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Yesterday I shared three thrillers that I read last week– which lead to many conversations on favorite books and genres. Since I read several books a week I thought I would share some of my favorites. I’m starting with historical fiction because I like it the best and it was the easiest list to come up with.
All of these books are based in the past but some are straight up literature while others range from suspense to romance. At the end I have included a few which are Christian based–not too preachy btw. Hopefully the range is wide enough that you can find something you will enjoy. So today I’m sharing the 62 Best Historical Fiction Books that I’ve read over the last decade.
I’ve linked them to Amazon so that you can easily find the description of each book.
62 Best Historical Fiction Books
Click on a link below to see the description of the book.
Note: This blog post is currently being updated. Any book summaries listed below are from publishers and not me.
Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write.
But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who knows the truth—the ultimate betrayal—that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her…
Eva returns to the only place that has ever felt like home, but she quickly discovers she is not alone in the old house on the Cornwall coast. The past reaches out to touch the present in this beautiful love story and haunting mystery.
“Whatever time we have,” he said, “it will be time enough.”
Eva Ward returns to the only place she truly belongs, the old house on the coast of Cornwall, England, seeking happiness in memories of childhood summers.
There she finds mysterious voices and hidden pathways that sweep her not only into the past, but also into the arms of a man who is not of her time.
But Eva must confront her own ghosts, as well as those of long ago. As she begins to question her place in the present, she comes to realize that she too must decide where she really belongs.
The invincible ninth Roman Legion marches from York to fight the Northern tribes, and then vanishes from the pages of history. When Verity Grey goes looking for them, she may find more than she bargained for.
Archaeologist Verity Grey has been drawn to the dark legends of the Scottish Borderlands in search of the truth buried in a rocky field by the sea.
Her eccentric boss has spent his whole life searching for the resting place of the lost Ninth Roman Legion and is convinced he’s finally found it-not because of any scientific evidence, but because a local boy has “seen” a Roman soldier walking in the fields, a ghostly sentinel who guards the bodies of his long-dead comrades.
In the autumn of 1966, Pepper Schuyler’s problems are in a class of their own. To find a way to take care of herself and the baby she carries—the result of an affair with a married, legendary politician—she fixes up a beautiful and rare vintage Mercedes and sells it at auction.
But the car’s new owner, the glamorous Annabelle Dommerich, has her own secrets: a Nazi husband, a Jewish lover, a flight from Europe, and a love so profound it transcends decades. As the many threads of Annabelle’s life before the Second World War stretch out to entangle Pepper in 1960s America, and the father of her unborn baby tracks her down to a remote town in coastal Georgia, the two women must come together to face down the shadows of their complicated pasts.
Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
Jacobite exile Mary Dundas is filled with longing-for freedom, for adventure, for the family she lost. When fate opens the door, Mary dares to set her foot on a path far more surprising and dangerous than she ever could have dreamed.
As Mary’s gripping tale of rebellion and betrayal is revealed to her, Sara faces events in her own life that require letting go of everything she thought she knew-about herself, about loyalty, and especially about love. Though divided by centuries, these two women are united in a quest to discover the limits of trust and the unlikely coincidences of fate.
“Tread lightly, she is near.”
She encounters haunting remnants of a beautiful young woman who lived and loved there centuries ago. She finds herself transported into 17th-century England, and into the world of Mariana.
Each time Julia travels back, she becomes more enthralled with the past… until she realizes Mariana’s life is eclipsing her own. She must lay the past to rest or risk losing the chance for happiness in her own time.
One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. He is never found, and the family is torn apart, the house abandoned.
A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book—a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-fi rst birthday, they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and very little to go on, “Nell” sets out to trace her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell’s death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. A spellbinding tale of mystery and self-discovery, The Forgotten Garden will take hold of your imagination and never let go.
10. The Sandcastle Girls
When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Aleppo, Syria, she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. It’s 1915, and Elizabeth has volunteered to help deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian Genocide during the First World War. There she meets Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. After leaving Aleppo and traveling into Egypt to join the British Army, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, realizing that he has fallen in love with the wealthy young American.
Years later, their American granddaughter, Laura, embarks on a journey back through her family’s history, uncovering a story of love, loss—and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.
