Recommended Historical Fiction
This is the list for your recommendations of good fiction set in a time before the author was born --NOT any old book set in a time that's now past, nor books about modern people who happen to be researching past history! :-) Okay?
500 Sharpe's Eagle (Sharpe, #8)
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 5,643 ratings
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500 Pattern of Shadows
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4.83 of 5 stars 4.83 avg rating — 30 ratings
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503 Dawn's Early Light (William...
by
4.31 of 5 stars 4.31 avg rating — 622 ratings
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503 The Frontiersmen
by
4.4 of 5 stars 4.40 avg rating — 1,490 ratings
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503 Dangerous Waters
by
3.19 of 5 stars 3.19 avg rating — 37 ratings
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506 Celia Garth
by
4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 1,383 ratings
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506 Billy Bathgate
by
3.73 of 5 stars 3.73 avg rating — 3,624 ratings
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506 Devil's Prize
by
4.4 of 5 stars 4.40 avg rating — 10 ratings
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506 The Iron Road
by
4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 7 ratings
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506 A Place of Birds
by
3.55 of 5 stars 3.55 avg rating — 11 ratings
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506 Tide of Fortune
by
3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 avg rating — 12 ratings
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506 Eye of the Wind
by
4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 18 ratings
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513 Yankee Stranger (Williamsbu...
by
4.37 of 5 stars 4.37 avg rating — 420 ratings
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513 A Passage to India
by
3.61 of 5 stars 3.61 avg rating — 34,063 ratings
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513 Alice I Have Been
by
3.63 of 5 stars 3.63 avg rating — 8,943 ratings
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513 Whistling Past the Graveyard
by
4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 7,939 ratings
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513 The Chain Garden
by
4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 18 ratings
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513 Blood on the Snow
by
4.95 of 5 stars 4.95 avg rating — 20 ratings
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519 Sarah (Women of Genesis, #1)
by
3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 8,400 ratings
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519 Legacy of the Moon: The Sto...
by
3.15 of 5 stars 3.15 avg rating — 34 ratings
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521 Red Cavalry
by
4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 1,217 ratings
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521 Waverley
by
3.43 of 5 stars 3.43 avg rating — 2,237 ratings
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521 Rebekah (Women of Genesis, #2)
by
3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 6,511 ratings
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521 Rachel & Leah (Women of Gen...
by
3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 5,025 ratings
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521 Daughter of Fortune
by
3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 75,584 ratings
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526 The Assassination of Jesse ...
by
3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 1,340 ratings
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526 Oleanna
by
3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 83 ratings
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528 The Silver Pigs (Marcus Did...
by
3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 5,898 ratings
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528 Mi'kmaq Song
by
4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 15 ratings
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530 Masada
by
3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 231 ratings
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530 Raintree County
by
3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 597 ratings
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530 I, Elizabeth
by
3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 10,038 ratings
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533 I, the Sun
by
4.53 of 5 stars 4.53 avg rating — 40 ratings
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534 Le Roi de fer (Les rois mau...
by
4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 4,749 ratings
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534 The Redemption of Alexander...
by
3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 290 ratings
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534 Bonded Heart
by
3.46 of 5 stars 3.46 avg rating — 13 ratings
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537 The Commodore (Aubrey/Matur...
by
4.37 of 5 stars 4.37 avg rating — 3,883 ratings
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538 The Potter's Field (Chronic...
by
4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 2,808 ratings
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538 Legs
by
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 998 ratings
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538 Midnight's Children
by
4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 59,496 ratings
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538 Cascade
by
3.66 of 5 stars 3.66 avg rating — 1,005 ratings
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542 The Yellow Admiral (Aubrey/...
by
4.33 of 5 stars 4.33 avg rating — 4,070 ratings
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543 The Heretic's Apprentice (C...
by
4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 2,502 ratings
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543 The Last Patriot (Scot Harv...
by
4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 7,821 ratings
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543 The Sword of Attila: A Nove...
by
3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 362 ratings
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546 Ferney
by
3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 537 ratings
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546 Little Big Man
by
4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 3,253 ratings
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548 Richard III: The Last Plant...
by
2.92 of 5 stars 2.92 avg rating — 12 ratings
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549 The Josephine Bonaparte Col...
by
4.45 of 5 stars 4.45 avg rating — 2,911 ratings
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549 The Baker's Daughter
by
3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 8,032 ratings
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551 A Farewell to Arms
by
3.76 of 5 stars 3.76 avg rating — 144,428 ratings
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551 Lilith Rising: A True Story
by
0.0 of 5 stars 0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings
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551 English Passengers
