Must-Read Historical Fiction

An instance of the fingerpost

Iain Pears.

Historical Fiction, Mystery

"It is 1663, and England is wracked with intrigue and civil strife. When an Oxford don is murdered, it seems at first that the incident can have nothing to do with great matters of church and state. Who poured the arsenic into the victim's brandy? The evidence points to Sarah Blundy, a servant girl....She confesses to the crime and is sentenced to be hanged.

"Yet, little is as it seems in this gripping novel, which dramatizes the ways in which w...


The birth of Venus : a novel

Sarah Dunant.

Historical Fiction

Alessandra Cecchi is not quite fifteen when her father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings a young painter back from northern Europe to decorate the chapel walls in the family’s Florentine palazzo. A child of the Renaissance, with a precocious mind and a talent for drawing, Alessandra is intoxicated by the painter’s abilities.

But their burgeoning relationship is interrupted when Alessandra’s parents arrange her marriage to a we...




The illuminator

Brenda Rickman Vantrease.

Historical Fiction

It is England, in the fourteenth century, the old feudal order is starting to crack but the whim of a lord or the pleasure of a bishop can still seal nearly anyones fate. For Lady Kathryn of Blackingham Manor, a widow desperately trying to safeguard her holdings, it is a time made both sweeter and more dangerous by the arrival of Finn, a master illuminator who is lodged at Blackingham by the Church but is secretly working on a forbidden English t...


A vintage affair : a novel

Isabel Wolff.

Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction


City of tranquil light : a novel

Bo Caldwell.

Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

Having felt a call from God, Will Kiehn travels to the vast North China Plainin the early 20th-century, where he weds a fellow missionary, Katherine. Willtheir faith and relationship be enough to sustain them as the couple works toimprove the lives of the people of Kuang P'ing Ch'eng?


Fall of giants

Ken Follett.

Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

Ken Follett's World Without Endwas a global phenomenon, a work of grand historical sweep, beloved by millions of readers and acclaimed by critics. Fall of Giantsis his magnificent new historical epic. The first novel in The Century Trilogy, it follows the fates of five interrelated families-American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh-as they move through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle f...


Russian winter : a novel

Daphne Kalotay.

Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

"Tender, passionate, and moving, Daphne Kalotay's debut novel about ballet, jewels, love and betrayal is also a delicious form of time travel. I loved it."--Jenna Blum, "New York Times"-bestselling author of "Those Who Save Us."


The historian : a novel

Elizabeth Kostova.

Thriller, Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Horror

If your pulse flutters at the thought of castle ruins and descents into crypts by moonlight, you will savor every creepy page of Elizabeth Kostova's long but beautifully structured thriller The Historian.The story opens in Amsterdam in 1972, when a teenage girl discovers a medieval book and a cache of yellowed letters in her diplomat father's library. The pages of the book are empty except for a woodcut of a dragon. The letters are addressed to: ...


Clara and Mr. Tiffany [a novel]

by Susan Vreeland.

Susan Vreeland chronicles the lives of acclaimed glass artist Louis Comfort Tiffany and Clara Wolcott Driscoll, whose glass lampshades have commonly been mistaken as Tiffany's work. Here, Vreeland reveals that although both artists may have had different reasons for creating their works, both shared a passion for art.


The tea rose

Jennifer Donnelly.

Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

East London, 1888-a city apart. A place of shadow and light where thieves, whores, and dreamers mingle, where children play in the cobbled streets by day and a killer stalks at night, where bright hopes meet the darkest truths. Here, by the whispering waters of the Thames, a bright and defiant young woman dares to dream of a life beyond tumbledown wharves, gaslit alleys, and the grim and crumbling dwellings of the poor. Fiona Finnegan, a worker i...