32 New Historical Fiction Novels Readers Are Raving About

Posted by Cybil on August 27, 2020


Let’s face it, 2020 is making us long for other timelines. Luckily, these 32 novels are ready to sweep you away to vastly different eras and settings; they represent your fellow readers’ top-ranked historical fiction novels published so far this year.

Get lost in Shakespeare’s Britain, wander through a sweeping family epic set in 20th century Vietnam, or creep into a Gothic horror set in 1950s Mexico. You can even let the pages transport you to 1918 Ireland during the Great Flu. The choice of where to armchair time travel is up to you, dear reader! 
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What historical fiction would you recommend? Share your picks in the comments below!

Check out more recent articles:
The Big Books of Fall
36 New Memoirs to Read Now
Goodreads Members Suggest: 32 ‘Vacation’ Reads

Comments Showing 1-50 of 148 (148 new)


message 1: by TMR (new)

TMR I love this collection.


message 2: by dany (new)

dany Good books but I'm not liking the recent trends in book covers tbh


message 3: by Ada (new)

Ada Evans I think that I'll read some of these!


message 4: by Simon (new)

Simon The only one in that list I've read so far is The Henna Artist


message 5: by Jim (new)

Jim dany wrote: "Good books but I'm not liking the recent trends in book covers tbh"

what trend is that??


message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim I am just excited that the overwhelming majority of these books are not WWII-based.
:)


message 7: by LadySofia (new)

LadySofia Simon wrote: "The only one in that list I've read so far is The Henna Artist"

How did you like it? It looks really nice and interresting.


message 8: by David (new)

David Dunlap Jim wrote: "I am just excited that the overwhelming majority of these books are not WWII-based.
:)"

Amen to that!


message 9: by William (new)

William B I want to read “The Last Train to Key West” by Chanel Cleeton.


message 10: by Simon (new)

Simon LadySofia wrote: "Simon wrote: "The only one in that list I've read so far is The Henna Artist"

How did you like it? It looks really nice and interresting."


Was very good! I hear the author Alka Joshi is in midst of writing a follow up (same characters), but 20 years later.


message 11: by Steve (new)

Steve Westenra Reading Carrie Callaghan's Salt the Snow at the moment, and it's very good.


message 12: by Milan (new)

Milan The Paris Hours was a beautiful escape. The Book of Longings made me cry. Jesus is the best fictional/nonfictional crush ever. The Vanishing Half was immaculate ✨


message 13: by Susan (new)

Susan Scott Milly wrote: "The Paris Hours was a beautiful escape. The Book of Longings made me cry. Jesus is the best fictional/nonfictional crush ever. The Vanishing Half was immaculate ✨"

Love this comment!


message 14: by Alyssa (new)

Alyssa Shocked that the book of lost names is not on there. Best book I've read this year


message 15: by Julie (new)

Julie Reed I have read Valentine and How much of these hills is gold, both are excellent books.


message 16: by Monica (new)

Monica (crazy_4_books) Is Goodreads trying to send us a sign that the first 15 of these will be on the Historical Fiction category for the 2020 awards?


message 17: by Susan (new)

Susan Schiller Reading Hamnet now


message 18: by NF (new)

NF This list looks awesome. I have read "The Vanishing Half" and "Long Petal of Sea". Both, very solid options. And this coming weekend I will start "The Henna Artist". So excited!!!


message 19: by Denise (new)

Denise Wow, it will take me forever to read all these exciting books! Thanks for this list!


message 20: by Stewart (new)

Stewart McLendon What specifically about the covers do you not like?

dany wrote: "Good books but I'm not liking the recent trends in book covers tbh"


message 21: by Carol (last edited Aug 28, 2020 11:50PM) (new)

Carol Rayner Great to see so much historical fiction not all ww2 or more recent


message 22: by Lazy (new)

Lazy Daizee A good selection of books.


message 23: by Rose (last edited Aug 30, 2020 03:32AM) (new)

Rose Jim wrote: "I am just excited that the overwhelming majority of these books are not WWII-based.
:)"

Oh, I definitely agree! I've read 8 of the books in this list so far and want to read at least 6 more. Big fan of Paulette Jiles, James McBride and Louise Erdrich.


message 24: by Tran (new)

Tran Chi It's so great. Thank you


message 25: by Lydia (new)

Lydia Stewart wrote: "What specifically about the covers do you not like?

