

Rosalind's book list on set in France with themes to match

Rosalind Brackenbury Why did Rosalind love this book?

This is a recent first novel, set mostly in France, about a young Palestinian man who goes there to study medicine and falls in love with the daughter of his host. I’m still reading it, and admiring the sureness of touch, the knowledge of history, and above all the sense of the period – it’s set before World War 1 and continues through the 20th century. Brava, Isabella Hammad!

By Isabella Hammad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A sublime reading experience: delicate, restrained, surpassingly intelligent, uncommonly poised and truly beautiful' Zadie Smith

**WINNER OF THE BETTY TRASK AWARD 2020**

Midhat Kamal - dreamer, romantic, aesthete - leaves Palestine in 1914 to study medicine in France, under the tutelage of Dr Molineu. He falls deeply in love with Jeannette, the doctor's daughter. But Midhat soon discovers that everything is fragile: love turns to loss, friends become enemies and everyone is looking for a place to belong.

Through Midhat's eyes we see the tangled politics and personal tragedies of a turbulent era - the Palestinian struggle for independence, the…


Book cover of The Ripening Seed

Rosalind Brackenbury Author Of The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier

From my list on set in France with themes to match.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by these themes – love, France, mystery, women’s lives, war, and peace. My parents took me to France when I was 12 and I’ve spent years there in between and go back whenever I can. I started reading in French when sent to be an au pair in Switzerland when I was 17. My own novel, The Lost Love Letters Of Henri Fournier was absorbing to write as it contains all of the above. I found an unpublished novel of Fournier’s in a village in rural France a few years ago and decided I had to write about him and his lover, Pauline, who was a famous French actress. 

Rosalind's book list on set in France with themes to match

Rosalind Brackenbury Why did Rosalind love this book?

Anyone who wants to read a love story – all of us, surely – has to start with this story of young love set on the coast of the South of France in the early 20th century. Colette’s prose has been well matched by her translators and she’s simply a jewel of a writer and the first woman who really told the truth about love and sexuality.

By Colette,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ripening Seed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author captures that precious, painful moment when childhood retreats at the onslaught of dawning knowledge and desire. Philippe and Venca are childhood friends. In the days and nights of late summer on the Brittany coast, their deep-rooted love for each other loses its childhood simplicity.


Book cover of Célestine: Voices from a French Village

Catherine Hewitt Author Of The Mistress of Paris: The 19th-Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secret

From my list on France and women since the Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for 19th-century French art, literature, and social history was enkindled in academia, but when my doctoral research uncovered the remarkable story of a forgotten 19th-century courtesan, I set out on a career in biography. During the 19th century, the ‘woman question’ was marked by both radical change and fierce dispute. Based on careful research, my writing seeks to lift this history out of the dusty annals of academia and bring its characters and events vividly to life for the 21st-century reader. My books introduce real women, piecing their stories back together in intimate detail so that readers can really share their successes and frustrations.

Catherine's book list on France and women since the Revolution

Catherine Hewitt Why did Catherine love this book?

A dusty bundle of 150-year-old letters found in a deserted house in rural France forms the premise of this intriguing literary hybrid. Author Gillian Tindall beckons us to follow her on an enthralling, real-life detective story, as she uncovers the life and loves of the letters’ addressee, an obscure provincial innkeeper’s daughter named Célestine Chaumettte. As she pieces Célestine’s story together, Tindall breathes life back into a whole slice of history and a community now vanished. A rich cast of forgotten characters springs from the pages as we see, taste, and smell the many textures of rural society in 19th-century France, along with the seasons and cycles that governed it. This evocative, haunting account of a country girl’s experience and place within this world really is social history at its best.

By Gillian Tindall,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Seven marriage proposals written to Celestine in the early 1860s, and carefully preserved by her, offer a glimpse of rural nineteenth century French life


Book cover of The French Revolution: A History

Joy Sheridan Author Of Charity Amour

From my list on the French Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by the Regency Period, and because of this fascination, I explored its historical context in full. That includes, of course, the French Revolution and its repercussions in England and globally. I am also obsessed with the literary concept of the heroine, and wanted to create characters who in some ways synthesized Moll Flanders and Jane Eyre, bridging the gap between 18th and 19th Century expression.

Joy's book list on the French Revolution

Joy Sheridan Why did Joy love this book?

Essential historical background work for anyone wanting to read French Revolution-based fiction. I am especially attracted to this work because, although non-fiction, it has emotion, and a sense of first-person involvement. I was also very much grabbed by the legend of the first manuscript having been destroyed by fire, and the work having to be re-written – true literary heroism, and an example to us all. 

By Thomas Carlyle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The French Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The French Revolution: A History was written by the Scottish essayist, philosopher, and historian Thomas Carlyle. The three-volume work, first published in 1837 (with a revised edition in print by 1857), charts the course of the French Revolution from 1789 to the height of the Reign of Terror (1793–94) and culminates in 1795. A massive undertaking which draws together a wide variety of sources, Carlyle's history—despite the unusual style in which it is written—is considered to be an authoritative account of the early course of the Revolution.


Book cover of The Waning of the Middle Ages: A Study of the Forms of Life, Thought and Art in France and The Netherlands in the XIVth and XVth Centuries

Tania Bayard Author Of In The Presence of Evil

From my list on a remarkable medieval woman, Christine de Pizan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an art historian and a horticulturist, specializing in the art, architecture, and gardens of the Middle Ages, and I’ve published a number of books on these subjects. But I’ve always loved mystery stories, and I dreamed of writing one of my own. When I discovered Christine de Pizan, an extraordinary personage who defied all the stereotypes about medieval women, I decided to write a series of mystery novels featuring her as the sleuth.

