Best Historical Fiction of 2020 (So Far)

2020 best historical fiction books and novels new releases

We’ve seen a number of fantastic 2020 new releases of historical fiction titles, and I’ve been steadily trying to work my way through these many imaginative and beautifully written titles.

This list will be updated throughout the year, so stay tuned. This list is limited to titles that have already or are very soon to receive a full release. It’s based both on my personal opinions and reviews from others. Happy reading!

Maggie O'Farrell | Knopf

What It's About: A thrilling departure: A short, piercing, deeply moving new novel from the acclaimed author of I Am, I Am, I Am, about the death of Shakespeare's eleven-year-old son Hamnet--a name interchangeable with Hamlet in fifteenth-century Britain--and the years leading up to the production of his great play.

England, 1580...

Publication Date: March 31, 2020

The Henna Artist
Alka Joshi | MIRA

What It's About: Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman’s struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern, The Henna Artist opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel.

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur...

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

How Much of These Hills is Gold
C Pam Zhang | Riverhead Books

What It's About: An electric debut novel set against the twilight of the American gold rush, two siblings are on the run in an unforgiving landscape--trying not just to survive but to find a home.

Ba dies in the night; Ma is already gone. Newly orphaned children of immigrants, Lucy and Sam are suddenly alone in a land that refutes their existence...

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

The Mountains Sing
Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai | Algonquin Books

What It's About: “An epic account of Viet Nam’s painful 20th century history, both vast in scope and intimate in its telling . . . Moving and riveting.” —VIET THANH NGUYEN, author of The Sympathizer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Tran family, set against the backdrop of the Viet Nam War...

Publication Date: March 17, 2020

The Book of Lost Names
Kristin Harmel | Gallery Books

What It's About: Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, a young woman with a talent for forgery helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis in this unforgettable historical novel from the bestselling author of the “epic and heart-wrenching World War II tale” (#1 New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noel), The Winemaker’s Wife...

Publication Date: July 21, 2020

The Jane Austen Society
Natalie Jenner | St. Martin's Press

What It's About: Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England's finest novelists. Now it's home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate...

Publication Date: May 26, 2020

The Mirror & the Light
Hilary Mantel | Henry Holt and Co.

What It's About: “If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?”

England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen before Jane dies giving birth to the male heir he most craves...

Publication Date: March 5, 2020

The Book of Longings
Sue Monk Kidd | Viking

What It's About: “I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.”

Raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris with ties to the ruler of Galilee, Ana is rebellious and ambitious, a relentless seeker with a brilliant, curious mind and a daring spirit. She yearns for a pursuit worthy of her life, but finds no outlet for her considerable talents...

Publication Date: April 21, 2020

Run Me to Earth
Paul Yoon | Simon & Schuster

What It's About: From award-winning author Paul Yoon comes a beautiful, aching novel about three kids orphaned in 1960s Laos—and how their destinies are entwined across decades, anointed by Hernan Diaz as “one of those rare novels that stays with us to become a standard with which we measure other books.”

Alisak, Prany, and Noi—three orphans united by devastating loss—must do what is necessary to survive the perilous landscape of 1960s Laos...

Publication Date: January 28, 2020

Fast Girls: A Novel of the 1936 Women's Olympic Team
Elise Hooper | William Morrow Paperbacks

What It's About: “Fast Girls is a compelling, thrilling look at what it takes to be a female Olympian in pre-war America. Rich with historical detail and brilliant story-telling, the book follows three athletes on their path to compete – and win – in a man’s world.  Brava to Elise Hooper for bringing these inspiring heroines to the wide audience they so richly deserve...

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

The Lions of Fifth Avenue
Fiona Davis | Dutton

What It's About: In nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis's latest historical novel, a series of book thefts roils the iconic New York Public Library, leaving two generations of strong-willed women to pick up the pieces.

It's 1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn't ask for more out of life--her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library, allowing their family to live in an apartment within the grand building, and they are blessed with two children...

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

The Yellow Bird Sings
Jennifer Rosner | Flatiron Books

What It's About: "Rosner’s exquisite, heart-rending debut novel is proof that there’s always going to be room for another story about World War II....This is an absolutely beautiful and necessary novel, full of heartbreak but also hope, about the bond between mother and daughter, and the sacrifices made for love...

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

We Came Here to Shine
Susie Orman Schnall | Griffin

What It's About: At the iconic 1939 New York World’s Fair, two ambitious young women—a down-on-her-luck actress and an aspiring journalist—form an unlikely friendship as they navigate a world of possibility and find out what they are truly made of during a glorious summer of spectacle and potential…

Gorgeous Vivi is about to begin filming her first starring role in a Hollywood picture when the studio head ships her off to New York as a favor to a friend...

Publication Date: June 16, 2020

The Other Bennet Sister
Janice Hadlow | Henry Holt and Co.

What It's About: Mary, the bookish ugly duckling of Pride and Prejudice’s five Bennet sisters, emerges from the shadows and transforms into a desired woman with choices of her own.

What if Mary Bennet’s life took a different path from that laid out for her in Pride and Prejudice? What if the frustrated intellectual of the Bennet family, the marginalized middle daughter, the plain girl who takes refuge in her books, eventually found the fulfillment enjoyed by her prettier, more confident sisters? This is the plot of The Other Bennet Sister, a debut novel with exactly the affection and authority to satisfy Austen fans...

Publication Date: March 31, 2020

The Paris Library
Janet Skeslien Charles | Atria Books

What It's About: Paris, 1939. Odile Souchet is obsessed with books and the Dewey Decimal System, which makes order out of chaos. She soon has it all – a handsome police officer beau, an English best friend, a beloved twin, and a job at the American Library in Paris, a thriving community of students, writers, diplomats, and book lovers...

Publication Date: February 2, 2020

2020 best historical fiction books and novels new releases

2020 best historical fiction books and novels new releases

2020 best historical fiction books and novels new releases

2020 best historical fiction books and novels new releases