dany wrote: "Good books but I'm not liking the recent trends in book covers tbh""


I agree with Stuart what about the covers do you not like?


message 26: by louise m. (new)

louise m. dany wrote: "Good books but I'm not liking the recent trends in book covers tbh"

how so?


message 27: by Yaaresse (new)

Yaaresse IMO, the covers of many of these are more interesting than "Woman with half of head cropped off" and "white, messy pseudo-handwritten scrawl of title on chaotic, splashy background." Oh, and lets not forget "back of woman walking away." Now if they'll just back off the shouty EVERY WORD IN ALL CAPS in favor of some interesting lettering than just screaming at us.


message 28: by Marta (last edited Aug 30, 2020 01:26PM) (new)

Marta dany wrote: "Good books but I'm not liking the recent trends in book covers tbh"

I agree. They all look alike. Bright colors, big letters, a flat design. Even ones with pictures are all scrawled over with writing.

I actually like bright colors. My problem is not that any of them are bad. It is that I look at this crop of covers and they blend together. They are too similar in style and feeling.


message 29: by Donna (new)

Donna Lundy I have read some of these titles & some are on my "to read" list. And I added a couple more as well! One title I would add is The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, which I recently read.


message 30: by Dylan (new)

Dylan Roundelay Great collection! For sure would add The Prince's Order" I happen to have a thing for Renaissance mysteries.. so this got me good. Recommend!


message 31: by Elise (new)

Elise Why is Mexican Gothic considered historical fiction?


message 32: by David (new)

David Murphy Demob !! La Quille bordel
Algerian War


message 33: by Vasu (new)

Vasu Ramanujam Check out "Ubaid Naseer" by Avi Vasu. This is the story of an unsung hero of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy of 1984.


message 34: by Muriel (new)

Muriel Jim. A Suitable Marriage, Muriel Bolger, is not WW11 based. ts set in starts in the last decades of 1800s


message 35: by Marianne (new)

Marianne Definitely Kate Morton. Read her first and last novel. Both pageturners and taking you back to various times


message 36: by Nathan (last edited Sep 01, 2020 03:51AM) (new)

Nathan Ron Erika Rummel - Her new historical novel "The Road to Gesualdo" - you missed it. Highly recommended!


message 37: by Aimee (new)

Aimee Dean I’d recommend The Letter, The Promise and The Locket by Ruth Saberton! These three historical functions are amazing!!!


message 38: by Alma (new)

Alma Marta Can’t wait to read Conjure Women, The Henna Artist, The Book of Lost Friends, Valentine and Opium and Absinthe
Such a great idea to suggest books of a genre that many of us don’t know about. Thanks a lot


message 39: by Raul (new)

Raul Guastavino 3 guys and 29 lady writers, long live genre equality!


message 40: by Trishbreid (new)

Trishbreid Alyssa wrote: "Shocked that the book of lost names is not on there. Best book I've read this year"

Agreed...


message 41: by Alma (new)

Alma Marta Raul wrote: "3 guys and 29 lady writers, long live genre equality!"

Well Raul you’ll have to start writing yourself


message 42: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan I Sorry to be contrary. I agree with Raul. Not a single book there catches my interest. But just as long as Alma has a chance to comment on others opinions, I'm ok.


message 43: by Alma (new)

Alma Marta Yes that’s what’s soooo good about this. We are all entitled to our opinions. Keep up the good work. It makes me 😃


message 44: by Raul (new)

Raul Guastavino "Yes that’s what’s soooo good about this. We are all entitled to our opinions. Keep up the good work. It makes me 😃" (Alma)

Same here!

As for trying to write, I have learnt to be a good reader only, I was not good enough at writing (though I tried when I was young)


message 45: by Kathy (new)

Kathy The Nightingale was great!


message 46: by Holly (new)

Holly Read Mexican Gothic. A great setting and time period.


message 47: by Joe (new)


message 48: by Brian (new)

Brian Norman How are you missing AGAINST THE MACHINE: LUDDITES by Brian Van Norman after all the superb reviews it's received from England, the USA and Canada? Really, all these books are from large publishers. Take a less algorithmic approach!


message 49: by Joy (new)

Joy Marchone I would recommend The Book of Lost Friends....


message 50: by Charlie (new)

Charlie Casper How could you miss ‘“Beneath A Scarlet Sky”?


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