100 books like The Fatal Friendship

By Stanley Loomis,

Here are 100 books that The Fatal Friendship fans have personally recommended if you like The Fatal Friendship. 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 Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

Nazila Fathi Author Of The Lonely War: One Woman's Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran

From my list on the feeling of having your identity taken from you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with historical novels as a kid after I began reading books by French authors Alexandre Dumas, the father and the son. I was the kind of kid who read for days and even nights to finish a story. Books moved me, inspired me, and gave me the strength and wisdom that I have today. I cannot imagine a world without them. 

Nazila's book list on the feeling of having your identity taken from you

Nazila Fathi Why did Nazila love this book?

This was a page-turner and a great introduction to Russian history. Massie described her so vividly that years later, I can still visualize Catherine. The most fascinating aspect of the book for me was how a German child named Sophie reinvents herself to become Catherine the Great, the longest-serving Russian empress. 

By Robert K. Massie,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Catherine the Great as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The fascinating true story behind HBO's Catherine the Great starring Dame Helen Mirren as Catherine the Great.

Born into a minor noble family, Catherine transformed herself into empress of Russia by sheer determination. For thirty-four years, the government, foreign policy, cultural development and welfare of the Russian people were in her hands. She dealt with domestic rebellion, foreign wars and the tidal wave of political change and violence churned up by the French Revolution.

Robert K. Massie brings an eternally fascinating woman together with her family, friends, ministers, generals, lovers and enemies - vividly and triumphantly to life.

History offers…


Book cover of The Wolf and the Watchman

Karen Engelmann Author Of The Stockholm Octavo

From my list on to unlock treasures of Sweden’s Gustavian Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

Stockholm was the first city that I traveled to outside of the U.S. Landing there at Midsommar and visiting the Old Town made an indelible impression. I lived and worked in Sweden for almost 10 years, and had little time for history then, but later found Stockholm in the Gustavian age irresistible as the basis for my first novel. It was a period of cultural flowering, of occult fascinations, social change, and great drama. Readers tend to look further south, in France and Great Britain, for their historical fiction, histories, and biographies, but there are great stories further north as well. 

Karen's book list on to unlock treasures of Sweden’s Gustavian Age

Karen Engelmann Why did Karen love this book?

There are so few novels in English that explore Gustavian Stockholm, and this is a thrilling page-turner set in 1793 that explores the dark side of the capital city one year after the assassination of King Gustav III. Mikel Cardell, a watchman with a brutal past in the army, and Cecil Winge, an investigator who is hovering near death himself, team up to find the perpetrator of a heinous murder. Author Niklas Natt och Dag (translates to Night and Day — an old aristocratic name) has written a story steeped in graphic, gory period detail and authentic atmosphere.  

By Niklas Natt Och Dag,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Wolf and the Watchman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A remarkable debut novel' Sunday Times

'The best historical thriller I've read in twenty years' A.J. Finn

'A thrilling, unnerving, clever and beautiful story. Reading it is like giving a little gift to oneself' Fredrik Backman

The year is 1793, Stockholm. King Gustav of Sweden has been assassinated, years of foreign wars have emptied the treasuries, and the realm is governed by a self-interested elite, leaving its citizens to suffer. On the streets, malcontent and paranoia abound.

A body is found in the city's swamp by a watchman, Mickel Cardell, and the case is handed over to investigator Cecil Winge,…


Book cover of The Life and Songs of Carl Michael Bellman: Genius of the Swedish Rococo

Karen Engelmann Author Of The Stockholm Octavo

From my list on to unlock treasures of Sweden’s Gustavian Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

Stockholm was the first city that I traveled to outside of the U.S. Landing there at Midsommar and visiting the Old Town made an indelible impression. I lived and worked in Sweden for almost 10 years, and had little time for history then, but later found Stockholm in the Gustavian age irresistible as the basis for my first novel. It was a period of cultural flowering, of occult fascinations, social change, and great drama. Readers tend to look further south, in France and Great Britain, for their historical fiction, histories, and biographies, but there are great stories further north as well. 

Karen's book list on to unlock treasures of Sweden’s Gustavian Age

Karen Engelmann Why did Karen love this book?

Musician, poet, drunkard, genius, and scoundrel, Carl Michael Bellman was a fascinating historical figure that I badly wanted as a character in my novel but had to cut. If music can define an era, then Bellman is the voice of the Gustavian age. This wonderful, illustrated non-fiction work brought Bellman and 18th century Stockholm to life for me; I borrowed it from the library for two years while working on the first draft of my own book. (Eventually, I bought my own copy.) Bellman’s songs and spirit remain part of Swedish culture today. 