by
4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 3,410 ratings
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554 The Quincunx
by
4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 3,557 ratings
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554 The Great Divorce
by
4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 55,539 ratings
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554 An Officer and a Spy
by
4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 4,391 ratings
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557 Water for Elephants
by
4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 879,574 ratings
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558 Empire of Dragons
by
3.7 of 5 stars 3.70 avg rating — 1,085 ratings
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558 La casa de los espíritus
by
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 98,767 ratings
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560 The Devil's Novice (Chronic...
by
3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 2,415 ratings
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560 Back Bay (Peter Fallon, #1)
by
3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 1,027 ratings
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562 Person or Persons Unknown (...
by
4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 532 ratings
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562 Gelibolu Uzun Beyaz Bulut
by
3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 849 ratings
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564 Dreaming the Eagle (Boudica...
by
4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 1,962 ratings
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565 The Tokaido Road
by
4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 474 ratings
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566 Rose
by
3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 1,668 ratings
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566 Playmaker
by
3.64 of 5 stars 3.64 avg rating — 198 ratings
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568 The Strangled Queen (Los Re...
by
4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 2,210 ratings
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568 Legacy
by
4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 1,653 ratings
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568 All Quiet on the Western Front
by
3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 161,316 ratings
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568 The Secret Garden
by
4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 466,989 ratings
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572 The Lute Player
by
3.7 of 5 stars 3.70 avg rating — 365 ratings
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572 Bathing Beauties, Booze And...
by
4.41 of 5 stars 4.41 avg rating — 27 ratings
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574 An Excellent Mystery (Chron...
by
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 3,449 ratings
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574 East
by
4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 24,055 ratings
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576 Skeletons at the Feast
by
3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 13,923 ratings
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576 Daughters of Rome (The Empr...
by
4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 3,096 ratings
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576 David Copperfield
by
3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 112,496 ratings
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579 Esther
by
4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 74 ratings
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580 Nethergate
by
3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 189 ratings
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580 The Field of Swords (Empero...
by
4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 6,284 ratings
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580 The Thorn Birds
by
4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 194,099 ratings
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583 The Year of the French
by
4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 392 ratings
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583 El médico
by
4.33 of 5 stars 4.33 avg rating — 14,041 ratings
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583 The Weight of Water
by
3.59 of 5 stars 3.59 avg rating — 17,264 ratings
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583 The Darling Strumpet
by
3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 1,051 ratings
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583 Gösta Berling
by
3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 1,085 ratings
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588 Beyond All Frontiers
by
3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 39 ratings
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588 The Deluge
by
3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 1,611 ratings
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588 Island of Ghosts
by
4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 431 ratings
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591 The Noble Outlaw (Crowner J...
by
3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 159 ratings
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591 Star of the Sea
by
3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 3,530 ratings
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591 Bitter Greens
by
4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 1,115 ratings
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594 The Summer of the Danes (Ch...
by
3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 1,753 ratings
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594 Grey Souls
by
3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 1,377 ratings
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594 Charleston
by
3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 1,888 ratings
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594 Chaman (Cole Family Trilogy...
by
3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 3,665 ratings
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598 A Little Princess
by
4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 140,362 ratings
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598 Shadow on the Crown
by
3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 1,915 ratings
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600 Justice Hall (Mary Russell,...
by
4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 6,944 ratings
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1,614 books · 1,661 voters · list created January 18th, 2009 by Werner (votes) .
100 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Werner
Werner
1557 books
145 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
2448 books
466 friends
☯Bettie☯
☯Bettie☯
10898 books
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Cheryl
Cheryl
651 books
61 friends
Lars
Lars
634 books
26 friends
Anam
Anam
615 books
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Laura
Laura
7186 books
177 friends
Hanna
Hanna
5475 books
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Comments (showing 1-49 of 49) (49 new)

