100 books like The Postmistress

By Sarah Blake,

Here are 100 books that The Postmistress fans have personally recommended if you like The Postmistress. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Hamnet

Erna Buffie Author Of Let Us Be True

From my list on grown-up time travelers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I vividly remember visiting our local museum as a little girl and being fascinated by the carefully displayed artifacts of the past, especially the ordinary things people had touched and used on a daily basis: a wooden bowl, a stone tool, an old bottle, its logo embossed on a blue glass surface. It made me want to travel through time, to touch the past, to be inside the hearts and minds of the people who came before me. I wanted to learn about their lives, their joys and suffering, and especially to learn from their mistakes. Each of the books I’ve suggested offers an opportunity to step into the shoes of another and time travel with them.

Erna's book list on grown-up time travelers

Erna Buffie Why did Erna love this book?

By far, my favorite book of 2020, Hamnet, reimagines Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, not as the older spouse who trapped him into a loveless marriage but as the woman I’ve always imagined and wanted her to be – her husband’s match in every way.

Although, having said that, this particular time travel trip wasn’t easy, given that the book opens with a scene of the boy, Hamnet, racing through a village desperately trying to find help for his sister who has been struck down by the plague - a scene that painfully mirrored my own sense of fear and panic in what were then the early days of the COVID pandemic. 

Thankfully I forged on, and in the end was entranced by O’Farrell’s portrayal of Anne, captivated by her textured recreation of life in Elizabethan England and enthralled by her masterful telling of a timeless story about love, loss,…

By Maggie O'Farrell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Richly sensuous... something special' The Sunday Times
'A thing of shimmering wonder' David Mitchell


On a summer's day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a sudden fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London.


Book cover of Circling the Sun

Leslie Johansen Nack Author Of The Blue Butterfly: A Novel of Marion Davies

From my list on powerful women in the 1920s and 1930.

Why am I passionate about this?

First, I'm a woman and I'm inspired by women from the past who overcame the rules of the day in which they lived. It doesn’t matter where they lived, or what they tried to overcome, but to have bucked the patriarchal system and achieved some measure of success, is phenomenal. Second, I became inspired by silent film star Marion Davies, and I wrote a book about it. I never intended to write historical fiction. My first book was a memoir about sailing to Tahiti at fourteen with my father and two sisters. But life has a funny way of directing us where we need to go. Here I am: inspired by women from the past! 

Leslie's book list on powerful women in the 1920s and 1930

Leslie Johansen Nack Why did Leslie love this book?

Wild Africa is romantic and daring and I loved the danger and inspiration of 1920s Africa, when British born real life woman Beryl Markham becomes one of the first female pilots. It’s a bit of Out of Africa and riveting.

Markham encounters many obstacles and has several disastrous relationships but eventually she overcomes and succeeds. She becomes the first person (not woman) to fly solo from Britain to North America. 

By Paula McLain,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestseller

As a young girl, Beryl Markham was brought to Kenya from Britain by parents dreaming of a new life. For her mother, the dream quickly turned sour, and she returned home; Beryl was brought up by her father, who switched between indulgence and heavy-handed authority, allowing her first to run wild on their farm, then incarcerating her in the classroom. The scourge of governesses and serial absconder from boarding school, by the age of sixteen Beryl had been catapulted into a disastrous marriage - but it was in facing up to this reality that she…

Book cover of Stormy Weather

L. R. Trovillion Author Of False Gods

From my list on to satisfy your horse story cravings.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was five years old, our reward for not squirming in church was a pony ride in a small dirt ring. Although it wasn’t until I was out on my own and working before I could take riding lessons, I never forgot the joy that aged, tired pony gave me. I soon bought my first horse, eventually moved to a horse farm, and never looked back. My novels are mostly mysteries set in the equestrian world, but they focus on the healing power of horses in the lives of characters facing complex and sometimes dangerous family situations. 

