Historical Fiction

The novels in this study guide collection examine different historical eras and reveal how the facts and beliefs of the past still speak to our contemporary lives.

Publication year 2011Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Fate, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Historical Fiction, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Fantasy, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, History: U.S., Cold War

Publication year 2013Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is the 2013 debut novel by American author Anthony Marra. The story, told from an omniscient point of view, begins one morning in 2004 in the small Chechen village of Eldár. The night before, a villager named Dokka was captured and taken by Federalist soldiers, and his house was burned to the ground. Akhmed, Dokka’s good friend who lives across the street, finds Dokka’s eight-year-old daughter Havaa hiding in the woods... Read A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Summary


Publication year 1955Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: Fate, Society: Class, Society: Colonialism, Society: Politics & Government, Society: War, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Allegory / Fable / Parable, Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, WWI / World War I, Military / War

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Colonialism, Relationships: Marriage, Society: War, Identity: Femininity, Identity: RaceTags Historical Fiction, Military / War, Colonialism / Postcolonialism, Race / Racism, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FriendshipTags Historical Fiction

Published in 2016, A Gentleman in Moscow, by American author Amor Towles, is the story of Count Alexander Rostov, a Russian nobleman who, after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, is sentenced to lifelong imprisonment in Moscow’s Metropol Hotel. The Count must adjust not only to his new circumstances in a small room in the hotel’s belfry but also to the knowledge that his way of life is disappearing under the Bolshevik regime. As the years... Read A Gentleman in Moscow Summary


Publication year 1999Genre Novel, FictionTags Korean Literature, Asian Literature, Historical Fiction

Winner of the Asian-American Literary Award, Korean-American Chang-Rae Lee’s A Gesture Life was published in 1999. Lee found inspiration for his historical fiction in the deeply disturbing news about Korean sex slaves used by Japanese soldiers during World War II. Narrated by a young Korean-turned-Japanese medic charged with overseeing comfort women in a camp in Burma, the novel provides a nuanced look at the psychological implications of assimilation and the pressure to conform. As the... Read A Gesture Life Summary


Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

A God in Ruins is a historical fiction novel by Kate Atkinson. Published in 2015, it is known as a companion piece to Atkinson’s prior novel, Life After Life, and contains many of the same characters. Set against the backdrop of World War II, A God in Ruins examines themes of sacrifice, secrets, family, and the way that war transforms people. Plot SummaryThe events of the novel unfold between 1925 and 2012, and each chapter takes... Read A God in Ruins Summary


Publication year 1967Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, Heinemann African Writers, History: African

Published in 1967 by Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o (who also published under the name James Ngugi), A Grain of Wheat takes place in Kenya on the brink of its Uhuru (independence from British colonial rule) in December 1963. The novel considers the effects of British rule on several residents of the fictional village of Thabai, many of whom suffered enormously after the real life rebellion by the Mau Mau, or the Kenya Land and... Read A Grain of Wheat Summary


Publication year 1838Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Society: Class, Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Emotions/Behavior: LonelinessTags Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Russian Literature

A Hero of Our Time is a classic work of Russian literature written by Mikhail Lermontov and published in 1840. It exemplifies the “superfluous man” trope common in later Russian literature, in which a person of great talent and genius is unable to express these talents healthily due to personal and societal circumstances of some kind. The novel was highly influential for its critique of tsarist Russian society and for its iconic antihero, who came... Read A Hero Of Our Time Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Society: Class, Society: Community, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Society: Colonialism, Society: EducationTags Historical Fiction, Social Justice, Class, Education, History: World, History: Asian, History: European, Incarceration, Politics / Government

Publication year 1961Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Life/Time: Birth, Identity: Mental Health, Life/Time: Aging, Life/Time: The Past, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Midlife, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Marriage, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Society: Class, Society: Colonialism, Society: Community, Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: Literature, Society: EconomicsTags Historical Fiction, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Poverty, Finance / Money / Wealth, Depression / Suicide, Class, Colonialism / Postcolonialism, Indian Literature

A House for Mr. Biswas is a 1961 novel by V. S. Naipaul. The story takes a postcolonial perspective of the life of a Hindu Indian man in British-owned and occupied Trinidad. Now regarded as one of Naipaul's most significant novels, A House for Mr. Biswas has won numerous awards and has been adapted as a musical, a radio drama, and a television show. This guide is written using an eBook version of the 2001... Read A House for Mr. Biswas Summary


Publication year 1722Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year was first published in 1722. The novel is written in the first-person and chronicles the spread of the bubonic plague in London in 1665. While the first-person narration and abundant historical detail result in a text that feels like—and masquerades as—nonfiction, Defoe was only 5 years old at the time of the events, while the narrator is an adult man living on his own in London. Despite... Read A Journal Of The Plague Year Summary


Publication year 1984Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Historical Fiction

In 1968, the wealthy 85-year-old real estate developer Solomon “Sol” MacIvey arrives at his cabin in Punta Rassa, Florida, where he plans to live out his final days. As Sol reflects on his family’s history, the narrative moves to 1863, to the central Florida homestead of Tobias MacIvey, Sol’s grandfather. With his wife, Emma, and their six-year-old son, Zech, Tobias struggles to raise crops in the Florida wilderness, barely overcoming starvation, bear attacks, and bushwhacking... Read A Land Remembered Summary


Publication year 1996Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Historical Fiction

Is Grace Marks a murderess or an innocent pawn? Is she an evil fiend or mentally ill? Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace (1996) retells the story of Canada’s notorious nineteenth-century convicted murderess Grace Marks. Grounded in the historical record where available, Atwood’s novel probes issues of gender and class roles, identity, truth, and the nature of memory. Thomas Kinnear, a wealthy landowner, and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress, are murdered in July 1843. Grace, who... Read Alias Grace Summary


Publication year 2014Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, Disability, History: European

All the Light We Cannot See is a historical novel by Anthony Doerr, published by Scribner in 2014. The novel alternates between the lives of its two central characters—Marie-Laure Leblanc, a girl who grows up in Paris and loses her eyesight to cataracts at age six; and Werner Pfennig, a boy from a mining town in Germany who joins the Nazi military to escape working in the mines. As the novel opens, Marie-Laure and Werner... Read All the Light We Cannot See Summary


Publication year 1923Genre Novel, FictionTags Western, Historical Fiction

“The Lost Lady” was published by American author Willa Cather in 1923. Set at the end of the 19th century, this western novel chronicles Marian Forrester’s life through the eyes of Niel Herbert, a young boy from the railroad town of Sweet Water. The Forresters’ decline in financial and social position mirrors the decline of the pioneer era; the contrast between this idealized era and the exploitative capitalist one comprises the novel’s main theme. The... Read A Lost Lady Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Identity: RaceTags Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction, LGBTQ

Publication year 2008Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: SiblingsTags Historical Fiction, Existentialism

Published in 2008, A Mercy is Toni Morrison’s ninth novel. Morrison, both a prolific scholar and author, centers the question of slavery and a pre-racial America in this fictional novel. A Mercy was chosen as one of the best books in the year of its release by the New York Times. Plot SummaryA Mercy endeavors to explore the experiences of slaves in early America. The narrative frequently changes focus between different characters who live or... Read A Mercy Summary


Publication year 1921Genre Short Story Collection, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Equality, Identity: GenderTags Historical Fiction, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Race / Racism, Gender / Feminism

Zitkála-Šá’s 1921 book American Indian Stories gathers autobiographical chapters, fictional stories, and essays focused on the experiences of the Dakota Sioux and interactions between American Indians and White citizens of the United States. Zitkála-Šá’s works convey a strong sense of independence, pride in Sioux culture, and indignation at injustices committed against American Indians. This study guide references the 2019 Modern Library (Penguin Random House) edition of American Indian Stories.SummaryThe collection begins with an autobiographical piece... Read American Indian Stories Summary


Publication year 1925Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Relationships: MarriageTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Drama / Tragedy, American Literature

Published in 1925, Theodore Dreiser’s realist novel An American Tragedy is one of the author’s most critically acclaimed works. Set in the 1920s in Kansas City, Chicago, and small-town New York state, the novel is the story of how Clyde Griffiths, the son of poor, itinerant preachers, kills Roberta Alden during a boat trip in the Adirondack Mountains.This guide is based on the Kindle edition published by Rosetta Books.Content Warning: This novel contains racist slurs... Read An American Tragedy Summary


Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Historical Fiction, Middle Eastern Literature

The third novel by Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed, is a work of family dramahistorical fiction that examines the factors surrounding one  the factors that lead to and reverberate from one action: a poor family sells their youngest daughter to a wealthy couple in Kabul. Set in Afghanistan, the novel spans over fifty 50 years and four generations. Hosseini includes several narrative voices, rather than just the story’s main family. The multiple narrators provide... Read And the Mountains Echoed Summary


Publication year 2009Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Action / Adventure

An Echo in the Bone (2009) is the seventh novel in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Combining elements of the historical fiction, adventure, fantasy, and romance genres, the series follows the adventures of Claire Randall, a WWII battle nurse who accidentally time travels to 18th-century Scotland and falls in love with Jamie Fraser, a Highland warrior. Over the course of 10 planned novels, Gabaldon follows Claire, Jamie, and their family as they navigate fate... Read An Echo in the Bone Summary


Publication year 1971Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: The PastTags Historical Fiction

Written by Wallace Stegner and released in 1971, Angle of Repose is a novel about Lyman Ward, a wheelchair-bound historian who decides to write about his frontier-era grandparents, particularly his grandmother, Susan Burling Ward. He hopes that their experiences will help him deal with his present situation. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1972 and is based on the letters of Mary Hallock Foote, which were later published as A Victorian Gentlewoman... Read Angle of Repose Summary


Publication year 1924Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Colonialism, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Identity: RaceTags British Literature, Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction

E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India, published in 1924, tells a story of the power of colonialism, the tension between spirituality and morality, and the inescapability of evil. Forster wrote this novel after traveling to India in 1912 and volunteering in Egypt during World War I. A film adaptation of the novel directed by David Lean premiered in 1984 and received multiple Academy Award nominations. This summary uses the 75th Anniversary edition of A... Read A Passage to India Summary


Publication year 2001Genre Book, NonfictionTags History: U.S., Historical Fiction

Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War is a historical account of the secession movement in the antebellum Southern US written by Charles B. Dew. Dew is a distinguished professor of history at Williams College specializing in the Civil War and Reconstruction Eras. Apostles of Disunion was published in 2001 by the University of Virginia Press and won the 2001 Fletcher Pratt Prize from the Civil War Round Table... Read Apostles of Disunion Summary


Publication year 1993Genre Play, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Life/Time: The Past, Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags Historical Fiction, Play: Tragedy, Play: Comedy / Satire, Science / Nature, British Literature

Arcadia by Tom Stoppard was first performed on April 13, 1993, at the Royal National Theatre in London. In 2006, the Royal Institution of Great Britain named it one of the best science-related works ever written.The play has dual plot lines, one historical and one modern, which share the same physical setting. In the 19th century, the play follows the young Thomasina, a mathematical genius far ahead of her time, and her tutor, Septimus Hodge... Read Arcadia Summary


Publication year 1908Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Identity: Femininity, Self Discovery, Relationships: Marriage, Values/Ideas: ArtTags Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance, Satire, Edwardian Era

A Room with a View is a 1908 novel by British author E. M. Forster. The novel is split between Italy and England, telling the story of Lucy Honeychurch, a young and spirited middle-class Englishwoman who embarks on a journey of self-discovery during a trip to Italy. During her travels, Lucy falls in love with the free-spirited and unconventional George Emerson, a fellow tourist, but is later forced to choose between her heart's desire and... Read A Room with a View Summary


Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Sexuality, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags LGBTQ, Romance, Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Publication year 1999Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, Irish Literature

Irish novelist and screenwriter Roddy Doyle was born in Dublin in 1958. His work is renowned both for its treatment of Irish working-class life and its deployment of Dublin dialect. His 1993 masterpiece, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, won the Booker Prize. A Star Called Henry (1999) is the first in The Last Round Up trilogy, which follows the life of Henry, a working-class Dublin boy born at the turn of the 20th century. Henry’s... Read A Star Called Henry Summary


Publication year 1859Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: FateTags British Literature, Historical Fiction, Victorian Period, Classic Fiction

A Tale of Two Cities, published in 1859, is a historical drama written by Charles Dickens. The backdrop of the novel takes place in London and Paris prior to the French Revolution. The novel, told in three parts, has been adapted into numerous productions for film, theater, radio, and television.In 1775, a banker named Jarvis Lorry travels to Dover, where he meets a young, half-French woman named Lucie Manette. Together, the pair travel to Paris... Read A Tale of Two Cities Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: War, Identity: Femininity, Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mythology, Gender / Feminism

Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Society: Community, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Relationships: MothersTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Historical Fiction

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionTags Gender / Feminism, Historical Fiction, History: Middle Eastern

Etaf Rum’s debut novel, A Woman Is No Man, was originally published in 2019. According to Rum, the novel, while fiction, relies heavily on autobiographical details. In fact, Rum’s life so closely parallels her characters’ lives that the narrative effectively blurs the line between fiction and memoir. Switching between past and present, the novel tells the intergenerational story of Isra, a Palestinian immigrant living in Brooklyn, and her daughter Deya, growing up in the same... Read A Woman Is No Man Summary


Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Society: Education, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Military / War, Asian Literature, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Class

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins is a middle grade/young adult coming-of-age novel about two boys—one Burmese, the other Karenni—growing up during an intense period of violence between the Burmese military and the Karenni people. The book was named an “ALA APALA Honor Book, Indies Choice Honor Book of the Year for Young Adults, ALA Top Ten Book in Best Fiction for Young Adults, [and] International Reading Association Notable Book for a Global Society [and received]... Read Bamboo People Summary


Publication year 2023Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: GuiltTags Relationships, Historical Fiction, Vietnam War, Asian Literature, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 1841Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Family, Life/Time: The PastTags Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Victorian Period

Publication year 2018Genre Biography, NonfictionThemes Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Identity: Language, Identity: Race, Society: CommunityTags Historical Fiction, Harlem Renaissance, History: U.S., Race / Racism, African American Literature, Anthropology, Black Lives Matter, Civil Rights / Jim Crow, Grief / Death, History: African , Social Justice, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Originally written in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” (2018) is the transcribed posthumous autobiography of the life of Oluale “Cudjo Lewis” Kossola (1841-1935), written by Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960). Known for her involvement in the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston was a writer, anthropologist, folklorist, and filmmaker. In all her work, she held a special appreciation for Black life and Black culture of the US South. Her works... Read Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: MemoryTags Historical Fiction

A 2017 New York Times bestseller, Lisa Wingate’s Before We Were Yours is a haunting and compelling work of historical fiction told in polyvocal form with two alternating principle voices narrating a story of complex family history. From chapter to chapter, the book goes back and forth between present day South Carolina (in settings of Southern power and prestige) and Tennessee in the late 1930s and early 1940s (in settings of squalor and abuse). In... Read Before We Were Yours Summary


Publication year 1996Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Historical Fiction, WWII / World War II, Holocaust, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, History: European, History: World

Behind the Bedroom Wall is a 1996 Young Adult historical fiction novel by Korean American author Laura E. Williams. The novel won the 1997 Jane Addams’ Children’s Book Award. Williams has written several other novels, including The Mystic Lighthouse series, Up a Creek, The Ghost Stallion, The Executioner’s Daughter, The Can Man, and Unexpected.Set in 1942 Germany, Behind the Bedroom Wall follows a 13-year-old Aryan German girl named Korinna Rehme, who is an active member... Read Behind the Bedroom Wall Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, History: European

Mark Sullivan’s Beneath a Scarlet Sky is a coming-of-age historical novel that follows Pino Lella, a 17-year-old Milanese boy, as he navigates the dangers of Nazi-occupied Italy during the height of World War II. The novel is largely based on the real-life account of Pino Lella, who was an old man by the time he decided to share his story. Sullivan’s novel is based on Pino’s memories of events, interviews with Holocaust historians, Italian Catholic... Read Beneath a Scarlet Sky Summary


Publication year 1880Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: RevengeTags Historical Fiction, Classic Fiction

One of the most influential Christian novels of the 19th century, Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is a classic story of redemption and forgiveness, reimagining the stories of peripheral biblical figures, from Roman tax collectors and charioteers, to people with leprosy, fishermen, Pharisees, shepherds, John the Baptist, and Pontius Pilate. The story traces the life of the fictional main character Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish nobleman from Jerusalem whose future is upended when... Read Ben-Hur Summary


