historical fiction recommendations for me.
Hello! I would like to ask if any book club member has historical fiction recommendations for me. I need historical fiction novel ideas to buy for the holidays and for next year. I am interested in any novel set in medieval Europe, the 19th Century, and World War II. Thank you very much!
Everyone Brave is Forgiven was my favorite book this year. WW2.
The Matthew Shardlake series is a good one, by C J Sansom, setting is during Tudor era of Henry VIII.
The Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters are excellent. A Morbid Taste for Bones is book 1
Edit: Medieval Europe
The Physician by Noah Gordon
I read the Paris Wife and Love and Ruin. The history of Ernest Hemingway and his 1st and 3rd Wife
@Wendy those were the 2 I was going to recommend! Loved them.
Sharon Kay Penman writes wonderful big meaty historical fiction books (several series) about Medieval Europe. ‘Here Be Dragons’ might be a good place to start.
She also has a good mystery series set during that time too.
I would recommend 1) The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo for the Middle Ages; 2) any novel by Émile Zola for 19th century France, especially Germinal and The Ladies’ Paradise; 3) Weekend at Zuydcoote by Robert Merle for WW2. .. All written by French-speaking authors, all translated into English
You can’t go wrong with anything by Sharon Kay Penman.
Cruel is the Grave
Here Be Dragons
When Christ and His Saints Slept, etc.
WWII – In addition to the earlier recommendation of ‘Everyone Brave is Forgiven’
— I’d highly recommend ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr
And, ‘The Tattooist os Auschwitz’.
Kate Furnivall! The Russian Concubine series is my favorite. Followed by The White Pearl. But all of them are great.
Pillars of the Earth is an epic medieval tale, by Ken Follett, well worth a read. And it’s part of a trilogy if you love the first. I have read it many times but I have the second in the series, World Without End, looking at me from my bookshelf as we speak ?
Late 19th, early 20th century US — recently published ‘A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts’ by Therese Anne Fowler.
Also fairly newly released, and really good:
‘The Romanov Empress’ by C. W. Gortner. (Final decades of the Russian Romanovs)
US – A small snapshot of White and Native American race relations history. (really powerful book IMHO) ‘Between Earth and Sky’ by Amanda Skenandore.
Excellent read. I found out so much about that family, New York, etc.
Code Name Verity and The Madonnas of Leningrad are among my favorite WW2 novels…
Transcription by Kate Atkinson. WWII
The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen, Ronald Balson books
Yes, The Tuscan Child was a great book!
Maisie Dobbs mystery series is set in the 1930s and 40s , mostly in London. By Jaqueline Winspear. It does a great job of showing the timers and the people, particularly the ramp up to WWII.
I also love Norah Lofts, a little known English writer from last century. A lot of people think she’s just a silly romance writer, those who haven’t read any of hers. Her books are very well researched and really make you feel like you are in the world. I would recommend her Old Vine series, set from medieval Suffolk in England right up to the early 1970s, the journey of a house through the ages and the people who lived there. The Suffolk Trilogy is also in medieval setting, but throughout the book, the story of a Knight and his house. Pargeters and A Wayside Tavern are also very good. I’ve been reading these since very young, and am rereading The Suffolk Trilogy right now ?
@Lisa I think that I sped through her historical fiction as a teenager. She fed my hunger to learn more history.
@Krista she is so underrated, miles better than Philippa Gregory or similar
Was a very popular author when I worked in a library in the 1980s
Kristen Hannah’s The Nightingale.
I agree! One of the best books I’ve read lately.
The Century Trilogy by Ken Follett
Century Trilogy Ken Follett. Nightingale Kirsten Hannah Game of Thrones. Pillars of the Earth Ken Follett. Anything by Barbara Erskine. Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel
The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Threaten to Undo Us
Katherine by Anya Seton. Soooo good!!!
@Jen one of my favorites
The Cellist of Sarajevo
@Hanna Loved this
Loved it too!
The Winter Soldier, by Daniel Mason is set in WW1. A very good read
Beneath a Scarlet Sky, by Mark T. Sullivan; Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis deBernieres; Human Voices, by Penelope Fitzgerald. All WWII.
Beneath a Scarlet Sky is wonderful. I haven’t read the others.
Kindred by butler. Salt to sea by sepetysis
Feast of All Saints by Anne Rice. About the free people of color I. Antebellum New Orleans.
So many WWII books I’ve liked: Unbroken, the Nightengale, the Girl From the Train, Beneath a Scarlet Sky, The One Man, Lilac Girls…
News of the World! It’s set in reconstruction era Texas. A grandfather type agrees to return an Indian captive to her family. This is the story of their journey. It’s beautifully written but very accessible and well researched. It’s also a relatively short novel, so you can visit even more places with other books!
The Frontiersman by Allen Eckert-
The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah!
Žižka the One-Eyed by Jim Fuxa. Historical novel of revolution in medieval Bohemia. Well-written and i especially appreciated author’s notes of what was fictionalized.
