The most recommended historical fiction books

Who picked these books? Meet our 2,872 experts.

2,872 authors created a book list connected to historical fiction, and here are their favorite historical fiction books.
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Book cover of Fall on Your Knees

Bruce Bishop Author Of Unconventional Daughters: An Engrossing Family Saga on Two Continents

From my list on Nova Scotia, Canada.

Why am I passionate about this?

I developed a love for James A. Michener’s sweeping novels as a young man, which coincided with an early stage of my career as a travel journalist. I was fortunate to find myself in places all over the globe that he had written about, and these countries were somehow made more vivid to me because of his words. It wasn’t until the onset of Covid-19 in 2020 that I switched from writing non-fiction to fiction. In doing so, I realized that the small part of the world in which I had been born and raised – Nova Scotia, Canadawas as fascinating and interesting as any place I had visited. 

Bruce's book list on Nova Scotia, Canada

Bruce Bishop Why did Bruce love this book?

This compelling family saga set on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia was published in 1996 and explores the lives of the complicated Piper family in the early 20th century.

My late mother was from Glace Bay, a mining town on Cape Breton, and I remember she was quite excited when she heard about Ms. MacDonald’s drama, and promptly bought a copy. She told me she couldn’t get beyond the first few chapters because it was far too filthy for her taste. Naturally, I then had to read the whole novel to find out just how controversial the book was!

By Ann-Marie MacDonald,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fall on Your Knees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Following the curves of the twentieth century, FALL ON YOUR KNEES takes us from haunted Cape Breton island in Nova Scotia through the battlefields of World War I into the emerging jazz scene in New York City, and immerses us in the lives of four unforgettable sisters. The children of a driven and ambitious father, the sisters -Kathleen, the oldest, a beautiful talent intent on a career as an opera diva; Frances, the drunken rogue and child prostitute; Lily, the pseudo-saint cripple; and Mercedes, the fervent Catholic and protector of the flock - are swept along by the tumult of…

Book cover of Atomic Love

Kitty Zeldis Author Of The Dressmakers of Prospect Heights

From my list on historical novels that feature bad-ass women.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a girl growing up in the 1960s, I loved books that were set in the past—Anne of Green Gables, A Little Princess, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn were among my favorites. But those books weren’t historical fiction because they were written back then. So discovering that I could set my own books in the past was a thrill. I love evoking the sights, sounds, and smells of the past. And I especially love describing what my characters wear. Vintage clothes are my passion and being able to incorporate that love into my work is an ongoing delight.

Kitty's book list on historical novels that feature bad-ass women

Kitty Zeldis Why did Kitty love this book?

A novel about a young woman who worked on the atomic bomb and fell in love with one of the other scientists on the project who breaks her heart into a million pieces so she abandons her career and takes up as a shop-girl? Add in an FBI agent who is on the tail of the cad and wants her help in finding him? Count me in!

Fields is terrific at creating mood and the 1950s milieu. And the unexpected romance between Rosalind, the one-time scientist, and Charlie, the FBI agent, is both moving and immensely satisfying—these are two wounded souls who manage to find each other and by the end, you’re out of your chair and cheering.

By Jennie Fields,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The stunning novel about our fiercest loyalties, deepest desires and the power of forgiveness

'A highly-charged love story' DELIA OWENS, bestselling author of WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING

'This story has everything. Just thinking about it makes me feel that lovely feeling where your heart seems to skip a beat' 5***** Reader Review

Chicago, 1950: Rosalind Porter is unfulfilled, heartbroken and angry.

Five years ago her career as a scientist was sabotaged by the man who also broke her heart: former Manhattan Project colleague Thomas Weaver.

Now, out of the blue, Thomas gets back in touch: he urgently needs to…

Book cover of The Alexandria Quartet

Peter Guttridge Author Of City of Dreadful Night

From my list on quartets and trilogies with unreliable narrators.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by long stories where things aren’t exactly as they seem. Most crime fiction is secrets and lies and their eventual uncovering but most ‘literary’ fiction is too. For what it’s worth, I was a book reviewer for all the posh UK papers for about 15 years, including crime fiction critic for The Observer for twelve (so I’ve read far more crime novels than is healthy for anyone!). I’m a voracious reader and writer and I love making things more complicated for myself (and the reader) by coming up with stuff that I’ve then somehow got to fit together.  