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message 1: by Seth (new)

Seth Several of these don't seem to fit the requirement of "set before the author was born." Should some librarian go through and prune, or just live with it?


message 2: by Werner (new)

Werner Seth, I'm the list's creator/moderator (and also a Goodreads librarian); but because of limited time, I don't monitor it as closely as I probably should, and I also haven't read a number of the listed books, so can't make that kind of call in most of those cases. I'll give it a going-over now, and delete anything I see that shouldn't be there; but maybe any other librarians who read this will want to help, too? Thanks for letting us know about the problem!


message 3: by Seth (new)

Seth I'm happy to note any books that don't seem right (1984 by Orwell springs to mind... certainly not *historical* to him!). I'm a librarian as well but I don't want to go removing people's votes from a list without either consensus or the list creator approving.


message 4: by Werner (last edited Jun 21, 2010 05:01PM) (new)

Werner Yes, 1984 was one of the five books I just deleted. I jotted down four more titles with 20th- century settings that are "iffy," but I'll need to check the author's birthdates; and I'll be leaving on vacation tomorrow for a week, so can't do that until I return. In the meantime, Seth, you have my permission to remove anything that you know was set in the author's own time; I created this list for genuine historical fiction, in the genre sense!


message 5: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Jun 22, 2010 10:41AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Ones that are not historical fiction, in my view:

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott (set in 1860s and 70s, LMA was born in 1832)
Fatherland, by Robert Harris (I am very dubious. Hitler wasn't still Fuhrer in our 1961.)
What is the What? by Dave Eggers (set in very recent Sudan)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Set, I believe, in the 1850s, when Mr. Twain was a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi.)


message 6: by Werner (new)

Werner Susanna, thanks for your helpful feedback! (And sorry I took so long to respond; you posted on the day I left on vacation, and I haven't been back long.) Someone else must have deleted the Eggers book, and I evidently got Little Women when I went through the list last week; but I can't believe I missed Huckleberry Finn! I've just deleted that one, and the Harris book as well.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Little Women is still there, I see, so I'll just remove it.


message 8: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks, Susanna! I've now missed it twice; mea culpa. :-)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Is Am I Not A Man? The Dred Scott Story history, or historical fiction? It looks like history to me from the description, but I haven't read it.


message 10: by Werner (new)

Werner Susanna, I have the same question, but I haven't read it either. I'll do some more checking on that!


message 11: by Werner (new)

Werner Susanna, the Library of Congress' assigned subject headings for the Shurtleff book identify it as fiction, and so does the catalog record for it in World Catalog. So I'd say that it does belong here.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads OK - I honestly couldn't tell from the description! Thanks.


message 13: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Mar 10, 2011 09:02AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I didn't think The Jungle was historical fiction; didn't Sinclair set that novel in his own time?

ETA: Northanger Abbey is historical fiction??


message 14: by Werner (new)

Werner No, Susanna, neither of those are historical fiction! I haven't checked over this list lately; I see I need to do that ASAP. Since I posted clear guidelines at the top, when I created the list, for what goes on it and what doesn't, I never expected a problem; but I guess not everybody actually reads that part. (Sigh!)


message 15: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Mar 10, 2011 09:23AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I'm just shocked Twilight hasn't crept on.


message 16: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Susanna wrote: "I'm just shocked Twilight hasn't crept on."

It will eventually :p


message 17: by Werner (new)

Werner Well, I'm a Twilight series fan myself; but if anyone tries to claim it's historical fiction and puts it on here, either of us that catches it can delete it on sight! :-) Okay, I've deleted the two books you spotted, as well as What Is the What and Elie Wiesel's Night. (I didn't check the last two pages this time, but hopefully they're free of any anomalies.) I'll try to do a more thorough check later.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads It's like weeding a garden.


message 19: by Werner (new)

Werner Very true! :-)


message 20: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Mar 10, 2011 10:27AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I think I also saw North and South by Mrs. Gaskell on here; I am dubious about that one as well. Written in 1855; set, I think, a little earlier than that (like a lot of Dickens), but within the author's lifetime (b. 1810). (The same reason I didn't vote for Vanity Fair, a superb novel.)


message 21: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks, Susanna! I'll be on the lookout for those two.


message 22: by Werner (new)

Werner Susanna, I've checked over the rest of the list, and Vanity Fair was apparently deleted already. North and South is on here; but it turns out to be the one by John Jakes (set during the Civil War), not the one with the same title by Mrs. Gaskell. So, we're in good shape for the moment!


