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12 Books To Ease You Into The World Of Historical Fiction

12 Books To Ease You Into The World Of Historical Fiction

Time is one silent character in every book we read. No matter the plot, time is ever-present. As it sets the tone, keeps the pace of events, and inaudibly tells us what to expect, time casts a spell on us readers. Suddenly, you’ve lost track of how many hours you’ve been absorbed by a story. Indeed, author and time are a solid power couple, as they work hand-in-hand to make our readings a one-of-a-kind experience. So, what if, finally, authors gave time a make-over? For us in THP, historical fictions are exactly that! A creative take on the ultimate time-traveling adventure. And who wouldn’t want an all-inclusive and exclusive ticket to any point in history?

Image Source: GIPHY

Now, we know the world of historical fiction is vast and a bit overwhelming for those new to it! But worry not! We’ve come bearing the gift of our own Starters Kit To Historical Fiction Books, a tailored selection of novels that make this literary genre proud. And you’ll find that we’ve curated this list to include a variety of stories, styles, and takes on this most wonderful writing genre. So, we promise you, dear avid reader, that you’re in for a neat treat! Be ready to unveil your next book obsession!

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General Content Warning: given and depending on the historical period, these books contain a variety of triggering topics and scenes. The Honey POP encourages mindful reading and always checking the author’s website for any additional content warnings.

Hey, honey! Just so you know, there are some links in this article which we may earn money from if you make a purchase using them. It’s at no extra cost to you and helps us as an independent publication massively. Thanks for supporting The Honey POP!

Snow Flower And The Secret Fan By Lisa See

Image Source: Courtesy of Random House Trade Paperbacks

Lisa See masterfully depicted life in eighteenth-century China through the lens of women. Particularly that of two: Lily’s and Snow Flower’s. Along with a lifelike narrative that spares us no detail, we’ll join them in their struggles through many life-changing experiences. In this page-turner novel, you’ll learn about a Chinese tradition that bonded women in a lifelong friendship that promised them solace and companionship. Just as you’ll be introduced to a secret practice that defied distance and escaped the grasp of men… a hidden language that only belonged to women. Vivid pictures, complex characters, and triggering moments will make this book’s journey one worth taking.

Content Warning: physical and psychological pain, women suffering, domestic abuse, betrayal, loss.

Get this book here.

The Other Boleyn Girl By Philippa Gregory

Image Source: Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

Have you ever wondered what life in a royal court would be like? Philippa Gregory takes us by the hand in her detailed, gripping account of the Tudor years. Bear in mind this is indeed a fictional take on real people. And if you know your history, we hope you can let yourself be surprised! Because even if you heard the names, Gregory makes the characters come to life with vibrant, unforgettable personalities. Yup, we fell down the rabbit hole with this novel… And best of all, it’s part of a series. So, if you are hooked, there’s plenty more to browse, explore… to read!

Content Warning: sex references, adultery, murder, public execution, incest, homophobia.

Knock yourself out here.

City Of Thieves By David Benioff

Image Source: Courtesy of Penguin Books Ltd.

This is one book, we bet, you won’t be able to put down. Not even for a short break. We mean it! David Benioff knows how to keep your nose pressed to the pages as you navigate a grim scenario -to say the least- with two memorable main characters. A city under siege, an unlikely/impossible request, and two protagonists left with few to no choices. If you think the general premise is engaging, Benioff’s masterful execution will complete the spellbinding encantation. Join Lev and Kolya as they face inhumane adversities in this coming-of-age, journey-for-their-freedoms kind of adventure.

Content Warning: war, siege, profanity, sex, violence.

Go beyond budget lines to get a copy of this book here.

Brooklyn By Colm Tóibín

Image Source: Courtesy of Penguin Books Ltd.

Colm Tóibín wins us over with Brooklyn. This is a truly spellbinding book on an epic and real journey of emigration in the mid-twentieth century. Endearing and relatable characters, a voyage across the ocean, and life-turning moments lie at the very core of this worth-reading novel. Leave it to Tóibín to effortlessly intertwine deeply human dilemmas, like wondering whether we should take a leap of faith into the unknown, with the portrayal of our main heroine Eilis’ ordinary existence. And, of course, you’ll be charmed by how Brooklyn city becomes a living element, a character in its own right. In no time, you’ll find yourself enraptured by this journey of self-discovery across borders.

Content Warning: racism, homesickness, depression, loss.

Purchase your own copy here.

Outlander By Diana Gabaldon

Image Source: Courtesy of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc.

Yes, we had to add this one here! This book put Scotland high up on our Bucket Lists of places we have to visit before… you know, we actually kick the bucket! Outlander is the first of a book series you’ll love about a woman’s, a.k.a. Claire Randall, who travel back in time due to some inexplicable magic. Of course, there’s a series based on Gabaldon’s novels, but books have a power to them that’s worth exploring on our own. The idea behind Outlander is so compelling that you’ll feel yourself being transported in time and space with an ease that is only Gabaldon’s signature writing style.