12. The Paris Wife
Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
In the tradition of The Paris Wife and Mrs. Poe, The Other Einstein offers us a window into a brilliant, fascinating woman whose light was lost in Einstein’s enormous shadow. It is the story of Einstein’s wife, a brilliant physicist in her own right, whose contribution to the special theory of relativity is hotly debated and may have been inspired by her own profound and very personal insight.
Mitza Maric has always been a little different from other girls. Most twenty-year-olds are wives by now, not studying physics at an elite Zurich university with only male students trying to outdo her clever calculations. But Mitza is smart enough to know that, for her, math is an easier path than marriage. And then fellow student Albert Einstein takes an interest in her, and the world turns sideways. Theirs becomes a partnership of the mind and of the heart, but there might not be room for more than one genius in a marriage.
Fresh from college, irrepressible Vivian Schuyler defies her wealthy Fifth Avenue family to work at cutthroat Metropolitan magazine. But this is 1964, and the editor dismisses her…until a parcel lands on Vivian’s Greenwich Village doorstep that starts a journey into the life of an aunt she never knew, who might give her just the story she’s been waiting for.
In 1912, Violet Schuyler Grant moved to Europe to study physics, and made a disastrous marriage to a philandering fellow scientist. As the continent edges closer to the brink of war, a charismatic British army captain enters her life, drawing her into an audacious gamble that could lead to happiness…or disaster.
Fifty years later, Violet’s ultimate fate remains shrouded in mystery. But the more obsessively Vivian investigates her disappearing aunt, the more she realizes all they have in common—and that Violet’s secret life is about to collide with hers.
15. Circling the Sun
Paula McLain, author of the phenomenal bestseller The Paris Wife, now returns with her keenly anticipated new novel, transporting readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920s. Circling the Sun brings to life a fearless and captivating woman—Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who as Isak Dinesen wrote the classic memoir Out of Africa.
Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.
In a life that spanned nearly a century and witnessed some of the most momentous events in American history, Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley was born a slave. A gifted seamstress, she earned her freedom by the skill of her needle, and won the friendship of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln by her devotion. A sweeping historical novel, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker illuminates the extraordinary relationship the two women shared, beginning in the hallowed halls of the White House during the trials of the Civil War and enduring almost, but not quite, to the end of Mrs. Lincoln’s days.
In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph–a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.
With a modest inheritance and the three gowns that comprise her entire wardrobe, Theodora leaves Edinburgh—and a disappointed suitor—far behind. She is bound for Rumania, where tales of vampires are still whispered, to visit an old friend and write the book that will bring her true independence.
She arrives at a magnificent, decaying castle in the Carpathians, replete with eccentric inhabitants: the ailing dowager; the troubled steward; her own fearful friend, Cosmina. But all are outstripped in dark glamour by the castle’s master, Count Andrei Dragulescu.
19. Fortune Hunter
Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as Sisi, is the Princess Diana of nineteenth-century Europe. Famously beautiful, as captured in a portrait with diamond stars in her hair, she is unfulfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has spent years evading the stifling formality of royal life on her private train or yacht or, whenever she can, on the back of a horse.
Captain Bay Middleton is dashing, young, and the finest horseman in England. He is also impoverished, with no hope of buying the horse needed to win the Grand National―until he meets Charlotte Baird. A clever, plainspoken heiress whose money gives her a choice among suitors, Charlotte falls in love with Bay, the first man to really notice her, for his vulnerability as well as his glamour. When Sisi joins the legendary hunt organized by Earl Spencer in England, Bay is asked to guide her on the treacherous course. Their shared passion for riding leads to an infatuation that jeopardizes the growing bond between Bay and Charlotte, and threatens all of their futures.
Be careful what you wish for. Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’, suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage
Drawing on Queen Victoria’s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin—creator and writer of the new PBS Masterpiece drama Victoria and author of the bestselling novels The American Heiressand The Fortune Hunter—brings the young nineteenth-century monarch, who would go on to reign for 63 years, richly to life in this magnificent novel.
Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world.
