Sometimes the best way to get away from it all is to read a really good book. The best way to escape to another era? A very good book of historical fiction.
Ever since Jenna picked two historical fiction reads for her February Read With Jenna picks – Lauren Fox’s “Send for Me” and Kristin Hannah’s “The Four Winds” – Read With Jenna fans have been buzzing about the genre. . They have mentioned some popular titles, authors, and series that are worth reading, so we’ve rounded up some of the popular historical fiction reads below.
From novels that transport you to the realities of the WWII era, to a Dark Ages read that reimagines what a 9th century woman could be, read on for the page turners fans of. Read With Jenna recommend.
“Pope Joan”, by Donna Woolfolk Cross
This novel tells the legend of a woman who disguised herself as a man to ascend the throne of St. Peter. The first female pope, she had to go against the social rules of the time, including the rule forbidding women to learn. As she ascends to the top under the pseudonym Brother John Anglicus, she quickly learns that power comes at a price.
“Those Who Save Us”, by Jenna Blum
Anna Schlemmer didn’t want to talk about her life in WWII Germany. That is until her daughter, Trudy, discovers a photograph that forces her to consider her heritage. As she digs deep, she learns the heartbreaking story of her mother and what she went through to survive. This mother-daughter drama won the 2005 Ribalow Award.
“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The letters between Juliet Ashton and a man she’s never met drag her deeper into her world – until she ends up setting a course for it. In this story about human relations, Juliet learns about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and the impact of the German occupation on their lives and what she finds changes forever.
“Once we were brothers”, by Ronald H. Balson
Elliot Rosenzweig is a wealthy philanthropist who has his world turned upside down when accused of being a former Nazi SS officer. His accuser, convinced Rosenzweig is wrong, refuses to drop the case, despite Rosenzweig’s arguments that the charges are false. This story of two men who were once as close as brothers is one that speaks to the true cruelty of the Holocaust.
“Hotel at the corner of bitter and sweet”, by Jamie Ford
Hotel Panama in Seattle’s Japanese Quarter has been barricaded for decades. Its new owner has just discovered the possessions of Japanese families who were forced to evacuate to internment camps, and caught the attention of Henry Lee. Seeing one object in particular – a Japanese parasol – takes Henry back to a time when he befriended Keiko Okabe, a young American student of Japanese descent. However, Keiko and her family are quickly taken to internment camps. They made a promise back then, and now Henry uses it as inspiration to bridge the gap between himself and his own son.
“The pink code”, by Kate Quinn
Set in the 1940s as England prepares to fight the Nazis, this New York Times bestseller tells the story of three women – Osla, Mab and Beth – who join forces early on to crack military codes Germans. Seven years later, the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip turns these friends into enemies, but a mysterious letter forces them to reunite. There’s one final code to crack – and they’ll have to work together to figure it out, before the traitor gets close.
âA Thousand White Womenâ, by Jim Fergus
This story is based on an actual historical event, but is told through the fictitious entries in May Dodd’s diary. She is sent to an insane asylum “by her blue blood family” and her only hope of redemption is to participate in a secret government program where she is to marry a Cheyenne warrior. As she travels west to marry the big boss, Little Wolf, she finds herself caught up in a different romance. Her two worlds eventually catch up with her, and she must face the two different lives in which she lives.
“The red tent”, by Anita Diamant
You may have heard the story of Jacob and his 12 sons, but the Bible doesn’t explore Dinah’s life much, other than a brief passage in the book of Genesis. “The Red Tent” explores Dinah’s life, from her childhood to her adult life as a midwife. This read gives new life to biblical women’s stories in a whole new way.
“Water for the elephants”, by Sara Gruen
Jacob Janowski is out of luck, until he finds himself as a caregiver in the circus menagerie. Set in the Great Depression, Jacob, a penniless orphan to his name, finds himself in a group of misfits who are all trying to survive in the world. This story of love, trust and hope was also turned into a great 2011 movie starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon.
“Sarah’s key”, by Tatiana de Rosnay
It is 1942 and Sarah, 10, and her family were brutally arrested by the French police. Right before, Sarah locked her younger brother in the family closet because she thought she would be back soon. Sixty years later, Sarah’s story is unearthed when journalist Julia Jarmond investigates the Vel ‘d’Hiv’ roundup. As she learns more about Sarah’s story, she is forced to think about her own, questioning her life and marriage as she goes.
“The Nightingale”, by Kristin Hannah
Set in France in 1939, this New York Times bestseller focuses on the life of Parisian Vianne Mauriac, who does not believe that the Nazis will occupy her country. Soon, she finds her house requisitioned by a German captain and without food, money or hope. Meanwhile, her sister, a reckless youngster, leads her own battles and eventually joins the Resistance. Although the sisters are in their own world, âThe Nightingaleâ tells the story of the similarity between the two women: they are just trying to survive.
“Centennial”, by James A. Michener
Colorado, known as the Centennial State, did not become a state until 1876. Before joining the Union, it was a colony populated by people from all walks of life. In this novel, ranchers, farmers, hunters, trappers and more are brought together in a conflict that highlights the rich history of the West and the formation of the United States.
“Next year in Havana”, by Chanel Cleeton
Elisa Perez, 19, has long been immune from political unrest in Cuba because she was part of high society. Everything changes when she has an affair with a revolutionary. Fast forward to 2017, when Marisol Ferrera, after listening to the stories of her grandmother Elisa, must return to the island to disperse her ashes. She soon meets her family history beyond Elisa’s stories and finds herself in a love story of her own.
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