Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week’s topic is… All Time Favourites in Historical Fiction
Katy and I split the list in half, and listed some of our favorites in certain categories. Read on to find out what books we recommend in the historical fiction genre!
The True Story of Hansel and Gretel: A Novel of War and Survival by Louise Murphy
I recently re-read this one, and it was as powerful a read as the first time. Murphy’s retelling of Hansel and Gretel as two Polish children trying to evade the Nazis during World War II is both creative and heartbreaking. It’s also refreshing to see a new take on the war story sub-genre, especially since World War II is probably the most often written about time period in historical fiction.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
A war story that focuses on women! While it is incredibly detailed and has a slow build, the pay off is definitely worth it! I absolutely loved the friendship between Verity and Maddie. Oh, and you’ll likely need some tissues reading this one. Both times I’ve read it I’ve outright bawled through the remaining 100 pages or so. Kiss me, Hardy!
The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell by William Klaber
This one really grew on me as I read about the main character, Lucy’s attempts to live and love as a man named Joseph on the frontiers of Montana and all the trials and tribulations that came along with it. It isn’t the type of story you often read in historical fiction, and so I very much welcomed it!
Canadian Author or Story
The Birth House by Ami McKay
When I studied history in university my interest was largely in Canadian women’s history and that’s one of the reasons I love this book which focuses on the divide between doctors and midwives in Eastern Canada. The characters and setting are rich, and the story very well told! I can’t wait to dive into McKay’s The Virgin Cure, which is sitting on my shelf!
Free for All
Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall
The contemporary version of To Kill a Mockingbird as a young white girl, in an attempt to find her mother, bears witness to the violence and unfairness of segregation in Mississippi during the 60′s. The writing has a strong narrative voice and I loved how Starla’s eyes are gradually opened to the racism around her and her own privilege. She’s a wonderful character who has a lot of empathy for others, and is also very self-reflective, much like Scout from TKAMB.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows — This is a really fun historical fiction that ends up addressing some quite serious and thought-provoking issues in a surprising way. I would recommend this book to just about anyone. It’s an epistolary novel (meaning it’s written entirely in letters), and this style of writing allows Shaffer and Barrows to address history and social issues in a unique way.
Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen — I recently reviewed this and just loved it. I’m not too sure if this would be considered fantasy, too — it’s a retelling of the Robin Hood legend — but as it is based on a legend and not a fairy tale I’m going with historical fiction. Regardless, it’s a very rich reimagining that breathes life into an idealized lifestyle. Read more of my thoughts in my review!
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton — This is a bit of a cheat because I first read it several years ago, but I did recently reread it. (Which is as good as it’s gonna get, because all I’ve read since September is school books.) I adore Kate Morton and I think she does a beautiful job of making history come alive, and her characters have so much depth; this one is one of my favourites because the role writing plays.
Canadian Author or Story
Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels — Oh boy. I don’t even know how to describe my love for Anne Michaels. I first read this book three years ago in my first-year university English course, and it just blew my mind. Michaels’ writing is like poetry; it’s a giant book of prose that reads like fluid poetry. Plus, Michaels has a lot to say about WWII and the Holocaust that I personally had never really encountered in historical fiction before. I think this has to be my #1 historical fiction recommendation, and I have given it as a gift many, many times.
Free for All
My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares — I think the best part of this book is Brashares’ concept. It’s completely enthralling: it’s “a love story that lasts more than a lifetime.” The male protagonist has the ability to remember his past reincarnations, and the book is all about his struggle to find his loved one. In my opinion, totally better than The Notebook. ;-)
Chat With Us!
Do you like historical fiction? What are your favourites in the genre? Have you read any of the books on our list?