Best New Historical Fiction Books To Read In 2023
Explore sweeping new historical fiction books for adults and teen readers. Read historical romance books, historical books about WW2, dark historical fictions, and other immersive and epic stories that’ll take you back in time and around the world.
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Best Historical Fiction Books For Adults & Teens
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Thanks to creative new historical fiction books all readers can get transported back in time and go on unforgettable adventures while learning more about historical events and figures. If you’re a historical fiction fan then you’re in luck because there are dozens of new stories coming that already stole early reviewers and critics’ hearts.
You’ll be able to read new dark romance books and new sweeping historical romances and get lost in highly emotional and thought-provoking stories about love, family, and human nature. These stunning new historical books not only transport their readers back in time but also takes them around the world so they can explore some of the most beloved cities including Paris and New York.
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While many of the books are feel-good you can also find here new heartbreakingly beautiful historical fiction books about WW2 and WW1. However, you can also explore alternate realities that were inspired by magical stories and fantasy realms.
No matter if you’re looking for a light-hearted historical fiction novel with romance and laugh-out-loud moments or epic historical tales because you’ll find here a captivating read that’ll surely keep you on the edge of your seat. If you want to check out other book lists filled with beloved classics and some of the most popular new books from around the world then check out our book nook.
25| Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries (Emily Wilde #1) by Heather Fawcett – January 2023
A curmudgeonly professor journeys to a small town in the far north to study faerie folklore and discovers dark fae magic, friendship, and love, in this heartwarming and enchanting fantasy.
Cambridge professor Emily Wilde is good at many things: She is the foremost expert on the study of faeries. She is a genius scholar and a meticulous researcher who is writing the world’s first encyclopaedia of faerie lore. But Emily Wilde is not good at people. She could never make small talk at a party–or even get invited to one. And she prefers the company of her books, her dog, Shadow, and the Fair Folk to other people.
So when she arrives in the hardscrabble village of Hrafnsvik, Emily has no intention of befriending the gruff townsfolk. Nor does she care to spend time with another new arrival: her dashing and insufferably handsome academic rival Wendell Bambleby, who manages to charm the townsfolk, get in the middle of Emily’s research, and utterly confound and frustrate her.
But as Emily gets closer and closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones–the most elusive of all faeries–lurking in the shadowy forest outside the town, she also finds herself on the trail of another mystery: Who is Wendell Bambleby, and what does he really want? To find the answer, she’ll have to unlock the greatest mystery of all–her own heart.
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is one of the best new historical fiction books with romance and magic.
24| Immortal Longings (Flesh and False Gods #1) by Chloe Gong – July 2023
Every year, thousands in the kingdom of Talin will flock to its capital twin cities, San-Er, where the palace hosts a set of games. For those confident enough in their ability to jump between bodies, competitors across San-Er fight to the death to win unimaginable riches.
Princess Calla Tuoleimi lurks in hiding. Five years ago, a massacre killed her parents and left the palace of Er empty…and she was the one who did it. Before King Kasa’s forces in San can catch her, she plans to finish the job and bring down the monarchy. Her reclusive uncle always greets the victor of the games, so if she wins, she gets her opportunity at last to kill him.
Enter Anton Makusa, an exiled aristocrat. His childhood love has lain in a coma since they were both ousted from the palace, and he’s deep in debt trying to keep her alive. Thankfully, he’s one of the best jumpers in the kingdom, flitting from body to body at will. His last chance at saving her is entering the games and winning.
Calla finds both an unexpected alliance with Anton and help from King Kasa’s adopted son, August, who wants to mend Talin’s ills. But the three of them have very different goals, even as Calla and Anton’s partnership spirals into something all-consuming. Before the games close, Calla must decide what she’s playing for—her lover or her kingdom.
Immortal Longings is one of the most atmospheric new historical fiction books that’s perfect for those who love romance stories and retellings.
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23| Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross – April 2023
After centuries of sleep, the gods are warring again. But eighteen-year-old Iris Winnow just wants to hold her family together. Her mother is suffering from addiction and her brother is missing from the front lines. Her best bet is to win the columnist promotion at the Oath Gazette.
To combat her worries, Iris writes letters to her brother and slips them beneath her wardrobe door, where they vanish―into the hands of Roman Kitt, her cold and handsome rival at the paper. When he anonymously writes Iris back, the two of them forge a connection that will follow Iris all the way to the front lines of battle: for her brother, the fate of mankind, and love.
When two young rival journalists find love through a magical connection, they must face the depths of hell, in a war among gods, to seal their fate forever. Shadow and Bone meets Lore in this epic enemies-to-lovers fantasy novel filled with hope and heartbreak, and the unparalleled power of love.
Divine Rivals is one of the most magical new historical fiction books that’s a great choice for YA and adult readers as well.
22| Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano – March 2023
William Waters grew up in a house silenced by tragedy, where his parents could hardly bear to look at him, much less love him. So it’s a relief when his skill on the basketball court earns him a scholarship to college, far away from his childhood home. He soon meets Julia Padavano, a spirited and ambitious young woman who surprises William with her appreciation of his quiet steadiness.
With Julia comes her family; she is inseparable from her three younger sisters: Sylvie, the dreamer, is happiest with her nose in a book and imagines a future different from the expected path of wife and mother; Cecelia, the family’s artist; and Emeline, who patiently takes care of all of them. Happily, the Padavanos fold Julia’s new boyfriend into their loving, chaotic household.
But then darkness from William’s past surfaces, jeopardizing not only Julia’s carefully orchestrated plans for their future, but the sisters’ unshakeable loyalty to one another. The result is a catastrophic family rift that changes their lives for generations. Will the loyalty that once rooted them be strong enough to draw them back together when it matters most?
Vibrating with tenderness, Hello Beautiful is a gorgeous, profoundly moving portrait of what’s possible when we choose to love someone not in spite of who they are, but because of it.
Hello Beautiful is one of the most moving contemporary historical fiction books about family life and love.
21| The Paris Daughter by Kristin Harmel – June 2023
From the bestselling author of the “heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism” (People) The Book of Lost Names comes a gripping historical novel about two mothers who must make unthinkable choices in the face of the Nazi occupation.
Paris, 1939: Young mothers Elise and Juliette become fast friends the day they meet in the beautiful Bois de Boulogne. Though there is a shadow of war creeping across Europe, neither woman suspects that their lives are about to irrevocably change.
When Elise becomes a target of the German occupation, she entrusts Juliette with the most precious thing in her life—her young daughter, playmate to Juliette’s own little girl. But nowhere is safe in war, not even a quiet little bookshop like Juliette’s Librairie des Rêves, and, when a bomb falls on their neighborhood, Juliette’s world is destroyed along with it.
More than a year later, with the war finally ending, Elise returns to reunite with her daughter, only to find her friend’s bookstore reduced to rubble—and Juliette nowhere to be found. What happened to her daughter in those last, terrible moments? Juliette has seemingly vanished without a trace, taking all the answers with her. Elise’s desperate search leads her to New York—and to Juliette—one final, fateful time.
An “exquisite and gut-wrenching novel” (Lisa Barr, New York Times bestselling author) you won’t soon forget, The Paris Daughter is also a sweeping celebration of resilience, motherhood, and love.
The Paris Daughter is one of the most immersive new historical fiction books about WW2 and is set in Paris, France.
20| The Audrey Hepburn Estate by Brenda Janowitz – April 2023
When Emma Jansen discovers that the grand Long Island estate where she grew up is set to be demolished, she can’t help but return for one last visit. After all, it was a place filled with firsts: learning to ride a bike, sneaking a glass of champagne, falling in love.
But once Emma arrives at the storied mansion, she can’t ignore the more complicated memories. Because that’s not exactly where Emma grew up. Her mother and father worked for the family that owned the estate, and they lived over the garage like Audrey Hepburn’s character in the film Sabrina. Emma never felt fully accepted, except by the family’s grandson, Henry—a former love—and by the driver’s son, Leo—her best friend.
As plans for the property are put into motion and the three are together for the first time in over a decade, Emma finds herself caught between two worlds and two loves. And when the house reveals a shattering secret about her own family, she’ll have to decide what kind of life she really wants for herself now and who she wants to be in it.
The Audrey Hepburn Estate is one of the most feel-good romantic historical fiction books with a sweet and wholesome story.
19| The Lost English Girl by Julia Kelly – March 2023
The acclaimed author of the “sweeping and beautifully written novel” (Woman’s World) The Light Over London weaves an epic saga of love, motherhood, and betrayal set against World War II.
Liverpool, 1935: Raised in a strict Catholic family, Viv Byrne knows what’s expected of her: marry a Catholic man from her working-class neighborhood and have his children. However, when she finds herself pregnant after a fling with Joshua Levinson, a Jewish man with dreams of becoming a famous Jazz musician, Viv knows that a swift wedding is the only answer.
