The 15 best historical fiction books of 2021



This list has been curated by our book publisher based on books she has read or sampled, and books that have excellent Goodreads reviews.

If you’re not a big history buff, the word “history” can give you flashbacks to memorizing names, dates, and events from your high school history class (ugh). But let go of that memory for a second because reading historical fiction doesn’t require any study.

Basically, a novel is considered historical fiction if the story takes place in the past. But many of them are inspired by real people and events, use familiar settings as a backdrop, or tell old stories from new perspectives – so it’s easy to feel connected to them (even though the course of it is). story wasn’t your thing 😉).

Ready to take a trip back in time? Here are the latest popular releases from historical fiction.

This atmospheric tale interweaves the stories of five women living in different eras: 1907, 1944 and 2021. The stories of women’s loss, hope and triumph are braided by a garden on the grounds of Highbury House, which becomes a lovable character of his own.

The story follows Venetia, who is hired to design the original garden in 1907; Beth, Stella and Diana in 1944 when the house was requisitioned as a convalescent hospital for soldiers; and Emma, ​​a contemporary garden designer who is hired by new owners to restore the estate’s gardens and uncover secrets of the past.

This powerful historical novel by YA takes readers back to the 1940s in Japantown, San Francisco, to hear the stories of 14 second-generation Japanese American teenagers. Fourteen different views may seem like a lot, but it gives readers a deeper insight into what it was like to live in a time when Japanese Americans were forced to take refuge in mass prison camps. in the United States during World War II.

The characters really come to life on the page, and the racism and injustice they face is sadly still relevant in the times we live in now. We think this is a must read for everyone, that young adult novels are typically your thing.

If you haven’t read The henna artist, the first book in this series, you will definitely want to do this first. But knowing that the sequel is ready and waiting for you is always comforting. Both books have nearly 5-star Goodreads ratings, compelling covers, and book club accolades.

In the first book, the author portrays the struggle of a young woman in a society that oscillates between the traditional and the modern and which takes place in the pink city of the 1950s of Jaipur. There she becomes a henna artist much sought after by the rich and must keep their secrets and hers. The sequel takes place 12 years later… but we’re not going to spoil it!

In 18th century London, a woman named Nella works in a secret apothecary shop, where she sells well-disguised poisons that her customers can use against the oppressive men in their lives. Two hundred years later, today, Caroline, a budding historian, discovers an old glass vial at the apothecary of the Thames and begins a curious research project that ends up crossing the barriers of time.

We completely and instantly fell in love with the stories of the two women (plus Eliza, a young girl in Nella’s time) and the mystery that unfolds from chapter to chapter like the smoky billows of freshly blown candles.

The story of a woman going to war while her husband stays at home? It’s not your typical story, but Nancy Wake was not your typical woman. Inspired by real events, this novel begins in 1944 but is told in interwoven timelines, categorized by the four code names Nancy used during WWII.

Although she started out as a journalist living in Paris, this Australian expatriate has become a fighter, a smuggler, a spy and a target. She even became a leader of the French Resistance at the top of the list of most wanted by the Gestapo at the end of the war.

Word lovers, take note: we predict this will be a major hit for book clubs. It’s a loosely based story of fact, when a single word was accidentally left out of the Oxford English Dictionary. In this story, when a team of academics compiles the first version of said dictionary, one of their daughters decides to “collect” the words they wish to eliminate – most of them relating to the experiences of women.

The book is set at the height of the women’s suffrage movement and explores the ways in which spoken and written words impact people, and how what gets recorded – and what isn’t – influences society. .

What Happened on the Ice in the 1850s? You will continue to turn the pages to find out. When the male search teams fail to find the lost expedition of Lady Jane Franklin’s husband, a dozen women join a secret expedition to try to find him. But when one of them doesn’t return, a murder trial takes place.

The ~ coolest ~ part? This story is inspired by real events – Lady Jane Franklin was a real person who sent a number of expeditions in search of her husband’s lost arctic adventure, but the idea of ​​an all-female search expedition is fictitiously explored in this book.