Book cover of Désirée: The Bestselling Story of Napoleon's First Love

Michelle Cameron Author Of Beyond the Ghetto Gates

From my list on historical fiction books on the French Revolution and Napoleon that portray real life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by Napoleon and the French Revolution since I was a teenager. Novels that capture the essence of the struggles of the French people – and especially those that feature Napoleon as a highly layered character – have always called to me. As a Jewish author, I am particularly drawn to a fair representation of Jewish characters in these tales – which frankly, Georgette Heyer does not, as she adheres to stereotypes in describing any Jewish characters. (I only forgive her because her books are so brilliant.)

Michelle's book list on historical fiction books on the French Revolution and Napoleon that portray real life

Michelle Cameron Why did Michelle love this book?

I read this book first as a teenager and it was my original introduction to Napoleon and the French Revolution. The story of young love, betrayal, and the stirring events in France before, during, and after Napoleon becomes Emperor, the novel is told as a diary, which lends the book immediacy and poignancy.

As a Jewish reader, I particularly enjoyed Selinko’s description of how Désirée’s Jewish neighbors marched off to war, having been given citizenship for the first time in millennia.

I’ve read this book countless times, both as a young reader and as an adult, and it continues to be an all-time favorite. It also shaped my own approach to portraying Napoleon. 

By Annemarie Selinko,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Désirée as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"An epic love story...irresistible reading."
-Chicago Tribune

To be young, in France, and in love: fourteen year old Desiree can't believe her good fortune. Her fiance, a dashing and ambitious Napoleon Bonaparte, is poised for battlefield success, and no longer will she be just a French merchant's daughter. She could not have known the twisting path her role in history would take, nearly breaking her vibrant heart but sweeping her to a life rich in passion and desire.

A love story, but so much more, Désirée explores the landscape of a young heart torn in two, giving readers a compelling…


Book cover of The Private Life of Marie Antoinette

Will Bashor Author Of Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie

From my list on Marie Antoinette from a fan and a historian.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although the books on my list all delve into the history of Queen Marie Antoinette and her family, they also provide an understanding of the chaotic period leading up to the French Revolution. I’ve always been fascinated by the historical drama, controversy, and tragedy of her personal life, but the readings on my list also explore the social changes in manners, clothing styles, and class distinctions that accompanied the political unrest.

Will's book list on Marie Antoinette from a fan and a historian

Will Bashor Why did Will love this book?

I read the French edition of this book, and I found it most helpful as a reference for my own writing because Campan was close to Marie Antoinette as her servant and confidant. Moreover, Campan did not sugarcoat the queen’s life but rather offered an unbiased view of the queen's character.

Having read many current biographies of Marie Antoinette, I was thrilled to find Madam Campan’s because it was a unique and firsthand account of Marie Antoinette’s life at the court of Versailles. More importantly, Campan revealed why Marie Antoinette often behaved the way she did and debunked some of the scandals—some of which are still espoused today. In my opinion, Campan’s writing conveys sincerity and authenticity. On the other hand, some critics feel she is a bit biased.

By Jeanne Louise Henriette Campan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In one of the earliest memoirs of the young Queen of France, Jeanne Louise Henriette Campan - Marie Antoinette's First Lady-in-Waiting and one of her closest and most faithful attendants - paints a dramatic portrait of the queen's personal and political relationship with King Louis XVI of France. First published in two volumes in 1823, this memoir is presented against the backdrop of the French court as it weakened in the madness of an impending revolution. In intricate detail, Campan passionately defends Marie Antoinette's pride and honour in the face of hateful propaganda against her - propaganda that has continued…


Book cover of Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France

Kevin O'Connell Author Of Bittersweet Tapestry

From my list on fascinating women of 16th and 18th century Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

Whilst I was born in America, growing up in an old Irish family with a long history and a powerful sense of its past, I learnt a great deal of Irish, British, and European (especially French) history from an early age – proving valuable in both of my careers – one, as an international business lawyer, the other as a full-time writer of historical fiction. As a result of a “very Irish” numinous connection with the Gaelic poet, Eileen O’Connell, I frequently find myself drawn to books about strong, courageous, and memorable women – particularly those who lived in interesting times, such as the tumultuous days of Sixteenth and Eighteenth-Century Europe.  

Kevin's book list on fascinating women of 16th and 18th century Europe

Kevin O'Connell Why did Kevin love this book?

I am perhaps more familiar with – and fonder of – Marie Antoinette than I am of any other historical personage. Emersed in French history since an early age, I have had a near-lifetime fascination for this complicated woman – who never said, “Let them eat cake!” 

