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Historical Fiction

Historical fiction typically is set around historical events or in a time in the past. Many historical novels contain a mixture of fictional and actual historical characters.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Anthony Doerr's language and characters are gripping and pull you quickly into their world as the build-up to World War II looms on the horizon.

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
San Francisco in the 1870's, and Blanche Beunon and Jenny Bonnet form an unlikely bond just before Jenny is murdered in cold blood in front of Blanche's eyes.

Guests on Earth by Lee Smith
Lee Smith's Guests on Earth revisits the infamous 1948 fire at Asheville's Highland Hospital which took the lives of seven female patients, including Zelda Fitzgerald.

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
In The Good Lord Bird, James McBride follows abolitionist John Brown through the last half of the 1850s, culminating in Brown’s raid of Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.

The Faithful Executioner by Joel F. Harrington
Historian Joel Harrington brings to life the story of a sixteenth century Nuremberg executioner using the man's own diaries.

Temple of a Thousand Faces by John Shors
In Temple of a Thousand Faces John Shors tells the story of the Cham invasion of Angkor and the attempt by the Khmer people to retake Angkor Wat.

The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann
A beautifully rendered debut novel, Karen Engelmann's The Stockholm Octavio is a blend of political skullduggery, romance, and fortune-telling set in late eighteenth-century Stockholm.

The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin
Colm Toibin's The Testament of Mary finds the virgin mother in Ephesus years after Jesus' crucifixion, trying to understand the events of her son's life.

Egypt: The Book of Chaos by Nick Drake
The third of Nick Drake's Egyptian trilogy (after Nefertiti and Tutankhamun), Egypt returns readers to an empire teetering on the brink of chaos as Queen Ankhesenamun attempts to consolidate power through alliances with a powerful enemy.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
In The Song of Achilles, madeline Miller retells the story of the Greek warrior Achilles and his rise to immorality at Troy, with the focus on Achilles relationship with the narrator, Patroclus, Achilles' friend and lover.

Psalm 44 by Danilo Kis
Serbian author Danilo Kis' second novel surrounds the story of Jakob and Marija and their plot to escape a concentration camp during World War II.

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
Adriana Tigiani's story of star-crossed Italian lovers is a novel rich in family, history, and story-telling. It is not to be missed.

The Cove by Ron Rash
Ron Rash, author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist novel Serena, is back with another historical novel set in North Carolina's Appalachian Mountains. A woman suspected of witchcraft by the local townspeople saves a mysterious mute flutist, unleashing another mesmerizing tale.

Iago by David Snodin
Beginning where Shakespeare's Othello leaves off, David Snodin's Iago finds the eponymous villain Iago doing battle with the powerful and evil chief inquisitor of Venice, Il Terribile.

The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst
When Cecil Valance visits the country home of his Cambridge boyfriend George, he pens a poem in George's younger sister's diary, a simple act that becomes the subject of speculation over the ensuing decades.

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
Lisa See grows more powerful and complex as a writer each time out. Her newest, Dreams of Joy, is a sterling example of her growing stature as a chronicler of Chinese life.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Opening in Shanghai in 1937 and ending some 20 years later in Los Angeles, Lisa See's 'Shanghai Girls' is themed around the duality between a reverence for tradition and the pull of the modern world.

Peony in Love by Lisa See
Lisa See wonderfully blends historical facts with the spiritual life of 17th Century China.

A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles
A Moment in the Sun traces the opportunistic era around the turn of the twentieth century with impeccable research and captivating grace.

The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel
The Land of Painted Caves, the final installment in the epic Children of Earth series from Jean M. Auel

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
Ken Follett has created another blockbuster in the vein of Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, both of which anchored the bestsellers...

Tutankhamun by Nick Drake
On November 26, 1922, Howard Carter, a down at the heels, nearly abandoned and discredited archeologist, cleared a hole in a newly-discovered tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Looking in and aided by the flickering light of a single candle, he saw gold everywhere, "everywhere the glint of gold." Tutankhamun, Nick Drake's second book in his Egyptian trilogy, is similarly replete with wonder…

Island Beneath the Sea
Isabel Allende spoke at the TED conference in March 2007, where, in outlining her role as a writer, she provided the basis for any review of her novels, but especially one that had not even been conceived at that time - her exceptional new novel, Island Beneath the Sea.

