A Journey Through Time: The Best Historical Fiction Books

Written: editor | May 10, 2023

Finding the Jewels: A Tour of the Best Historical Fiction
Looking at the best books about the past
There’s nothing better than getting lost in a good book, and readers can do just that with historical fiction. By mixing fact and fiction, these books give a new look at some of the most important events in human history. There is a lot of great historical fiction out there, from stories about World War II to stories about Europe in the Middle Ages.
How to Read Fiction Based on History
Before you start reading some of the best historical fiction books, you might want to think about what makes this genre so interesting. At its heart, historical fiction is all about making up a story that takes place in a real place or time in history.
This means that even though the characters are made up, they live in a world that was real at some point in time. This mix of fact and fiction gives authors a chance to talk about hard topics and make interesting characters, while also giving readers a look at how people lived at different times in history.
How important it is to get history right
One challenge for writers who want to try their hand at historical fiction is to make sure that their work is true to history while still being interesting. It’s important for authors to keep in mind the time period they’re writing about and avoid making mistakes that could make the story seem less real. An accurate portrayal not only helps readers understand what life was like in that time period, but it also shows respect for the people who lived during that time by giving a true picture of their lives.
For a book in this genre to be successful, the author needs to know what makes it historical fiction and make sure that the historical details are correct. Now that you know this, let’s look at some of the best historical fiction books you can buy right now.
Best Books About the Past
If you like historical fiction, you know how much fun it is to get lost in a story set in a different time and place. The best works of historical fiction can make you feel like you’ve gone back in time or, even better, like you were there. Here are three of the best books about the past that will take you to new places.
Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See is a good book.
This Pulitzer Prize-winning book is set in France and Germany during World War II. It tells the stories of two young people: Marie-Laure, a blind French girl who runs away with her father from Paris as the Nazis get closer, and Werner, an orphan boy who joins the German army because of his technical skills. As the war goes on and their paths cross and separate, they both struggle to keep their humanity in the face of unspeakable violence.
Doerr’s writing is poetic and full of details, which gives the story a sense of urgency that keeps readers turning pages until the shocking end. The author’s research into historical facts makes this already powerful story feel even more real.
Kristin Hannah wrote The Nightingale.
This book is also set in France during WWII. It is about two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle. Vianne stays in her small town with her daughter while her husband fights in the war. Isabelle joins the Resistance after years of rebelling against authority at different boarding schools. Hannah skillfully weaves together different points of view and times to make a rich tapestry of France during the war. She also writes about things like sisterhood, courage, making sacrifices, and finding humanity in the midst of chaos.
Ken Follett wrote The Pillars of the Earth.
This epic story takes place in England in the 12th century, when a group of people are building a cathedral for Kingsbridge Priory. There’s Tom Builder, a master builder who wants to make a masterpiece. There’s also Prior Philip, who wants to make the lives of his monks and the people in his town better. And there’s Aliena, whose family is ruined by political turmoil.
Follett’s detailed descriptions of life and buildings in the Middle Ages make this book a must-read for people who are interested in history. Even though his plot is made up, it includes real historical events, like the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Maud.
Why research is important for historical fiction Writing
When you want to write historical fiction, you need to do a lot of research. The author must know a lot about the time period and place where their story takes place. If the author doesn’t do enough research, they might say things that aren’t true or paint events or people in a way that isn’t true to life.
Inaccuracies can make it hard for a reader to suspend their disbelief and take away from their enjoyment of the story as a whole. Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See, and Kristin Hannah, author of The Nightingale, are two great examples of authors who have done a lot of research for their historical fiction books.
Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book about a blind French girl and a German boy during World War II took him more than a decade to write and research. In the same way, Hannah spent years learning about the French Resistance fighters during World War II for her moving book about two sisters’ lives during the war.
By using accurate details in their stories, these authors improve their readers’ experiences by putting them in the middle of what life was like during that time. By accurately describing clothes and re-creating battle scenes, authors help readers imagine what it was like to live in these troubled times.
Getting the right mix of fact and fiction when writing historical fiction
For writers of historical fiction, it can be hard to find the right balance between being true to history and telling an interesting story. On the one hand, when writing about real people or events, they need to stay as close to the truth as possible. On the other hand, they may want to change some things to make the story more interesting.
Ken Follett’s book The Pillars of the Earth, which is set in England in the 12th century when a cathedral is being built, is a great example of an author who does this well. The story is mostly about fights between church leaders and builders, but it also goes into the characters’ private lives.
Even though a lot of the story is based on real events and facts, Follett also made up some things to help move the plot along. The key to telling a story that is both true to history and interesting is to always be aware of which facts are being used and where creative license is being taken.
The author must make sure that any changes from what really happened don’t take away from or misrepresent what really happened. By finding a good balance between fact and fiction, authors can write stories that are both entertaining and educational.
Themes that are looked at in historical fiction
Many of the themes in historical fiction books are still important to readers today. Love and war are two of these themes. Both All the Light We Cannot See and The Nightingale look at them. Love comes in many forms in Doerr’s book. It can be between a father and a daughter, between friends, or even between enemies.
All through the book, love gives the characters hope when things look bad. In a similar way, Hannah’s book looks at family relationships during the Nazi occupation of France as two sisters try to stay alive.
Follett’s The Pillars of Earth shows how power struggles, religion, and architecture are also explored in historical fiction. The building of a cathedral is the setting for power struggles between church officials and builders. Characters’ religious beliefs affect what they do, and the building itself becomes a symbol for the society being built.
By looking at these themes through the lens of history, authors give readers a chance to think about how these problems have changed society over time. People who read about these times can learn more about them and feel more sympathy for the people who lived through them. They can also see how events from the past still affect our world today.
Historical fiction is a type of book that has been loved by readers for a long time. Writers have been able to take us to other places and times through the power of stories, letting us experience history in a way that textbooks never could.
From France during the war to England in the Middle Ages, the books on this list give a glimpse into different times while also telling interesting stories with characters you’ll remember. As we saw when we talked about All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, and The Pillars of the Earth, writing accurate historical fiction requires a lot of research.
But this research isn’t just about getting the facts right; it’s also about learning how people lived in a different time and place. When done well, these details can make the reader feel like they are really there.
Of course, getting facts right about the past isn’t everything. As we saw with The Pillars of the Earth, sometimes a writer needs to take some creative liberties to tell an interesting story.
Finding the right balance between fact and fiction is always hard, but when it’s done well, it can lead to a book that not only entertains but also teaches. And that’s why historical fiction is so powerful in the end: by taking us on these trips through time and space, they help us learn more about ourselves and see how far we’ve come as a society.