Having researched Antoinette exhaustively (most recently, in connection with her periodic appearances in my own books), since first reading Evelyn Lever’s masterful, beautifully-written work some twenty years ago, I have found myself frequently returning to it. I am drawn to it for its depth and detail, as well as her balanced treatment of an, in many ways, controversial figure. I recommend it as it is a perfect introduction to the life of a captivating woman, as well as presenting a highly satisfying experience for any lover of fine biography. 

By Evelyne Lever,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Married for political reasons at the age of 14, Marie Antoinette was naive, impetuous, and ill-equipped for the role in which history cast her. From her birth in Vienna in 1755 through her turbulent, unhappy marriage, the bloody turmoil of the French Revolution, her trial for high treason during which she was accused of incest, and her final beheading, Marie Antoinette's life was the tragic tale of disastrous circumstances colliding.

Drawing upon her diaries, letters, court records, and memoirs, Evelyne Lever paints a vivid portrait of Marie Antoinette, her inner circle, and the lavish court life at Versailles. What emerges…


Book cover of Marie Antoinette: The Journey

Will Bashor Author Of Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie

From my list on Marie Antoinette from a fan and a historian.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although the books on my list all delve into the history of Queen Marie Antoinette and her family, they also provide an understanding of the chaotic period leading up to the French Revolution. I’ve always been fascinated by the historical drama, controversy, and tragedy of her personal life, but the readings on my list also explore the social changes in manners, clothing styles, and class distinctions that accompanied the political unrest.

Will's book list on Marie Antoinette from a fan and a historian

Will Bashor Why did Will love this book?

As a Francophone myself, I found that Fraser's biography offered a captivating study of the French monarchy. And through nuanced storytelling, it challenged conventional perceptions of Marie Antoinette. By fostering empathy for her incredible plight amid French society’s expectations, the book ultimately reshaped her historical portrayal. 

Fraser's portrayal of the characters' emotional states added depth to the Marie Antoinette’s story, making it vivid in my imagination. She also offered a sympathetic view of the queen, highlighting her tragic end. Balanced in her views, the author also challenged my misconceptions, revealing the queen’s humanity and providing insightful, little-known details of her short life.

By Antonia Fraser,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Marie Antoinette as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The national bestseller from the acclaimed author of The Wives of Henry VIII.  France’s beleaguered queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous “Let them eat cake,” was the subject of ridicule and curiosity even before her death; she has since been the object of debate and speculation and the fascination so often accorded tragic figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, this essentially lighthearted, privileged, but otherwise unremarkable child was thrust into an unparalleled time and place, and was commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in history. Antonia Fraser’s lavish and engaging portrait of Marie Antoinette,…


Book cover of To Dance with Kings

Alison Blasdell Author Of The Confederates' Physician

From my list on historic romance to wish you lived in the past.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love reading novels that take me to another time, place, or adventure (an antithesis to my 30-year career as a professor teaching physiology & pathophysiology to medical and nursing students). I read for entertainment and variety. As an author, I write books I'd like to read! Drawn to history, I've written five historical romances—a woman of courage, intellect, and compassion at the heart of each. I've authored two contemporary espionage thrillers with a woman as the protagonist. I enjoy stepping out of the bounds of empiricism in my novels, blending genres, and stretching the imagination.

Alison's book list on historic romance to wish you lived in the past

Alison Blasdell Why did Alison love this book?

This is also a book I read long ago, and it made me want to write historical fiction novels. This is an astounding story of a young peasant woman who is swept up into the Parisian society of King Louis XVI.

The author's attention to historical details in the construction of Versailles and the French Revolution is a standard that I have judged most novels by. It's a beautiful multi-generational story of love and loss, and I'll admit to tears when reading this book. I usually avoid sad books. I want love to never end. Having said that, I'm so glad I read it, and I was amazed at how much French history I learned!

By Rosalind Laker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Dance with Kings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An epic generational tale of loves lost, promises kept, dreams broken, and monarchies shattered, To Dance with Kings is a story of passion and privilege, humble beginnings and limitless ambition.

On a May morning in 1664, in the small village of Versailles, as hundreds of young aristocrats are coming to pay court to King Louis XIV, a peasant fan-maker gives birth to her first and only child, Marguerite. Determined to give her daughter a better life than the one she herself has lived, the young mother vows to break the newborn’s bonds of poverty and ensure that she fulfills her…


Book cover of The Memoirs of Elisabeth Vigee-Le Brun

Edith de Belleville Author Of Parisian Life: Adventures in The City of Light

From my list on French women according to a French woman.

