100 books like Tombland

By C.J. Sansom,

Here are 100 books that Tombland fans have personally recommended if you like Tombland. 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 Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife

Tracy Borman Author Of Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story Of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant

From my list on life in Tudor times.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tracy Borman is a historian and novelist specialising in the Tudor period and has written a number of best-selling books, including The Private Lives of the Tudors, Thomas Cromwell, and Elizabeth’s Women. She is also a popular broadcaster and has presented numerous history documentaries, including Channel 5’s The Fall of Anne Boleyn and Inside the Tower of London. Alongside this, she is the joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces and Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust.

Tracy's book list on life in Tudor times

Tracy Borman Why did Tracy love this book?

The last in this stunning Six Wives series, this novel brings Henry VIII’s last wife to life as never before. Impeccably researched and with stunning period detail, this book paints a vivid picture of how women had to battle for survival in the Tudor world.

By Alison Weir,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A detailed and convincing portrait of an extraordinary life... this series is a serious achievement' THE TIMES

'This brilliant series has brought Henry VIII's six wives to life as never before. This novel will enthral and inspire, just as much as it will break your heart' TRACY BORMAN

Alison Weir, historian and author of the SUNDAY TIMES bestselling SIX TUDOR QUEENS series, recounts the story of Henry VIII's last wife - Katharine Parr, the queen who survived him.

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A WOMAN TORN BETWEEN LOVE AND DUTY.

Two husbands dead, a boy and a sick man. And now Katharine is free…


Book cover of Bring Up the Bodies

Ken Parejko Author Of Kasia's Story

From my list on the conflict between personal spirituality and religion.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was during the epistemological craziness around the year 2000 that I christened myself a truth warrior. I was already a scientist. Yet I knew there were other important truths, not of the mind but of the heart, truths we discover and marvel over in the realm of art. So as a biology professor I was granted a sabbatical to write the second of three of my novels, about Pliny the Elder. It is through literature, some of my own making, that I find new ways of seeing and experiencing the world: and of discovering and validating what is true, and what is not.

Ken's book list on the conflict between personal spirituality and religion

Ken Parejko Why did Ken love this book?

Though I did enjoy the earlier Wolf Hall I found Bring Up the Bodies more readable and compelling.

Hilary Mantel paints intimate word pictures of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, and especially Thomas Cromwell, struggling to make his way through the minefield of political intrigue at Henry’s court. Though it is against almost every principle he holds dear, Cromwell charts a course which one step at a time ultimately brings Anne Boleyn down.

Finding himself in an almost impossible situation, he agonizes over every decision, looking at it from many sides: legal, political, ethical, spiritual, and religious. Meanwhile not far in the background we see the Church’s Pope Clement trying desperately, like Oz’s man behind the curtain, to control events.

Mantel’s genius was her ability to transform dry history into compelling, character-driven stories.

By Hilary Mantel,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Bring Up the Bodies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Man Booker Prize

The second book in Hilary Mantel's award-winning Wolf Hall trilogy, with a stunning new cover design to celebrate the publication of the much anticipated The Mirror and the Light

An astounding literary accomplishment, Bring Up the Bodies is the story of this most terrifying moment of history, by one of our greatest living novelists.

'Our most brilliant English writer' Guardian

Bring Up the Bodies unlocks the darkly glittering court of Henry VIII, where Thomas Cromwell is now chief minister. With Henry captivated by plain Jane Seymour and rumours of Anne Boleyn's faithlessness whispered by…


Book cover of The Watchers: A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I

Tracy Borman Author Of Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story Of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant

From my list on life in Tudor times.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tracy Borman is a historian and novelist specialising in the Tudor period and has written a number of best-selling books, including The Private Lives of the Tudors, Thomas Cromwell, and Elizabeth’s Women. She is also a popular broadcaster and has presented numerous history documentaries, including Channel 5’s The Fall of Anne Boleyn and Inside the Tower of London. Alongside this, she is the joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces and Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust.

