Historical fiction is a fictional story that is set in the past, often during a significant time period. They may include well-known historical characters, fictional characters or a combination of the two. All in all, the time period is one of the most important elements in a historical fiction.
Here, a list of some good historical fiction books are presented. The list of historical fiction books given below is categorized into several time periods: middle ages, 17th century, 18th century, 19th century and 20th century.
Some Good Historical Fiction Books of Medieval History
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
A Romantic/Gothic novel written by Victor Hugo that is set in medieval Paris, during the reign of Louis XI. The original novel named, Notre Dame de Paris was written in French and published in 1831. The story revolves around the beautiful gypsy woman Esmeralda and Quasimodo, a hunchback who rings the bells of the cathedral Notre Dame.
The Pillars of Earth
This novel, written by Ken Follett and published in 1989 is set in the 12th century, during the period of anarchy following the sinking of the White Ship. The story is set around the building of a cathedral in the fictional town in England.
The Name of the Rose
A historical murder mystery set in an Italian monastery, written by Umberto Eco in Italian and published in1980 as “Il nome della rosa”. This novel was translated into English by William Weaver in 1983. The story is presented as a recounting of events as experienced by Adso of Melk who is a companion of the protagonist William of Baskerville.
Some Good Historical Fiction Books of Seventeenth Century
The Three Muskateers
A French novel written by Alexander Dumas in 1844, set in the seventeenth century France, follows the story of a young man named d’Artagnan who befriends the three musketeers Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.
Girl With a Pearl Earring
Written by Tracy Chevalier in 1999, this novel presents a fictionalized account about the painting Girl With a Pearl Earring by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer.
Some Good Historical Fiction Books of Eighteenth Century
A Tale of Two Cities
‘A Tale of two cities’ is a classic novel written by Charles Dickens in 1859. The story is set in London and Paris before and during the French revolution and addresses the themes of revolution, resurrection, and duality.
“Waverly” written by Walter Scott is considered the first historical novel in the western literature. Although the novel was published in 1814, the story is set during the Jacobite uprising of 1745 and follows the journey of a young English soldier to Scotland.
The Blue Flower
Written by Penelope Fitzgerald, this novel fictionalizes the life of 18th-century German aristocrat Friederich von Hardenberg before he became famous as the Romantic poet Novalis.
Roots: The Saga of an American Family
A novel written by Alex Haley,tells the story of Kunta Kinte, an 18th-century African, captured and sold into slavery in the USA, and follows his life and the lives of his descendants.
Some Good Historical Fiction Books of Nineteenth Century
War and Peace
A well-known novel by Leo Tolstoy, which charts the history of the French invasion of Russia and the Napoleonic influence on Russian society through the stories of five families. This is considered to be one of the longest novels ever written.
Gone with the Wind
A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, set in the times of the Civil War and Reconstruction Era. This novel written by Margaret Mitchell in 1936, follows the story of Scarlett O’Harra, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner.
Oscar and Lucinda
Winner of the 1988 Booker Prize, written by Peter Carey, follows the misadventures two gambling misfits in 19th century Australia.
A novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa that records the changes in Sicilian society during the Risorgimento. The original novel, written in Italian is named “Il Gattopardo”. Considered to be one of the most significant novels in modern Italian literature.
A novel by the Canadian writer Margaret Atwood first published in 1996. It is a fictionalized version of the true 1843 murder case in pre-Confederation Toronto, Canada.
Man Booker Prize winner, written by Eleanor Catton, a mystery story set against the backdrop of New Zealand’s 19th century gold rush.
Some Good Historical Fiction Books of Twentieth Century
The Thorn Birds
Written by Colleen McCullough and published in 1977 , follows the story of Cleary family in early 20th-century life in the Australian outback.
Memoirs of a Geisha
The fictional memoir of a geisha written by Arthur Golden (1997), set in the pre- and post second world war Japan, tells the fictional story of a Sayuri, a geisha working in Japan.
All the Light We Cannot See
2015 Pulitzer prize winner novel written by Anthony Doerr, set in France during the Second World War. The story follows the story of a German boy and a blind French girl who meet during the war.
The Book Thief
A novel written by the Australian author Markus Zusak. The story is set during the Second World War Germany and centers around the life of 10-year-old Liesel.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Pulitzer Prize winner, written by Harper Lee and published in 1960. This novel is considered to be a classic of modern American Literature.
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