The Season's Most Anticipated Historical Fiction

Posted by Cybil on February 4, 2019

This post is sponsored by The Victory Garden, a novel of wartime love and secrets.


Time travel is not the sole dominion of the fantasy genre. There's an alternative way to journey into the past: historical fiction. This season there are many highly anticipated titles to add to your Want to Read shelf, from Taylor Jenkins Reid's 1970s rock and roll romp Daisy Jones & the Six to Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert's 1940s love story City of Girls.

Be sure to tell us in the comments which books you're most excited to read!

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While clearing out an estate, a woman finds the mementos of a lost relationship...and the beginning of an emotional World War II journey.

Release date: January 8


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Two estranged sisters, raised in Brooklyn and each burdened with her own dark secret, are reunited at the Springfield Armory in the early days of WWII.

Release date: January 22


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At a time when women were supposed to keep the home fires burning, photographer Dorothea Lange dared to be different. In this new novel by the author of The Other Alcott, we see the world through her eyes.

Release date: January 22


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Born with the soul of a hunter and the language of the gods, a young Inuit shaman fights for survival in the frozen lands of North America in 1000 AD. To protect her people, she invokes the spirits of the sky, the sea, and the air.

Release date: January 31


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An abandoned suitcase at Grand Central Terminal leads recently widowed Grace Healey to a ring of female secret agents in this tale of friendship and courage during World War II from the author of The Orphan's Tale.

Release date: February 5


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From the author of The Ghost Bride comes a sweeping novel about a dance-hall girl and an orphan boy whose fates become entangled in 1930s Malaysia over an old Chinese superstition about men who can turn into tigers.

Release date: February 12


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From the author of The Tuscan Child comes a heartrending novel of a woman’s love and sacrifice during the First World War.

Release date: February 12


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A battle-haunted English journalist and a Russian female bomber pilot join forces to track down the Huntress, a deadly Nazi war criminal gone to ground in America in this thrilling tale from the author of The Alice Network.

Release date: February 26


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Coming of age in Los Angeles in the late '60s, Daisy embraces the sex, drugs, and rock and roll of the era, leading her to a date with her musical destiny in this rollicking oral history from the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

Release date: March 5


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On the Korean island of Jeju, two best friends begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective. As the girls take up their work, they know they are beginning a life of danger. From the author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

Release date: March 5


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Along the banks of the Zambezi River, there was once a colonial settlement called The Old Drift. Here begins the story of a small African nation, told by a mysterious swarm-like chorus that calls itself man’s greatest nemesis.

Release date: March 5


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Set a generation before her bestselling novel, The Lilac Girls, this story focuses on Eliza Ferriday as she embarks on a trip of a lifetime to the turbulent streets of St. Petersburg and the avenues of Paris under the shadow of World War I.

Release date: April 9


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A postmortem photographer in Victorian England unearths dark secrets of the past that may hold the key to his future in this gothic debut novel.

Release date: April 9


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Readers will travel to the glamour of 1965 New York City and Cosmopolitan magazine, where a brazen new editor-in-chief—Helen Gurley Brown—shocks America by daring to talk to women about all things off-limits.

Release date: April 30


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The author of Eat, Pray, Love returns to fiction with a bold tale of glamour and adventure set in New York during the 1940s. It follows Vivian Morris as she rubs elbows with showgirls—and makes a mistake that will alter the course of her life.

Release date: June 4


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In this powerful follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning bestseller The Underground Railroad, two young boys endure a hellish reform school intent on turning delinquent boys into honorable men in Jim Crow-era Florida.

Release date: July 16


Which of these books are you adding to your Want to Read shelf? Let's talk books in the comments!

Check out more recent articles:
43 New & Upcoming Books to Discover This Black History Month
February's Hottest New Releases
The Best Romance Books of February

Comments Showing 1-50 of 96 (96 new)


message 1: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones The Lost History of Dreams sounds intriguing :)


message 2: by Mel (new)

Mel I agree. I’m also interested in The Nickel Boys.


message 3: by Reza (new)

Reza Amiri Praramadhan Definitely none of books listed above.


message 4: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Anze I am counting down the minutes for the release of Lost Roses. Lilac Girls is one of my all time favorite books.


message 5: by Holly (new)

Holly The Lost History of Dreams looks interesting. I was considering Daisy Jones & the Six until I saw it was set in the '60's.......but the pre-punk era of rock and roll is boring and overly romanticized.


message 6: by Brianna (new)

Brianna Soloski All of them. Why are people on Goodreads if they're going to bad mouth books?


message 7: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones Brianna wrote: "All of them. Why are people on Goodreads if they're going to bad mouth books?"