Tracy's book list on life in Tudor times

Tracy Borman Why did Tracy love this book?

Although Elizabeth I has gone down in history as the iconic ‘Gloriana’, the longest-reigning and arguably most successful monarch from the Tudor dynasty, as queen she never enjoyed the luxury of feeling secure on her throne. This brilliant non-fiction book explores the many plots that swirled around the Virgin Queen’s throne – and the intricate spy network that helped thwart them all.

By Stephen Alford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The acclaimed and enthralling story of the dark side of Elizabethan rule, from Stephen Alford

Elizabeth I's reign is known as a golden age, yet to much of Europe she was a 'Jezebel' and heretic who had to be destroyed. The Watchers is a thrilling portrayal of the secret state that sought to protect the Queen; a shadow world of spies, codebreakers, agent provocateurs and confidence-men who would stop at nothing to defend the realm.

Reviews:

'Forget Le Carre, Deighton and the rest - this is more enthralling than any modern spy fiction' Daily Telegraph

'Absorbing and closely documented ...…


Book cover of Game of Queens: The Women Who Made Sixteenth-Century Europe

Tracy Borman Author Of Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story Of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant

From my list on life in Tudor times.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tracy Borman is a historian and novelist specialising in the Tudor period and has written a number of best-selling books, including The Private Lives of the Tudors, Thomas Cromwell, and Elizabeth’s Women. She is also a popular broadcaster and has presented numerous history documentaries, including Channel 5’s The Fall of Anne Boleyn and Inside the Tower of London. Alongside this, she is the joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces and Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust.

Tracy's book list on life in Tudor times

Tracy Borman Why did Tracy love this book?

There is no doubt that the sixteenth century was a man’s world. Women were treated as second-class citizens and viewed as inferior in every single respect: mentally, physically and emotionally. Yet it was also the era of powerful female sovereigns, consorts and regents. Sarah Gristwood’s beautifully written and well-researched study follows the varying fortunes of some of the period’s most formidable matriarchs, from Isabella of Castile to the six wives of Henry VIII.

By Sarah Gristwood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A BBC History magazine Book of the Year and an amazon.com Best Book of the Month

As religion divided sixteenth-century Europe, an extraordinary group of women rose to power. They governed nations while kings fought in foreign lands. They ruled on behalf of nephews, brothers and sons. They negotiated peace between their warring nations. For decades, they ran Europe. Small wonder that it was in this century that the queen became the most powerful piece on the chessboard.

From mother to daughter and mentor to protegee, Sarah Gristwood follows the passage of power from Isabella of Castile and Anne de…


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?

WINNER OF THE 2020 WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION - THE NO. 1 BESTSELLER 2021
'Richly sensuous... something special' The Sunday Times
'A thing of shimmering wonder' David Mitchell

TWO EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE. A LOVE THAT DRAWS THEM TOGETHER. A LOSS THAT THREATENS TO TEAR THEM APART.

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.

Neither…


Book cover of Katherine

Linda O'Byrne Author Of Cassandra

From my list on fiction that doesn’t want to teach you history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write romantic historical fiction and am a lifelong lover of the works of Jane Austen. I am English, love historical novels but dislike books that give you “great lumps of facts” that slow up the storyline. I like stories and characters that capture your attention and your heart. Plots and backgrounds that make you think about what it might really have been like to live in those times.

Linda's book list on fiction that doesn’t want to teach you history

Linda O'Byrne Why did Linda love this book?

A glimpse into medieval times. It’s a sumptuous tale of passion and danger.

Katherine comes to the court of Edward III aged fifteen and turns the head of the King’s favourite son, John of Gaunt.  But their paths in life pull them apart until their love forces them back together. This is a wonderful book by a writer who manages to make you experience life as it was then, but without trying to teach you, and asks, ‘how much would you give up for love?’