Peter's book list on quartets and trilogies with unreliable narrators

Peter Guttridge Why did Peter love this book?

Not crime although there are crimes in it. The narrative structure of the quartet was a major influence on structuring my trilogy. The first three present different versions of the same events and characters in Alexandria, Egypt before and during the Second World War. In Book 1, a self-absorbed, pretentious narrator, Darley, presents an account of an intense love affair. In book 2, Balthazar shows how ignorant he was about what was really going on about him. Mountolive widens the political context and shows both earlier narrators were looking through the wrong end of a telescope. Book 4 manages to tease out yet more solutions to mysteries thought resolved.

By Lawrence Durrell,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Alexandria Quartet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rediscover one of the twentieth century's greatest romances in Lawrence Durrell's seductive tale of four tangled lovers in wartime Egypt that is 'stunning' (Andre Aciman) and 'wonderful' (Elif Shafak)

'A masterpiece.' Guardian

'A formidable, glittering achievement.' TLS

'One of the great works of English fiction.' Times

'Dazzlingly exuberant ... Superb.' Observer

'Brave and brazen ... Lush and grandiose.' Independent

'Legendary ... Casts a spell ... Reader, watch out!' Guardian

'Lushly beautiful ... One of the most important works of our time.' NYTBR

Alexandria, Egypt. Trams, palm trees and watermelon stalls lie honey-bathed in sunlight; in darkened bedrooms, sweaty lovers unfurl.…

Book cover of Dulcinea

Ana Veciana-Suarez Author Of Dulcinea

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated with 16th-century and 17th-century Europe after reading Don Quixote many years ago. Since then, every novel or nonfiction book about that era has felt both ancient and contemporary. I’m always struck by how much our environment has changed—transportation, communication, housing, government—but also how little we as people have changed when it comes to ambition, love, grief, and greed. I doubled down my reading on that time period when I researched my novel, Dulcinea. Many people read in the eras of the Renaissance, World War II, or ancient Greece, so I’m hoping to introduce them to the Baroque Age. 

Ana's book list on bringing to life the forgotten Baroque Age

What is my book about?

Dolça Llull Prat, a wealthy Barcelona woman, is only 15 when she falls in love with an impoverished poet-solder. Theirs is a forbidden relationship, one that overcomes many obstacles until the fledgling writer renders her as the lowly Dulcinea in his bestseller.

By doing so, he unwittingly exposes his muse to gossip. But when Dolça receives his deathbed note asking to see her, she races across Spain with the intention of unburdening herself of an old secret.

On the journey, she encounters bandits, the Inquisition, illness, and the choices she's made. At its heart, Dulcinea is about how we betray the people we love, what happens when we succumb to convention, and why we squander the few chances we get to change our lives.

Book cover of The Black Terrorist

Christophe Corbin Author Of Revisiting the French Resistance in Cinema, Literature, Bande Dessinée, and Television (1942–2012)

From my list on the French Resistance.

Why am I passionate about this?

My grandfather joined the French Resistance in his early twenties in 1942. He told me his story when I was a teenager, which has had a lasting effect on me. I have since taught college students about the French Resistance and published on the way it has been depicted in films, TV series, novels, and comics since 1942. My book Revisiting the French Resistance will appeal to those interested in the relationship between history and fiction, and/or who enjoy stories of ordinary, yet exemplary individuals who at some point of history have felt compelled to say “no” to a situation deemed unacceptable.  

Christophe's book list on the French Resistance

Christophe Corbin Why did Christophe love this book?

The Black Terrorist recounts the singular trajectory of Addi Bâ from French Guinea who arrived in France in 1938, enlisted in 1939, was taken prisoner almost immediately, escaped in 1940 and joined the Resistance in the Vosges mountains. One of the very few books or films to focus on the role played by a colonized person fighting for the colonizing power that had subjugated his people. A journey between the small-mindedness and cowardice of some and the humanity and courage of others. 

By Tierno Monénembo, C. Dickson (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Black Terrorist is a fictional account built around the true, extraordinary, but little-known story of Addi Bâ. Addi Bâ was born in Guinea about 1916, brought to France in the late 1930s, and became a riflemen in the Twelfth Regiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais (African soldiers from French colonies) fighting for France during World War II. Captured after the Battle of the Meuse, Addi escapes from German forces, wanders in the forests, before finding refuge in a village in the Vosges, where he encounters the French Resistance and becomes a leader of a Resistance network. However, Addi is captured, tortured,…

Book cover of The Milagro Beanfield War

Sallie Tisdale Author Of The Lie about the Truck: Survivor, Reality TV, and the Endless Gaze

From Sallie's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Zen teacher Avid reader Wingspan addict Baker

Sallie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Sallie Tisdale Why did Sallie love this book?

