Gems from the Past
Tired of reading all the latest and "greatest" historical novels from our current batch of best selling authors? Looking for something old that could be a newly discovered treasure? Some of these have been newly reissued, but most are out of print and in some cases quite hard to find without spending a fortune, although the hunt is worth it. Happy reading.

Note to clarify: This list is for historical novels. It is not for novels that were contemporary at the time they were written/published. Austen, Bronte, Gaskell, etc. do not qualify.

Additional clarification 11/7/13:The list creator intended this list for long-lost, long-forgotten, out-of-print historical novels. As noted above, novels by authors like Bronte, Austen, etc. were contemporary at the time they were written, and do not qualify for this list. Children's books, romantic suspense, mysteries, "Jaws" or any other book that might be deemed a "classic". Historical novels that have been continuously in print and well known (that includes Sharon Penman, much as we love you) do not meet the purposes of this list, nor do historical novels that have only been published in the last year or two.

I apologize for the confusion, this list was created when I was fairly new to Goodreads and didn't realize anyone and everyone could vote on my list and that I hadn't made the guidelines for adding books clear enough.
1 Rebecca
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 189,734 ratings
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2 Katherine
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 15,817 ratings
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3 The Far Pavilions
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 21,189 ratings
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4 Anne of Green Gables
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4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 358,386 ratings
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5 The Crystal Cave (Arthurian...
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 25,076 ratings
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6 Shadow of the Moon
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 2,019 ratings
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7 To Kill a Mockingbird
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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 1,814,030 ratings
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8 Frenchman's Creek
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 5,140 ratings
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9 Penmarric
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 2,188 ratings
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10 A Girl of the Limberlost (L...
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 9,610 ratings
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11 Pride and Prejudice
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 1,251,203 ratings
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12 The House on the Strand
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 4,167 ratings
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13 Jamaica Inn
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 9,946 ratings
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14 Gone with the Wind
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 580,802 ratings
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15 The Hollow Hills (Arthurian...
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4.21 of 5 stars 4.21 avg rating — 13,784 ratings
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16 Forever Amber
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 10,727 ratings
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17 The Moonspinners
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 3,990 ratings
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18 Green Darkness
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 3,086 ratings
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19 Madam, Will You Talk?
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 2,612 ratings
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20 Cashelmara
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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 3,264 ratings
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21 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 205,015 ratings
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22 Charlotte's Web
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 566,327 ratings
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23 Angelique (Angelique: Origi...
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 1,135 ratings
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24 Nine Coaches Waiting
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 5,705 ratings
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25 The Last Enchantment (Arthu...
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 8,851 ratings
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26 Kristin Lavransdatter (Kris...
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 3,369 ratings
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27 Trade Wind
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 1,402 ratings
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28 Captains and the Kings
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 8,318 ratings
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29 Thornyhold
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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70 avg rating — 2,792 ratings
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30 Calico Palace
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 730 ratings
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31 Persuasion
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 242,782 ratings
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32 The Ivy Tree
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 2,667 ratings
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33 I Capture the Castle
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 38,153 ratings
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34 The Robe
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 11,834 ratings
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35 The Good Soldier
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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 9,720 ratings
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36 Watership Down
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 194,332 ratings
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37 Black Beauty
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 127,218 ratings
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38 Dragonwyck
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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 2,205 ratings
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39 Ivanhoe
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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 47,074 ratings
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40 Dear and Glorious Physician
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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 2,210 ratings
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41 Celia Garth
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 1,198 ratings
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42 Airs Above the Ground
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 2,891 ratings
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43 Alinor (The Roselynde Chron...
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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 314 ratings
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44 Jubilee Trail
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 1,228 ratings
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45 Roselynde (The Roselynde Ch...
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 485 ratings
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46 Murder on the Orient Expres...
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 87,654 ratings
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47 The Concubine
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 1,637 ratings
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48 Wildfire at Midnight
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 2,131 ratings
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49 Alice in Wonderland (Alice'...
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 177,482 ratings
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50 Zemindar
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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 392 ratings
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51 And Then There Were None
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 200,880 ratings