The Barbary Pirates by William Dietrich
Rollicking. Riotous. Uncontained. Peripatetic. Uproariously funny. Bawdy. Entertaining. With just a little tug at the heartstrings. The Barbary Pirates, the fourth and newest Ethan Gage adventure is all of these and more-much more.

The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee
It is 1950 and the Japanese army is roaring mercilessly through Korea. Eleven-year-old June Han is a refugee fleeing atop a train with her younger brother and sister during a frigid Korean winter.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Sarah Blake's debut novel is composed of intertwined stories of three woman during World War II - a Cape Cod postmistress, a radio gal in London, and a young bride who awaits her husband's return from the war.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
Tracy Chevalier dug up the skeleton of a story, cleaned the scattered pieces, and rearranged them in just the right order. In doing so, she has revealed a stunning of account two amazing women in early 19th Century England.

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
In Elizabeth Kostova's novel, the painter Robert Oliver has attacked a painting, 'Leda,' in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, but he seems to have let himself be stopped before actually doing irreparable damage. Why?

Home Boy by H.M. Naqvi
H.M. Naqvi provides a new voice, a new way of examining and understanding the life of Muslims in New York City after 9/11. It is the voice of the young, hip-hop male trying to blend into a new and different world, a world removed from life in Karachi, Pakistan.

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
The Lacuna is a compelling blend of fact and fiction, filled with strong characters, vivid descriptions, and sensory experiences from vibrant paint colors to rich confections to airless rooms in summer heat.

Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
Written with the characteristic swagger of the veteran adventure-novelist, plot drives this latest effort from bow to stern, with character development taking a backseat to the action.

The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim
The time period of this enthralling novel - summer 1915 to December 1945 - covers a tumultuous period in the history of Korea as told through the eyes of a calligrapher's daughter.

A Separate Country by Robert Hicks
Like its predecessor, 'The Widow of the South,' this novel has its roots in the Civil War and is an interesting, if sometimes disjointed, fictional study of Confederate General, John Bell Hood.

The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt
Often long and often confusing, yet with superb writing and a cast of characters spread across a Victorian and Edwardian canvas that stretches from June 19, 1895 to May, 1919.

Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow
Homer and Langley Collyer were hoarding hermits who lived in the Harlem of the early 20th Century. E.L. Doctorow turns their story into a masterpiece that captivates the reader throughout.

The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie's sweeping and masterfully-written historical novel is set in sixteenth century Florence and Sikri, the seat of the Mughal Empire of the East and orbits the fortunes of a young adventurer with many names and the enchantress Qara Koz.

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
A Barcelona youth survives his troubled childhood by taking refuge in stories until — at the age of seventeen — he gets the chance to begin writing his own.

The Collected Works of Billy the Kid by Michael Ondaatje
Michael Ondaatje's lyrical collage of poetry, photography, and fiction make up this portrait of an old West legend.

Flint & Silver: A Prequel to Treasure Island by John Drake
This rollicking tale of pirates and buried treasure, though a prequel to 'Treasure Island,' is no children's book.

The Women by T.C. Boyle
T. C. Boyle reincarnates Frank Lloyd Wright in a richly imagined novel that tells the architect’s story through the lens of the women he loved.

The Dakota Cipher by William Dietrich
An Ethan Gage adventure featuring Norse mythology in the American wilderness

World without End by Ken Follett
Follett is terrific at drawing characters who are compelling, funny, sexy, dramatic, and very human. Although the book is set in the fourteenth century, modern readers will immediately identify with the emotions and goals of its characters.

The Domino Men by Jonathan Barnes
An indirect sequel to to Barnes' 'The Somnambulist' in which the Directorate was fighting sleepers put into place by the Russians. Here, the Directorate seems to be fighting the very Devil himself.

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
Boston, 1918. The Boston police are contemplating an historic strike, and everyone is looking for the “Red Menace” who, it is believed, will encourage unionization and blow up the city.

Serena by Ron Rash
Set in Waynesville, North Carolina during the depression, Ron Rash's novel 'Serena' traces the story of a wealthy lumber baron and his ruthlessly ambitious wife.

Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier
In Tracy Chevalier's 2007 novel, it is 1792 and the Kellaway family moves to London from the country, instantly finding themselves surrounded by all manner of remarkable sites and sounds, not the least of which is the sight of their neighbors, William and Catherine Blake, caught in flagrante delicto.

Alexander and Alestria by Shan Sa
Shan Sa weaves her own mythology in order to create the back story for Alestria, a woman warrior who in battle meets and falls in love with Alexander the Great.

Beside A Burning Sea by John Shors
It's 1942. A U.S. hospital ship is torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese plane somewhere in the South Pacific and the survivors, including a wounded Japanese prisoner, make it to a deserted island.

Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong
Winner of the inaugural Man Asian Literary Prize. The story of Chen Zhen, a Beijing intellectual who moves to the grasslands of Inner Mongolia during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes
Project yourself back to Victorian London, with its teeming thoroughfares and dark alleys. Into that evocative scene now place Edward Moon, a deft stage magician and detective, and his silent associate, the Somnambulist.

The Age of Shiva by Manil Suri
Following his spectacular debut novel, "The Death of Vishnu," Manil Suri returns with a mesmerizing story of modern India.

John: A Novel by Niall Williams
John the Apostle, now a frail, blind old man, lives in forced exile on the desolate island of Patmos with a small group of his disciples.

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
The Pillars of the Earth is a saga of good and evil, treachery and intrigue, violence and beauty. Not-so-noble knights, righteous heroes, valiant heroines and both virtuous and immoral men of God highlight this story.

Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon
Originally titled Jews with Swords, Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road is a slender novel full of history and the flowery language of historical adventure writing.

What is the What by Dave Eggers
Eggers illuminates the history of the civil war in Sudan through the eyes of Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese Lost Boy now living in the United States.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
By Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a story of the unconquerable spirit of a people seen through the eyes of two indomitable women.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner is Afghanistani-American novelist, Khaled Hosseini's best-selling debut novel, a tale of betrayal and redemption that rises above time and place while simultaneously remaining firmly anchored against the tumultuous backdrop of modern Afghanistan.

House of Meetings by Martin Amis
In 1946, two brothers and a Jewish girl fall into alignment in pogrom-poised Moscow...

On Agate Hill by Lee Smith
Through the precocious writings of a civil war orphan girl, Lee Smith reveals her life on Agate Hill.

Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
In Thirteen Moons, an historical fiction set in the mid-19th century, protagonist Will Cooper recalls his adventures amidst the Cherokee at a Smoky Mountain trading post.

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld
Inspired by Sigmund Freud's only visit to America, The Interpretation of Murder is an intricate tale of murder and the mind's most dangerous mysteries.

Human Traces
Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks begins in Brittany where a young, poor boy somehow passes his medical exams and goes to Paris, where he attends the lectures of Charcot, the Parisian neurologist who set the world on its head in the 1870s. With a friend, he sets up a clinic in the mysterious mountain district of Carinthia in south-east Austria.

Empress by Shan Sa
In seventh-century China, during the great Tang dynasty, a young girl rose from the humble Wu clan to become the first Empress of China.

Telegraph Days by Larry McMurtry
Telegraph Days turns the stereotype of Western women on its head, likely portraying a more accurate picture of the toughness of the women who helped settle the West.

Back to Wando Passo
David Payne captures the essence of two distinct eras in the South, imbuing them with so much reality that we need a fan for the heat and passion of the place and a swatter for the mosquitoes.

The Book Thief by Mark Zusak
During World War II in Germany, a foster girl learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
A portrait of war and remembrance, of the power of love, memory, and art to offer beauty, grace, and hope in the face of overwhelming despair.

Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
The story of how the lives of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a man of letters and the creator of Sherlock Holmes, and George Edalji, an unfortunate outsider unjustly imprisoned, are surprisingly woven together.

The March by E.L. Doctorow
E.L. Doctorow renders the 1864 Civil War march of Union General William Sherman.

Europe Central by William T. Vollmann
Europe Central is dense with allusions to art, to music, to literature, and to history. Its characters include Kurt Gerstein, Käthe Kollwitz, and generals on both sides of the Eastern front in the Second World War.

