The Unknown, Hidden Gems of Historical Fiction

Please no well-known books. That definitely means best-sellers, prize-winners, generally prolific author and books, or even something currently trendy.

*Books with more than 20,000 ratings will be removed.

And PLEASE ONLY historical fiction. Nothing is more annoying that HF list full of classics portraying the own time they were written in. For example any Bronte, Austen, L.M. Montgomery is not historical fiction.

Historical fiction portrays a time period long before the period in which they were written (at least 70-80 years.)
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flag this list (?)
1,653 books · 1,503 voters · list created October 17th, 2011 by Feathzzz (votes) .
435 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Feathzzz 858 books
13 friends
Meghan 965 books
234 friends
Therese 971 books
69 friends
Libbie Hawker 391 books
216 friends
Catherine 3781 books
71 friends
Mary 1118 books
43 friends
Lynn 48 books
0 friends
Brenda 4318 books
14 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-50 of 102) (102 new)


message 1: by Jane (new)

Jane Nice list!


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Island of the Blue Dolphins is an unknown, hidden gem? With 93,000 ratings here? Not to mention the Newbery Medal.


message 3: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Susanna wrote: "Island of the Blue Dolphins is an unknown, hidden gem? With 93,000 ratings here? Not to mention the Newbery Medal."

I agree. There are some odd additions here, and not really historical at first glance.


message 4: by Misfit (last edited Jul 12, 2012 04:01AM) (new)

Misfit And how does a self-published book get on this list?

Trapped in Shades of Grey by Christopher Slater


message 5: by Hayes (last edited Jul 12, 2012 04:14AM) (new)

Hayes Attempting to be not-quite-so unknown, obviously.

Shall I remove it?


message 6: by Iset (new)

Iset That's not the only example.


message 7: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Hayes wrote: "Attempting to be not-quite-so unknown, obviously.

Shall I remove it?"


I'm thinking yes. Some of these do need a closer look. Iceland is another odd choice. Not unknown, reasonably recent and not HF. It's based on fairytales and legends. And why are mysteries here?


message 8: by Misfit (last edited Jul 12, 2012 05:35AM) (new)


message 9: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Story of a Comfort Girl (I'm thinking the author voted this on list)
Roma Arroyo (another author vote?)
The Shadow in the North
Down the Common: A Year in the Life of a Medieval Woman

Ladies?


message 10: by Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (last edited Jul 12, 2012 06:16AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) I added the Judge Dee mysteries because they do take great pains to portray the historical period during which they're set (the author was an expert on, inter alia, Chinese history), IMHO they're undeservedly underrated on GR and hardly any English speaker I know in "real life" seems to be aware of them, either. If that's a skewed perspective, I'd be VERY happy to hear as much!

Was tempted to comment in a similar vein on "Restoration," though -- surely after the movie it can't be THAT much of a "hidden gem" any longer?

I do however agree on "Island of the Blue Dolphins," and would say the same for "Wolf Brother," as well as "Pirates!," "Anna's Book" (wasn't that even an award winner ... or finalist, at least?), "These is My Words" (over 22.000 GR ratings!) and plenty of other entries.

I'm afraid, lacking any specific criteria (such as a "hard" delineation on the basis of the number of GR ratings, as is the case with several other lists), this list is destined to fast deteriorate into one of those essentially un-rescuable things where everybody adds what they themselves consider "a hidden gem of historical fiction" ... even if they do at least stick to the definition of "historical fiction" as something set before the author's own life time. (I'm not holding my breath for Austen and the Brontes not to end up showing up here as well, though ...)


message 11: by Jane (new)

Jane Keep cleaning up that list, friends. Um, authors adding their own books smacks a little of desperation...


message 12: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Themis-Athena wrote: "I added the Judge Dee mysteries because they do take great pains to portray the historical period during which they're set (the author was an expert on, inter alia, Chinese history), IMHO they're u..."

Thanks for that input, I'm not familiar with them and can't judge. I hope the list *owner* would return and clarify what fits the criteria.

@ Jane. It's even more pathetic when they nominate their books for group reads. Or the author who shall remain nameless actually went on FB and asked her friends to vote up her book so it topped a list of famous mistresses...

No, I'm not kidding.


message 13: by Alessandra (last edited Jul 12, 2012 07:27AM) (new)

Alessandra Misfit wrote: "It's even more pathetic when they nominate their books for group reads. Or the author who shall remain nameless actually went on FB and asked her friends to vote up her book so it topped a list of famous mistresses......"

There's a list for books like that, "Ballot Box Stuffing: Books For Which People Have Gamed the Listopia System" at:
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/21...

Also, beware of the concept of list "owners" and their returning to clarity. The creator of this list:
http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/14...

returned after a long absence last Sunday, removed EVERYBODY's votes (167 people, dozens of books), and replaced the list with a new one of her own with her boyfriend's book at the top of the list (It has since been admin-cleansed and new voters have started showing up).

And that wasn't even a list with unclear definitions or inappropriate books.


message 14: by Misfit (new)

Misfit I seem to recall getting a notice from GR when I was going to edit one of my own lists (removing inappropriate books). Up flashed a warning that you had better be pretty darned sure the other votes were appropriate to remove, or something like that. They were very serious about not messing around with lists to suit your own purpose.

It would be nice if the list originator could come back to clarify on the list description what he/she does or does not want here.

@ Themis-Athena. Good point about Restoration. It can't be that obscure anymore, can it?


message 15: by Karla (last edited Jul 12, 2012 08:01AM) (new)

Karla For that matter, is Jean Plaidy really that hidden a gem? She's been republished over and over for decades and is an HF standard.


message 16: by Alessandra (last edited Jul 12, 2012 08:35AM) (new)

Alessandra Misfit wrote: "I seem to recall getting a notice from GR when I was going to edit one of my own lists (removing inappropriate books). Up flashed a warning that you had better be pretty darned sure the other votes..."

Yes, if you try to remove a book from a list you get a severely-worded dialogue box before you can complete the action. I have seen it a few times when removing books with the wrong publication date from a list of books published in one year. It's automatic.

I should think people ought to think carefully before removing books from lists (although clearly they don't always).

The thing is, distasteful though people adding their own books may be, it is not against the site's policies. You can refrain from voting for them, but if they more or less fit the list's description they should probably be let alone.

I started the "Ballot Box Stuffing" list because I didn't like that behavior, but I haven't gone around removing those books from the lists they're on because A) that would be really high-handed and obnoxious and besides, B) they generally qualify according to Goodreads' terms.

I think the policy about removing books from lists is for really egregious misfits.

I do agree that a book with thousands of ratings probably does not qualify as "unknown hidden."


message 17: by Misfit (new)

Misfit I know Susanna *specializes* in keeping lists clean. I'll leave the judgment of what stays and doesn't to others. I left my thoughts, but I'm not the list creator.


message 18: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Jul 12, 2012 09:58AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Yep, you get that warning every time. It's why I'm cautious about removing things. Removing the works of Thomas Hardy from "Best Books About Tudor England" - that was easy. Other decisions are harder. I like to give the benefit of the doubt if I'm not sure.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "For that matter, is Jean Plaidy really that hidden a gem? She's been republished over and over for decades and is an HF standard."

She's a standard of historical fiction!


message 20: by Sharon (new)

Sharon I am delighted to find Tanamera in second place. I read it about 15 years ago and still remember how much I loved it -- but never heard of it again. I'm glad other readers have dug it up and voted. Well deserved!


message 21: by Dawn (& Ron) (new)

Dawn (& Ron) Thanks Laura for inviting me to this list. I have many of these on my TBR or wishlist and see more that I will have to consider. This could be a very dangerous list!

I agree with some of the sentiments brought up here regarding what belongs and what doesn't. I found it difficult to decide what to add to the list, not being sure what was considered too popular or well known. I removed Plaidy's Madonna of the Seven Hills after reading the comments, having included it because of the other Plaidys listed. I mainly focused on books that I, and sometimes Ron, felt deserved more attention. If anyone disagrees with any of our selections, please let me know. Maybe by our discussion here we can come up with better guidelines.

Misfit, Ron and I have to second the Judge Dee novels. Although they are listed as mysteries, they follow actual cases, but it is the real Judge Dee and how Ancient China, its people and culture are handled that make them HF for us. But I can see where letting mysteries in could muddy things, I also included Tom Bradby's The White Russian: A Novel for its historical aspects, although it does have a mystery. Maybe we need another list for hidden historical fiction mystery gems.


message 22: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Thanks for the input Dawn. I did notice that a lot of the books we were wondering about were added by the list creator, so we'll just go with that?


message 23: by Darlene (last edited Jul 21, 2012 11:50AM) (new)

Darlene Williams Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "For that matter, is Jean Plaidy really that hidden a gem? She's been republished over and over for decades and is an HF standard."

Jean Plaidy is NOT an unknown gem; neither is Anya Seaton, Pauline Gedge, Simon Scarrow, Cynthia Harrod Eagles, colleen McCullough, Anne Easter Smith and Daphne du Maurier. All great authors, but not newbies by any means.


message 24: by Dawn (& Ron) (new)

Dawn (& Ron) Darlene, glad you came over and checked out the list. You have noticed the issue that others of us have. I agree with some of your mentions and wonder why they are on the list but apparently, as Misfit mentioned, some of these were placed on there by the original list maker. Maybe they were new discoveries to her, it's hard to say. BTW, the unknown HF gems don't need to be newbies, OOP authors/books are also to be included, basically anything that you feel deserves wider attention.

My husband and I are responsible for adding the Scarrow since it seemed none of his books exceeded a high number of ratings. The Cynthia Harrod Eagles, which we didn't post, is for her lessor known Russian trilogy. I do think, as others have mentioned, for a list like this, more specific guidelines need to be put in place. Maybe this will spawn a new list but despite these minor issues, I've found quite a few interesting books I want to look into. All in all that's a good thing.


message 25: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Jul 21, 2012 08:52PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Also, there can be neglected works by big authors. I added a couple of those. All under 1000 ratings here, mostly much less.


message 26: by D (new)

D I hope this is ok, I added a few books-- The Green Man by Henry Treece-- a fictional retelling of the historical events that Shakespeare's Hamlet (Amleth) is based on.

I also added three books by Doris Sutcliffe Adams-- the real name of the author who wrote Red Adam's Lady-- already listed. All three were published in the UK in the 50's-60's. All deserve to be better known.

I've also read the Judge Dee novels and recommend them.


message 27: by Melodie (new)

Melodie Ramone I just realized that my book, After Forever Ends, is sitting at number 15. Although I appreciate the effort of those who liked it enough to vote for it, I would not classify AFE as a historical fiction novel and I don't feel it belongs on this list. It's not fair to the other authors who do write in the genre that it's there. Plus, I'd hate it if somebody was misled and bought something they wouldn't enjoy. So, please, if someone would kindly remove it, feel free to do so with my blessing. Thank you!


message 28: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Melodie wrote: "I just realized that my book, After Forever Ends, is sitting at number 15. Although I appreciate the effort of those who liked it enough to vote for it, I would not classify AFE as a historical fi..."

Thank you for pointing it out Melodie. I'll get it removed.


message 29: by Karen (new)

Karen Thank you for pointing out the distinction between historical fiction and classic books -- it's so annoying!!


message 30: by Fiona (new)

Fiona Hurley Outlander and Pillars of the Earth are the opposite of "hidden".


message 31: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Roberto wrote: "I've just added _Rottenmeier_, a delightful novel with a gothic twist based on the popular children's story _Heidi_"

Since I am unable to read the book blurb in Spanish, could you please clarify how your book published in 2014 qualifies as 1) historical fiction and 2) hidden gem? As I understand the qualifications made by the list creator, the intention is more for those lesser known, somewhat lost and forgotten gems and not just published indies. Or maybe I just need to go get some coffee and reread the description.


message 32: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Curious about #6 Dreamers in Hell qualifying for this list. Looks like a group of you vote me, I'll vote your book group?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Looks like an authors-helping-authors circle.


message 34: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "Looks like an authors-helping-authors circle."

I am so surprised.

/sarcasm


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads ::golf clap::


message 36: by Misfit (new)

Misfit They are so silly, thinking we won't catch on.


message 37: by Libbie Hawker (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) Jane wrote: "Keep cleaning up that list, friends. Um, authors adding their own books smacks a little of desperation..."

Yyyyeah.

I'm an author, and it's a stark no-no to add your own books to lists that have superlatives for the title. You can't call your own books a "Hidden Gem"...that's just kinda not classy, you know?

Add it to a list that says something factual and straightforward, like "Historical Fiction Set in the Renaissance," or whatever, but not a list that attempts to make a subjective judgment call like this one.

That being said, I've seen some good picks on here! And added a few of my own. (Picks, that is, not my own books.) And voted. I'll now scroll through it and frantically add all these nice books to my TBR. :D


message 38: by Libbie Hawker (last edited May 09, 2014 03:32PM) (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) ...but I also think we all have different ideas of what constitutes a "hidden gem," so beyond issues with authors adding their own stuff to a subjective/superlative list, we're going to disagree on who's hidden/gemlike and who's not.

For example, I consider Pauline Gedge to be a very hidden gem. She's not totally unknown, but she's certainly not as well exposed as, say, Philippa Gregory or Ken Follett.

So maybe we need clearer guidelines...? I don't know. Or we're all going to have to take it a little less seriously and accept some of the additions we don't agree with. :)

ETA: Okay, the comment I was replying to was like two years old. THE MAN YOU ARE SPEAKING TO HAS BEEN DEAD FOR OVER TWO YEARS....

Never mind. :P


message 39: by Misfit (new)

Misfit L.M. wrote: "...but I also think we all have different ideas of what constitutes a "hidden gem," so beyond issues with authors adding their own stuff to a subjective/superlative list, we're going to disagree on..."

Lol. Lists are a matter of opinion, so we librarians generally don't mess with them unless a beek obvioult doesn't belong. There are a lot of interesting books here.


message 40: by Libbie Hawker (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) Beek obvioult = best autocorrect ever. That's going to be my new pen name.


message 41: by Marita (new)

Marita Sharon K. Penman is one of the most popular historical fiction authors, so her books are not exactly hidden gems either. I have voted for her books on just about every historical fiction list there is.


message 42: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Why is Philippa Gregory on this list?

Removed: The Royal Kidnapping. Not historical fiction.


message 43: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl I removed some well-known books. I'm sure there are more though...


message 44: by Misfit (new)

Misfit Lobstergirl wrote: "I removed some well-known books. I'm sure there are more though..."

Thanks. What is Josiah Stubb: The Siege of Louisbourg with a 2014 pub date doing at #1? I smell circle jerk voting.


message 45: by Elyse (new)

Elyse Maybe books with over 10,000 ratings should be removed?


message 46: by Booklovinglady (last edited Oct 27, 2014 01:08AM) (new)

Booklovinglady Currently on 279: The Woman in White. Hardly qualifies as 'unknown', now does it? Even if you have never heard of this classic, you only have to look at the ratings.... Apart from all this, Wilkie Collins is not a contemporary author so this work hardly counts as 'historical fiction', I'd say.

The Captain by Jan de Hartog (currently #606) is not historical fiction either. Even if you don't know the book, just compare the date of its first publication with the setting of the story.....


message 47: by Tytti (new)

Tytti The Historian has over 160,000 ratings, so I don't think it's very hidden (nor a gem but that's just my opinion).


message 48: by Libbie Hawker (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) I think maybe some of these were added early on, and got lots of ratings later that pushed them over the 500 threshold.


message 49: by MomToKippy (new)

MomToKippy Wolf Brother should definitely be on this list!


message 50: by Amy (new)

Amy Lafleur I'm excited to find this list. I read lots of historical fiction and am always on the look out for more titles to read.

I also have a few ideas in mind to add but am not sure if they are hidden enough. The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich comes to mind. Enjoyable read about a time that doesn't seem to appear in most bestseller HF. Is there a specific cut off number for the number of ratings a book must have to be "hidden" or criteria that proves that it's a gem?

All in all, I can't wait to explore this list further!


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