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52 Doctor Zhivago
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 44,853 ratings
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53 The Heaven Tree Trilogy
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4.43 of 5 stars 4.43 avg rating — 450 ratings
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54 The Sunne in Splendour
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4.39 of 5 stars 4.39 avg rating — 11,629 ratings
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55 Dawn's Early Light (William...
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4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 539 ratings
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56 The Gabriel Hounds
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 2,317 ratings
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57 Touch Not the Cat
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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 3,267 ratings
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58 Olivia And Jai
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 540 ratings
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59 This Rough Magic
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 3,041 ratings
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60 Heidi
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 115,165 ratings
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61 The Proud Breed
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4.35 of 5 stars 4.35 avg rating — 480 ratings
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62 Tess of the d'Urbervilles
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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70 avg rating — 114,059 ratings
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63 Northwest Passage
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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 1,192 ratings
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63 Here be Dragons (Welsh Prin...
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4.31 of 5 stars 4.31 avg rating — 11,384 ratings
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65 Mansfield Park
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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 140,056 ratings
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66 Don't Look Now
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 2,377 ratings
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67 Rose Cottage
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3.42 of 5 stars 3.42 avg rating — 1,842 ratings
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68 Flambards (Flambards, #1)
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 796 ratings
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69 The Master Of Ballantrae
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3.69 of 5 stars 3.69 avg rating — 2,696 ratings
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70 Animal Farm
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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 1,219,722 ratings
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71 The Mallen Streak
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 716 ratings
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72 Through a Glass Darkly
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 6,426 ratings
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73 Wild Swan (Wild Swan Trilog...
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4.36 of 5 stars 4.36 avg rating — 470 ratings
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74 Testament of Youth
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 1,507 ratings
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75 The Wheel of Fortune
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 1,045 ratings
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76 To Serve Them All My Days
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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 1,013 ratings
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77 The Sherwood Ring
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 1,508 ratings
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78 Homer's Daughter
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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 234 ratings
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79 Lad: A Dog
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 4,929 ratings
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79 Thunder on the Right
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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75 avg rating — 1,688 ratings
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81 Peter Pan
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 110,623 ratings
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82 Vanity Fair
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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 61,638 ratings
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83 Midnight Is a Place
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 606 ratings
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84 The Lost Queen
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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 avg rating — 311 ratings
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84 Pargeters: An Historical No...
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 127 ratings
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86 The Pride of the Peacock
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 2,247 ratings
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87 The Wicked Day (Arthurian S...
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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 7,385 ratings
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88 The Game of Kings (The Lymo...
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 3,451 ratings
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89 Esther
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 68 ratings
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90 The Perilous Gard
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 4,214 ratings
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91 Death on the Nile (Hercule ...
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 42,476 ratings
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92 Peril at End House (Hercule...
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 11,540 ratings
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93 Arundel
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 553 ratings
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94 The Complete Grimm's Fairy ...
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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 96,099 ratings
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95 And Quiet Flows the Don (Qu...
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4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 156 ratings
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96 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's ...
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 340,722 ratings
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97 Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilo...
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4.33 of 5 stars 4.33 avg rating — 2,572 ratings
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97 The Pit and the Pendulum
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 27,010 ratings
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99 Lord of the Flies
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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 avg rating — 1,124,664 ratings
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100 The Turn of the Screw
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3.45 of 5 stars 3.45 avg rating — 35,061 ratings
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flag this list (?)
300 books · 291 voters · list created January 25th, 2009 by Misfit (votes) .
28 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Misfit
Misfit
3961 books
314 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
2344 books
432 friends
Josie
Josie
1458 books
33 friends
Laura
Laura
6674 books
156 friends
Tracey
Tracey
1002 books
279 friends
Rebecca
Rebecca
441 books
9 friends
Donnette
Donnette
21 books
13 friends
Dottie
Dottie
7387 books
119 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-25 of 25) (25 new)

dateDown_arrow    newest »

message 1: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, by Hans Werfel...I tried three times with no success, yet the book exists in multiple editions on the Goodreads site. Frustrating.


message 2: by Linds (new)

Linds What a great list. Thanks for putting this together!


message 3: by Janet (new)