Content Warning: sexually explicit scenes, profanity, adultery, sexual assault, violence, torture, war.

Get this book here.

Gone With The Wind By Margaret Mitchell

Image Source: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Few books are as iconic as this one. It’s a down-right classic of historical fiction, breathing life into characters living in the south of the United States before, during, and after the Civil War. You’ll love to hate this novel because it’s a depiction of the sentiments that were at the heart of the conflict. And we have to praise Mitchell’s character development. She created Scarlett O’Hara, the main character that will make your blood boil at times, and still, you won’t be able to stop reading what’s become of her fate. In the end, this is one of those books that technically are close to a masterpiece, but whose premise arises from all sorts of passionate reactions.

Content Warning: racism, slavery, civil war.

If you choose to give it a go, you can get it here.

Anne Of Green Gables By L. M. Montgomery

Image Source: Courtesy of Puffin Books

You might have heard of this novel by work of the international phenomenon of the original series Anne With An E. You’re not the only one! After binge-watching the splendid series, we needed more of the world of young Anne. Fast forward to us recommending this novel. Montgomery created a majestic world around the appearance of an orphan Anne in the lives of the Cuthberts. And this first time in the series is pure gold! We feared the original series had promised us much, but the book stands its ground as a gem of its own accord!

Content Warning: N/A

Buy this book here.

Fall Of Giants By Ken Follett

Image Source: Courtesy of Pan MacMillan

Part one of an epic trilogy, Fall Of Giants, was the kind of book we needed while studying the complex build-up to the First World War and the Russian Revolution. Ken Follett has outdone himself by deftly intertwining expertly researched pieces of history with the portrayal of the everyday life of five families. You’ll be transported into the privacy of each family and presented with well-developed characters. This is a gem in the genre of historical fiction, as it offers insights into what life during those years could have been like from different corners of Europe. A must-read!

Content Warning: sexual explicit scenes, war, revolution.

You can buy a copy of this book here.

See Also

The House Of The Spirits By Isabel Allende

Image Source: Courtesy of Atria Books

Allende’s novel is an example of how magic can spin historical fiction. A tale across three family generations that has it all. Tragedy, paranormal abilities, and glimpses of joy amid a country’s own political and social occurrences. And as we all probably once wondered about how our families’ history came to be, Allende took a private event of her own story to set the grounds for this gripping yet complex fiction. Beautiful writing, a variety of memorable characters, and a spark of magic make The House Of The Spirits a monumental journey.

Content Warning: sexual explicit scenes, rape, domestic abuse, substance addiction, murder.

Find a copy of Allende’s book here.

The Time In Between: A Novel By Maria Dueñas

Image Source: Courtesy of Atria Books

In The Time In Between, Maria Dueñas takes us to an agitated Spain during the years prior to the Coup of 1936 and later to a truly exotic Morocco. The main character happens to be Sira Quiroga, a woman tempted by the passion for leaving her life in Spain behind and thrown into a thrilling adventure as she reinvents herself after a major betrayal. Dueñas’ writing is flawless as she parades us through schemes, intrigue, and a few exhilarating moments. This novel is, without a doubt, a captivating example of what historical fiction has to offer!

Content Warning: civil war, violence, betrayal, loss.

Go here to secure a copy of this novel.

The Physician By Noah Gordon

Image Source: Courtesy of Barcelona Editions

Noah Gordon’s superb writing and brilliant premise make this novel an undisputable page-turner. A noble calling inspires young Rob Cole to embark on a one-of-a-kind journey across eleventh-century Europe and the Middle East to Persia. There’s something captivating about a narrative that explores the dark years of medieval times. Our protagonist’s drive is well ahead of his time, and soon, we discover ourselves enraptured by Cole’s pursuit of knowledge to save lives. Worry not! If you need more of Gordon’s literary magic, he created two more books to complete this saga.

Content Warning: sexually explicit content, violence, murder.

If you’re eager to get your hands on this book, head here.

Memoirs Of A Geisha By Arthur Golden

Image Source: Courtesy of Random House USA Inc.

Whether you’ve watched the movie adaptation of this book or not, Memoirs Of A Geisha is sublime. We mean it! Golden’s narrative is pristine, and he manages to cast a spell on us readers that keep us totally immersed in the story. Written as a biography of one of the most celebrated geisha of her time, there’s controversy around the veracity of the events as told by skillful Golden. Still, taken as a complete work of fiction, the journey presented in these pages is absolutely bewitching. Crude, gripping, and deeply emotional, this novel is a must-read if you feel at all drawn to Japan’s traditions.

Content Warning: slavery, child abuse, adultery, alcohol consumption, rape, physical injuries, loss, war.

Buy the book here.

Image Source: GIPHY

You made it! And hopefully, you’ve found one title to start your own journey through the world of historical fiction! It’ll make this piece all worth it! So, do tell! Have you already ordered one of these books? Or put one on your TBR list? We are dying to know! Tell us in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPOP!

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