Because not all books are holy :]


message 8: by Jill (new)

Jill I've added 4 titles from above to my Want to Read shelf: The Light Over London, Learning to See, The Lost Girls of Paris, and The Huntress. I already had 2 of them on my shelf, but seeing this list lead me to 2 more. Thanks!


message 9: by KOMET (new)

KOMET The novels 'Learning to See', 'The Victory Garden', 'Daisy Jones & the Six', 'Lost Roses', 'Park Avenue Summer' and 'City of Girls' I find especially appealing. I have a fascination with the historical period from the dawn of the 20th century to the 1980s.


message 10: by Laura (new)

Laura Too many WWI and WWII books! As a book club, we limit how many war books we'll read ... The Island of Sea Women seems most interesting to me. But is there a war involved! Manhattan Beach was about a female diver during WWII.


message 11: by Aurora (new)

Aurora Really want to read Daisy Jones and the six book :)


message 12: by David (new)

David What happened to the most read authors page? I miss that!


message 13: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones Paul wrote: "Who picks these books? Sixteen historical novels and only one is written by a man. I guess they couldn't ignore Colson Whitehead. All the books, except Whitehead's, deal with women. Two of the book..."

Really? This again?
We already had a gender discussion here: https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/1...

To sum up:

If women can spend lifetimes putting themselves in male shoes in order to appreciate works of fiction for decades now I think boys can start reading from the view of women. Teach your sons that they are surrounded by women and it's important to read in their narrative to relate better to them.
I wish as a teen I knew boys who would read or watch female centric media. Maybe it would have made them more sympathetic to my life.


and:

Men always had the advantage when it came to writing and publishing. Not only had they the education to actually learn good writing, they also had the necessary life experiences to be able to write interesting characters.
The reason there seem to be more female writers now is because more women have higher education and get more varied life experiences than 200 or more years ago.

While I have no numbers to back this up, I still think there are more male writers.
And even if they don't have the ups in numbers, male writers and male protagonists are still considered more relevant: https://theconversation.com/books-by-...



So can the guys now please stop complaining?


message 14: by Paul (new)

Paul A. I deleted my comment. I thought this was a goodreads generated sales pitch and was surprised by the narrow focus. My gripe is with the time frame. The settings are too modern for my taste. What one calls historical is subjective, but for me it's WWI and earlier. Everyone who could have been involved is history (dead).


message 15: by KOMET (last edited Feb 05, 2019 09:42AM) (new)

KOMET From the tenor of the discussions here, I can see that everyone has their own view of what era encompasses historical fiction. For some, it is an era in which there are no longer any living witnesses. While for others, historical fiction touches upon an era that is as recent as 20 or 25 years ago.

Regarding men vs women writers, what matters to me is the talent the writer has - period. Among 2 of my favorite writers are women whose works I've enjoyed reading for the past 2 decades --- Sujata Massey and Elizabeth Jane Howard.

As for male writers, some of my favorites are -- Gore Vidal, John Mortimer, James Baldwin, Patrick O'Brian, Charles McCarry, and John le Carré.


The Golden Age by Gore Vidal


message 16: by Dolf (new)

Dolf Patijn Thanks for this list. I'm a photographer myself and I'm looking forward to reading Elise Hooper's novel about Dorothea Lange. I also have her debut novel in my reader. There are a few more books on this list that I'm interested in. I like reading (historical) novels from both male and female perspectives.


message 17: by Karen (new)

Karen Paul wrote: "I deleted my comment. I thought this was a goodreads generated sales pitch and was surprised by the narrow focus. My gripe is with the time frame. The settings are too modern for my taste. What one..."