Janet I found a couple that looked interesting, I put them on my to-read list. I remember a lot of these titles, but am not sure if I've read them or not. I like this list!


message 4: by Laura (new)

Laura a GREAT list Misfit. I would add The Forsyte Saga


Elizabeth(The Book Whisperer) I love this list! I have found several I am planning to read and a few I have read since discovering this list. It is very exciting to find new books to read, even though these books aren't new at all1


message 6: by Caz (new)

Caz Puzzled that Jane Austen's books are on here...


message 7: by Laura (new)

Laura Someone must have added these books on this list. If you are a librarian, you may remove them.


message 8: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Laura wrote: "Someone must have added these books on this list. If you are a librarian, you may remove them."

GR is pretty serious about not removing books from lists unless they absolutely do not belong on said list. This is actually a list I created. I could reword the list description if that would help.


message 9: by Laura (new)

Laura My sincere apologies!!!


message 10: by Misfit (new)

Misfit What's to apologize for?


message 11: by Caz (new)

Caz @Misfit: I actually assumed that you hadn't put those particular titles on the list and that someone else had added them (which was why I mentioned it).


message 12: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Thing is, anyone can add a book to any list at GR. I'm OK with what gets added on as long as it isn't another stinking Twilight or Fifty Shades. I just like see the oldie books listed.


message 13: by Misfit (new)

Misfit PS, I don't know if you've ever tried to remove a book from a list Laura, but there's a we are really really serious about removing books from lists so you'd better be really really sure the book is wrong. It's better to wait for the experts, like Susannah, and play it safe.


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) How far back is "from the past"? E.g., I see some of Sharon Kay Penman's books on this list -- they're great historical fiction of course, but Penman is a contemporary author, even if some of the books placed on this list have been out quite a while. Also, her books (IMHO, at least) don't necessarily qualify as "worthy of being rediscovered" ... almost all of them are bestsellers and never went out of print.

That all said: GREAT list indeed!


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) Also: I notice the list is starting to be stuffed with the likes of Austen, Bronte and Dickens. I'd personally have no qualms about removing those (clearly contemporary writing when first published) -- Sir Walter Scott is a different matter, of course.


message 16: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Themis-Athena wrote: "Also: I notice the list is starting to be stuffed with the likes of Austen, Bronte and Dickens. I'd personally have no qualms about removing those (clearly contemporary writing when first publishe..."

I'm wondering how Charlotte's Web, Heidi and Peter Name to name three got on the list. *shrugs*


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) Misfit wrote: "Themis-Athena wrote: "Also: I notice the list is starting to be stuffed with the likes of Austen, Bronte and Dickens. I'd personally have no qualms about removing those (clearly contemporary writi..."

Do you want any books to be removed? As you specified very clearly in the list description what should NOT be added, librarians would be on the safe side at the very least deleting those books that are squarely within the "contemporaneous when written" category you expressly mentioned as books not to be added.


message 18: by Misfit (new)

Misfit I'd like to see more opinions from others who have voted on this list, as my original description wasn't clear enough.


message 19: by Caz (new)

Caz Misfit wrote: "I'd like to see more opinions from others who have voted on this list, as my original description wasn't clear enough."

I think your description was quite clear enough - I just think the people who added those particular books didn't read it!

No: Austen, Dickens, Hardy (even though Oliver Twist could just about be called "historical", it's hardly unknown) - Penman, for the reasons given above - even GWTW is hardly unknown, is it?


message 20: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Thanks for the input Caz.


message 21: by Misfit (last edited Nov 07, 2013 05:42AM) (new)

Misfit What is Jaws doing on this list?


message 22: by Misfit (last edited Nov 07, 2013 05:56AM) (new)

Misfit I think I need to clarify some more and then clean this list up. I love Penman, but a book that hasn't been out of print should not belong here, nor shoulda recently published historical like By Fire, By Water.


message 23: by Diane Lynn (new)

Diane Lynn This is a great list Misfit.


message 24: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Diane Lynn wrote: "This is a great list Misfit."

Thank you ma'am :)


message 25: by Misfit (new)

Misfit #209 By Fire, By Water removed. A novel published in 2010 is not a gem from the past.


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Anyone can add books to this list.