The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
Known throughout the country as "the Widow of the South," Carrie McGavock gave her heart first to a stranger, then to a tract of hallowed ground - and became a symbol of a nation's soul. The Widow of the South captures the vast madness of war, and the courage of a remarkable woman to claim life from death itself.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
A woman finds an ancient book that take her down a path of inquiry, a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler of Wallachia whose gruesome reign Bram Stoker based his legend of Dracula upon.

I, Fatty by Jerry Stahl
Framed for a crime he didn't commit, Fatty Arbuckle was the first modern celebrity whose presumed guilt - and alleged innocence - galvanized a nation...

Beneath a Marble Sky: A Novel of the Taj Mahal by John Shors
Set at the height of the Mughal Empire, Beneath a Marble Sky recreates the remarkable lives of those responsible for the Taj Mahal's existence.

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
When nazi-sympathizer Charles A. Lindbergh defeats incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election, Jewish American citizens have every reason to expect the worst.

A Star Called Henry / Oh, Play That Thing by Roddy Doyle
Two books, the first introducing Henry Smart - Irish adventurer, IRA assassin, and lover, and the second following him on his journey through 1920s America.

Havoc in Its Third Year by Ronan Bennett
A penetrating and ambitious historical novel, Havoc, in Its Third Year is an ingenious, often deeply unnerving narrative of seventeenth-century England that speaks directly to the fanaticism and fears of today.

The System of the World (Baroque Cycle III) by Neal Stephenson
Set in the early 18th century and featuring a diverse cast of characters that includes alchemists, mathematicians, thieves, pirates, and royalty, this third volume in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle wraps up an historical work of fiction of epic proportions.

Isle of Canes by Elizabeth Shown Mills
Elizabeth Shown Mills, in "Isle of Canes," her first novel,brings a sense of passion and respect for the families to this "faction," fact told through fiction.

Arrogance by Joanna Scott
In Joanna Scott's breakthrough novel the Austrian artist Egon Schiele comes to prismatic life in a narrative that defies convention, history, and identity.

The Confusion (Baroque Cycle II) by Neal Stephenson
The Confusion, the second book of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle trilogy does not disappoint as he picks up his characters where he abruptly dropped them at the end of Quicksilver. Join Stephenson amidst a vast and intricate historical backdrop in Volume Two of The Baroque Cycle.

Quicksilver (Baroque Cycle I) by Neal Stephenson
Volume I of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, Quicksilver, is history, adventure, science, truth, invention, sex, absurdity, piracy, madness, death, and alchemy. It sweeps across continents and decades with the power of a roaring tornado, upending kings, armies, religious beliefs, and all expectations.

The Hornet's Nest by Jimmy Carter
In this the first work of fiction by a President of the United States, Jimmy Carter brings to life the Revolutionary War as it was fought in the Deep South. The Hornet's Nest follows a cast of characters and their loved ones on both sides of this violent conflict -- including some who are based on the author's ancestors.

To Live by Yu Hua
"To Live" is an epic and heartbreaking journey spanning four decades of recent Chinese history. It begins in the 1930s around the time of China’s second war with Japan and continues into the late 1970s reform era. In between, Hua weaves great sorrow and struggle for Fugui and his family through the tempestuous Chinese Civil War, The Great Leap Forward, and The Cultural Revolution.

Emperor: The Gates of Rome by Conn Iggulden
In the first book of his "Emperor" series, Conn Iggulden "has turned the story of Julius Caesar into a tale of high adventure, a blood-soaked, sword-swinging epic that brings a number of vivid characters to life."

The Names of Rivers by Daniel Buckman
Watega County is supposedly somewhere in Illinois, but Daniel Buckman places it smack dab in the twilight zone. Every man in every generation of the farming and factory families of Watega County went off to war, and for each lucky enough to return home, time stopped.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, "Kavalier and Clay" is the story of two young Jewish cousins whose meeting in 1939 ignites a luminous career in comic books at a time in history when the art form exploded in American popular culture.

Beware the Wolves by Victor Moss
Beware the Wolves, A Soviet WWII Story follows two young lovers through the horrors of the war-torn Soviet Union.

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