New Historical Fiction Not Set During World War II

Posted by Cybil on August 28, 2019
Many of today's historical fiction novels are set during World War II. To help you broaden your reading list beyond those war years, we looked at 2019's historical fiction books that take place in a variety of other time periods—from 1648 England to 1960s Florida.

Below you'll find the biggest non-WWII historical fiction of the year so far, plus we included three of the most anticipated titles of the rest of the year. (However, if you're still longing for WWII reading, check out this article.)

Which ones will you be adding to your Want to Read shelf?

New Non-WWII Historical Fiction
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Highly Anticipated Non-WWII Historical Fiction
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Which of these books are you most excited to read? Let us know in the comments!

Check out more recent articles:
The Most Read Books on Goodreads in August
The Big Books of Fall
7 Great Books Hitting Shelves This Week

Comments Showing 1-49 of 49 (49 new)

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The Masked Reader Daisy Jones, yess!


message 2: by Kim (new)

Kim Lansing Javelyn wrote: "Daisy Jones, yess!"

Loved reading that book! So glad it made the list.


message 3: by Katsuro (new)

Katsuro Ricksand It's sorta funny that World War II era historical fiction seems to outnumber every other darn era in the history of history.


message 4: by Ankit (new)

Ankit Saxena H-F is Love and Life.


message 5: by Janine (new)

Janine Though it's Young Adult and from a smaller publisher, there's Across a Broken Shore that takes place in the 1930's when the Golden Gate Bridge is being built. It's out this fall, though there's also Nothing But Sky by the same author that's about barnstorming in the 1920's.


message 6: by Jouana Farlin (new)

Jouana Farlin Seva Only read What the Wind Knows and did not regret a thing. It's one of my top new historical fiction books! Amy Harmon so good. Next to read on this list is Daisy Jones and The Six and I also got When We Left Cuba. :)


message 7: by Andrew (new)

Andrew What?? I don't believe it. Historical fiction books that aren't dual narrative WW2-mystery-drama / present-day-characters-investigating-said-WW2-mystery-drama's.


message 8: by Ankit (new)

Ankit Saxena Katsuro wrote: "It's sorta funny that World War II era historical fiction seems to outnumber every other darn era in the history of history."

Right. Nothing is more realistic and connecting then this Era's writings.


message 9: by Ankit (new)

Ankit Saxena Jouana Farlin wrote: "Only read What the Wind Knows and did not regret a thing. It's one of my top new historical fiction books! Amy Harmon so good. Next to read on this list is Daisy Jones and The Six and I also got Wh..."

Jouana, Two of the Best are not here, but if You read "The Book Thief" and "The Boy in Stripped Pajamas"; then You must have already enjoyed this genre to the fullest.


message 10: by Jay (new)

Jay DiNitto Whoa whoa whoa...are you saying there are antagonists in historical fiction that aren't Nazis?


message 11: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana Andrew wrote: "What?? I don't believe it. Historical fiction books that aren't dual narrative WW2-mystery-drama / present-day-characters-investigating-said-WW2-mystery-drama's."

Lollll. I concur. The audacity.


Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You Andrew wrote: "What?? I don't believe it. Historical fiction books that aren't dual narrative WW2-mystery-drama / present-day-characters-investigating-said-WW2-mystery-drama's."

love it! i wasn't aware there was ANY historical fiction NOT based in and around WWII...
:)


Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You Jay wrote: "Whoa whoa whoa...are you saying there are antagonists in historical fiction that aren't Nazis?"

:))))))))))


Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition Yay! No offense meant, but I am sooo tired of every setting being before, during and immediately after WWIl !!
Daisy Jones and The Summer of '69 are both awesome reads!


message 15: by Meg (last edited Aug 28, 2019 06:53AM) (new)

Meg Andrew wrote: "What?? I don't believe it. Historical fiction books that aren't dual narrative WW2-mystery-drama / present-day-characters-investigating-said-WW2-mystery-drama's."

It's refreshing that some authors have original ideas! Or when book covers aren't all women's facing away, with bag/luggage in hand and planes and/or Big Ben in the distance.


message 16: by Vanessa (new)

Vanessa I need this list even though I've heard of the first 3 already. But I thought I didn't like historical fiction, but I just don't like WWI/II historical fiction.

I like the other kinds. Period pieces set in the 60s-70s like Mad Men, magical realism like The Night Tiger, or YA paranormal/magical like The Diviners, The Gilded Wolves, and The Magicians.


message 17: by Nancy (new)

Nancy It is hard to pick just one. I have read "Victory Garden" and "What the Wind Knows" and was very pleased with my selections. I tend to pick WW II historical fiction especially those that have a basis in fact. However I would like to move away from that era a little more often.
I have read Chanel Cleeton's other book about Cuba https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3... which I would recommend.


message 18: by Kelly (new)

Kelly It may not be new but Beneath A Marble Sky was a fantastic read!


message 19: by Mark (new)

Mark Taverna It's kind of disheartening to see that there are next to no books on this list that would appeal to me, a lover of historical fiction. Maybe 'The Nickel Boys' and 'Summer of '69' and that's it.

