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History, Danger and Love: Emma Harcourt’s Top 5 Historical Fiction List

July 10, 2018

About The Author

Emma Harcourt has worked as a journalist for over 25 years, in Australia, the UK and Hong Kong. In 2011, she completed the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course and The Shanghai Wife was borne. Emma lives in Sydney with her two daughters. She is currently working on her second novel.

 Purchase a copy of The Shanghai Wife here


  1. M. Kaye – The Far Pavilions

I read this when I was a teenager and it had a lasting impression on my young romantic self. I was transported to India under British rule and felt the injustice of it with a teenager’s passion. I loved the historical detail and the connection between characters.


  1. Geraldine Brooks – Year of Wonders

The depth of this book is extraordinary. I really felt the pain of her characters’ journey, and the minute detail of their lives was captivating. Her language is so beautiful, sentences you linger over and don’t want to forget.


  1. Michael Ondaatje – The English Patient

This man has a serious way with words. There’s real poetry in his writing and such mystery and beauty in the story. The love story was heartbreakingly beautiful.


  1. J. Sansom – the Shardlake series of historical crime novels, first one was Dissolution

This series centres around protagonist hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake, and is set in the time of Henry VIII reign in England. The character of Shardlake is lovable yet tough, fallible and admirable, and Sansom has done such a superb job of giving him this depth. Each novel reveals historical detail around the time of Henry VIII, about the Church of England, about Thomas Cromwell for whom Shardlake works, and I love the fact I’m learning while enjoying an engrossing mystery read!


  1. Hannah Kent – Burial Rites

Hannah Kent’s writing is evocative and lyrical. Reading this book had me mesmerised by her sentences. I loved the rich detail of everyday life for Agnes in 1800s Iceland. Kent has such empathy for Agnes, her voice was authentic and full of the truth of internal conflict and doubt which we all deal with at some point in our lives. This book is historical yet Agnes’s internal struggle is universal and spoke to me.


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