The Russlander. by Sandra Birdsell
Three excellent series, by historians
Sister Fidelma mysteries, Peter Tremayne (aka Peter Berresford Ellis is a British historian) They are set mostly in Ireland during the 7 century. They are very good.
(There are 26 mystery novels and two books of short stories.)
Mysteries of Brother Athelstan, by Paul Doherty. A series of 18 mystery novels set in the 14 century leading up to (and aftermath as well) the peasants revolution. (1381)
Roger the Chapman, by Kate Sedley. 22 mystery novels set in the 15 century. Ex monk becomes a peddler and sells his wares…
All of Philippa Gregory’s novels
The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis is a good one about the Plague, England, 1300’s; with a quirky pov device (time travel). Connie Willis uses her time traveling historians in other books, too, such as Blackout & All Clear, about the London Blitz. That’s how I first got into London WWII. Recently I read Pat Barker’s Noonday, set then/there. It was realistic, and so very bleak. But good.
I love Connie Willis. Sci-fi is too narrow of a genre for her.
Master and Commander, Patrick O’Brian 😀 the first two are slow and then it’s an incredible journey
I love this genre and just haven’t been able to gain any traction with this series. Maybe I need to skip ahead… Thanks for the insight!
Oh don’t skip, you’ll miss important stuff– just know that he’s weak on exposition but about 3/4 into the second book it picks up and is amazing for the other 19 🙂
Also, thank you for your service!
@Laura you are welcome. It was my honor. ?
Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book is a compelling read.
I appreciate everyone’s recommendations. I will spend some of my time making a long list of the historical novels from the comments as I can. Thanks again! ??
Here is one more: The Baker’s Secret… set in WW 2. It was captivating!!
Yes, loved it! ?
I’m reading Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird, and it’s really good! Set during the Civil War so not exactly within your specs but still a great read!
My Dear Hamilton
Not from the time periods listed but a good read.
For medieval Europe: The Archer’s Tale , Vagabond, and Heretic – a trilogy by Bernard Cornwell . Here be dragons by Sharon Kay penman , Katherine by Anya Seton, pillars of the earth by Ken follett
19th century – too many to name! Off the top of my head:
The Essex Serpent
The clockmaker’s daughter
The kitchen house
Ken Follett’s: Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. Mind blowing.
Pillars of the Earth was really good!
WWII: The Winds of War by Herman Wouk …War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk…Billy Boyle by James R Benn [first in the series about WWII and its lesser known events]…King Rat by James Clavell …Fortunes of War by Olivia Manning…Mr. Churchill’s Secretary: A Maggie Hope Mystery by Susan Elia Macneal…A Hero of France by Alan Furst…A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell…Mila 18 by Leon Uris…The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk…Sophie’s Choice by William Styron…Empire of the Sun by J G Ballard…Von Ryan’s Express by David Westheimer…The Bridge Over the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle…
19th Century: North and South by John Jakes…Centennial by James Michener…Conrad Richter’s trilogy about the Ohio Frontier: The Awakening Land. The books in it are: The Trees, The Field, The Town …Doc by Mary Doria Russell…Anna Karina by Leo Tolstoy…The Secret River by Kate Grenville…Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier…The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton…Middlemarch by George Eliot…The Ladies’ Paradise by Emile Zola….
I enjoyed Phillipa Gregory books. She got me interested the Tudors
@Deborah you’d love Norah Lofts if you can find her, she’s such a good writer and really puts you in that world.
@Lisa Thank you, I will check her out!❤️
@Lisa which other books do you recommend? Thanks again!❤️
@Deborah Georgette Heyer has some great 17th century upper class romping ?
How about WWI? Just finished The Alice Network and really liked it.
Sleeper’s Castle by Barbara Erskine.
Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks about village during the plague.
@Mary most excellent book!!!
The Zion Covenant series by Bodie and Brock Thoene is AMAZING. Very historically accurate!
The Circle of Ceridwen Saga by Octavia Randolph.
First book digitally free at http://octavia.net/!
Fall of Giants.
I really loved Margaret George’s book The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers.
“Abundance” – about Marie Antoinette.beautifully written. “Life of the Courtesan” Sarah Durant.
The Book Thief and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. They are both excellent!
The midwifes Revolt.
Any of the Philippa Gregory books, All the Light we cannot see, the nightingale (one of my faves of all time) and the book thief.
Reading A Well Behaved Woman and enjoying it.
@Ellie just finished, it was very interesting.
Atonement is one of my favorites.
The Merry Millionaire (Duology) by J.A. Wells set between 1914 and 1939 a faux-memoir about a couple of secretly gay English characters living the good life and travelling through Britain, Europe, Egypt, and more. Set within an historical backdrop with references to WWI and the British “occupation” of Egypt including some real historical characters. Nice long read.
Pillars of the earth trilogy by ken fillet