L. R.'s book list on to satisfy your horse story cravings

L. R. Trovillion Why did L. R. love this book?

You know this is going to be a great book from the author who treated us to other historical adventures such as The Color of Lightning, Enemy Women, and News of the World. Jiles has the skills to recreate a period in time so tangible, the reader feels like they've been dropped through a time portal, and Stormy Weather is no exception. Set during the darkest years of the depression, a woman and her daughters battle cruel hardships alone on an abandoned farm, relying and setting their hopes on their only legacy—a dangerous, rogue racehorse named Smoky Joe. It is a story of personal strength and desperate dreams, pinned on the back of a horse. I love a story about women with grit, hope, and a tenacious will to succeed. 

By Paulette Jiles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Oil is king of East Texas during the darkest years of the Great Depression. The Stoddard girls—responsible Mayme, whip-smart tomboy Jeanine, and bookish Bea—know no life but an itinerant one, trailing their father from town to town as he searches for work on the pipelines and derricks. But in a year of devastating drought and dust storms, the family's fortunes sink further than they ever anticipated when a questionable "accident" leaves the girls and their mother, Elizabeth, alone to confront the cruelest hardships of these hardest of times.

Returning to their previously abandoned family farm, the resilient Stoddard women must…

Book cover of The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

Shannon McKenna Schmidt Author Of Novel Destinations: A Travel Guide to Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West

From my list on classic writers as characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

Visiting author houses and museums has always been a favored pastime of mine and was the inspiration to write the travel guide Novel Destinations. Complementary to writing nonfiction about classic writers, I love reading novels featuring them as characters. Fiction authors adhere to biographical details as well, but they have a freer hand with the narrative to color outside the lines and to color in details and explore feelings and motivations. Through their narratives they turn these literary figures into flesh-and-blood characters and allow the reader to step into their storied lives. 

Shannon's book list on classic writers as characters

Shannon McKenna Schmidt Why did Shannon love this book?

I deliberately read The Mystery of Mrs. Christie slowly so that I could savor the story longer. The novel alternates chapters between present-day 1926, after famous novelist Agatha Christie has disappeared and sparked a headline-making manhunt in England, and the decade or so leading up to it. The story of her disappearance and the possible reasons behind it is intriguing, but I especially enjoyed the chapters set in the past and getting to know Agatha as a young woman and an aspiring writer.

By Marie Benedict,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Mystery of Mrs. Christie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



"A stunning story... The ending is ingenious, and it's possible that Benedict has brought to life the most plausible explanation for why Christie disappeared for 11 days in 1926."―The Washington Post

The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room returns with a thrilling reconstruction of one of the most notorious events in literary history: Agatha Christie's mysterious 11-day disappearance in 1926.

In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing. Investigators find her empty car on the edge of…

Book cover of The Secret History of the Blitz

Melvyn Fickling Author Of Blackbirds

From my list on the London Blitz and the bomber war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in London for eighteen years and acquired an abiding affection for my nation’s capital. I wanted to write a sequel to Bluebirds and jumped at the chance of giving Bryan Hale an adventure where he could walk the streets that I knew and loved. The scars caused on the fair face of London by sticks of Nazi bombs landing in ragged lines across the streets and terraces may still be discerned from the incongruity of the buildings that have since risen to fill the gaps. London heals and thrives. Ultimately, I believe every English writer harbours an ambition to write a London novel. I did, and I did.

Melvyn's book list on the London Blitz and the bomber war

Melvyn Fickling Why did Melvyn love this book?

Today, it is almost impossible to imagine aircraft roaming freely over British cities, disgorging bombs onto the streets below. So, it’s vital for us to have access to the personal, unvarnished stories and contemporary accounts from those that actually lived through this particular horror. In The Secret History of the Blitz Levine pulls no punches as he documents the behaviour of ordinary people faced with extreme experiences. Some reacted with fortitude, uniting in neighbourhood solidarity and extending charity to strangers. Others exploited the chaos, breaking legal and moral codes for their own personal enrichment. To this day, the British psyche collectively benefits from the social concept of a Blitz Spirit. But we should remember it was always a two-sided coin.

