Page Turners: 11 Historical Fiction Books You Won’t Want to Put Down

This post may include affiliate links. That means if you click and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Please see Disclosures for more information.

Share:

I’m continuing my series on page-turner books you can’t put down with another category I first covered in my list of 27 Books that Will Turn You Into a Reader: historical fiction.

These lists are a bit different from the bucket list book series I put together last year. There is some overlap, but the purpose is different.

The reading bucket list is more fitting for people who are already reading a lot. In fact, a lifetime reading list–carefully curated–is a good idea for avid readers who feel overwhelmed by how much they want to read.

These page-turner books, though, are geared for all types of readers. Both avid readers looking for their next great book and lapsed readers looking for a book to get them back into reading again will find great suggestions here.

Finding books that keep you turning the pages is key to making reading a hobby, and something you want to continue. 

There’s nothing like finding a book that you can’t wait to dive back into, that takes you into the world of the characters and makes them seem real.

That’s one of the reasons I love historical fiction. The best historical fiction takes you to another time and place, and often into lives that are different from your own simply because of the time in which the story is set.

Whether the characters are real, fictional, or a mix of both, historical fiction does for me what reading straight history often fails to do: it adds the drama, emotion, and motivation to the lives of the people who lived during those times.

When it’s done well, it helps me learn the history, while enjoying a riveting story.

If you also love historical fiction, here are eleven page turners you may want to try.

11 Unputdownable Historical Fiction Books

 

Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful Ruins

Author: Jess Walter
Summary
An Italian innkeeper falls in love with a young actress who lands at his coastal Italian inn. Decades later, he appears in Hollywood to find her.
Read If You Like:
  • Books set in dreamy locales
  • Connections to Hollywood royalty
  • Stories told over decades.
You Might Also Like:

More info →

Buy from Amazon
 

 

The Red Tent

The Red Tent

Summary
The imagined story of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob from the Old Testament, and the rich lives of the women who are largely ignored in the stories of the men of the Bible.
Read If You Like:
  • Biblical history
  • Women’s relationships
  • Empowered females in male-dominated cultures.
You Might Also Like:

More info →

Buy from Amazon
 
 

 

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity

Summary
A female English pilot is captured in German-occupied France and is tortured and charged with revealing codes and info about the Allies. She weaves a twisty tale that keeps you guessing.
Read If You Like:
  • Twists and spy games
  • Badass women in history
  • Unexpected humor in grim stories.
You Might Also Like:

More info →

Buy from Amazon
 
 

 

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Author: Lisa See
Summary
The story of a lifelong friendship between two 19th Century Chinese women, who communicate through messages written on a fan.
Read If You Like:
  • Female friendships 
  • Strong female characters
  • Chinese history.
You Might Also Like:

More info →

Buy from Amazon
 
 

 

We Were the Lucky Ones: A Novel

We Were the Lucky Ones: A Novel

Summary
A Jewish family in Poland struggles to survive during World War II. Based on the true story of the author’s own family.
Read If You Like:
  • World War II stories
  • Fictionalized stories about real people and events
  • Stories about siblings and large families.
You Might Also Like:

More info →

Buy from Amazon
 
 

 

The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel

The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel

Summary
Hedy Lamarr makes her way from Austria to Hollywood and takes the film industry by storm–while also pursuing. My full review.
Read If You Like:
  • Old Hollywood
  • Stories about strong, brilliant women
  • New perspectives on famous people.
You Might Also Like:

More info →

Buy from Amazon
 
 

 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Summary
An aging movie icon decides to tell her story to a young journalist, revealing secrets about her seven husbands and life in Hollywood.
Read If You Like:
  • Books about old Hollywood
  • Scandal and secrets
  • Fictional characters based on real people.
You Might Also Like:

More info →

Buy from Amazon
 
 

 

The Way the Crow Flies

The Way the Crow Flies

Summary
An 8-year-old girl and her family are stationed on a Canadian Air Force Base in the 1960s. The murder of a young girl reveals multiple secrets, including those being kept by her father. 

*Note: I don’t often give trigger warnings, but this one warrants it. This book covers topics that may be difficult for some readers.

Read If You Like:
  • Cold War-era stories
  • Long books that start slowly and build momentum
  • History told from a child’s perspective
  • Complicated, intertwining storylines.
You Might Also Like:

More info →

Buy from Amazon
 
 

 

Moloka’i

Moloka’i

Summary
A young girl in late 19th century Hawaii is sent to the island of Moloka’i to its quarantined colony for leprosy patients.
Read If You Like:
  • Medical history
  • Stories set in Hawaii
  • Little-known stories of persecution or forced isolation.
You Might Also Like:

More info →

Buy from Amazon
 
 

 

Homegoing

Homegoing

Author: Yaa Gyasi
Summary
A generational novel following the descendants of two sisters born in Ghana 300 years ago. Deftly demonstrates how systemic racism and oppression remain pervasive 150 years after abolition. One of my best reads of 2017.
Read If You Like:
  • Books that follow multiple generations
  • Books about slavery
  • Stories told across multiple countries.
You Might Also Like:

More info →

Buy from Amazon
 
 

 

A Column of Fire

A Column of Fire

Author: Ken Follett
Summary
The third in Follett’s Kingsbridge series, set during the time of the Tudors and the Inquisition.
Read If You Like:
  • Long, immersive books
  • Soapy historical fiction
  • Fictionalized encounters and situations with real historical figures.
You Might Also Like:

More info →

Buy from Amazon
 
 

 

Related:

Woman reading Sugar Birds

24+ Page-Turner Literary Books You Can’t Put Down

These literary page turners are highly readable and are perfect choices if you’re looking for books you can’t put down.

13 comments
An American Marriage and Then She Was Gone, two books that might help beginner readers start a reading and book habit.

27 Highly Readable Books to Jumpstart Your Reading Habit

These highly readable books will help readers who are looking to read more books start the reading habit and fall in love with reading.

19 comments

11 Historical Fiction Books that Will Keep You Riveted

11 Historical Fiction Books that Will Make You a Reader

11 Historical Fiction Books that are Unputdownable Page Turners

11 Historical Fiction Novels that Will Keep You Reading

11 Historical Page Turners You Won't Want to Put Down

Share:

Similar Posts

7 Comments

  1. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is one of my all-time favorites! Lisa See is wonderful. Have you read The Island of Sea Women yet? It’s on my list!

    1. I haven’t yet! Snow Flower is the only one of See’s I’ve read, but I’d like to try more. I love that she writes about history that’s totally new to me!

  2. Historical fiction is tricky for me…I like mine unconventional and preferably not set in WWII (although We Were the Lucky Ones was an exception for me!).

    I loved Seven Husbands and I’d also add Heart’s Invisible Furies to this list!

    1. Yes to Heart’s Invisible Furies!

      I have to admit, I’m getting WWII burn out as well. I have one or two coming up, but after that I’m taking a break from them. I love historical fiction, but I need some different eras!

  3. Dear Allison..I’ve created your own board on Pinterest so I can spend hours following the highways,byways,links-all the amazing information you provide.You know my “things”..woman and ageing and death,dying with dignity and..just for the past year..chicklit!!!Thanks,as ever.

  4. Really great list. I’ve read most of them, but see a few I need to take a closer look at. A couple I would add to your list are The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. Both are WWII stories and SO good.

  5. I’m glad that you included Code Name Verity on this list! It’s a great book. My daughter and I both like to read a lot of historical fiction so we’re always looking for new options. We’ll have to find something set in New England for our next joint reading. It’s like an unofficial book club!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.