Her only solace is that marrying Joshua will mean escaping her strict mother’s scrutiny. But when Joshua makes a life-changing choice on their wedding day, Viv is forced once again into the arms of her disapproving family.
Five years later and on the eve of World War II, Viv is faced with the impossible choice to evacuate her young daughter, Maggie, to the countryside estate of the affluent Thompson family. In New York City, Joshua gives up his failing musical career to serve in the Royal Air Force, fight for his country, and try to piece together his feelings about the family, wife, and daughter he left behind at nineteen.
However, tragedy strikes when Viv learns that the countryside safe haven she sent her daughter to wasn’t immune from the horrors of war. It is only years later, with Joshua’s help, that Viv learns the secrets of their shared past and what it will take to put a family back together again.
Telling the harrowing story of England’s many evacuated children, bestselling author Julia Kelly’s The Lost English Girl explores how one simple choice can change the course of a life, and what we are willing to forgive to find a way back to the ones we love and thought lost.
The Lost English Girl is one of the most heartbreaking new historical fiction books about WW2 and is set in England.
18| The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson – February 2023
From the award-winning author of Yellow Wife, a daring, beautiful, and redemptive novel that explores what it means to be a woman and a mother, and how much one is willing to sacrifice to achieve her greatest goal.
1950s Philadelphia: fifteen-year-old Ruby Pearsall is on track to becoming the first in her family to attend college, in spite of having a mother more interested in keeping a man than raising a daughter. But a taboo love affair threatens to pull her back down into the poverty and desperation that has been passed on to her like a birthright
Eleanor Quarles arrives in Washington, DC, with ambition and secrets. When she meets the handsome William Pride at Howard University, they fall madly in love. But William hails from one of DC’s elite wealthy Black families, and his parents don’t let just anyone into their fold. Eleanor hopes that a baby will make her finally feel at home in William’s family and grant her the life she’s been searching for. But having a baby—and fitting in—is easier said than done.
With their stories colliding in the most unexpected of ways, Ruby and Eleanor will both make decisions that shape the trajectory of their lives.
The House of Eve is is one of the most anticipated new romantic historical fiction books set in 1950s Philadelphia with a highly emotional story about dreams and motherhood.
17| The Golden Doves by Martha Hall Kelly – April 2023
Two former female spies, bound together by their past, risk everything to hunt down an infamous Nazi doctor in the aftermath of World War II—an extraordinary novel inspired by true events from the New York Times bestselling author of Lilac Girls
American Josie Anderson and Parisian Arlette LaRue are thrilled to be working in the French resistance, stealing so many Nazi secrets that they become known as the Golden Doves, renowned across France and hunted by the Gestapo. Their courage will cost them everything. When they are finally arrested and taken to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, along with their loved ones, a reclusive Nazi doctor does unspeakable things to Josie’s mother, a celebrated Jewish singer who joined her daughter in Paris when the world seemed bright. And Arlette’s son is stolen from her, never to be seen again.
A decade later the Doves fall headlong into a dangerous dual mission: Josie is working for U.S. Army intelligence and accepts an assignment to hunt down the infamous doctor, while a mysterious man tells Arlette he may have found her son. The Golden Doves embark on a quest across Europe and ultimately to French Guiana, discovering a web of terrible secrets, and must put themselves in grave danger to finally secure justice and protect the ones they love.
Martha Hall Kelly has garnered acclaim for her stunning combination of empathy and research into the stories of women throughout history and for exploring the terrors of Ravensbrück. With The Golden Doves, she has crafted an unforgettable story about the fates of Nazi fugitives in the wake of World War II—and the unsung females spies who risked it all to bring them to justice.
The Golden Doves is perfect for those readers who love spy stories and are looking for brilliantly crafted historical fiction books about WW2.
16| Code Name Sapphire by Pam Jenoff – February 2023
A woman must rescue her cousin’s family from a train bound for Auschwitz in this riveting tale of bravery and resistance, from the bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris
1942. Hannah Martel has narrowly escaped Nazi Germany after her fiancé was killed in a pogrom. When her ship bound for America is turned away at port, she has nowhere to go but to her cousin Lily, who lives with her family in Brussels. Fearful for her life, Hannah is desperate to get out of occupied Europe. But with no safe way to leave, she must return to the dangerous underground work she thought she had left behind.
Seeking help, Hannah joins the Sapphire Line, a secret resistance network led by a mysterious woman named Micheline and her enigmatic brother Mateo. But when a grave mistake causes Lily’s family to be arrested and slated for deportation to Auschwitz, Hannah finds herself torn between her loyalties. How much is Hannah willing to sacrifice to save the people she loves? Inspired by incredible true stories of courage and sacrifice, Code Name Sapphire is a powerful novel about love, family and the unshakable resilience of women in even the hardest of times.
Code Name Sapphire is one of the most emotional new historical fiction books about WW2 with a heartbreaking story about love and family.
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15| Homecoming by Kate Morton – April 2023
Adelaide Hills, Christmas Eve, 1959: At the end of a scorching hot day, beside a creek on the grounds of the grand and mysterious mansion, a local delivery man makes a terrible discovery. A police investigation is called and the small town of Tambilla becomes embroiled in one of the most shocking and perplexing murder cases in the history of South Australia.
Sixty years later, Jess is a journalist in search of a story. Having lived and worked in London for almost twenty years, she now finds herself laid off from her full-time job and struggling to make ends meet. A phone call out of nowhere summons her back to Sydney, where her beloved grandmother, Nora, who raised Jess when her mother could not, has suffered a fall and been raced to the hospital.
Nora has always been a vibrant and strong presence: decisive, encouraging, young despite her years. When Jess visits her in the hospital, she is alarmed to find her grandmother frail and confused. It’s even more alarming to hear from Nora’s housekeeper that Nora had been distracted in the weeks before her accident and had fallen on the steps to the attic—the one place Jess was forbidden from playing in when she was small.
At loose ends in Nora’s house, Jess does some digging of her own. In Nora’s bedroom, she discovers a true crime book, chronicling the police investigation into a long-buried tragedy: the Turner Family Tragedy of Christmas Eve, 1959. It is only when Jess skims through the book that she finds a shocking connection between her own family and this once-infamous crime—a crime that has never been resolved satisfactorily. And for a journalist without a story, a cold case might be the best distraction she can find…
Homecoming is a perfect choice for thriller novel lovers who want to read twisty and mystery-filled historical fiction books.
14| Weyward by Emilia Hart – March 2023
Three women. Five centuries. One secret.
‘I had nature in my heart, she said. Like she did, and her mother before her. There was something about us – the Weyward women – that bonded us more tightly with the natural world.
We can feel it, she said, the same way we feel rage, sorrow or joy.’
In 2019, Kate flees an abusive relationship in London for Crows Beck, a remote Cumbrian village. Her destination is Weyward Cottage, inherited from her great Aunt Violet, an eccentric entomologist.
As Kate struggles with the trauma of her past, she uncovers a secret about the women in her family. A secret dating back to 1619, when her ancestor Altha Weyward was put on trial for witchcraft…
Weyward is a stunning debut novel about gender and control – about the long echoes of male violence through the centuries. But more than that, it is a celebration of nature, female power and breaking free.
Weyward is one of the most magical and atmospheric paranormal historical fiction books for adults about female empowerment.
13| The Secret Service of Tea and Treason (Dangerous Damsels #3) by India Holton – April 2023
Two rival spies must brave pirates, witches, and fake matrimony to save the Queen.
Known as Agent A, Alice is the top operative within the Agency of Undercover Note Takers, a secret government intelligence group that is fortunately better at espionage than at naming itself. From managing deceptive witches to bored aristocratic ladies, nothing is beyond Alice’s capabilities. She has a steely composure and a plan always up her sleeve (alongside a dagger and an embroidered handkerchief). So when rumors of an assassination plot begin to circulate, she’s immediately assigned to the case.
But she’s not working alone. Daniel Bixby, otherwise known as Agent B and Alice’s greatest rival, is given the most challenging undercover assignment of his life— pretending to be Alice’s husband. Together they will assume the identity of a married couple, infiltrate a pirate house party, and foil their unpatriotic plans.
Determined to remain consummate professionals, Alice and Daniel must ignore the growing attraction between them, especially since acting on it might prove more dangerous than their target.
The Secret Service of Tea and Treason is one of the most magical new historical romance fiction books for adults who love enchanting stories.