Publication year 2023Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Self Discovery, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Emotions/Behavior: HopeTags Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Romance, WWII / World War II, Class, Education, Finance / Money / Wealth, Love / Sexuality, Relationships, Military / War, Grief / Death, History: World, Parenting

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Art, Identity: Race, Society: Community, Emotions/Behavior: MemoryTags Historical Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction, Race / Racism, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Historical Fiction

Publication year 1985Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

Black Robe is a 1985 historical fiction novel written by Brian Moore. It is set in the 17th century and tracks the journey of two Europeans—one of whom is a Jesuit priest—in New France. The two men find themselves caught between the two cultures shortly after the time of the first contact. Plot SummaryFather Laforgue awaits his orders from the Commandant of the new settlement of Québec, a small village that is home to around 100... Read Black Robe Summary


Publication year 1985Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Western, Historical Fiction, American Literature

Blood Meridian, a 1985 novel by Cormac McCarthy, is one of the most celebrated works of modern American literature. The novel was inspired by people and events of the mid-19th century in the borderlands of the United States and Mexico. McCarthy’s works have won many honors including the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize. Blood Meridian is often considered his greatest novel. This guide uses an eBook version of the 1992 First Vintage International edition... Read Blood Meridian Summary


Publication year 1998Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: WarTags Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Humor, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, LGBTQ, Military / War, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Irish Literature

Breakfast on Pluto is a novel by the distinguished Irish writer Patrick McCabe, who is known for his experimental style and controversial themes. First published in 1998, the book contains elements of fantasy and historical fiction. It presents the narrative of “the life and times” of Patrick Braden, a transgender person growing up in Ireland and London during the 1960s and 1970s. Through Braden’s journey of self-discovery, McCabe portrays a country amid turbulent political, national... Read Breakfast on Pluto Summary


Publication year 2023Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Identity: Femininity, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Gender / Feminism, History: U.S., Incarceration, Internet Culture / Social Media, Journalism, LGBTQ, Love / Sexuality, Politics / Government, Psychology, Relationships, Social Justice, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Crime / Legal

Publication year 1959Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Historical Fiction

Published in 1959, Brown Girl, Brownstones is American novelist Paule Marshall’s debut novel. Loosely based on the early events of Marshall’s life, the story explores Selina Boyce’s coming of age. Selina is the daughter of Deighton and Silla Boyce, Barbadian immigrants living in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s.Marshall structures the narrative in four parts. In the first, 10-year-old Selina plays in the Brooklyn brownstone where her family lives and listens to her... Read Brown Girl, Brownstones Summary


Publication year 1934Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

Burmese Days, written by George Orwell and published in 1934, is a critique of British imperialism and its effects on individuals and cultures. Set in the fictional district of Kyauktada in Upper Burma, at that time part of the British Raj, the novel tells the story of Flory, a 35-year-old English timber merchant who has spent his adult life in Burma. The novel focuses on the lonely Flory’s search for a wife, as well as... Read Burmese Days Summary


Publication year 1898Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Society: War, Life/Time: Aging, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Society: Colonialism, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Historical Fiction, Romance, Politics / Government, Play: Drama

Publication year 2011Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, Auto/Biographical Fiction, History: U.S., Gender / Feminism, Colonial America

Caleb’s Crossing (2011) is a historical fiction novel based on the real life figure of Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard University in 1665. Born into the Wampanoag tribe on an island near Cape Cod, the historical Cheeshahteaumuck converted to Christianity and attended a preparatory school before enrolling in Harvard. In her novel, Pulitzer Prize winning author Geraldine Brooks tells a fictionalized version of Caleb’s story in the form of a... Read Caleb's Crossing Summary


Publication year 1945Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Community, Natural World: Place, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Natural World: Environment, Relationships: FriendshipTags Historical Fiction, Classic Fiction, Arts / Culture, Anthropology, Animals, Class, Education, Philosophy, Poverty, Relationships, Science / Nature

Cannery Row by John Steinbeck was originally published in 1945. A Nobel Prize-winning writer, Steinbeck grew up in Salinas, California, which is near Monterey—the location of Cannery Row. Aside from a few years in Palo Alto, New York, and Los Angeles, Steinbeck spent most of his adult life living in Monterey County, and he drew on his personal experiences to write Cannery Row.Considered literary fiction or classic literature, Cannery Row is realistic and was written... Read Cannery Row Summary


Publication year 2002Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Historical Fiction

Caramelo (2002) is a multi-generational family epic by American-Chicana author Sandra Cisneros. The novel follows the coming-of-age stories of Soledad Reyes; her son, Inocencio Reyes; and her granddaughter, Celaya “Lala” Reyes. The narrative takes place as the family moves among Chicago, Mexico City, and San Antonio. Written in a unique bilingual English and Spanish voice, Caramelo features themes of memory, Mexican-American heritage, female strength, and the search for a “home” between and beyond national borders. In... Read Caramelo Summary


Publication year 1800Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: SiblingsTags Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction

Anglo-Irish writer Maria Edgeworth’s novel, Castle Rackrent ,first published in 1800, tells of the decline of a family from her own aristocratic class. Seeking to present an authentic picture of these corrupt, inefficient estate owners, Edgeworth invents narrator Thady Quirk, a faithful steward who recounts the fate of four Rackrent estate owners in unsparing details. He begins with relating how his grandfather was a driver for Patrick O’Shaughlin, who was descended from the Kings of... Read Castle Rackrent Summary


Publication year 1713Genre Play, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Shame & PrideTags Historical Fiction, Classic Fiction

Cato, a Tragedy is a play written by Joseph Addison in 1712. Set in the Roman Republic during the reign of Julius Caesar, the play centers on the final days of the Stoic Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis, a man of virtue who fiercely opposed Caesar. The play focuses on themes such as the importance of virtue and the battle between liberty and tyranny, and takes place in Utica, Tunisia, in the kingdom of Numidia, where... Read Cato, a Tragedy Summary


Publication year 1984Genre Short Story, FictionTags Historical Fiction

“Chickamauga” is a short story by Ambrose Bierce, first published in a collection of his stories in 1887. The name refers to a Civil War battlefield in Georgia.The story is set in the South during the Civil War. The story’s unnamed protagonist is a young boy, referred to throughout as “the child.” We are told that while the boy comes from a humble farming family, he is descended from victors and conquerors and has an... Read Chickamauga Summary


Publication year 1937Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, Classic Fiction

Christ in Concrete is a novel based on the real life of author Pietro di Donato, which he expanded from a short story that he placed in the magazine Esquire in 1937. Like the main character, Paul, di Donato was the son of an Italian immigrant bricklayer who died on the Christian holiday of Good Friday while working on the job. Also like Paul, di Donato became a child bricklayer, although he would go on... Read Christ in Concrete Summary


Publication year 2018Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: GenderTags Mythology, Gender / Feminism, History: European, Historical Fiction

Published in 2018, Circe retells the story of the eponymous Greek mythological figure. Although traditionally viewed as a heartless, savagely beautiful witch who lures sailors to their deaths, the Circe of Madeline Miller’s imagining is quite different. This Circe is a multidimensional, flawed, and empathetic character struggling to find meaning and worth in her immortal life. Through Miller’s detailed and honest first-person narrative, which takes place over thousands of years, the evil witch becomes relatable.The... Read Circe Summary


Publication year 2008Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, WWII / World War II

City of Thieves, published in 2008, is a historical novel by Jewish American author David Benioff. The story is framed as the memories of the narrator’s grandfather, Lev Beniov. The story follows Lev, a Russian Jew, and Kolya, a Cossack soldier, during the Siege of Leningrad in World War II. The book was well received upon publication and later inspired the postapocalyptic video game The Last of Us. City of Thieves is the second novel... Read City of Thieves Summary


Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: Colonialism, Society: Class, Life/Time: The Future, Life/Time: The Past, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Social Justice, Anthropology, Class, Depression / Suicide, Finance / Money / Wealth, Politics / Government, Love / Sexuality, Race / Racism, Sociology, Religion / Spirituality

Cloud Atlas is a 2004 novel by British author David Mitchell. The sprawling narrative is composed of a series of nested stories, spanning centuries into the past and the future. In addition to winning numerous literary and science fiction awards, the novel was adapted into a 2012 film of the same name. This guide uses the 2014 Sceptre edition of Cloud Atlas.Content Warning: The novel and this guide depict slavery and discuss racism, death by... Read Cloud Atlas Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: Literature, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Historical Fiction