Weaving a vibrant tapestry of fact and fiction, Into the Wilderness sweeps us into another time and place…and into the heart of a forbidden, incandescent affair between a spinster Englishwoman and an American frontiersman. Here is an epic of romance and history that will captivate readers from the very first page.
When Elizabeth Middleton, twenty-nine years old and unmarried, leaves her Aunt Merriweather’s comfortable English estate to join her father and brother in the remote mountain village of Paradise on the edge of the New York wilderness, she does so with a strong will and an unwavering purpose: to teach school.
Elizabeth and Nathaniel Bonner have settled into their life together at the edge of the New-York wilderness in the winter of 1794 when Elizabeth gives birth to healthy twins. But soon the events in Canada draw Nathaniel far away from his new family. Word has reached them that Nathaniel’s father has been arrested by crown officials in British Canada. Nathaniel reluctantly leaves Hidden Wolf Mountain to set out for the distant city, determined to see his father freed. Instead Nathaniel is imprisoned and finds himself in imminent danger of being hanged as an American spy.
In a desperate bid to save her husband, Elizabeth bundles her infants and sets out on the long trek to Montreal.
It is the spring of 1802, and the village of Paradise is still reeling from the typhoid epidemic of the previous summer. Elizabeth and Nathaniel Bonner have lost their two-year-old son, Hannah’s half brother Robbie, but they struggle on as always: the men in the forests, the twins Lily and Daniel in Elizabeth’s school, and Hannah as a doctor in training, apprenticed to Richard Todd. Hannah is descended from healers on both sides–one Scots grandmother and one Mohawk–and her reputation as a skilled healer in her own right is growing.
After a long night spent attending to a birth, Elizabeth and Hannah encounter an escaped slave hiding on the mountain. She calls herself Selah Voyager, and she is looking for Curiosity Freeman–a former slave herself, one of the village’s wisest women and Elizabeth’s closest friend. The Bonners take Selah, desperately ill, to Lake in the Clouds to care for her, and with that simple act they are drawn into the secret life that Curiosity and Galileo Freeman and their grown children have been leading for almost ten years.
The year is 1812 and Hannah Bonner has returned to her family’s mountain cabin in Paradise. But Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bonner can see that Hannah is not the same woman as when she left. For their daughter has come home without her husband and without her son…and with a story of loss and tragedy that she can’t bear to tell. Yet as Hannah resumes her duties as a gifted healer among the sick and needy, she finds that she is also slowly healing herself. Little does she realize that she is about to be called away to face her greatest challenge ever.
26. Queen of Swords
It is the late summer of 1814, and Hannah Bonner and her half brother Luke have spent more than a year searching the islands of the Caribbean for Luke’s wife and the man who abducted her. But Jennet’s rescue, so long in coming, is not the resolution they’d hoped for. In the spring she had given birth to Luke’s son, and in the summer Jennet had found herself compelled to surrender the infant to a stranger in the hope of keeping him safe.
To claim the child, Hannah, Luke, and Jennet must journey first to Pensacola. There they learn a great deal about the family that has the baby. The Poiterins are a very rich, very powerful Creole family, totally without scruple. The matriarch of the family has left Pensacola for New Orleans and taken the child she now claims as her great-grandson with her.
n the spring of 1824, in the remote village of Paradise on the New York frontier, Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bonner celebrate a glorious reunion as their children return from far-off places: Lily and her husband from Italy, and Martha Kirby, the Bonners’ ward, from Manhattan. In the peace that follows a devastating flood, childhood friends Martha and Daniel, Lily’s twin brother, suddenly begin to see each other in a new light. But their growing bond is threatened when Martha’s estranged mother arrives back in Paradise. Jemima Southern is a dangerous schemer who has destroyed more than one family, and her anger touches everyone, as do her secrets. Has Jemima come to claim her daughter—or does she have other, darker motives? Whatever transpires, Martha, Daniel, and all the Bonners must stand united against the threats to both heart and home.
28. The Gilded Hour
Daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, Katherine has been fated her whole life to marry Prince Arthur of England. When they meet and are married, the match becomes as passionate as it is politically expedient. The young lovers revel in each other’s company and plan the England they will make together. But tragically, aged only fifteen, Arthur falls ill and extracts from his sixteen-year-old bride a deathbed promise to marry his brother, Henry; become Queen; and fulfill their dreams and her destiny.