Is Greek Mythology Your Achilles Heel? This “female epic” takes you back to ancient Greece to spotlight the women, girls and goddesses at the center of the Western world’s greatest tale: the Trojan War.

We hear the imagined views of women such as Creusa, Calliope, Theano, Penelope, Eris, Polyxena and many more. The fierce kaleidoscope of female perspectives illuminates the Trojan War in a new way that critics say was long overdue.

From the bestselling author of The lost girls of Paris comes a new WWII novel of courage and unlikely allies, inspired by true stories. It’s 1942 and Sadie, an 18-year-old girl living with her parents in the middle of the Krakow ghetto, is forced to take refuge in the sewers under the city with her mother when the Nazis liquidate the ghetto.

Above the ground, a wealthy Polish woman, Ella, is shopping at the market when she sees something moving under a gate in the street. When she realizes it is one person, the two develop a friendship that is tested by the escalating dangers of World War II.

Flip your history books back to Boston in 1662, where you will meet Mary, a young Puritan woman who is the second wife of a very powerful but cruel man. She fights to escape her violent marriage, but in the process, must also fight to escape the gallows when taken for a witch.

Although marketed as a historical thriller, fans say it is not a thriller in the traditional sense, but a “slow-burning historical fictional novel with * thrilling * aspects, mystery and a lot of intrigue”.

Our hearts will continue, but we will never get enough of the stories of this sunken ship – even if they are of the fictional genre. This popular young adult novel sets out from Southampton in 1912 and follows British Chinese acrobatic twins Valora and Jamie Luck as they travel aboard the Titanic on its ill-fated maiden voyage. Stacy Lee, author of The bottom girl, reimagines this famous tragedy in a whole new way, inspired by a recently discovered account of six Chinese-born Titanic survivors.

Travel back over 1,000 years in the history of a long-forgotten queen of Poland: Swietoslawa. She was known to be particularly daring, and while she and her two sisters were meant to be their father’s luck for a great alliance in building his empire, Swietoslawa refused to be a pawn and sought his own throne. – without a husband.

Fans say they get some “Vikings” and “Game of Thrones” vibes from this multi-POV story. Here we are. Translated by Maya Zakrzewska-Pim.

From the bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names comes a new coming-of-age story from WWII about a young woman who was taken from her wealthy German parents as a child and raised in the wilds of Eastern Europe. When her captor dies 19 years later, she finds herself totally alone – until she stumbles upon a group of Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis, whom she helps teach how to survive in the forest. But the journey does not end there. Finally, she comes up against her past.

Inspired by incredible true survival stories, this book provides insight into the period in a unique way, and it has already received 4.5 stars from hundreds of early reviewers.

This fast-paced novel takes you to post-Pearl Harbor Hawaii. It takes inspiration from the real Women’s Air Raid Defense (WARD) during WWII and follows 23-year-old recruit Daisy. She and her sisters-in-arms embark on a top-secret program, replacing male soldiers in a war zone for the first time.

A first review writing, “I adore her and her brave friends at WARD and have deeply felt their joys, their sorrow, their fears, their trauma and the warmth of the slow-burning romance at the heart of the book. A must read for fans of pioneer women in war and in love.

A book treat for book lovers! Return to London in 1942, where Nancy Mitford – who once experienced losses and multiple air raids – jumps at the chance to run a small bookstore in Heywood Hill while the owner is at war. Fast forward to the present day, where a second female perspective enters in the midst of the search for one of Mitford’s lost manuscripts.

The two women are writers who travel to find the strength to resume writing despite various setbacks. Each thread is imbued with humor and witty characters whose jokes we really enjoyed.

Naomi Farr is a book editor and writer at Greatist. She likes to focus on everything related to books, beauty, wellness, and mental health. She is also a fantasy writer and YA bookseller. You can find her (and her cat) @avioletlife.

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