Tania's book list on a remarkable medieval woman, Christine de Pizan

Tania Bayard Why did Tania love this book?

I love this classic study in which Huizinga vividly portrays the colorful era in which my heroin, Christine de Pizan, lived. Huizinga shows that late medieval society was full of striking contradictions, among them chivalry vs cruelty, courtly love vs vengeance, blissful visions of heaven vs horrific visions of Hell. 

By Johan Huizinga,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Waning of the Middle Ages as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“To the world when it was half a thousand years younger,” Huizinga begins, “the outline of all things seemed more clearly marked than to us.” Life seemed to consist in extremes—a fierce religious asceticism and an unrestrained licentiousness, ferocious judicial punishments and great popular waves of pity and mercy, the most horrible crimes and the most extravagant acts of saintliness—and everywhere a sea of tears, for men have never wept so unrestrainedly as in those centuries.

First published in 1924, this brilliant portrait of the life, thought, and art in France and the Netherlands in the 14th and 15th centuries…


Book cover of The Cloistered Lady

Lee Swanson Author Of Her Dangerous Journey Home

From my list on medieval fiction with fierce female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first recollection of a fascination with medieval history occurred while watching Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood. I soon exhausted our school library’s limited selection of tales of kings and castles. Much later, a history degree and decades spent in Germany and England allowed me to delve deeply into historical research, gaining a specialized knowledge into the areas in which I was most interested. I am particularly fascinated with the lives of women, most of whom medieval chroniclers relegate to a brief mention as wives and mothers. There are clearly stories here yet to be told and I am always excited to learn of new scholarship.

Lee's book list on medieval fiction with fierce female protagonists

Lee Swanson Why did Lee love this book?

Eleanor of Aquitaine is certainly one of the most formidable women of the Middle Ages; not just because she was queen to two kings, but because she had the courage to openly defy them both.

Consequently, I raced to order Coirle Mooney’s first novel in her The Medieval Ladies series, followed quickly by the second, The Cloistered Lady. I absolutely love the author’s ability to craft vivid descriptions of time and place, especially the uncommon setting of the nunnery at Fontrevault. Joanna, Queen Eleanor’s lady-in-waiting, is a delightfully complex character.

Like Christina Kohl in my series, she is wonderfully human; but her fears and shortcomings are balanced out by her sometimes-surprising strength and compassion. I enjoyed all three novels in the series, but this one most of all.

By Coirle Mooney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cloistered Lady as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An enchanting historical drama set in Medieval France! For fans of Philippa Gregory, Elizabeth Chadwick, Carol McGrath and Anne O’Brien.

Joanna and Alice are forced from dazzling court life to bleak confinement…

1173, France

Eleanor of Aquitaine has been arrested for rebelling against her husband, King Henry II of England.

Her loyal ladies-in-waiting, Alice and Joanna of Agen have fled to the nunnery at Fontrevault, where they are anxiously awaiting news of their queen.

Alice and Joanna struggle to adapt to their cramped new home at the Abbey. Each is secretly nursing a broken heart – and harbouring unholy desires.…


Book cover of The Merovingian Kingdoms 450 - 751

James Calbraith Author Of The Saxon Spears: An Epic of the Dark Age

From my list on Barbarian Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my novels, I aim to present a different vision of early Post-Roman Britain than the one usually imagined in fiction – especially in the future Kingdom of Kent, where my books are set. To show these connections, and to present the greater background for the events in the novels, I first needed to gain knowledge of what Europe itself looked like in this period: a Gaul divided between Gothic, Frankish, and Roman administration, a complex interplay of Romans and Barbarians, a world in transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. The story gleaned from the pages of these books proved as fascinating and intriguing as any I’ve ever read.

James' book list on Barbarian Europe

James Calbraith Why did James love this book?

The Merovingians – the Frankish royal family – were the closest, and most powerful, neighbour to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of the Early Middle Ages. They influenced trade, culture, and religion of early England, at times as partners, at times as hegemons of the island. At the same time, they built the foundation on which the Carolingians built their empire, the New Rome that would control the great swathes of Europe for centuries to come. Ian Wood’s excellent book is possibly the most detailed account of their rule ever written. 

By Ian Wood,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Merovingian Kingdoms 450 - 751 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A comprehensive survey which begins with the rise of the Franks, then examines the Merovingians.


Book cover of The World of Orderic Vitalis

Charity L. Urbanski Author Of Writing History for the King: Henry II and the Politics of Vernacular Historiography

From my list on medieval historians and history writing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of medieval Europe who specializes in twelfth-century England and France. I’ve been fascinated with history since childhood and distinctly remember being obsessed with a book on English monarchs in my mom’s bookcase when I was young. In college, I took a class on Medieval England with a professor whose enthusiasm for the subject, along with the sheer strangeness of the medieval world, hooked me. I’ve been exploring medieval Europe ever since, and deepening my understanding of how our own world came into being in the process. 

Charity's book list on medieval historians and history writing

Charity L. Urbanski Why did Charity love this book?

Chibnall was a fantastic writer, and she was the authority on Orderic Vitalis, one of the most important historians of the early twelfth century.

I love this book because Chibnall uses Orderic’s history to explore the world he wrote in, a world in which monks mingled with knights and kings, and she examines the rapid social changes taking place in the early twelfth century. This book is at once an examination of Orderic’s work, a biography of a famous chronicler, and an exploration of Anglo-Norman society in the early twelfth century.

It’s a fantastic place to start if you’ve never read anything on Anglo-Norman England, and it’s a great way to deepen your knowledge if you’re already familiar with this corner of the past.

By Marjorie Chibnall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The World of Orderic Vitalis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Monastic life, the royal courts and Norman nobility as depicted by Orderic's medieval chronicle.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in France, the Middle Ages, and Europe?

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