I wish that I knew Nichols’ secret recipe for making me laugh out loud and cry at the same time. These are characters you want to kiss, shake, shoot, and make love to (sometimes all at once).

The plot mixes petty larceny and terrible crimes, guerilla warfare, dangerous pigs, a great deal of alcohol, a little sex, and injustices that seem even more relevant now than when the book was written. 

Tragedy? Comedy? Depends on your point of view. If you’ve seen the movie, you have seen only about a tenth of the book. So, read it! 

By John Nichols,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Milagro Beanfield War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Milagro Beanfield War is the first book in John Nichols's New Mexico Trilogy (“Gentle, funny, transcendent.” ―The New York Times Book Review)

Joe Mondragon, a feisty hustler with a talent for trouble, slammed his battered pickup to a stop, tugged on his gumboots, and marched into the arid patch of ground. Carefully (and also illegally), he tapped into the main irrigation channel. And so began-though few knew it at the time-the Milagro beanfield war. But like everything else in the dirt-poor town of Milagro, it would be a patchwork war, fought more by tactical retreats than by battlefield victories.…

Book cover of Triangle

Barbara Artson Author Of Odessa, Odessa: A Novel

From my list on why immigrants leave their country of origin.

Why am I passionate about this?

I barely knew my grandparents who came to this country in 1905 and spoke only Yiddish. Because my mother refused to speak of her life in Odessa I was totally unaware of the persecution she and her family witnessed and experienced. As a psychoanalyst who helps people understand their own family’s history to better understand themselves, my historical novel, Odessa, Odessa helped me piece together what little I knew of my family’s history, and what I gleaned from my research and reading of novels, to render this portrait. Thomas Mann describes, in writing Joseph and His Brothers, putting clothing on the myth. I put the clothing on the history of my mother’s life story. So relevant today!

Barbara's book list on why immigrants leave their country of origin

Barbara Artson Why did Barbara love this book?

This first-person narrative historical novel tells in chilling detail the real-life events of the Triangle shirtwaist fire of 1911 seen through the eyes of one of the few survivors. Over 150 workers, mostly women, died in the inferno due to the management's decision to keep the doors locked so that the workers produced more shirts. You will turn each page feeling the horror, the fear, the rage, the disbelief this tragedy evokes.

By Katharine Weber,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

By the time she dies at age 106, Esther Gottesfeld, the last survivor of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, has told the story of that day many times. But her own role remains mysterious: How did she survive? Are the gaps in her story just common mistakes, or has she concealed a secret over the years? As her granddaughter seeks the real story in the present day, a zealous feminist historian bears down on her with her own set of conclusions, and Esther's voice vies with theirs to reveal the full meaning of the tragedy.

A brilliant chronicle of the event…

Book cover of Daughters of Night

Eric Van Lustbader Author Of The Quantum Solution

From Eric's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Sociologist Futurist Humanist

Eric's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Eric Van Lustbader Why did Eric love this book?

There are, at the moment, a glut of authors writing about England in the 1800’s, but none of them can hold a candle to Laura Shepherd-Robinson.

Her prose is so immersive you are almost instantly transported back in time and place. Settle in for a fantastic experience, exploring the squalid and eye-opening underbelly of London’s ladies of the night.

One of this author’s trademarks is creating full-blown characters who you come to know and love within a few pages of their being introduced. Chief among them, and why I love this book above her other two, is her main character, Caroline Corsham, easily one of my favorite characters.

Caro is everything you want in a hero – smart, tough-minded, persistent in running down the perpetrator of the murders that keep the plot of this book racing along mud-splattered roads. I think about Caro all the time and sincerely hope the…

By Laura Shepherd-Robinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The best historical crime novel I will read this year' - The Times

From the pleasure palaces and gin-shops of Covent Garden to the elegant townhouses of Mayfair, Laura Shepherd-Robinson's Daughters of Night follows Caroline Corsham as she seeks justice for a murdered woman whom London society would rather forget . . .

