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

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
historical fiction physical tbr book club

A Long Petal of the Sea
Isabel Allende

What It's About: From the New York Times bestselling author of The House of the Spirits comes an epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents, following two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a new place to call home.

In the late 1930s, civil war gripped Spain...

Publication Date: May 21, 2019
historical fiction book club historical

The Henna Artist
Alka Joshi

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
historical fiction book club audiobook

How Much of These Hills is Gold
C Pam Zhang

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
historical fiction historical dnf

The Mountains Sing
Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

What It's About: 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 Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North...

Publication Date: March 17, 2020
historical fiction vietnam book club

The Book of Lost Names
Kristin Harmel

What It's About: Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.

The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago...

Publication Date: July 21, 2020
historical fiction book club wwii

The Jane Austen Society
Natalie Jenner

What It's About: 2020 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction and for Debut Novel!

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...

Publication Date: May 26, 2020
historical fiction audiobook historical

The Mirror & the Light
Hilary Mantel

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
historical fiction historical history

The Book of Longings
Sue Monk Kidd

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
historical fiction book club historical

Run Me to Earth
Paul Yoon

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
historical fiction laos historical

Fast Girls: A Novel of the 1936 Women's Olympic Team
Elise Hooper

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
historical fiction sports book club

The Lions of Fifth Avenue
Fiona Davis

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
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The Yellow Bird Sings
Jennifer Rosner

What It's About: Poland, 1941. After the Jews in their town are rounded up, Roza and her five-year-old daughter, Shira, spend day and night hidden in a farmer's barn. Forbidden from making a sound, only the yellow bird from her mother's stories can sing the melodies Shira composes in her head.

Roza does all she can to take care of Shira and shield her from the horrors of the outside world...

Publication Date: March 3, 2020
historical fiction wwii books i own

We Came Here to Shine
Susie Orman Schnall

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
historical fiction giveaways historical

The Other Bennet Sister
Janice Hadlow

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: January 9, 2020
historical fiction romance historical

The Paris Library
Janet Skeslien Charles

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 9, 2021
historical fiction historical book club

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

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