Publication year 1939Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Society: Class, Life/Time: The Past, Society: War, Society: Nation, Emotions/Behavior: MemoryTags Historical Fiction, Satire, British Literature

Coming Up For Air is an interwar novel written by British author George Orwell shortly before the outbreak of World War II. Originally published in 1939, the novel was written in Morocco while Orwell was recovering from injuries received while fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Set in the late 1930s, the novel follows a middle-aged insurance salesman named George Bowling as he struggles with anxieties about the coming war. Like Orwell’s more famous novels... Read Coming Up for Air Summary


Publication year 1975Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

Corregidora is the first novel by Gayl Jones. It was originally published in 1975 and is considered a work of the Black Arts Movement (BAM), which was active in the 1960s and 70s. The book tells the story of Ursa Corregidora, a mixed, middle-aged songstress trying to make her way at the turn of the 1950s. Her overprotective husband, Mutt, opens the book by causing a ruckus at one of her shows. He is thrown out... Read Corregidora Summary


Publication year 1988Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, Colonialism / Postcolonialism

Bapsi Sidhwa’s historical fiction novel Cracking India, first published in India in 1988 as Ice-Candy-Man, was translated into English under its current title in 1991. The 1947 partition of India that created the majority-Muslim country of Pakistan shapes the events of the novel. The novel begins in 1942, when India was an English colony. When Britain declared war on behalf of India during World War II, the move galvanized long-standing Indian independence movements until India... Read Cracking India Summary


Publication year 1921Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Sexuality, Identity: Mental Health, Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags Classic Fiction, Humor, Historical Fiction, Play: Comedy / Satire, British Literature

Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Marriage, Relationships: Daughters & SonsTags Historical Fiction, Addiction / Substance Abuse

Publication year 1948Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Relationships: Family, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: ForgivenessTags Historical Fiction, African Literature, Race / Racism

Cry, the Beloved Country is a 1948 work of historical fiction by Alan Paton. Set in South Africa, it follows a Christian reverend named Stephen Kumalo, who lives in a Zulu village called Ndotsheni. Geographically isolated from his brother John, his sister Gertrude, and his son Absalom, Stephen becomes worried when he stops hearing from them. He travels to Johannesburg to check up on them. Cry, the Beloved Country is known for illuminating a historically... Read Cry, the Beloved Country Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Music, Relationships: Fathers, Values/Ideas: FameTags Historical Fiction, Music

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s historical fiction novel Daisy Jones & The Six, published in 2019, is a contemporary work of fiction that explores the rich music culture of the 1970s in the United States. This time was known for rock ’n’ roll, partly as a cultural response to the strict rules of the 1960s and the disaster of the Vietnam War. The California dream world of hard partying, no rules, and freedom persists as a major... Read Daisy Jones & The Six Summary


Publication year 1782Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Marriage, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Identity: Femininity, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Identity: SexualityTags Classic Fiction, French Literature, Historical Fiction, Romance, Love / Sexuality

Dangerous Liaisons is an epistolary novel (i.e., a story told through a series of letters) first published in 1782, seven years before the start of the French Revolution, by Pierre-Ambroise-François Choderlos de Laclos. The story revolves around the scheming and manipulative activities of two aristocrats, the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont. They take pleasure in seducing and ruining the reputations of others, using their wit and charm to manipulate those around them... Read Dangerous Liaisons Summary


Publication year 1876Genre Novel, FictionTags Classic Fiction, Victorian Period, Historical Fiction, British Literature, Jewish Literature

Daniel Deronda is the last novel by George Eliot, published in 1876. The novel satirizes Victorian society, and its sympathetic portrayal of Jewish culture and ideas garnered controversy at the time of publication. It has been adapted for stage, television, and film.This guide is written using the 2014 Oxford World’s Classics edition.Content Warning: This guide contains references to a suicide attempt and antisemitism and antisemitic language that feature in the source text.Plot SummaryDaniel Deronda begins... Read Daniel Deronda Summary


Publication year 1998Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fate, Identity: FemininityTags Latin American Literature, Historical Fiction, Love / Sexuality

Daughter of Fortune, first published in Spanish in 1998 (Hija de la fortuna), is the fifth novel by celebrated Latin American writer Isabel Allende. The winner of multiple awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Chile’s National Literature Prize, Allende created this work of historical fiction, in part, to explore the impact of feminism on her own life. Daughter of Fortune tells the story of a young woman, Eliza Sommers, and her odyssey of... Read Daughter Of Fortune Summary


Publication year 1997Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Community, Relationships: Family, Self DiscoveryTags Historical Fiction, African Literature, Race / Racism, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 1960Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Society: WarTags Historical Fiction, WWII / World War II, Holocaust, Military / War, Relationships

Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: War, Identity: Gender, Identity: Sexuality, Relationships: FamilyTags Western, Historical Fiction, Military / War, LGBTQ, American Civil War, Race / Racism

Days Without End (2016) is a novel by Irish author Sebastian Barry. Days Without End is Barry’s ninth novel and received considerable critical acclaim. The novel won the 2017 Walter Scott Prize, was listed at number 74 on The Guardian’s list of the 100 best books of the 21st century (2019 edition), and made BBC News’s 2019 list of the 100 most influential novels. The novel also won the 2016 Costa Book Award, making Barry... Read Days Without End Summary


Publication year 1959Genre Short Story, FictionTags Historical Fiction

The narrator and protagonist, Sergeant Nathan Marx, sets the stage in the early paragraphs of the short story. The year is 1945, and he has just arrived to Camp Crowder, Missouri, after fighting in the war in Germany. Marx explains that he has undergone significant changes since his time as a combatant began, and he describes his transformation as beneficial: “I had been fortunate enough to develop an infantryman’s heart, which, like his feet, at... Read Defender Of The Faith Summary


Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

Do Not Say We Have Nothing is a novel by Madeline Thein, which focuses on the 20th century Communist Revolution in China and its effects on multiple generations of Chinese citizens. This book won the Scotiabank Giller Prize as well as the Governor General’s Award. It was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2016. This guide refers the American paperback edition published by W.W. Norton.Plot SummaryDuring the first horrific years of the Revolution... Read Do Not Say We Have Nothing Summary


Publication year 1992Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Identity: Masculinity, Identity: Gender, Identity: Femininity, Identity: Sexuality, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Life/Time: The Past, Life/Time: The Future, Natural World: Place, Relationships: Marriage, Society: Nation, Society: Politics & Government, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Action / Adventure, History: European, Health / Medicine

Publication year 1891Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Society: Colonialism, Society: ClassTags Historical Fiction, Classic Fiction, Politics / Government, Social Justice, Race / Racism, Class

Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Friendship, Society: War, Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Natural World: Food, Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags Historical Fiction, Romance, WWII / World War II

Publication year 2014Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

A New York Times Best Seller and winner of the 2014 Kirkus Prize for fiction, Lily King’s novel Euphoria is inspired by the life and fieldwork of eminent American anthropologist Margaret Mead. Specifically, King looked at the time in 1933 when Mead, the woman whom protagonist Nell Stone is based on, went to what was then known as the Territory of New Guinea with anthropologists Gregory Bateson and Reo Fortune. In the Acknowledgements at the... Read Euphoria Summary


Publication year 1987Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Identity: Femininity, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Magical Realism, Historical Fiction, Romance, Latin American Literature

First published in Spanish in 1987, Eva Luna is a novel written by celebrated Chilean writer Isabel Allende and later translated into English by Margaret Sayers Peden the following year. The story is set in an unnamed South American country believed to be an amalgamation of Chile and Venezuela. The eponymous Eva Luna narrates the epic story of her life against a backdrop inspired by the sociopolitical changes in South America from the mid-1940s to... Read Eva Luna Summary


Publication year 1988Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

Fair and Tender Ladies, by Lee Smith, was published in 1988. It is an epistolary novel, told through letters written by a Virginia mountain girl named Ivy Rowe to various recipients, and spans the course of Ivy’s life from childhood in the early 1900s to her death in the 1970s.  Plot Summary When Fair and Tender Ladies begins, Ivy Rowe is a poor, mostly uneducated girl from Sugar Fork, Virginia, who has begun writing letters at... Read Fair and Tender Ladies Summary


Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionThemes Natural World: Place, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Safety & DangerTags Historical Fiction, American Literature, September 11 Attacks

Falling Man is a 2007 novel by American author Don DeLillo. The novel explores the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. This guide uses an eBook version of the 2011 Picador edition of Falling Man.Plot SummaryOn September 11, 2001, a group of 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacks commercial passenger planes and attempt to crash them into American landmarks. In addition to one plane that crashed... Read Falling Man Summary


Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: War, Society: Politics & Government, Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags Historical Fiction, Military / War, WWI / World War I, History: World, Relationships, Politics / Government, Poverty, Grief / Death

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett, published in 2010, is a historical novel and the first installment of the Century Trilogy. The trilogy takes place during the 20th century and is told through the points of view of five interconnected families from Wales, Germany, America, and Russia. Fall of Giants spans World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the women’s suffrage movement. Winter of the World, the second book in the trilogy, takes place against... Read Fall Of Giants Summary


Publication year 1996Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Self Discovery, Relationships: Fathers, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Identity: Sexuality, Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: FearTags Historical Fiction, LGBTQ, Magical Realism, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Love / Sexuality, Music, Religion / Spirituality, Race / Racism

Fall on Your Knees (1996), first-time novelist Ann-Marie MacDonald’s ambitious multigenerational family saga set in the early decades of the 20th century, moves from the bleak coastal towns of Canada’s Cape Breton Island to the bustling New York City of the Jazz Era. Recalling both the psychological richness of William Faulkner’s family sagas set in Yoknapatawpha County and the dark passions in the Gothic tales of Flannery O’Connor, Fall on Your Knees follows three very... Read Fall on your Knees Summary


Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Life/Time: Aging, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Society: Community, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Natural World: Animals, Natural World: Flora/plants, Natural World: Place, Values/Ideas: Literature, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Historical Fiction, Depression / Suicide, Health / Medicine, Love / Sexuality, Mental Illness, Parenting, Social Justice

Publication year 2002Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Mothers, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Identity: SexualityTags Historical Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction, LGBTQ, Gothic Literature, Victorian Period, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Love / Sexuality

A thrilling tale of thievery, betrayal, and mistaken identity, Fingersmith, by Welsh author Sarah Waters, tells the story of two women from two very different stations of life whose fates are inextricably linked. Set in the 1860s, Fingersmith is narrated alternately by Sue Smith (also known as Sue Trinder) and Maud Lilly. One is a young “fingersmith”—slang for a thief—lovingly protected from the worst of her world by Mrs. Sucksby; the other is an aristocratic... Read Fingersmith Summary


Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Relationships: FamilyTags Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, History: Asian

Publication year 1994Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

First published in 1994, Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai won critical acclaim for its portrayal of a young man’s coming of age as a gay Sri Lankan during the civil war crisis. It won a Lambda Literary Award and the Books in Canada First Novel Award and tackles navigating sexuality, class partisanship, and emigration.Plot SummaryFunny Boy narrates the tale of young Arjie (Arjun) Chelvaratnam, a “funny” boy growing up in an upper-middle-class Sri Lankan home... Read Funny Boy Summary


Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Daughters & SonsTags Historical Fiction, Christian literature

Published in 2004, Gilead is Marilynne Robinson’s second novel and the first in the Gilead trilogy, which includes Home (2008) and Lila (2014). The story is written as a letter from dying Congregationalist minister John Ames to his young son. The letter is a bittersweet account of John’s life. With a slow, thoughtful pace and intimate tone, John shares past family memories and resolves an old personal grievance with his best friend’s son. As John... Read Gilead Summary


Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Art, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Life/Time: The PastTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Arts / Culture, Poverty

Susan Vreeland, author of Girl in Hyacinth Blue, (Penguin Books, 2000) was an internationally known author of art-related historical fiction who, after a long and notable literary career, died in 2017. A New York Times bestseller, the novel was originally published in 1999 by McMurray and Beck, but subsequent editions were published by Penguin Books. The novel’s popularity gave rise to a 2003 Hallmark Hall of Fame production based on the novel. The painting in... Read Girl In Hyacinth Blue Summary


Publication year 2000Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: ArtTags Historical Fiction, Arts / Culture

In Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, the subject of Johannes Vermeer’s most famous painting is brought to life. The “girl with the pearl earring” is Griet, the Vermeers’ housemaid, hired in particular to clean Vermeer’s studio without disturbing its order. For this task, Vermeer needs someone who is exceedingly careful and invested in his artistic endeavors, beyond the promise of (meager) payment. Griet is fascinated by Vermeer’s way of seeing the world, his... Read Girl With a Pearl Earring Summary


Publication year 2023Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Identity: FemininityTags Historical Fiction, WWII / World War II, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 1898Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Self Discovery, Society: Class, Society: Community, Society: Education, Society: NationTags Classic Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Class, Finance / Money / Wealth, Education, History: World, Social Justice

“Gooseberries,” by Russian author Anton Chekhov, is a short story that uses symbolism, subtlety, irony, and keen observation of human behavior to explore themes of the quest for happiness, the meaning of life, social expectations, privilege, and social equality. Written in mid-1898, the story is the second in what was later referred to as The Little Trilogy, together with “The Man in the Case” and “About Love.” All three stories explore the definitions of happiness... Read Gooseberries Summary


Publication year 2008Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Western

Jeannette Walls describes her book Half Broke Horses as a “True-Life Novel,” as it describes the life of her real-life grandmother Lily Casey Smith. The book is told in the first person from the perspective of Lily as she grows up in the harsh desert southwest. While the book is classified as a novel (since Walls was unable to back-up all of the facts about Smith’s life), it reads more like a memoir. Walls begins... Read Half Broke Horses Summary


Publication year 2006Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Loyalty & BetrayalTags Historical Fiction, African Literature

Chimamanda Adichie’s second book, Half of a Yellow Sun, is set during the Nigerian Civil War that tragically occurred in her home country during the 1960s. The story masterfully revolves around an intricate web of shifting viewpoints, each of which centers around one of the novel’s five main characters: Ugwu, Odenigbo, Olanna, Kainene, and Richard. All of these characters find themselves affiliated with the Biafran rebels of the war, and this affiliation eventually has consequences... Read Half of a Yellow Sun Summary


Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Femininity, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Historical Fiction, History: European, Gender / Feminism, Health / Medicine, Arts / Culture, British Literature, Elizabethan Era

Publication year 2015Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

His Bloody Project: A Historical Thriller, written by Graeme Macrae Burnet, is a historical crime novel originally published in 2015. Presented as a series of fictionalized historical documents compiled by Burnet, the story concerns a gruesome triple homicide perpetrated by Roderick Macrae, a young farmer living in the Scottish Highland in the mid-19th century. Told through a number of often-contradictory perspectives, the novel deals with the nature of free will, the origins of criminal behavior... Read His Bloody Project Summary


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Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction

Homegoing is a historical fiction novel by Yaa Gyasi, a Ghanaian-American novelist born in 1989. Homegoing was published in 2016 and was awarded the 2017 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, the 2016 John Leonard Prize for outstanding debut novel, and the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 award in 2016. Written in the tradition of Alex Haley’s Roots: The Saga of an American Family (1976), Gyasi tells the story of one 18th-century Akan family, tracking it across... Read Homegoing Summary


Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Immigration, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Historical Fiction, Politics / Government, Immigration / Refugee, Social Justice, September 11 Attacks, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Race / Racism, History: U.S., Class

Publication year 1827Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: RevengeTags Historical Fiction, Race / Racism, Gender / Feminism

Hope Leslie, or Early Times in the Massachusetts, is a novel by Catharine Maria Sedgwick. Published as two volumes in 1827, it received critical acclaim and success. Given the time in which it was published, and the time and place it portrays (seventeenth-century New England), it is impossible to read Hope Leslie without comparing it to contemporary novels such as The Last of the Mohicans by James Fennimore Cooper. Many have argued that Sedgwick’s place... Read Hope Leslie Summary


Publication year 2009Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Fathers, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: MusicTags WWII / World War II, Historical Fiction, Psychological Fiction

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford is a historical novel published in 2009. The story follows Henry Lee at two pivotal stages in his life—in 1942, when he is a 12-year-old with a crush on a Japanese girl, and in 1986, when he is recently widowed. The book, Ford’s debut novel, spent 130 weeks atop the New York Times Best-Seller List and won the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature... Read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Self Discovery, Identity: Femininity, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Historical Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction

Publication year 1910Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: Art, Society: ClassTags Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Relationships, Class, British Literature

E. M. Forster’s Howards End (1910) tells the story of two families, the Schlegels and the Wilcoxes, who represent different aspects of society in Edwardian England. Specifically, it follows the Margaret Schlegel, the novel’s protagonist, amid her attempts to manage her own family as she becomes engaged to and marries the widowed Mr. Wilcox. In 1992 it was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film, directed by James Ivory, and in 2017 it was adapted into... Read Howards End Summary


Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Relationships: Family, Identity: RaceTags Chinese Literature, Asian Literature, Historical Fiction, Western, Race / Racism, Immigration / Refugee

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Romance, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Publication year 2014Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Society: Politics & Government, Society: Community, Emotions/Behavior: MemoryTags Historical Fiction, Grief / Death, Social Justice, Korean Literature, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 1953Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

In the Castle of My Skin is a semiautobiographical novel by Caribbean author George Lamming, first published in 1970. The novel follows in the footsteps of other Caribbean narratives, a style of literature that initially grew out of the disconnect between an old world (Africa) and a new world (the Americas). Many Caribbean authors attempted to explain, disrupt, query, fuse, or simply explore dual consciousnesses brought about by traditions coming into contact with new ways... Read In the Castle of My Skin Summary


Publication year 2000Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

In the Name of Salomé, first published in 2000, is the fourth novel by Dominican-American author Julia Alvarez. Alvarez is a poet as well as a novelist and has also written essays, nonfiction works, and children’s books. Alvarez was born in the United States but raised in the Dominican Republic, and her work focuses heavily on the experience of a Latina assimilating into American culture. Her family’s political activity in their homeland and her own... Read In the Name of Salome Summary


Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Historical Fiction, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Class, History: Asian, Politics / Government, Social Justice, Vietnam War

In the Shadow of the Banyan (2012) is a historical fiction novel by the Cambodian American author Vaddey Ratner. Set in the 1970s during the Cambodian genocide, the book’s perspective is from Raami, a seven-year-old girl and the daughter of a minor prince whose family is among the millions of Cambodians persecuted by the Khmer Rouge. While Raami’s story hews very closely to Ratner’s own real-life experiences, the author chose to write a work of... Read In The Shadow Of The Banyan Summary


Publication year 1994Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, Animals, Latin American Literature

The novel is set in the Dominican Republic, in both 1994—the “present day”—and during the period of Trujillo’s regime. In 1994, Dedé Mirabal lives in the house where her three sisters—Minerva, Patria and María Teresa—and her family used to live. Her dead sisters are known as the “butterflies,” they are martyrs and national heroes. In 1994, Dedé talks to an interviewer about her sisters’ lives and deaths. Her narrative is interspersed with her own memories... Read In the Time of the Butterflies Summary


Publication year 2003Genre Play, FictionTags Historical Fiction

Since Lynn Nottage’s first major play, Crumbs from the Table of Joy, opened in 1995, Nottage has become one of the most significant original voices in the American theatre. She began to receive acclaim and national attention with the 2004 Off-Broadway premiere of Intimate Apparel, which featured Viola Davis as Esther. In 2004, Intimate Apparel won an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Drama Critics’ Circle Award, and an AUDELCO Viv Award, which recognizes excellence in... Read Intimate Apparel Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Mothers, Identity: Race, Identity: Mental HealthTags Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Addiction / Substance Abuse, Race / Racism, Civil Rights / Jim Crow, Gender / Feminism, African American Literature, Post-War Era

Publication year 2009Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Life/Time: The Past, Society: ColonialismTags Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Spanish Literature

Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: RaceTags Historical Fiction

Nayomi Munaweera was born in Sri Lanka in 1973 as ethnic tensions on the island nation were rising. Island of a Thousand Mirrors (2012) is her first novel and a work of fiction built upon real events leading up to and during the Sri Lankan Civil War that lasted from 1983 to 2009. The story explores cyclical ethnic tension and the impacts of civil war from the perspectives of two female narrators, one from the... Read Island of a Thousand Mirrors Summary


Publication year 1992Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, Afro-Caribbean Literature, French Literature

Part I relates the story of Tituba from her birth to her arrival in Salem. Part II begins with the witch trials and ends with Tituba’s execution in Barbados in the 1700s. The Epilogue, narrated by Tituba’s spirit, brings the story from the century of her death to that of the present-day reader. Following the Epilogue are two sections that Condé included in the original French publication: a Historical Note on the Salem witch trials... Read I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem Summary


Publication year 2000Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Life/Time: Aging, Self DiscoveryTags Historical Fiction, Relationships, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Agriculture, Grief / Death, Transcendentalism, Religion / Spirituality

Jayber Crow, published in 2000 by Counterpoint, is one of author Wendell Berry’s 80 novels and is set in the fictional town of Port William on the banks of the Kentucky River. Berry’s works focus on the agrarian lifestyle he practices in his personal life living and working a farm in rural Kentucky. Many of his novels share what he calls the “Port William membership” and have overlapping characters and settings examining similar themes of... Read Jayber Crow Summary


Publication year 1930Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Immigration, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Auto/Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Class, Poverty, Social Justice, American Literature

Jews Without Money is a semi-autobiographical 1930 novel by Itzok Isaac Granich, published under Granich’s pseudonym, Mike Gold. The book charts the impoverished conditions of the Lower East Side of New York City and the experiences of growing up in a community of predominantly Jewish immigrants in the early 20th century. Growing up in such a difficult environment informed the author’s socialist politics as an adult. Plot SummaryMike Gold is born and raised by a... Read Jews Without Money Summary


Publication year 1966Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Historical Fiction

Margaret Walker’s 1966 novel, Jubilee, is based on the story of Walker’s maternal great-grandmother, Margaret Duggans Ware Brown. The historical fiction novel is sometimes described as a corollary to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind—the epic story of a strong Southern woman who lives during the antebellum period, the Civil War, and Reconstruction; though, the Southern woman in this story is black, and her strength comes from having endured the withering degradation of slavery.Plot SummaryJubilee... Read Jubilee Summary


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Publication year 1901Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Colonialism, Identity: Race, Society: Community, Relationships: FriendshipTags Historical Fiction, Classic Fiction, Action / Adventure, British Literature, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Kim is a novel by the prolific author and poet Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), who was the first English-language recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature. The novel was originally released in a serialized version in 1900-1901, after which it was published in book form. It offers a wide-ranging view of the cultural and religious diversity of British India in the late-19th century, as perceived through the experience of an Indian-enculturated Irish boy named Kim. Along... Read Kim Summary


Publication year 1979Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Life/Time: The Past, Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: FateTags Historical Fiction, African American Literature, Afrofuturism, American Literature, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction

The 1979 novel Kindred was written by Octavia E. Butler, a Black author from California who wrote science fiction that challenged white hegemony. The novel tells the story of Edana “Dana” Franklin, a young Black woman in 1976 whose connection to a young white boy named Rufus Weylin allows her to time travel to 1800s Maryland. As she jumps between 1976 and the 1800s, she learns how she and Rufus are connected, and she must survive... Read Kindred Summary


Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Marriage, Society: Politics & Government, Identity: Gender, Society: War, Values/Ideas: EqualityTags Historical Fiction, WWI / World War I, WWII / World War II, British Literature, Military / War

Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Self Discovery, Identity: Sexuality, Identity: Race, Identity: Gender, Identity: Femininity, Identity: Masculinity, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Values/Ideas: Equality, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Relationships: Family, Relationships: FriendshipTags Historical Fiction, LGBTQ, Romance, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Love / Sexuality, Women's Studies (Nonfiction)

Publication year 2002Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Good & EvilTags Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Race / Racism

Inspired by real events, Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands is Susan Carol McCarthy’s debut novel, published in 2002. The novel received the Chautauqua South Fiction Prize, and it tells the story of a twelve-year-old girl named Reesa McMahon who lives in Mayflower, Florida. Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands is considered both a Bildungsroman as well as a work of historical fiction thanks to the presence of historical figures important to the American civil... Read Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands Summary


Publication year 2023Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Relationships: Mothers, Natural World: PlaceTags Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Race / Racism, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, African American Literature