By Anya Seton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Exhilarating, exuberant, and rich," Katherine is an epic novel of a love affair that changed history—that of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the ancestors of most of the British royal family (Austin Chronicle).

Set in the vibrant fourteenth century of Chaucer and the Black Death, the story features knights fighting in battle, serfs struggling in poverty, and the magnificent Plantagenets—Edward III, the Black Prince, and Richard II—who rule despotically over a court rotten with intrigue. Within this era of danger and romance, John of Gaunt, the king’s son, falls passionately in love with the already-married Katherine.…


Book cover of The Third Man

Terry Morgan Author Of Whistleblower

From my list on international crime exotic locations nasty politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

What I look for in a book is something that triggers my serious side. So be it if that removes a whole range of fantasy books or those that merely titillate. Because I’ve traveled a lot, ‘feasible fiction’ is what I write and what I look for in other books. A story might be entirely fictitious, but as long as it’s not far-fetched, has a cast of realistic characters, an international or historic location, and keeps me on my toes to the very end, that’s great. If it’s got some politics and science thrown in, that’s even better. I hope my list lives up to expectations. 

Terry's book list on international crime exotic locations nasty politics

Terry Morgan Why did Terry love this book?

I like books from guys who’ve traveled and been around a while before sitting down to write them. I suppose I’m one, but Graham Greene remains a hero of mine even though he died over twenty years ago. In this book, Greene masterfully creates the atmosphere of dark, damp, smoky post-war side streets in post-war Vienna.   

That the criminal element involves a crime syndicate selling diluted penicillin also appeals to me, as I’ve written three novels about fraud and corruption in the pharmaceutical industry.  

Green’s book led to a series of films, and this book's signature tune still resonates with me. 

By Graham Greene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rollo Martins' usual line is the writing of cheap paperback Westerns under the name of Buck Dexter. But when his old friend Harry Lime invites him to Vienna, he jumps at the chance. With exactly five pounds in his pocket, he arrives only just in time to make it to his friend's funeral. The victim of an apparently banal street accident, the late Mr. Lime, it seems, had been the focus of a criminal investigation, suspected of nothing less than being "the worst racketeer who ever made a dirty living in this city." Martins is determined to clear his friend's…


Book cover of Slow Horses

Lee Goldberg Author Of Calico

From my list on humor that makes us human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing crime stories since I was a child. They entertained me and helped me cope with a lot of family strife. My first novel was published in college and sold to the movies, which got me into screenwriting, leading to writing hundreds of hours of TV and fifty novels to date. The one thing all of my stories share is humor because I believe it’s an essential part of life–and of memorable story-telling. Humor makes characters come alive, revealing shades of personality and depths of emotion you wouldn’t otherwise see. Here are five books that taught me that it’s true and that continue to influence me as a writer. 

Lee's book list on humor that makes us human

Lee Goldberg Why did Lee love this book?

Spy novels, especially the British ones, are densely plotted, densely written, densely serious stories full of politics and betrayals…without a smile to be had by the characters or the reader. The only funny ones are satires. But this book is different.

I could enjoy all the pleasures of a spy novel, with all the betrayals and plot twists, and find myself laughing even as I was caught up in the suspense and surprises. If anything, the laughs made the twists more twisty and the tragedies more tragic.

This book revitalized an entire genre for me…by knowing where to find the humor in what was always portrayed as a humorless job in a humorless world. 

By Mick Herron,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Slow Horses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*Now a major TV series starring Gary Oldman*

'To have been lucky enough to play Smiley in one's career; and now go and play Jackson Lamb in Mick Herron's novels - the heir, in a way, to le Carre - is a terrific thing' Gary Oldman

Slough House is the outpost where disgraced spies are banished to see out the rest of their derailed careers. Known as the 'slow horses' these misfits have committed crimes of drugs and drunkenness, lechery and failure, politics and betrayal while on duty.