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Alrighty then!


message 24: by Myles (new)

Myles Forgive my presumption, but I was just passing through and I noticed Angels and Demons on the list and deleted it.


message 25: by Werner (new)

Werner No presumption at all --that's clearly not historical fiction in the sense that we're concerned with here! Thanks, Myles.


message 26: by Bill (new)

Bill Whitaker FYI, Gaskell's North and South is back in, along with Jakes's.


message 27: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks for the heads-up, Bill. I've just tracked it down and deleted it --again. (Sigh!) It's a never-ending job.


 ~☆ Alice♥♥ I just spotted The Hunger Games number 343 which needs to be deleted.


message 29: by Werner (new)

Werner Done! Thanks for catching that, Alice.


 ~☆ Alice♥♥ Werner wrote: "Done! Thanks for catching that, Alice."

I was going down the list last night to see what I missed.


message 31: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Jan 24, 2013 01:26PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I see Pride and Prejudice has crept on (currently #51). Miss Austen was writing about her own time. You want me to delete it, Werner?

ETA: Also, Seabiscuit (#69) is non-fiction. As is John Paul Jones: Finding the Forgotten Patriot (#177).

Little Women is back, at #96.


message 32: by Werner (new)

Werner Yes, Susanna, you can delete all four of those! Thanks for your help; it's much appreciated. (Tending to these lists is like keeping a garden weeded; it's a never-ending task!)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads No problem.

I just noticed that All Quiet on the Western Front is at #139.


message 34: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks for catching that, Susanna! I just deleted that one, too.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads What about To Kill a Mockingbird, which is in the 360s?


message 36: by Werner (last edited Feb 07, 2013 11:18AM) (new)

Werner That's not historical fiction either; Harper Lee was born in 1926, and sets the novel in the mid-1930s, when she was about Scout's age. I'll delete that one too, Susanna, thanks for catching it!


message 37: by Peter (new)

Peter Lahaderne How on Earth is the entire Saxon Stories series by Bernard Cornwell on this list, but none of the Sharpe series?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads You could add them; it's easy to add books to lists. At the top of the list, at the tab next to "all votes."


message 39: by Werner (new)

Werner Yes, Peter, by all means add the Sharpe series, if you've read the books and can recommend them! My guess is that whoever added the Saxon series hadn't read the Sharpe books --I haven't either, though I've seen and really liked a couple of the adaptations on DVD. (I do have the first three books of yet another Cornwell series, his Starbuck Chronicles, on my to-read shelf; they were a gift from my son-in-law.)


message 40: by Ankit (new)

Ankit Agrawal I am a great fan of historical fiction. Its my favorite genre along with family saga's. Glad I found this list. It would be my pleasure to contribute to this list and learn from it as well.

Werner and Susanna, you two seem to be doing a great. I would like to help as well.


message 41: by Ankit (new)

Ankit Agrawal I was quite surprised not to see Kane and Abel on the list. So I added that. Its one of my favorites of all time.


message 42: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks for the encouragement, Ankit! Yes, by all means add any good historical fiction you've read that you'd like to recommend to others; that's how this list (and other lists on here) get built up. (You don't need anybody's permission to add books to a Goodreads list. :-) )


message 43: by Mary (new)

Mary Beth Misfit wrote: "Susanna wrote: "I'm just shocked Twilight hasn't crept on."

It will eventually :p"


That is hilarious, but sadly true!


message 44: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie Hudson Someone who's read THE RED TENT, what did you think?


message 45: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie Hudson Jeannie HudsonJeannie Hudson

This my own historical suspense. One of the best! No
kidding. I have the reviews to prove it.


message 46: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie Hudson Someone who's read THE RED TENT, what did you think?


message 47: by Werner (new)

Werner Jeannie, if you think your book(s) should be on this list, go ahead and add it. Any member of Goodreads can add books to lists, as well as vote for ones that are already here.

I've never read The Red Tent, though it's been recommended to me. But hopefully some of the other people who've commented on this list have!


message 48: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie Hudson Thanks, Werner. I appreciate your comments.


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Anyone can add books to this list.