12| Chain of Thorns (The Last Hours #3) by Cassandra Clare – January 2023
Cordelia Carstairs has lost everything that matters to her. In only a few short weeks, she has seen her father murdered, her plans to become parabatai with her best friend, Lucie, destroyed, and her marriage to James Herondale crumble before her eyes. Even worse, she is now bound to an ancient demon, Lilith, stripping her of her power as a Shadowhunter.
After fleeing to Paris with Matthew Fairchild, Cordelia hopes to forget her sorrows in the city’s glittering nightlife. But reality intrudes when shocking news comes from home: Tatiana Blackthorn has escaped the Adamant Citadel, and London is under new threat by the Prince of Hell, Belial.
Cordelia returns to a London riven by chaos and dissent. The long-kept secret that Belial is James and Lucie’s grandfather has been revealed by an unexpected enemy, and the Herondales find themselves under suspicion of dealings with demons. Cordelia longs to protect James but is torn between a love for James she has long believed hopeless, and the possibility of a new life with Matthew. Nor can her friends help—ripped apart by their own secrets, they seem destined to face what is coming alone.
For time is short, and Belial’s plan is about to crash into the Shadowhunters of London like a deadly wave, one that will separate Cordelia, Lucie, and the Merry Thieves from help of any kind. Left alone in a shadowy London, they must face Belial’s deadly army. If Cordelia and her friends are going to save their city—and their families—they will have to muster their courage, swallow their pride, and trust one another again. For if they fail, they may lose everything—even their souls.
Chain of Thorns is one of the most exciting new fantasy-fiction historical romance books of 2023 that’s a great choice for adults and YA readers who want to go on an epic adventure.
11| The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Henry – May 2023
1939: Fourteen-year-old Hazel and five-year-old Flora evacuate their London home for a rural village to escape the horrors of the Second World War. Living with the Aberdeen family in a charming stone cottage, Hazel distracts her young sister with a fairy tale about a magical land, a secret place they can escape to that is all their own: Whisperwood.
But the unthinkable happens when Flora suddenly vanishes after playing near the banks of the River Thames. Shattered, Hazel blames herself for her sister’s disappearance, carrying the guilt into adulthood.
Twenty years later, Hazel is back in London, ready to move on from her job at a cozy rare bookstore for a career at Sotheby’s. With a cherished boyfriend and an upcoming Paris getaway, Hazel’s future seems set. But her tidy life is turned upside down when she unwraps a package containing a picture book called Whisperwood and the River of Stars. Hazel never told a soul about the storybook world she created just for Flora. Could this book hold the secrets to Flora’s disappearance? Could it be a sign that her beloved sister is still alive after all these years? Or is something sinister at play?
The Secret Book of Flora Lea is one of the most thrilling and emotional mystery-thriller historical fiction books about WW2, family, and first love and is set in the English countryside.
10| Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner – April 2023
A heartrending story about a young mother’s fight to keep her daughter, and the winds of fortune that tear them apart by the New York Times bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things and The Last Year of the War.
California, 1938—When she loses her parents in an accident, sixteen-year-old Rosanne is taken in by the owners of the vineyard where she has lived her whole life as the vinedresser’s daughter. She moves into Celine and Truman Calvert’s spacious house with a secret, however—Rosie sees colors when she hears sound. She promised her mother she’d never reveal her little-understood ability to anyone, but the weight of her isolation and grief prove too much for her.
Driven by her loneliness she not only breaks the vow to her mother, but in a desperate moment lets down her guard and ends up pregnant. Banished by the Calverts, Rosanne believes she is bound for a home for unwed mothers, and having lost her family she treasures her pregnancy as the chance for a future one. But she soon finds out she is not going to a home of any kind, but to a place far worse than anything she could have imagined.
Austria, 1947—After witnessing firsthand Adolf Hitler’s brutal pursuit of hereditary purity—especially with regard to “different children”—Helen Calvert, Truman’s sister, is ready to return to America for good. But when she arrives at her brother’s peaceful vineyard after decades working abroad, she is shocked to learn what really happened nine years earlier to the vinedresser’s daughter, a girl whom Helen had long ago befriended. In her determination to find Rosanne, Helen discovers that while the war had been won in Europe, there are still terrifying battles to be fought at home.
Only the Beautiful is one of the most sweeping new historical fiction books about WW2.
9| The Librarian of Burned Books by Brianna Labuskes – February 2023
For fans of The Rose Code and The Paris Library, The Librarian of Burned Books is a captivating WWII-era novel about the intertwined fates of three women who believe in the power of books to triumph over the very darkest moments of war.
