16 recent historical novels based on real women

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16 New Historical Novels Based on Real Women

By Angela Erickson, December 15, 2022

We love reading engrossing novels about phenomenal women — and it’s even better when they’re based on stories that actually happened! We’ve rounded up some of the best historical fiction based on the lives of real women, and we guarantee you’ll find a book that will captivate and inspire you.

Book cover for The Invincible Miss Cust by Penny Haw

The Invincible Miss Cust

Penny Haw

According to author Lisa Wingate, this tale of the first woman veterinarian in Great Britain is “inspiring, heartwarming, and ultimately triumphant.” Her aristocratic Irish family may not understand Aleen Isabel Cust’s love for animals, but that won’t deter her from pursuing her dreams. From attending school in Edinburgh to opening her own practice in Ireland, Aleen’s determination guides her …Show More ›

Book cover for Carolina Built by Kianna Alexander

Carolina Built

Kianna Alexander

Josephine N. Leary, a formerly enslaved woman, sets out to forge a new life in Edenton, North Carolina. Determined to find success in the real estate business, Josephine also wants a life rich enough to cultivate a successful marriage and family. Booklist says this “inspiring story transcends one life in the years after emancipation to encompass all women who take the chance to secure their own …Show More ›

Book cover for The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks

The Lindbergh Nanny

Mariah Fredericks

In 1932, newspaper headlines all over the world share the story of the mysterious kidnapping of the young son of famed pilot Charles Lindbergh and his wife, Anne. When attention turns to their Scottish immigrant nanny, Betty Gow, she must uncover the true events of that fateful evening to see that justice is served for the beloved toddler she cared for and to clear her own name. Author Susan Elia …Show More ›

Book cover for The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

The Diamond Eye

Kate Quinn

Mila Pavlichenko’s life in 1937 Kiev consists only of her young son and her library — until the invasion of the Nazis changes everything for her and her country. Recruited as a sniper, Mila finds success in her endeavors, ultimately earning international fame when she completes her 300th kill for the war effort. When she is invited to Washington, DC, the trauma she’s experienced still has her …Show More ›

Book cover for The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post

Allison Pataki

“Allison Pataki brings a towering legend to life,” raves author Kate Quinn. Marjorie Merriweather Post’s early memories were of helping launch her father’s cereal business in their Michigan barn — but she and her family rise in status to mingle with high society all over the globe, with Marjorie involved in her fair share of adventures. And by the time she is 30 years old, Marjorie is worth …Show More ›

Book cover for Sister Mother Warrior by Vanessa Riley

Sister Mother Warrior

Vanessa Riley

Author Kristan Higgins says, “This book is not only a one-sitting read, it’s a slice of history that needs to be told. Utterly brilliant, powerful, and inspiring.” Toya is born to be a female warrior in West Africa but is sold into slavery, ending up on the French-occupied island known as Saint Domingue. Marie-Claire is a free woman of color with a white grandfather and a passion for helping …Show More ›

Book cover for Sisters of Night and Fog by Erika Robuck

Sisters of Night and Fog

Erika Robuck

As war spreads across Europe in 1940, the courage and conviction of two women will be tested by their choices. Virginia d’Albert-Lake refuses to leave occupied France and return to her American family, while 19-year-old Violette Szabo is determined to do her part for the war effort in England by joining British secret operations. Their paths are destined to cross when they are both imprisoned at …Show More ›

Book cover for Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict

Her Hidden Genius

Marie Benedict

The author of The Other Einstein delivers a powerful story about a brilliant woman whose scientific efforts made great leaps in molecular biology research. Rosalind Franklin has used her methodical brain around the world in places like Paris and London to great success, and her newest studies of DNA might change the world. But when the men who work alongside her get all the credit for her …Show More ›

Book cover for An Indiscreet Princess by Georgie Blalock

An Indiscreet Princess

Georgie Blalock

Fans of The Crown will devour this historical novel, which author Chanel Cleeton calls “a fascinating and intimate portrait of the life of Princess Louise.” As Queen Victoria’s gifted, rebellious fourth daughter grows more frustrated with her privileged but mundane life, she finds a creative outlet — and unexpected love — while learning to sculpt with notable artist Joseph Edgar Boehm. Louise …Show More ›

Book cover for The Winter Orphans by Kristin Beck

The Winter Orphans

Kristin Beck

In a derelict castle in Southern France, members of the Swiss Red Cross strive to protect Jewish children fleeing the Nazis. The Winter Orphans tells the tale of two real-life volunteers at Château de la Hille, Rösli Näf and Anne-Marie Piguet, who were determined to protect the children in their care. In 1942, as Germany’s control over France grows, Rösli and Anne-Marie realize that to save some …Show More ›

Book cover for Emily’s House by Amy Belding Brown

Emily’s House

Amy Belding Brown

Maggie Maher has left Ireland for better opportunities in America. Securing a position with the illustrious Dickinson family was supposed to be temporary employment to help Maggie save funds to continue her journey farther west. How could Maggie have known that she would serve the family for 30 years — and become the reclusive poet Emily’s closest confidant? Library Journal promises that “fans of Show More ›

Book cover for The Great Mrs. Elias by Barbara Chase-Riboud

The Great Mrs. Elias

Barbara Chase-Riboud

During her lifetime, Hannah Elias was one of the richest Black women in the world, and this novelization of her life will keep you eagerly turning pages. In the early years of the 20th century, Hannah invents a new identity in New York City, invests her money in dozens of different banks, and seems to have achieved every dream she could have imagined. But when a murder takes place in front of her …Show More ›

Book cover for Antoinette’s Sister by Diana Giovinazzo

Antoinette’s Sister

Diana Giovinazzo

Dive into the story of Maria Carolina Charlotte, 10th daughter of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and sister of Marie Antoinette. While her more well-known sister has her own troubles as queen of France, Charlotte marries King Ferdinand IV of Naples, whose reign is also challenged with intrigue and revolution. With kingdoms and monarchs falling all around her, Charlotte will stop at nothing to …Show More ›

Book cover for Jacqueline in Paris by Ann Mah

Jacqueline in Paris

Ann Mah

In 1949, 20-year-old Jacqueline Bouvier arrives in Paris, seeking a respite both from her monotonous classes at Vassar College and the high expectations of her family. She is captivated by the art, theater, and cafés, and even finds time for flirtations with charming men. There, she also has a firsthand experience watching the rise of communism in postwar France that will have enormous …Show More ›

Book cover for The Last White Rose by Alison Weir

The Last White Rose

Alison Weir

When King Edward IV unexpectedly dies, his oldest daughter, the beautiful Elizabeth of York, and her family find their lives completely upended. Her uncle, Richard III, is accused of killing her brothers, the heirs to the throne, and taking the crown for himself. When the long-exiled Henry Tudor defeats Richard at Bosworth, proposing marriage to Elizabeth could seal his right to be king — but can …Show More ›

Book cover for The Blue Butterfly by Leslie Johansen Nack

The Blue Butterfly

Leslie Johansen Nack

When dancer Marion Davies meets William Randolph Hearst in 1915, she is swept away by his affluence and charm. The troublesome fact of his marriage, and the impossibility of a divorce, lead to a clandestine affair — and a baby daughter unacknowledged by either for years. Through successes and failures, their stories continue to intertwine, most noticeably when they come together to fight against …Show More ›

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