I tend to prefer historical novels with a healthy touch of exploration, adventure and combat. These novels look to have none of that. They all look very genteel and low-key, and at the risk of angry accusations of sexism, written for a female audience.

Even the vast list of modern WW2 fiction is almost entirely comprised of books about people on the homefronts, refugees, spies, camp prisoners, etc. mainly with female protagonists. I can't find one historical fiction book about WW2 soldiers in combat written this century that is not a self-published pulpy sort of story.

I guess there just isn't a market today for historical novels written for a male readership. Oh well, at least I still have my collections of Gary Jennings and George MacDonald Fraser and the other old boys to revisit.


message 20: by Sophie (new)

Sophie Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You wrote: "Andrew wrote: "What?? I don't believe it. Historical fiction books that aren't dual narrative WW2-mystery-drama / present-day-characters-investigating-said-WW2-mystery-drama's."

love it! i wasn't ..."


Gone With the Wind?


message 21: by Amy (new)

Amy Imogene Reads THANK YOU for this! As someone who doesn't like WWII era historical fiction but still wants to read something historical....it's a hard world out there 🤷‍♀️


message 22: by Aenea (new)

Aenea Jones I want historical fiction set in England somewhere between the 13th-19th century, NOT including a stereotypical cis romance... all other elements are welcome though, gothic, paranormal, fantasy, whatever. Just not the same female character falling for the same guy.


message 23: by Lori (new)

Lori Monte Currently simultaneously reading What the Wind Knows and listening to the audio of Daisy Jones and the Six! Loving both!!


message 24: by Lori (new)

Lori Monte Amy wrote: "THANK YOU for this! As someone who doesn't like WWII era historical fiction but still wants to read something historical....it's a hard world out there 🤷‍♀️"
Right with you!! I've read a few WWII but need a break


message 25: by Michael (new)

Michael D. 'Cause We're the Cops of the World
This is historical fiction set in the 1980's that deals with the Iran-Contra Affair, The War on Drugs, & The Rise in the US Prison Population.


message 26: by Jenna (new)

Jenna 🤣🤣 I didn't know there are non-WWII historical fiction! Love this!


message 27: by Isa (new)

Isa Thank you for the suggestions, I'd like to read about something that is not WWII


message 28: by Extinction (new)

Extinction Feels like goodreads was reading my mind! There is an oversaturation of WWII historical fiction nowadays and frankly I want other time periods.
Thank you!!


Nitya (semi hiatus) Daisy Jones & The Stationery Shop!

There’s also The Weight of Our Sky (60s race riots in Malaysia) and Conqueror’s Saga (genderbent Vlad the Impaler)


message 30: by Bella (new)

Bella I have recently enjoyed historical fiction by Adriana Trigiani, Fiona Davis and also The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman.


message 31: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Meet Me in Monaco and so many more i can't seem to read fast enough!


message 32: by Aurora (new)

Aurora Yay! Non ww2 novels!


message 33: by Brittany (new)

Brittany Great article, it's so true that historical fiction is oversaturated with WWII! Although I love them, this is a great list to get out of the rut!


message 34: by Julia (new)

Julia Mark Taverna, I’m a female lover of historical fiction, and I absolutely agree with many of your points made. It seems as though the majority of historical fiction books published within the past few years are actually historical romance. I guess it’s a lot easier to write a formulaic romance-based plot than to take the time to develop a story focused on male to male friendship, combat, or the emotional effects of war on soldiers. The over representation of romance in recent HF feels like cheap writing.

Bernard Cornwell’s books have the elements you’re looking for. If you haven’t already, it’s also worth reading The Narrow Road to the Deep North. It’s a beautifully written book about the harsh realities of war written from a man’s perspective, and I promise that there is absolutely no sap. 😀


message 35: by Diana (new)

Diana Fowler Am waiting for the next installment of the 'Outlander' series.


message 36: by Mark (last edited Aug 28, 2019 04:38PM) (new)

Mark Taverna Julia wrote: "Mark Taverna, I’m a female lover of historical fiction, and I absolutely agree with many of your points made. It seems as though the majority of historical fiction books published within the past f..."

Hi Julia! Thank you for your response and your recommendations! I was kind of scared after I posted it. I was afraid my opinions would ruffle some feathers. Kind of a sensitive climate we seem to be in lately.