By Joshua Levine,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Blitz of 1940-41 is one of the most iconic periods in modern British history - and one of the most misunderstood. The 'Blitz spirit' is celebrated by some, whereas others dismiss it as a myth. Joshua Levine's thrilling biography rejects the tired arguments and reveals the human truth: the Blitz was a time of extremes of experience and behaviour. People werepulling together and helping strangers, but they were also breaking rules and exploiting each other. Life during wartime, the author reveals, was complex and messy and real.

From the first page readers will discover a different story to the…

Book cover of The Book Cat

Holly Webb Author Of The Story Puppy

From my list on animal stories to tug your heartstrings.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first animal story, Lost in the Snow, was based on stories that my mum and I invented together when I was very small, about our stray cat Rosie. She walked into my dad’s office and sat down in his chair when he was out at lunch! I loved imagining her adventures as a stray kitten, and those stories could be scary, sad, emotional as anything – because we knew she came home to live safe and happy with us. I’ve been creating stories about animals ever since. 

Holly's book list on animal stories to tug your heartstrings

Holly Webb Why did Holly love this book?

This gorgeously illustrated book is the story of Morgan, who becomes the Book Cat at the real publisher Faber. I adored TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats as a child, and Morgan was a real cat who was one of the inspirations for the poems. These are his adventures during the London Blitz – in some ways a familiar story, but so moving from a cat’s point of view! 

By Polly Faber, Clara Vulliamy (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is a classic wartime tale of a (real!) cat who made his home at the Faber offices and decided he'd never leave.

'This time we need to get you - get all of the kittens, safe out of London,' said Morgan decisively . . . 'To have a chance for a better life, well, let's just say, I've got an idea.'

Morgan is a young orphan who lives off scavenging - until he finds a cosy home at a famous London publishing house. Over time he learns a trade - and soon becomes the very best book cat in…

Book cover of The Night Watch

Janet Dean Knight Author Of The Peacemaker: A Novel

From my list on family secrets, trauma, and loss in wartime.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was given a First World War soldier’s wallet containing family souvenirsa handwritten letter, a wedding photograph—I realised that it represented the story of my grandmother’s first marriage to a young man who died in the battle of the Somme in 1916. Brought up with my mother’s version of the story, I set out to find what truths I could. What I discovered is that there's no such thing as truth, only versions of what happened, and I wove these into a fictional narrative that tries to capture the experiences of families traumatized by war and explores how they made their peace despite the conflicts and tragedies they experienced.

Janet's book list on family secrets, trauma, and loss in wartime

Janet Dean Knight Why did Janet love this book?

The Night Watch is a chilling, atmospheric book that shows us the lives of a group of Londoners through the air raids of the 1940s. The story is told backwards from a point shortly after the war and reveals the motivations and characters of the story slowly, painfully, and with great care. A group of lesbian women, a woman entangled with a married man, and a young man punished for his part in a desperate pact: their personal stories are played out against a backdrop of fear and destruction. Perhaps my favourite of all Sarah Water’s fabulous novels, The Night Watch is so intricately and cleverly constructed it takes your breath away.

By Sarah Waters,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

I thought everything would change, after the war. And now, no one even mentions it. It is as if we all got together in private and said whatever you do don't mention that, like it never happened.

It's the late 1940s. Calm has returned to London and five people are recovering from the chaos of war.

In scenes set in a quiet dating agency, a bombed-out church and a prison cell, the stories of these five lives begin to intertwine and we uncover the desire and regret that has bound them together.