'This is right up there with the best of C. J. Sansom and Andrew Taylor' - Amanda Craig, author of The Golden Rule

London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline 'Caro' Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she…

Book cover of The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Catherine Cusset Author Of Life of David Hockney

From Catherine's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Passionate Reader Traveler Cook Friend

Catherine's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Catherine Cusset Why did Catherine love this book?

I read this novel because the great writer Milan Kundera died this summer. He was my favorite writer when I was a young woman. The Unbearable Lightness of Being was his last novel, written in Czech while living in France.

The voice in this novel is so strong (and light at the same time), and the novel is so rich and so full of ideas! It's almost impossible to summarize it. I remembered the love story between Tomas and Tereza, the truck accident that caused their death, and Tomas telling women: "Take off your clothes." Today, he would be in trouble! At the time of communism, freedom experienced through sex was the only freedom possible. But there is so much more—Kundera's hate of kitsch, what he calls "The Great March."

This novel is a testimony about the events of the time, but it also transcends history, and there is something…

By Milan Kundera,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Unbearable Lightness of Being as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A cult figure.' Guardian
'A dark and brilliant achievement.' Ian McEwan
'Shamelessly clever ... Exhilaratingly subversive and funny.' Independent
'A modern classic ... As relevant now as when it was first published. ' John Banville

A young woman is in love with a successful surgeon; a man torn between his love for her and his womanising. His mistress, a free-spirited artist, lives her life as a series of betrayals; while her other lover stands to lose everything because of his noble qualities. In a world where lives are shaped by choices and events, and everything occurs but once, existence seems…

Book cover of Rebellion

Wolfric Styler Author Of Troubled Zen

From my list on action series with characters in the military.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been in various militaries for over 17 years and am proud of my service. Troubled Zen is my first foray into the publishing world and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I enjoy the ex-military hero-style action/ thriller novels because I find that I can understand their mindset and relate well with their characters. I found most were male, ex-special forces so I chose a female Explosive Ordnance Disposal member as I believe that there are plenty of aspects to investigate that can show how a woman can be equally tough, stubborn, ingenious, brave, and determined.

Wolfric's book list on action series with characters in the military

Wolfric Styler Why did Wolfric love this book?

This series about a Bow Street Runner piqued my interest as, like Reacher and Sharpe, he is a bit of a rogue but tries to do what is right while also breaking the rules at times. What appeals to me about his character is that he was unjustly discharged but did his best to secure another profession that tries to help people. The description and action scenes are very believable however Hawkwood isn’t as indestructible as Reacher. His vulnerability and pragmatism are features that I have molded into the main character in my novel too.

By James McGee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rebellion is brewing in Napoleonic Paris, in the new action-packed novel from the author of the bestselling Ratcatcher

October 1812: Britain and France are still at war. France is engaged on two battle fronts - Spain and Russia - and her civilians are growing weary of the fight. Rebellion is brewing. Since Napoleon Bonaparte appointed himself as First Consul, there have been several attempts to either kill or overthrow him. All have failed, so far...

Meanwhile in London, Bow Street Runner Matthew Hawkwood has been seconded to the foreign arm of the Secret Service. There, he meets the urbane Henry…

Book cover of The Promise of Plague Wolves

Stephanie Ellis Author Of The Woodcutter

From Stephanie's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Poet Word eater

Stephanie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Stephanie Ellis Why did Stephanie love this book?

This is a darker kind of historical fiction. Dorin Toth is a representative of the church who travels with his dog, Vinegar Tom, to investigate occult occurrences.

Taking place in Austria 1686, this story absolutely drips atmosphere; the menace and the horror are expertly layered in so that you are absolutely ‘there’. Toth also has to fight the prejudice against him because of his Romany background, and it is this, his desire to do right by folk who would rather see him dead, that makes him such a compelling character.

Utterly atmospheric, you couldn’t better this if you like historical horror.

By Coy Hall,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

AUSTRIA. 1686.

Two plagues rage in the countryside. One plague is smallpox, a torturous disease that ravages the body, turning homes into tombs. The other ailment is more mysterious, a scourge of occult origin, a plague that ravages the mind and consumes the soul. Here the deepest horrors are made manifest. Here the dead walk the shadowed wood. Here a spirit and its brood of changelings emerge from the earth to feed. Into this malefic maelstrom enters Dorin Toth, famed occultist and investigator. Accompanied by his faithful greyhound, Vinegar Tom, Toth must find the source of the eldritch epidemic. Will…