We love historical fiction here at Better Reading… and so do our readers! Year after year we see stacks of fabulous historical novels voted onto our Top 100 list. And we completely understand why – there’s something incredible about being engrossed in a novel that transports you back to a different time.
In the 2021 Top 100, we’ve noticed novels like Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief and Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See return to the list, cementing their places as modern classics. Plenty of newer releases made the list too, such as Fiona McIntosh’s The Champagne War and Tania Blanchard’s Letters from Berlin.
From the darkest days of WWII to the Australian goldfields, the Scottish Highlands, and the 17th century court of King Charles II, there’s a historical gem for everyone in our Top 100 list. Here are some fantastic historical fiction reads from our 2021 Top 100 list:
Markus Zusak’s international bestseller confirming it as a firm favourite amongst readers. Set in 1939 Nazi Germany, this is a story about the power of words to make worlds. In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
What if your future lay in the past? In 1946, Claire Randall goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband Frank. It’s a second honeymoon, a chance to re-establish their loving marriage. But one afternoon, Claire walks through a circle of standing stones and vanishes into 1743. This is the first book in the Outlander series, which sparked a reading and television phenomenon.
A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. The stories of Marie-Laure and Werner illuminate the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
A story of love, desperation and family, Letters From Berlin is a standout in World War II historical fiction as it highlights new perspectives and experiences from the war. Blanchard not only researched every aspect of her story but was inspired by the real experiences of her family during the war.
Gulliver’s Wife is an utterly spellbinding novel, that takes one of literary history’s minor female characters and puts her at the forefront of her own tale. When her husband is lost at sea, Mary Burton Gulliver, midwife and herbalist, is forced to rebuild her life without him. But three years later when Lemuel Gulliver is brought home, fevered and communicating only in riddles, her ordered world is turned upside down.
Bestselling author Philippa Gregory’s latest historical novel tracks the rise of the Tidelands family in London, Venice, and New England. Midsummers Eve, 1670. A wealthy man waits outside a poor London warehouse to meet with Alinor, the woman he failed twenty-one years before. He has everything to offer – wealth, land, status – and he believes she has the only thing he cannot buy: his son and heir.
A wardrobe of Dior gowns, a secret kept for sixty-five years, and the three women bound forever by war. Meticulously researched and superbly delivered, The Paris Secret is an unforgettable story about the lengths people go to protect one another, and a love that, despite everything, lasts a lifetime.
In 1873, Eliza Penrose arrives in the mining town of Maiden’s Creek in search of her brother, who had left Cornwall in search of gold. Instead, she finds tragedy. Determined to solve the mystery of her brother’s death, Eliza takes on the position of the schoolmistress in the town’s only school.
In the summer of 1914, vigneron Jerome Méa heads off to war, certain he’ll be home by Christmas. His new bride Sophie, a fifth-generation, rebellious champenoise, is determined to ensure the forthcoming vintages will be testament to their love and the power of the people of Épernay – especially its strong women. But as the years drag on, authorities advise that Jerome is missing, considered dead.
The incredible story of the Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist and the woman he loved. This story, full of beauty and hope, is based on years of interviews author Heather Morris conducted with real-life Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz- Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov.