If you love historical fiction, read these recommendations (and why they were chosen)

This website is a treasure trove of interviews of experts about about the five best books in their topic. This posting by them is unusual as it combines a number of lists and links to related interviews for different categories of historical fiction. Enjoy.


Here is our collection of expert book recommendations of the best historical fiction: engaging reading lists for fans of historical novels seeking to be immersed in times past.

If you’re looking for the best new books in this genre, a great place to start is the annual Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. Our deputy editor Cal Flyn speaks to the chair of the judges every year – they read dozens of submissions so as to compile a shortlist of the best new historical novels every year.

If you’re looking for classic works of historical fiction, we have recommendations from bestselling novelist, Vanora Bennett, who chose the the best historical novels ever published. Zimbabwean novelist Tendai Huchu chose his top hf books, including three set in Africa.

In terms of specific time periods, it came up so often that we have a list of highly recommended novels set in the Second World War.

Many of the world’s leading historians have made reading lists for Five Books, and here are some historical fiction recommendations by historians. These are good books if you enjoy historically accurate fiction.

Probably our most-recommended author in this genre is Hilary Mantel, who has twice triumphed at the Booker Prize with the first two instalments of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. The third book in the trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, which charts Cromwell’s inevitable demise, was published in early 2020 and was included in Cal Flyn’s selection of the favourite novels of 2020.

Historical fiction is great for any reader who enjoys both history – and a good, atmospheric story to pull you along too.

The Best Historical Fiction: The 2020 Walter Scott Prize Shortlist, recommended by Katharine Grant

Read1The Town House
by Norah Lofts

by Anya Seton

Read3A Mortal Malice
by Hilda Lewis

Read4Green Darkness
by Anya Seton

by Anya Seton

The Best of Historical Fiction: The 2019 Walter Scott Prize Shortlist, recommended by Katharine Grant

Read1The Long Take
by Robin Robertson

Read2A Long Way from Home: A novel
by Peter Carey

Read3After the Party
by Cressida Connolly

Read4The Western Wind: A Novel
by Samantha Harvey

Read5Now We Shall Be Entirely Free
by Andrew Miller

by Michael Ondaatje

Vanora Bennett recommends the best Historical Fiction

Read1War and Peace (Book)
by Leo Tolstoy

Read2The Name of the Rose
by Umberto Eco

Read3An Instance of the Fingerpost
by Iain Pears

Read4Wolf Hall
by Hilary Mantel

Read5Tipping the Velvet
by Sarah Waters

Tendai Huchu recommends the best Historical Fiction

Read1Here Lies Arthur
by Philip Reeve

Read2Secrets and Sapphires
by Leila Rasheed

Read3The Sterkarm Handshake
by Susan Price

Read4Hell and Highwater
by Tanya Landman

Read5The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo
by Catherine Johnson

Tendai Huchu recommends the best Historical Fiction

Read1War and Peace (Book)
by Leo Tolstoy

Read2Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
by Susanna Clarke

Read3Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe

Read4This September Sun
by Bryony Rheam

by Jennifer Makumbi

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