Why am I passionate about this?

Edith de Belleville is a native Parisian woman who was an attorney for many years. Her passion for Paris led her back to university to get her official tour guide license. Deeply inspired by great Parisian women of the past, Edith decided to write a book, in French, entitled The Beautiful Rebels of Paris (Belles et Rebelles Editions du 81). She just published her memoirs in English to share her literary & dreamy adventures in Paris, Parisian Life, adventures in the City of Light. When she's not at Versailles or the Louvre Museum to do her 'Beautiful Rebels of Paris Tour' Edith is sitting on a café terrace in Paris watching the world go by.

Edith's book list on French women according to a French woman

Edith de Belleville Why did Edith love this book?

When you read the incredible life of some people you don't really need to read fictional stories.

What a life Elisabeth Vigée - Le Brun had! It looks like a wonderful novel. She was a great French portrait painter (she painted 660 portraits!) during an age of revolution.

In 1778, at the age of 23, she painted her first portrait of Queen Marie Antoinette. 

Elisabeth Vigée- Le Brun became one of the rare woman to be member of the prestigious French Royal Academy of paintings. After being exploited by an unfaithful husband she had to face the French Revolution.

She left France and traveled to Europe until the cold and far away Russia. 

How much talent and energy did Elisabeth Vigée - Le Brun have to develop to be one of the best portraits painter of her time?

If you like art, the refined 18th century and audacious women, you…

By Elisabeth Vigee-Le Brun, Siân Evans (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Memoirs of Elisabeth Vigee-Le Brun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Elisabeth Louise Vige´e-Le Brun (1755-1842) was a French portrait painter during an age of revolution. In 1778, at the age of 23, she painted her first portrait of Queen Marie Antoinette. She left France in 1789 and travelled and painted through-out Europe. According to a detailed list she provided in her memoirs, she painted a total of 660 portraits, 15 paintings, and nearly 200 landscapes from both Switzerland and England. Her memoirs were published in Paris in 1869 by Charpentier et Cie. The first unabridged version of her memoirs in English, this book is a mine of information for readers…


Book cover of Dancing to the Precipice: The Life of Lucie de la Tour Du Pin, Eyewitness to an Era

Kevin O'Connell Author Of Bittersweet Tapestry

From my list on fascinating women of 16th and 18th century Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

Whilst I was born in America, growing up in an old Irish family with a long history and a powerful sense of its past, I learnt a great deal of Irish, British, and European (especially French) history from an early age – proving valuable in both of my careers – one, as an international business lawyer, the other as a full-time writer of historical fiction. As a result of a “very Irish” numinous connection with the Gaelic poet, Eileen O’Connell, I frequently find myself drawn to books about strong, courageous, and memorable women – particularly those who lived in interesting times, such as the tumultuous days of Sixteenth and Eighteenth-Century Europe.  

Kevin's book list on fascinating women of 16th and 18th century Europe

Kevin O'Connell Why did Kevin love this book?

Having read numerous books about the French Revolution, amongst my favourites is this fascinating biography of Lucie Dillon – who became Lucie du la Tour du Pin – by Caroline Morehead. I unhesitatingly recommend it, certain that, from Morehead’s striking presentation, most readers will experience a keen sense of what it was like to live during the twilight of the Ancien Régime, and thence on, into and through the nightmare that followed. As an Irish-French aristocrat, whose father commanded the regiment of the Irish Brigade of France that bore the family’s name, whilst her mother was a lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette, Lucie was in a singular position to observe and chronicle the tragic upheaval. 

Relying in part on Lucie’s own published memoir, as well as numerous primary sources, including family papers, which her meticulous research uncovered, Morehead tells a powerful story of loss and survival. 

By Caroline Moorehead,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Lucie de la Tour du Pin was the Pepys of her generation. She witnessed, participated in, and wrote diaries detailing one of the most tumultuous periods of history. From life in the Court of Versailles, through the French Revolution to Napoleon's rule, Lucie survived extraordinary times with great spirit. She recorded people, politics and intrigue, alongside the intriguing minutia of everyday life: food, work, illness, children, manners and clothes.

Caroline Moorehead's richly novelistic biography sets Lucy and her dairies in their wider context, illuminating a remarkable period of history.

Dancing to the Precipice was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in France, Marie Antoinette, and Sweden?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about France, Marie Antoinette, and Sweden.

France Explore 885 books about France
Marie Antoinette Explore 16 books about Marie Antoinette
Sweden Explore 72 books about Sweden