Publication year 1989Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Identity: Femininity, Identity: Sexuality, Natural World: Food, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Marriage, Self Discovery, Society: WarTags Magical Realism, Latin American Literature, Historical Fiction, Romance, Food, Gender / Feminism, Love / Sexuality

Like Water for Chocolate is the debut novel of Laura Esquivel, published in Mexico in 1989 and then translated into English by Carol and Thomas Christensen. Esquivel has sold over four million copies of the novel worldwide. She is a novelist and active politician serving in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies. She collaborated with her husband at the time to adapt the novel into a film in 1992, which was then nominated for a Golden... Read Like Water for Chocolate Summary


Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: ForgivenessTags Historical Fiction

Lilac Girls is a historical fiction novel by Martha Hall Kelly. Published in 2016, Kelly’s debut novel is inspired by the true story of New York City activist and socialite Caroline Ferriday. Kelly was also inspired by the true story of the Ravensbrück Rabbits, a group of Polish women who were victims of torturous medical experiments during the Second World War. The novel explores the themes of hope, sacrifice, and forgiveness in the face of... Read Lilac Girls Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Society: Community, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Society: War, Relationships: Fathers, Natural World: Appearance & RealityTags Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Grief / Death, American Civil War, Religion / Spirituality, History: U.S., Race / Racism, American Literature

The novel Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, published by Random House in 2017, offers a portrait of an American legend in mourning, surrounded by a poignant but funny cast of 166 characters. It is Saunders’s debut novel, though he has been a notable author of short story collections for decades. The novel won the prestigious Man Booker Prize and was a New York Times best seller.Set in 1862, Lincoln in the Bardo is... Read Lincoln in the Bardo Summary


Publication year 2008Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: GlobalizationTags Historical Fiction

Little Bee, a 2010 novel by Chris Cleave, follows a teenage Nigerian refugee as her life intertwines with Sarah Summers, Andrew O’Rourke, and Charlie O’Rourke. Cleave imagines a singular scene on a beach in Nigeria that unites Little Bee to the O’Rourke-Summers family. As both Little Bee and Sarah slowly tell and retell their stories of that event and those before and after it, their voices slowly unite. Bridging across countries and blending into a... Read Little Bee Summary


Publication year 1970Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, Asian Literature, Korean Literature

Lost Names: Scenes from a Korean Boyhood is a fictionalized autobiography and bildungsroman by author and literature professor Richard E. Kim (1932-2009). Originally published in 1970, Lost Names is a collection of seven scenes from Kim’s life from 1932 (birth) to 1945 (age 13). Kim examines the Korean experience of Japanese colonial occupation through the eyes of himself as a child. Though it is autobiographical, Kim was ambivalent about its status as fiction or nonfiction:... Read Lost Names Summary


Publication year 1984Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Historical Fiction, Race / Racism, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

American author Louise Erdrich’s debut novel, Love Medicine, was first published in 1984 to critical acclaim. A bestseller and winner of the 1984 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, the novel follows three generations of members from five Ojibwe families in Minnesota and North Dakota. Lyrical, metaphorical, and a complex exploration of oppression, joy, and family, the novel is both a record of history and an analysis of love. Blending the genres of historical... Read Love Medicine Summary


Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Fame, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Art, Self Discovery, Relationships: Marriage, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Identity: Femininity, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Auto/Biographical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance, Arts / Culture

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionTags WWII / World War II, Historical Fiction

Manhattan Beach is a 2017 novel by American writer Jennifer Egan. Born in Chicago and raised in San Francisco, Egan, now a New Yorker, did much of her research for the novel at the Brooklyn Historical Society. Using oral histories, photographs, and other supporting documents, she reconstructed the vibrant world of the wartime Brooklyn Naval Yard and Coney Island. The novel won the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, was long-listed for the... Read Manhattan Beach Summary


Publication year 1965Genre Play, FictionThemes Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: courageTags Historical Fiction, Play: Drama, Music, Humor, Play: Historical

Man of La Mancha, by Dale Wasserman, Joe Darion, and Mitch Leigh, took the world of musical theater by storm when it premiered in 1965. This story of Miguel de Cervantes and his comic knight, Don Quixote, won five Tony Awards as well as the Drama Critics Circle Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Variety Drama Critics Award, and the Saturday Review Award. The original production ran for over 2,000 performances and remains popular... Read Man of La Mancha Summary


Publication year 1984Genre Play, FictionTags Historical Fiction, Play: Historical

August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom premiered in 1984, as part of Wilson’s Century Cycle, also known as the Pittsburgh Cycle. The Century Cycle is a series of ten plays, each exploring the black experience in the United States during a different decade of the 20th century. Although Wilson wrote a few other plays, the Century Cycle constitutes the bulk of his life’s work as one of the most significant African-American playwrights in American theatre... Read Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Summary


Publication year 2005Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction

March is mostly told from the perspective of Mr. March, a military chaplain assisting Union soldiers during the Civil War. In the opening sequence, Mr. March tries to save the life of a wounded soldier but fails. This marks the first death for which he holds himself responsible, providing a foundation for his increasingly guilty conscience. His wartime assignment brings him to a plantation that he recognizes from his youth, sending him into a detailed flashback:... Read March Summary


Publication year 1909Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Fate, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Society: Education, Self Discovery, Society: CommunityTags Historical Fiction, Auto/Biographical Fiction, American Literature, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Arts / Culture, Class, Depression / Suicide, Education, Finance / Money / Wealth, Philosophy, Politics / Government, Poverty, Relationships, History: U.S.

Martin Eden is a 1909 novel by American author Jack London. Known for his stories of adventure and use of naturalism and realism, London authored more than 50 books, including Call of the Wild and White Fang, before his untimely death at age 40. London wrote Martin Eden at the height of his literary career, inspired by his own disillusionment with fame and literary critics. Although the protagonist’s individualist principles are at odds with London’s... Read Martin Eden Summary


Publication year 1990Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: CommunityTags Historical Fiction

Medicine River, originally published in 1989, is a novel by Thomas King, one of the most prolific Indigenous American writers of the 20th century. The title of the novel takes its name from the town in Alberta, Canada, where the characters live, near a Blackfoot reservation. Their stories, as told by protagonist Will, delve into themes such as Friendship and Forbearance within the frame of Life in an Alberta Blackfoot Community. As Will tells these... Read Medicine River Summary


Publication year 1997Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

Memoirs of a Geisha is a novel by American author Arthur Golden narrated by a Japanese woman named Sayuri. The story begins when Sayuri (then known as Chiyo) is a child, living in a fishing village with her parents and sister, Satsu. Her modest lifestyle is turned on its head when she meets a man named Mr. Tanaka, who not only runs a fishing company but, unbeknownst to her, also procures girls to work as... Read Memoirs of a Geisha Summary


Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Society: ColonialismTags Gothic Literature, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Mexican Gothic is a feminist Gothic novel by Mexican writer Silvia Moreno-Garcia, who currently resides in Canada. Set in 1950s Mexico City and the burned-out mining town of El Triunfo, the novel is a horror-tinged thriller in which Noemí Taboada, a socialite with aspirations to become an anthropologist, goes to El Triunfo to rescue her cousin Catalina from the Doyles. The Doyles are an impoverished family of English silver barons who have united with a... Read Mexican Gothic Summary


Publication year 1990Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

Charles S. Johnson’s Middle Passage, winner of the National Book Award for fiction, was published in 1990. Set in New Orleans and on the Atlantic Ocean, the historical novel centers on the disastrous voyage of the slave ship Republic.In 1830, Rutherford Calhoun, an ex-slave from Illinois, stows away on the Republic to avoid debts he owes to underworld boss Papa Zeringue or marriage to Isadora Bailey, who has offered to pay off those debts. Once... Read Middle Passage Summary


Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Relationships: Siblings, Life/Time: The Past, Relationships: MothersTags Historical Fiction, LGBTQ, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 2008Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

Mudbound is a 2008 novel by author Hillary Jordan. It is set in the southern delta of Mississippi in the years immediately following World War II. Over the course of the story, the fates of two intertwined families are irreversibly changed by a tragedy provoked by virulent racism. The novel explores themes of love, family, loyalty, duty, and the uneasy relationship African Americans have had with the South in the years following emancipation. As the... Read Mudbound Summary


Publication year 1972Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: MusicTags Historical Fiction