In this drab and mildewed office these highly trained spies don't run…


Book cover of The Other Boleyn Girl

Jessica Disciacca Author Of Witches of Triora: The Vessel

From my list on taking you on a magical journey through time and space.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing for years and reading forever. Fantasy books have always been my number one go-to as far as genres. I loved how they would teleport me to a new world, allowing me to leave behind reality. The characters became my friends. The worlds became my home. I couldn’t get enough and still can’t. As I got older, my imagination never stopped. I was constantly creating dreamworld and character plots in my head. Eventually, I started writing, needing the characters to stop talking. The only way to do that was to get them on paper. Since then, I haven’t been able to stop.

Jessica's book list on taking you on a magical journey through time and space

Jessica Disciacca Why did Jessica love this book?

This story made me fall in love and then hate my lover all in the same breath. The mixture of history and fiction led me on a roller coaster of emotions.

I loved how Anne was so strong and knew how to get what she wanted and work her way through a world built by men for men, yet, in the end, her inability to birth a male heir was her downfall. The king framed her in order to remove her from the throne and move on to the next youngest thing. I was enraged!

This book makes me so angry, but I couldn’t stop reading Gregory’s work after this one. It totally hooked me and forced me to buy all her books written about this specific timeframe. 

By Philippa Gregory,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*A stunning brand new unabridged recording*

The acclaimed international bestseller of the Tudor court, during the years of Henry VIII's pursuit of Anne Boleyn - and the revolutionary sequence of events that followed.

1521. Young Mary Boleyn arrives at court, maid in waiting and favourite to Queen Katherine of Aragon.

Yet Mary catches the eye of the capricious king and - propelled by the ambitions of the powerful Boleyn family - she betrays her queen, and takes her place as Henry VIII's new mistress.

But while Mary is in childbed, a rival comes to court - her sister Anne, a…


Book cover of Anna of Kleve, The Princess in the Portrait

Sarah J. Hodder Author Of The York Princesses: The Daughters of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville

From my list on that sent me straight to Google to find out more.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer on the lives of women during the Plantagenet and Tudor periods. I have been fascinated by history since childhood, when the death of my mother when I was six years old encouraged a need in me as I grew up to look backward, for memories and glimpses of the past. When I came across queen Elizabeth Woodville she piqued my interest, and her life story has remained with me ever since. This passion for her life and the era led to my first book on her sisters (The Queen’s Sisters) and was followed up by a second book on her daughters entitled The York Princesses.

Sarah's book list on that sent me straight to Google to find out more

Sarah J. Hodder Why did Sarah love this book?

Of all the six wives of Henry VIII, it is fair to say that Anne of Cleves is often considered the least interesting. We have Katherine – the stoical first wife; Anne Boleyn – the Mistress who lost her head; Jane Seymour – Henry probably loved her most and she died giving him his much-longed-for son; Katherine Howard – young, flighty, and careless who also lost her head; and Katherine Parr who loved another and managed to out-live Henry and her marriage to him. And then in the middle, there’s Anne of Cleves – dull (Henry thought so too), who he divorced and packed off to the country. No story there.

But in Anna of Kleves, Weir really brings her alive and gives us a living, breathing version of who she may have been. From her days before Henry, to her survival instincts both during and after her marriage, I…

By Alison Weir,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anna of Kleve, The Princess in the Portrait as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The surprising and dramatic life of the least known of King Henry VIII’s wives is illuminated in the fourth volume in the Six Tudor Queens series—for fans of Philippa Gregory, Hilary Mantel, and The Crown.

Newly widowed and the father of an infant son, Henry VIII realizes he must marry again to ensure the royal succession. Forty-six, overweight, and suffering from gout, Henry is soundly rejected by some of Europe's most eligible princesses. Anna of Kleve, from a small German duchy, is twenty-four, and has a secret she is desperate to keep hidden. Henry commissions her portrait from his court…


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