Historical Novels by Date

Historical Novels by Women Writers - Sorted by Time Periods

(Titles that are bold are also included in the short list for Summer 2017 reading.)

Pre-Historic and Classical Greece and Rome

  • The Persian Boy and others by Mary Renault (classical Greece)
  • Masters of Rome series by Colleen McCullough
  • Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar (Emperor Hadrian’s life re-imagined in his voice)

Pre 20th Century Asia, Africa, Middle East, Caribbean

  • The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak (Anne Mellor suggested to Judith)(16th century Turkey)
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Anne Mellor suggested to Judith) (18th century Ghana to current US)
  • The Long Song by Andrea Levy (19th century slavery in Jamaica)
  • Empress Orchid and its sequel, The Last Empress by Amchee Min
  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

20th Century Asia, Africa, Middle East, Caribbean

  • Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien (7 decades and 3 generations in 20th century China)
  • Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (1920s colonial India)
  • The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli (1975 Vietnam)

Pre 19th Century Europe

  • Hild by Nichola Griffith (St. Hilda, 7th century England )
  • Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (Plague in 17th century England)
  • Romola by George Eliot (15th century Florence)
  • Katherine by Anya Seton (14th century England)
  • Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey by Alison Weir (16th century England)
  • Wine of Violence by Priscilla Royal (a medieval mystery)
  • The Novice’s Tale by Margaret Frazer (a medieval mystery)
  • Restoration, and its sequel, Merivel: A Man of His Time, by Rose Tremain (17th century England)
  • People of the Book (from 15th century Spain to WWII Bosnia)
  • Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Tudor England sequel to Wolf Hall)
  • A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel (French revolution)
  • Game of Patience by Susanna Alleyn (1796 Paris, post-French Revolution)
  • In the Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant (Borgia family in 15th Century Italy)

19th Century Europe

  • Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (Victorian England)
  • Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (written 1864-1866 about period before 1832 Reform Bill)
  • Jamaica Inn by Daphne DuMaurier (1820s England)
  • Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland (1880 Renoir painting)

20th Century Europe

  • Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (1942 Paris to 2002 Paris)
  • Fortunes of War by Olivia Manning - includes The Balkan Trilogy (Great Fortune, Spoilt City, and Friends and Heroes), and The Levant Trilogy (The Danger Tree, The Battle Lost and Won, and The Sum of Things) (WWII)
  • The Painted Girls by Cathy Buchanon (Belle Epoque Paris)
  • Enchantments by Kathryn Harrison (tsarist and revolutionary Russia)
  • The Night Watch by Sarah Waters (WWII England and after)
  • Suite Francaise, also Fire in the Blood, both by Irene Nemerovsky (WWII)
  • Mischling by Affinity Konar (WWII)
  • Valiant Gentleman by Sabina Murray (early 20th century Ireland)
  • The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck (WWII)

19th Century US

  • The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (1790s southern US plantation)
  • Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (1850s New Mexico Territory)
  • A Million Nightingales by Susan Straight (early 19th century Louisiana)
  • Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland (1890s New York tiffany studios)
  • News of the World by Paulette Jiles (19th century US West)

20th Century US

  • Wonderland Quartet by Joyce Carol Oates (1930s through 1960s) (Includes Garden of Earthly Delights, Expensive People, Them, and Wonderland) My personal favorite is Them.
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (1930s US)
  • Loving Frank by Nancy Horan (1920s Frank Lloyd Wright)
  • The Birth House by Ami Mc Kay (1910s Nova Scotia – not U.S.)