I totally agree with this. There are many people alive who remember the Second World War so it is not fair to treat books set then the same as novels set in the Ancient or Medieval periods. Or even the Victorian period. I also get really fed up with novels set in the twentieth century always winning the historical fiction Goodreads Choice award.


message 18: by Morena (new)

Morena Paul wrote: "I deleted my comment. I thought this was a goodreads generated sales pitch and was surprised by the narrow focus. My gripe is with the time frame. The settings are too modern for my taste. What one..."

I agree with you Paul. If these narrow view points and time periods is all that HF today has to offer, then I better look elsewhere.


message 19: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Brianna wrote: "All of them. Why are people on Goodreads if they're going to bad mouth books?"

I was wondering the same thing!!!


message 20: by Suvi (last edited Feb 10, 2019 10:08AM) (new)

Suvi Historical fiction according to Encyclopedia Britannica: "Historical novel, a novel that has as its setting a period of history and that attempts to convey the spirit, manners, and social conditions of a past age with realistic detail and fidelity (which is in some cases only apparent fidelity) to historical fact."

Sounds reasonable to me. The way I see it, everything that is taught as history in schools and universities belongs to historical fiction as well. Of course, the closer we come to the 21st century, it's a matter of debate where we draw the line, but WWII is definitely history.

Besides, this is just a very small portion of new releases. I'm sure there's something for everyone.


message 21: by Sherry (new)

Sherry I am SO over the glut of WWI and WWII era books.


message 22: by julia (new)

julia Dear Goodreads,
ALL of the books seem intriguing to me (i’m A book obsessor) but The Lost Girls of Paris pulls me to want to read it the most (= I like how the author seems to be focusing on a woman’s side of spying; cant wait to read it!


message 23: by Amy (new)

Amy Sowders I already had quite a few of these books on my TBR list, but I did add a few more. I’m obsessed with historical fiction right now!


message 24: by Brittany (new)

Brittany The Lost History of Dreams 😍


message 25: by Marcos (new)

Marcos Most of these novels are intriguing for different reasons. The Nickel Boys and Daisy & the Six are new “must reads” for me.
This list, however, seriously lacks male authors, which I’ve found to be common these days. Either there truly is a lack of interesting male authors, or the writing of modern female authors is simply better. Thoughts?


message 26: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones Marcos wrote: "Most of these novels are intriguing for different reasons. The Nickel Boys and Daisy & the Six are new “must reads” for me.
This list, however, seriously lacks male authors, which I’ve found to be..."


We already had the gender discussion here: https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/1...


message 27: by Bert (new)

Bert Reza wrote: "Definitely none of books listed above."

Me either. These lists are becoming what I look at to determine what I will definitely avoid. So sad.


message 28: by Amy (new)

Amy Bruno Stephanie wrote: "I am counting down the minutes for the release of Lost Roses. Lilac Girls is one of my all time favorite books."

I just finished ready an early copy of it. It was fabulous!


message 29: by Sarah (new)

Sarah What's with all the WWI and WWII themed books? Are there no interesting books set in much earlier time periods?


message 30: by fil (new)

fil I agree with those who said they're fed up with the amount of 'near history' that purports to be history, and the number of historical novels set in the second world war. Why are there no novels set in less recent times on this list? Were there none to choose from or is it that the compilers of this list prefer more recent history themselves so have overlooked them. Don't care if they're written by a woman or a man, but we need to see some diversity here.


message 31: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Bennett Holly wrote: "The Lost History of Dreams looks interesting. I was considering Daisy Jones & the Six until I saw it was set in the '60's.......but the pre-punk era of rock and roll..."

The fact that it is set in the 60s is precisely why I want to read it! I was a child then and a teenager when punk happened and the two are definitely related.


message 32: by fil (new)

fil Loredana wrote: "My novel Curse of Gold falls under the Historical Fiction Genre. I am a little perturbed that it is not listed here, after having received 5 Star Ratings. Is it wrong of me to voice my gripe on thi..."