Berlin 1933. Following the success of her debut novel, American writer Althea James receives an invitation from Joseph Goebbels himself to participate in a culture exchange program in Germany. For a girl from a small town in Maine, 1933 Berlin seems to be sparklingly cosmopolitan, blossoming in the midst of a great change with the charismatic new chancellor at the helm.
Then Althea meets a beautiful woman who promises to show her the real Berlin, and soon she’s drawn into a group of resisters who make her question everything she knows about her hosts–and herself.
Paris 1936. She may have escaped Berlin for Paris, but Hannah Brecht discovers the City of Light is no refuge from the anti-Semitism and Nazi sympathizers she thought she left behind. Heartbroken and tormented by the role she played in the betrayal that destroyed her family, Hannah throws herself into her work at the German Library of Burned Books.
Through the quiet power of books, she believes she can help counter the tide of fascism she sees rising across Europe and atone for her mistakes. But when a dear friend decides actions will speak louder than words, Hannah must decide what stories she is willing to live–or die–for.
New York 1944. Since her husband Edward was killed fighting the Nazis, Vivian Childs has been waging her own war: preventing a powerful senator’s attempts to censor the Armed Service Editions, portable paperbacks that are shipped by the millions to soldiers overseas. Viv knows just how much they mean to the men through the letters she receives–including the last one she got from Edward.
She also knows the only way to win this battle is to counter the senator’s propaganda with a story of her own–at the heart of which lies the reclusive and mysterious woman tending the American Library of Nazi-Banned Books in Brooklyn.
As Viv unknowingly brings her censorship fight crashing into the secrets of the recent past, the fates of these three women will converge, changing all of them forever.
Inspired by the true story of the Council of Books in Wartime–the WWII organization founded by booksellers, publishers, librarians, and authors to use books as “weapons in the war of ideas”–The Librarian of Burned Books is an unforgettable historical novel, a haunting love story, and a testament to the beauty, power, and goodness of the written word.
The Librarian of Burned Books is one of the most anticipated new historical fiction books about WW2 that transports its readers to Paris and New York.
8| Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See – June 2023
According to Confucius, “an educated woman is a worthless woman,” but Tan Yunxian—born into an elite family, yet haunted by death, separations, and loneliness—is being raised by her grandparents to be of use. Her grandmother is one of only a handful of female doctors in China, and she teaches Yunxian the pillars of Chinese medicine, the Four Examinations—looking, listening, touching, and asking—something a man can never do with a female patient.
From a young age, Yunxian learns about women’s illnesses, many of which relate to childbearing, alongside a young midwife-in-training, Meiling. The two girls find fast friendship and a mutual purpose—despite the prohibition that a doctor should never touch blood while a midwife comes in frequent contact with it—and they vow to be forever friends, sharing in each other’s joys and struggles. No mud, no lotus, they tell themselves: from adversity beauty can bloom.
But when Yunxian is sent into an arranged marriage, her mother-in-law forbids her from seeing Meiling and from helping the women and girls in the household. Yunxian is to act like a proper wife—embroider bound-foot slippers, pluck instruments, recite poetry, give birth to sons, and stay forever within the walls of the family compound, the Garden of Fragrant Delights.
How might a woman like Yunxian break free of these traditions, go on to treat women and girls from every level of society, and lead a life of such importance that many of her remedies are still used five centuries later? How might the power of friendship support or complicate these efforts? Lady Tan’s Circle of Women is a captivating story of women helping other women. It is also a triumphant reimagining of the life of a woman who was remarkable in the Ming dynasty and would be considered remarkable today.
Lady Tan’s Circle of Women is one of the most exciting new historical fiction books that transports its readers to 15th century China.
7| Dust Child by Nguyen Phan Que Mai – March 2023
From the internationally bestselling author of The Mountains Sing, a suspenseful and moving saga about family secrets, hidden trauma, and the overriding power of forgiveness, set during the war and in present-day Việt Nam.
In 1969, sisters Trang and Quỳnh, desperate to help their parents pay off debts, leave their rural village and become “bar girls” in Sai Gon, drinking, flirting (and more) with American GIs in return for money. As the war moves closer to the city, the once-innocent Trang gets swept up in an irresistible romance with a young and charming American helicopter pilot, Dan.
Decades later, Dan returns to Viet Nam with his wife, Linda, hoping to find a way to heal from his PTSD and, unbeknownst to her, reckon with secrets from his past.