Widowed and alone in the avaricious world of the Tudor court, Katherine has to sidestep her father-in-law’s desire for her and convince him, and an incredulous Europe, that her marriage to Arthur was never consummated, that there is no obstacle to marriage with Henry.
When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of the handsome and charming Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane, and soon she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. With her own destiny suddenly unknown, Mary realizes that she must defy her family and take fate into her own hands.
After the death of his third wife, Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII of England decides to take a new wife, but this time, not for love. The Boleyn Inheritance follows three women whose lives are forever changed because of the king’s decision, as they must balance precariously in an already shaky Tudor Court.
Anne of Cleves is to be married to Henry to form a political alliance, though the rocky relationship she has to the king does not bode well for her or for England.
Katherine Howard is the young, beautiful woman who captures Henry’s eye, even though he is set to marry Anne. Her spirit runs free and her passions run hot—though her affections may not be returned upon the King.
32. The Queen’s Fool
Winter, 1553. Pursued by the Inquisition, Hannah Green, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl, is forced to flee with her father from their home in Spain. But Hannah is no ordinary refugee; she has the gift of “Sight,” the ability to foresee the future, priceless in the troubled times of the Tudor court. Hannah is adopted by the glamorous Robert Dudley, the charismatic son of King Edward’s protector, who brings her to court as a “holy fool” for Queen Mary and, ultimately, Queen Elizabeth. Hired as a fool but working as a spy; promised in wedlock but in love with her master; endangered by the laws against heresy, treason, and witchcraft, Hannah must choose between the safe life of a commoner and the dangerous intrigues of the royal family that are inextricably bound up with her own yearnings and desires.
n the autumn of 1558, church bells across England ring out the joyous news that Elizabeth I is the new queen, yet one woman hears the tidings with utter dread. She is Amy Dudley, wife of Sir Robert, and she knows that Elizabeth’s ambitious leap to the throne will draw her husband back to the center of the glamorous Tudor court, where he was born to be.
Elizabeth’s excited triumph is short-lived. She has inherited a bankrupt country where treason is rampant and foreign war a certainty. Her faithful advisors warns her that she will survive only if she marries a strong prince to govern the rebellious country, but the one man Elizabeth desires is her childhood friend, the ambitious Robert Dudley.
34. The Other Queen
Fleeing violent rebellions in Scotland, Mary looks to Queen Elizabeth of England for sanctuary. Though promised protection, Mary, perceived as a serious threat to the English crown, is soon imprisoned by her former friend as a “guest” in the house of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his indomitable wife, Bess of Hardwick. The newly married couple welcomes the condemned queen into their home, certain that serving as her hosts and jailers will bring them an advantage in the cutthroat world of the Elizabethan court.
To their horror, they grow to realize that the task will bankrupt their estate and lose them what little favor they’ve managed to gain as their home becomes the epicenter of intrigue and rebellion against Queen Elizabeth. And Mary is not as hopeless as she appears, manipulating the earl and spinning her own web of treachery and deceit, as she sharpens her weapons to reclaim her Scottish throne—and to take over Queen Elizabeth’s of England.
35. Mary Bloody Mary
The story of Mary Tudor’s childhood is a classic fairy tale: A princess who is to
inherit the throne of England is separated from her mother; abused by an evil
stepmother who has enchanted her father; stripped of her title; and forced to
care for her baby stepsister, who inherits Mary’s rights to the throne. Believe it
or not, it’s all true.
Told in the voice of the young Mary, this novel explores the history and intrigue
of the dramatic rule of Henry VIII, his outrageous affair with and marriage to the
bewitching Anne Boleyn, and the consequences of that relationship for his
firstborn daughter. Carolyn Meyer has written a compassionate historical novel about love and loss, jealousy and fear–and a girl’s struggle with forces far
beyond her control.
37. Touch the Devil
46. The Tea Rose
47. The Winter Rose
48. The Wild Rose
49. Lilac Girls
Christian Fiction That’s Not Too Preachy
53. A Fall of Marigolds.
54. Shape of Mercy