I took a look at your book which was quite hard to find. I see you have 3 reviews and ratings, as you say, all 5 star ones. So I took a look at some of the books listed above - they have hundreds of ratings on them. So I think that might answer your question about why your book isn't included here. We can but dream...


message 33: by Loredana (new)

Loredana Kaminski fil wrote: "Loredana wrote: "My novel Curse of Gold falls under the Historical Fiction Genre. I am a little perturbed that it is not listed here, after having received 5 Star Ratings. Is it wrong of me to voic..."

fil wrote: "Loredana wrote: "My novel Curse of Gold falls under the Historical Fiction Genre. I am a little perturbed that it is not listed here, after having received 5 Star Ratings. Is it wrong of me to voic..."

Thanks Fil, just got to keep on plodding along. Maybe one day!


message 34: by samantha carter (new)

samantha carter Really looking forward to read Daisy Jones and the six.


message 35: by fil (new)

fil Loredana wrote: "fil wrote: "Loredana wrote: "My novel Curse of Gold falls under the Historical Fiction Genre. I am a little perturbed that it is not listed here, after having received 5 Star Ratings. Is it wrong o..."
I'd love to know how they got all those ratings on their books though, wouldn't you?


message 36: by Loredana (new)

Loredana Kaminski fil wrote: "Loredana wrote: "fil wrote: "Loredana wrote: "My novel Curse of Gold falls under the Historical Fiction Genre. I am a little perturbed that it is not listed here, after having received 5 Star Ratin..."
yes at least I know that the few ratings I have received are genuine


message 37: by fil (new)

fil I think the hardest thing about being an author is getting your book noticed. I'm in the middle of reading a book about how to do this and it's quite mind boggling. I can only assume that the writers of those books listed above are really good at it. Wish I was.


message 38: by Irene (new)

Irene Nash The Huntress and the Lost Roses sound good!


message 39: by Kymm (new)

Kymm Cummins Can't wait for the release of Lost Roses. I've already pre ordered a copy of the book and am waiting with patience for it to arrive in April. I found a deal on a signed copy of the book through Barnes and Noble and am so excited. I don't think I have any signed books in my collection.


message 40: by Thom (new)

Thom Jones Aenea wrote: "Paul wrote: "Who picks these books? Sixteen historical novels and only one is written by a man. I guess they couldn't ignore Colson Whitehead. All the books, except Whitehead's, deal with women. Tw..."

So if women were offended and disadvantaged by reading male authors (and I can understand that they might be) why are they surprised and offended if men (or women) want a mix of author gender/topics?


message 42: by Kayla (new)

Kayla Heineman Agreed. So many historical fiction novels are about war. It's getting old. Laura wrote: "Too many WWI and WWII books! As a book club, we limit how many war books we'll read ... The Island of Sea Women seems most interesting to me. But is there a war involved! Manhattan Beach was about ..."


message 43: by Sandra (new)

Sandra I've been very interested in WWll novels. Maybe because my grandfather was in WWl and my father in WWll. Lilac Girls was excellent and I googled them and learned all about them.


message 44: by Robert Breslin (new)

Robert Breslin Wow! Misandry much? And not just this issue. Don't bother to beat me up like you did Paul, Ladies. I'm done with Goodreads.


message 45: by Kymm (new)

Kymm Cummins Aenea wrote: "Paul wrote: "Who picks these books? Sixteen historical novels and only one is written by a man. I guess they couldn't ignore Colson Whitehead. All the books, except Whitehead's, deal with women. Tw..." I too think of historical as before WWI. I enjoy reading about WWII, but my preference is prior to that time, especially the Tudors and the Plantagenet era.


message 46: by Lisa Rose (new)

Lisa Rose McPherson Aenea wrote: "The Lost History of Dreams sounds intriguing :)" That book sounds like it is going to be wonderful, I can already feel my heart ache from their pain.


message 47: by Gail (new)

Gail Odonnell I really enjoyed The Night Tiger. I’m enjoying historical fiction now and it was different than the WW 2 books that I have been obsessed with!


message 48: by Linda (new)

Linda Love historical fiction!! Can’t wait for these books!!!


message 49: by Nancy (new)

Nancy The Victory Garden is the only one that I might read . I’ve enjoyed Rhys Bowen writing. I agree with comments too many WWl WWll choices.


message 50: by Camilla (new)

Camilla I agree. Too many WWl and WWll books!!! Lost History of Dreams might be interesting!


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