I was very happy to see someone agrees with me! I have read a few of Cornwell's books and I enjoy them very much. Thanks to your tip, I am definitely going to check out "The Narrow Road to the Deep North". I had a look on Amazon and it sounds like a very interesting story!

Thanks again!


message 37: by Donna (new)

Donna McEachran Daisy Jones was great. Looking forward to reading the new Jojo Moyes book and have Meet Me In Monaco on my to be read pile.


message 38: by Shawna (new)

Shawna I have always felt so alone. As someone who read way too many WWII novels, and kept getting them all melded into one story, I have stopped reading anything WWII related. I am so glad I am not alone in thinking that the publishing industry is way too flooded with this era. There is so much more to explore in history!
Thank you for this list. I have actually read a few of them, and cannot wait to get to many more.


message 39: by Leanne (new)

Leanne I would add Burial Rites to that list....crazy interesting story about the last woman executed in Iceland in the 1800s


message 40: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie Jones Jouana Farlin wrote: "Only read What the Wind Knows and did not regret a thing. It's one of my top new historical fiction books! Amy Harmon so good. Next to read on this list is Daisy Jones and The Six and I also got Wh..."

Yes this is an amazing book. I cried like a baby


The Masked Reader Kim wrote: "Javelyn wrote: "Daisy Jones, yess!"

Loved reading that book! So glad it made the list."


Yup me too.


message 42: by C I N D L E (new)

C I N D L E I'm an occasional reader of WWII historical fiction and I agree with many of the points made here.
First time/debut authors, take notes: all the above is true, so refresh your stale story ideas.

The genre would be less laughable and get more credence if the majority of its authors were not so hell bent on writing every WWII story with an unnecessary, saccharine sweet, eye rolling romance of a 22-years-old-orphan-heroine-who-is-too-big-for-her-britches-but-is-the-ONLY-person-in-France-who-can-save-the-one-dimensional-townfolks-while-an-arrogant-23-years-old-bravado-lad-chases-her-while-they-both-search-for-the-girl's-grandfather-who-just-happen-to-have-once-pissed-off-the-new-Commandant-of-the-once-storybook-town-that-is-now-adding-sawdust-to-flour-to-yield-more-bread-loaves-for-it's-skeletal-citizens-who-are-all-planning-an-intricate-scheme-to-escape/kill/bomb/revolt/avenge-for-the-honor-of-France. Vive la France!

Ooof! Every. Single. Plot.

Authors, not every story needs a romance, and if you do add a romance, for goodness sake, stop with that trite, all-consuming "will they, won't they" nonsense. I've removed so many titles from my to be read list after seeing other reviewers mention the romance in some stories. It's as if most HF authors all went to the same writing class.


message 43: by Bren (last edited Aug 28, 2019 08:59PM) (new)

Bren Shawna wrote: "I have always felt so alone. As someone who read way too many WWII novels, and kept getting them all melded into one story, I have stopped reading anything WWII related. I am so glad I am not alone..."

I created a list: Historical Fiction or non fiction books NOT about WW2.

There are a great many on there that I added and anyone can vote. I too am an avid Historical Fiction fan but (usually) do not like WW2 Books. Check it out and you can add books too!


message 44: by Ankit (new)

Ankit Saxena Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You wrote: "Andrew wrote: "What?? I don't believe it. Historical fiction books that aren't dual narrative WW2-mystery-drama / present-day-characters-investigating-said-WW2-mystery-drama's."

love it! i wasn't ..."


Same here. :D


message 45: by Ankit (new)

Ankit Saxena Julia wrote: "Mark Taverna, I’m a female lover of historical fiction, and I absolutely agree with many of your points made. It seems as though the majority of historical fiction books published within the past f..."

We're losing the real sense of Historical Fiction now a Days.


message 46: by Mary (new)

Mary Treat yourself and listen to Daisy Jones on audio book. Amazing!


message 47: by Shawna (new)

Shawna Bren wrote: "Shawna wrote: "I have always felt so alone. As someone who read way too many WWII novels, and kept getting them all melded into one story, I have stopped reading anything WWII related. I am so glad..."
I am not finding this! Every time I look for lists NOT about WWII I just keep getting books on WWII. It feels like a trap! LOL


message 48: by Bren (new)

Bren Shawna wrote: "Bren wrote: "Shawna wrote: "I have always felt so alone. As someone who read way too many WWII novels, and kept getting them all melded into one story, I have stopped reading anything WWII related...."

Sent you a PM. I can send you the list directly.


message 49: by Lilabelle (new)

Lilabelle Beyond The Moon: A Haunting Novel Of Time Travel And WW1

For something a little outside the usual box! It's set in WW1, not WW2, and is a rather unusual mix of WW1 historical fiction and time travel love story.


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