At the same time, Phong—the son of a Black American soldier and a Vietnamese woman—embarks on a search to find both his parents and a way out of Viet Nam. Abandoned in front of an orphanage, Phong grew up being called “the dust of life,” “Black American imperialist,” and “child of the enemy,” and he dreams of a better life for himself and his family in the U.S.
Past and present converge as these characters come together to confront decisions made during a time of war—decisions that force them to look deep within and find common ground across race, generation, culture, and language. Suspenseful, poetic, and perfect for readers of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, Dust Child tells an unforgettable and immersive story of how those who inherited tragedy can redefine their destinies through love, hard-earned wisdom, compassion, courage, and joy.
Dust Child is one of the most anticipated new historical fiction books that transports its readers to Vietnam.
6| All the Pretty Places by Joy Callaway – May 2023
Joy Callaway returns with a captivating story of a strong woman in a striking setting, examining the life-changing effects of the beauty of nature and how that splendor is restricted to the rich and privileged in the Gilded Age.
1893: In the little town of Rye, New York, it seems everyone—like the rest of the country—is in an economic panic. Once acclaimed for its rare and exotic plant species, Rye Nurseries—the largest nursery on the East Coast—is the supplier of choice for the most respected landscape architects, but now businesses in the community seem to close by the handful weekly. The threat to her family’s livelihood keeps twenty-two-year-old Sadie Fremd up at night.
Her father seems unconcerned by the crisis and is determined to pass the nursery on to one of his sons—despite Sadie’s ardent study of horticulture. Her dreams are all wrapped up in the nursery, a company on the brink of closing, which would leave hundreds of people out of jobs and Sadie’s dream lost forever.
Sadie encourages her father to seek partnerships with big names of the day—the Rockefellers, Goulds, and Starins, among others—to help their nursery remain stable. As she becomes more involved in the business of natural beauty, she begins to notice something. Outside the gates of mansions owned by the elite, people linger—the mourning, the poor, the struggling.
Sadie is forced to reckon with whether only the privileged deserve a right to the beauty she helps inspire. Then a conversation with a man who lost everything changes Sadie’s perspective forever and prompts her to make a choice that has the potential to leave the nursery, her family, and her dreams in ruins.
All the Pretty Places is one of the most atmospheric new historical fiction books for adults that transports its readers to New York.
5| River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer – January 2023
Rare. Moving. Powerful. This beautiful, page-turning and redemptive story of a mother’s gripping journey across the Caribbean to find her stolen children in the aftermath of slavery is a remarkable debut.
Her search begins with an ending….
The master of the Providence plantation in Barbados gathers his slaves and announces the king has decreed an end to slavery. As of the following day, the Emancipation Act of 1834 will come into effect. The cries of joy fall silent when he announces that they are no longer his slaves; they are now his apprentices. No one can leave. They must work for him for another six years. Freedom is just another name for the life they have always lived. So Rachel runs.
Away from Providence, she begins a desperate search to find her children–the five who survived birth and were sold. Are any of them still alive? Rachel has to know. The grueling, dangerous journey takes her from Barbados then, by river, deep into the forest of British Guiana and finally across the sea to Trinidad.
She is driven on by the certainty that a mother cannot be truly free without knowing what has become of her children, even if the answer is more than she can bear. These are the stories of Mary Grace, Micah, Thomas Augustus, Cherry Jane and Mercy. But above all this is the story of Rachel and the extraordinary lengths to which a mother will go to find her children…and her freedom.
River Sing Me Home is one of the most moving and powerful new historical fiction books for adults that takes its readers around the Caribbean.
4| Daughters of Nantucket by Julie Gerstenblatt – March 2023
Set against Nantucket’s Great Fire of 1846, this sweeping, emotional novel brings together three courageous women battling to save everything they hold dear…
Nantucket in 1846 is an island set apart not just by its geography but by its unique circumstances. With their menfolk away at sea, often for years at a time, women here know a rare independence—and the challenges that go with it.
Eliza Macy is struggling to conceal her financial trouble as she waits for her whaling captain husband to return from a voyage. In desperation, she turns against her progressive ideals and targets Meg Wright, a pregnant free Black woman trying to relocate her store to Main Street. Meanwhile, astronomer Maria Mitchell loves running Nantucket’s Atheneum and spending her nights observing the stars, yet she fears revealing the secret wishes of her heart.