Sarah Waters's story of illicit love and everyday…

Book cover of Human Voices

Janet Beard Author Of The Atomic City Girls

From my list on women’s experiences of World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, I was aware that the city had historical significance but also that it wasn’t particularly famous, at least to people from outside the region. I’ve always been drawn to these sorts of overlooked stories from history, which are, not coincidentally, often women’s stories. Women made up the majority of workers in Oak Ridge during World War II, and for decades afterward, their stories were generally viewed as less important than male-dominated narratives of the war. But I’ve always believed that women’s stories are no less interesting than men’s. These books look at history’s worst conflict from unique perspectives that foreground the female experience. 

Janet's book list on women’s experiences of World War II

Janet Beard Why did Janet love this book?

An unsparing portrait of a cast of characters working for the BBC in London at the outset of the war, this novel is both funny and moving, though Fitzgerald’s keen sense of irony assures that the writing is never sentimental. Even the most minor characters come to life, as they adjust to both the bureaucracy of the wartime BBC and the realities of life during the Blitz. 

By Penelope Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The human voices of Penelope Fitzgerald's novel are those of the BBC in the first years of the Second World War, the time when the Concert Hall was turned into a dormitory for both sexes and the whole building became a target for the enemy bombers.

Book cover of All Clear

Tristan Palmgren Author Of Quietus

From my list on science fiction books about the past.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Virginia-based science fiction and fantasy writer who’s lived variously-enriching lives as a coroner’s assistant, customer service manager, university lecturer, secretary, factory technician, and clerk. I’ve bounced all around the Midwest, from Minnesota to Ohio to Colorado to Missouri and now out on the East Coast.

Tristan's book list on science fiction books about the past

Tristan Palmgren Why did Tristan love this book?

It’s too easy, in time travel fantasies, to imagine that you would feel a step above the people around you... that you alone know what’s coming, and just, in general, have your advanced-future-person perspective on the world. That’s not how history should feel. The All Clear series’s time-traveling historians arrive to observe the London Blitz and have that comforting certainty ripped out from underneath them. They’re left lost, alone, and isolated in a well-painted portrait of a world on the edge of collapse.

By Connie Willis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Award-winning author Connie Willis returns with a stunning, enormously entertaining novel of time travel, war, and the deeds - great and small - of ordinary people who shape history.

Book cover of Noonday

Amanda Hale Author Of Mad Hatter, Volume 164

From my list on human relations in the altered reality of wartime.

Why am I passionate about this?

The writing of Mad Hatter (my 7th book), was fueled by curiosity about WW2 and about my absent father. I emigrated to Canada as a young woman and pursued a career in the Arts – theatre, painting, writing. But only when I embarked on this fictionalized family story did I begin to uncover shocking family secrets as I pulled together threads of childhood memory, woven in with research material, trying to make sense of it all. Writing has literally saved my life, and Mad Hatter has liberated me in a manner I could never have predicted. I am an intense, passionate workaholic, writing in many genres, exulting in life's surprises!

Amanda's book list on human relations in the altered reality of wartime

Amanda Hale Why did Amanda love this book?

An accumulation of memories haunt and inform Noonday, a novel that stands alone as the third in a trilogy spanning both world wars. I particularly love Barker’s avoidance of sentimentality. She is an honest writer who digs deep and gives no easy solutions as she follows a cast of characters who originally met as students at the Slade School of Art in London. Elinor, who is central, still suffers from the death of her brother Toby in the Great War. Barker’s skillful evocation of the past gives weight and resonance to every word, reminding the reader of the increasing complexity of character formation with life’s most intense and sometimes tragic experiences. 

By Pat Barker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A new novel from the Booker Prize winning Pat Barker, author of the Regeneration Trilogy, that unforgettably portrays London during the Blitz (her first portrayal of World War II) and reconfirms her place in the very top rank of British novelists.

London, the Blitz, Autumn 1940. As the bombs fall on the blacked-out city, ambulance driver Elinor Brooke races from bomb sites to hospitals trying to save the lives of injured survivors, working alongside former friend Kit Neville, while her husband Paul Tarrant works as an air-raide warden.
     Once fellow students at the Slade School of Fine Art before the…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the London Blitz, Massachusetts, and London?

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