Published in 1973, Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo is a novel that decenters the Westernized, Judeo-Christian historical perspective and compels the reader to see history through a more Afrocentric lens. The novel incorporates nontraditional storytelling techniques such as linear distortion, footnotes, photographs, and charts. It is often affiliated with postmodernism and Afrofuturism.The story begins in 1920. There is an outbreak of Jes Grew, which is spreading toward Harlem, where the novel is primarily set. Those who... Read Mumbo Jumbo Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Graphic Novel/Book, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: Class, Identity: Sexuality, Society: Community, Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Relationships: Siblings, Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Art, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Relationships: Mothers, Identity: Race, Emotions/Behavior: Fear, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Relationships: FathersTags Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Realistic Fiction, LGBTQ, Arts / Culture

Publication year 1880Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Gender, Society: Class, Society: Nation, Values/Ideas: Fame, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Identity: Femininity, Identity: MasculinityTags Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Love / Sexuality, Realism, Realistic Fiction, Naturalism, Class, History: European, French Literature

Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: MemoryTags Western, Historical Fiction

Paulette Jiles’s novel, News of the World, tells the tale of 72-year-old Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd and 10-year-old Johanna Leonberger's journey from Wichita, Texas to Castroville, Texas in 1870, and how that journey would forever and drastically change the course of each of their lives.The story begins in Wichita, Texas, in the early spring of 1870, with Captain Kidd hanging posters advertising his reading of the news. He travels the state reading newspapers to people... Read News of the World Summary


Publication year 1887Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Colonialism, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Satire, Historical Fiction, Asian Literature, History: Asian, Politics / Government

Noli Me Tángere (1887)—which translates to “Touch Me Not” in Latin—is a novel written by Filipino writer José Rizal. The novel tells the story of Don Crisóstomo Ibarra, a young man of Filipino and Spanish descent who returns to the Philippines after a seven-year trip to Europe. Upon his return, and because he is now old enough to better understand the world, Ibarra sees the oppression wrought on the Indigenous population by Spanish colonialism. As... Read Noli Me Tángere Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Society: Politics & GovernmentTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Historical Fiction

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Publication year 1986Genre Play, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Historical Fiction, Play: Historical, Play: Postcolonial

No Sugar is a four-act play written by Jack Davis. It is the story of an Aboriginal family’s struggles for dignity, equality, and justice during the Australian depression of the 1930s. It has much in common with other literary touchstones of activism, such as John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, and more. Like Steinbeck’s novel, No Sugar centers on a particular family and their antagonists, both circumstantial and personal. The... Read No Sugar Summary


Publication year 1991Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Life/Time: BirthTags Historical Fiction

Novel Without a Name, first published in English in 1995, tells the story of a young North Vietnamese soldier named Quan whose physical and emotional journey draws heavily from Vietnamese author Duong Thu Huong’s own life. Novel Without a Name is her third book. At the start of the novel, Quan is with his military unit, having buried six dead girls they found a couple of weeks prior. While hunting for food, one of Quan’s... Read Novel Without a Name Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Values/Ideas: Fame, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Beauty, Values/Ideas: Fate, Society: Nation, Self Discovery, Emotions/Behavior: FearTags Historical Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction, Arts / Culture, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Addiction / Substance Abuse, Depression / Suicide, History: U.S., Mental Illness

Publication year 1990Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Society: CommunityTags Historical Fiction, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff is the first installment of a historical fiction trilogy originally published in 1990 that explores the lives of a Māori family in early 1990s New Zealand. In the first year of its publication, it won the PEN Best First Book award and was the runner-up for the Goodman Fielder Wattie Award. In 1994, Once Were Warriors was optioned and made into a movie of the same name, which won... Read Once Were Warriors Summary


Publication year 1962Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Society: Politics & Government, Society: NationTags Russian Literature, Historical Fiction, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Classic Fiction

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, first published in 1962 in the USSR, is a novel by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It follows the protagonist, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, during a typical day in the forced labor camp where he is imprisoned. The novel explores the human cost of Stalinism in Soviet Russia. Shukhov and the other prisoners waver between unity and division as they attempt to survive in the labor camp, which is situated far... Read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Summary


Publication year 1922Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction, Classic Fiction

One of Ours is a 1923 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Willa Cather, an American author best known for depictions of life in the Great Plains. This novel follows the personal evolution of a young man named Claude Wheeler, dividing his story into two parts: his life on a family farm in Nebraska, and his experiences as a soldier in France during World War I. Exploring themes of youthful restlessness, the search for meaning, and the... Read One Of Ours Summary


Publication year 2013Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline recounts the stories of two extraordinary women: Vivian, a 91 year-old wealthy retiree, and 17 year-old Molly, a troubled orphan living in foster-care. On the surface, these women would seem to have nothing in common; however, as they get to know each other’s stories, they come to understand the many ways in which they share life experiences and emotional truths. They become unlikely, but true, friends.Operating primarily as a... Read Orphan Train Summary


Publication year 1859Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

Our Nig: Sketches from the Life of a Free Black is an autobiographical novel first published in 1859 by Harriet E. Wilson. Rediscovered by renowned African-American literary critic Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in 1981, it was republished and redistributed with wider appeal than its initial publication.The autobiographical novel tells a fictionalized version of Wilson’s life story through the character of Frado, who is also known as “Nig” by other white people. Frado is born to... Read Our Nig Summary


Publication year 1991Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Relationships: Marriage, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Relationships, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Love / Sexuality, History: European

Outlander, published by Random House in 1991, is the first in a highly successful romantic novel series written by Diana Gabaldon, a #1 New York Times bestselling author. The series was adapted into a historical drama television series in 2014.Plot SummaryTold from the perspective of 27-year-old Englishwoman Claire Beauchamp, Outlander begins in 1945 in Inverness, Scotland. Former WWII nurse Claire Beauchamp and her historian husband Frank Randall have returned to Scotland to reconnect after several... Read Outlander Summary


Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Community, Identity: Gender, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Western, Action / Adventure, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Historical Fiction, LGBTQ, Gender / Feminism, Love / Sexuality, American Literature

Publication year 1941Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Trust & DoubtTags Historical Fiction

Out of This Furnace is a multi-generational narrative about a Slovak family’s immigration to America. As an immigrant narrative focusing on three separate, yet intertwined generations, the story looks at the tenuous journey of the family as it makes its way from Hungary to America, including all the ups and downs associated with immigrant life as the Kracha family’s lives evolve along with the so-called American Dream.The narrative begins with George “Djuro” Kracha, who boards... Read Out of This Furnace Summary


Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: MothersTags Historical Fiction, Asian Literature, Korean Literature

Pachinko, written by Min Jin Lee and published in 2017, is the story of five generations of a Korean family living in both Korea and then later Japan from 1910 to 1989. Pachinko was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction in 2017. In Book 1, “Gohyang/Hometown 1910-1933,” the opening setting is the village of Yeongdo, Korea. The reader is introduced to the first generation of the family, the mother and father of... Read Pachinko Summary


Publication year 1939Genre Novella, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice, Values/Ideas: Fate, Society: War, Society: NationTags Historical Fiction, Health / Medicine

Pale Horse, Pale Rider is a novella written by Katherine Anne Porter. It was published in 1939, along with two other short novellas, Old Mortality and Noon Wine, under the collective title Pale Horse, Pale Rider. The story portrays two young lovers who are tragically affected by the 1918 influenza epidemic, or Spanish Flu.This guide uses an eBook version of the 2008 Library of America edition.Plot SummaryMiranda is a young female theater critic who lives... Read Pale Horse, Pale Rider Summary


Publication year 1997Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Identity: Gender, Society: Community, Emotions/Behavior: FearTags Historical Fiction, African American Literature, Gender / Feminism, Magical Realism, Race / Racism, Love / Sexuality

Toni Morrison’s novel Paradise was published in 1997, just a few years after she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. According to Morrison, it is the last book of a trilogy that includes Beloved and Jazz. Morrison is an esteemed American novelist, having also received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1998) and the Coretta Scott King Award for Authors (2005), among other awards. She was educated at Howard University and Cornell University, and... Read Paradise Summary


Publication year 1988Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Historical Fiction

Paradise of the Blind (1988) is a fictional novel written by Duong Thu Huong, a dissident Vietnamese writer and former Communist Party member who openly criticizes the disillusionment of communism through her writings. As a former Communist Youth Brigade leader, Duong was in a unique position to observe the political and social chaos of