On a sweltering July night, a massive fire breaks out in town, quickly kindled by the densely packed wooden buildings. With everything they possess now threatened, these three very different women are forced to reevaluate their priorities and decide what to save, what to let go and what kind of life to rebuild from the ashes of the past.
Daughters of Nantucket is one of the most anticipated historical fiction books for adults with an emotional story about the historic Nantucket fire.
3| The Porcelain Moon by Janie Chang – February 2023
France, 1918. In the final days of the First World War, a young Chinese woman, Pauline Deng, runs away from her uncle’s home in Paris to evade a marriage being arranged for her in Shanghai. To prevent the union, she needs the help of her cousin Theo, who is working as a translator for the Chinese Labour Corps in the French countryside. In the town of Noyelles-sur-Mer, Camille Roussel is planning her escape from an abusive marriage, and to end a love affair that can no longer continue.
When Camille offers Pauline a room for her stay, the two women become friends. But it’s not long before Pauline uncovers a perilous secret that Camille has been hiding from her. As their dangerous situation escalates, the two women are forced to make a terrible decision that will bind them together for the rest of their lives.
Set against the little-known history of the 140,000 Chinese workers brought to Europe as non-combatant labor during WWI, The Porcelain Moon is a tale of forbidden love, identity and belonging, and what we are willing to risk for freedom.
The Porcelain Moon is one of the most deeply atmospheric new historical fiction books about WW1 that transports its readers to France.
2| The House Is on Fire by Rachel Beanland – April 2023
The author of Florence Adler Swims Forever returns with a masterful work of historical fiction about an incendiary tragedy that shocked a young nation and tore apart a community in a single night—told from the perspectives of four people whose actions during the inferno changed the course of history.
Richmond, Virginia 1811. It’s the height of the winter social season. The General Assembly is in session, and many of Virginia’s gentleman planters, along with their wives and children, have made the long and arduous journey to the capital in hopes of whiling away the darkest days of the year. At the city’s only theater, the Charleston-based Placide & Green Company puts on two plays a night to meet the demand of a populace that’s done looking for enlightenment in a church.
On the night after Christmas, the theater is packed with more than six hundred holiday revelers. In the third-floor boxes, sits newly widowed Sally Henry Campbell, who is glad for any opportunity to relive the happy times she shared with her husband. One floor away, in the colored gallery, Cecily Patterson doesn’t give a whit about the play but is grateful for a four-hour reprieve from a life that has recently gone from bad to worse.
Backstage, young stagehand Jack Gibson hopes that, if he can impress the theater’s managers, he’ll be offered a permanent job with the company. And on the other side of town, blacksmith Gilbert Hunt dreams of one day being able to bring his wife to the theater, but he’ll have to buy her freedom first.
When the theater goes up in flames in the middle of the performance, Sally, Cecily, Jack, and Gilbert make a series of split-second decisions that will not only affect their own lives but those of countless others. And in the days following the fire, as news of the disaster spreads across the United States, the paths of these four people will become forever intertwined.
The House Is on Fire is one of the most immersive new historical fiction books set in the 19th century and is about tragic true story of Richmond’s theater fire
1| The Perfumist of Paris by Alka Joshi – March 2023
The final chapter in Alka Joshi’s New York Times bestselling Jaipur trilogy takes readers to 1970s Paris, where Radha’s budding career as a perfumer must compete with the demands of her family and the secrets of her past.
Paris, 1974. Radha is now thirty-two and living in Paris with her husband, Pierre, and their two daughters. She still grieves for the baby boy she gave up years ago, when she was only a child herself, but she loves being a mother to her daughters, and she’s finally found her passion—the treasure trove of scents.
When her friend’s grandfather offered her a job at his parfumerie, she quickly discovered she had a talent—she could find the perfect fragrance for any customer who walked in the door. Now, ten years later, she’s working for a master perfumer, helping to design completely new fragrances for clients and building her career one scent at a time.
She only wishes Pierre could understand her need to work. She feels his frustration, but she can’t give up this thing that drives her.
Tasked with her first major project, Radha travels to India, where she enlists the help of her sister, Lakshmi, and the courtesans of Agra—women who use the power of fragrance to seduce, tease and entice. She’s on the cusp of a breakthrough when she finds out the son she never told her husband about is heading to Paris to find her—upending her carefully managed world and threatening to destroy a vulnerable marriage.
The Perfumist of Paris is one of the most anticipated historical fiction books of 2023 that transports its readers to Paris.
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