2019 Historical Fiction Novels To Look Out For
Historical fiction is by far one of my favorite genres. I love history so any historical stories I can get my hands on works for me, and I wanted to share my list of historical fiction novels coming out this year that you should look out for!
Historical fiction novels are great because they give you that historical frame and all of the details and descriptions, but without having to uphold the strict rules of writing about what actually happened.
The loose facts in a historical fiction book can leave way for more story lines and character development based on the surroundings, and not just focusing on the surroundings of the historical concept themselves.
Enjoy the list!
New London by J.G. MacLeod
Twenty-year-old Ellen Montagu is a new mother living in the British colony of Upper Canada in the year 1846. Not even a decade after the fledgling nation was consumed by rebellion, Ellen and Cormac Guinness try to adjust to life as Irish immigrants in their new home.
New London introduces readers to a new cast of characters, while ensuring loved ones from the first two novels in the series are further developed. New London is set in author J.G. MacLeod’s own childhood town, thus making descriptions vivid and highly accurate. Readers can expect the final book in the trilogy to be full of adventure, danger, humour, and romance.
A must read for fans of 19th century Irish or Canadian history, or classic British literature.
A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler
After the Civil War, young Alva Smith and her sisters are left with nothing but their good name. Then she is introduced to William Vanderbilt, whose nouveau riche family is upending established New York society. They marry, but find themselves excluded by the old-money doyennes who control access to the city’s social and political scene.
Refused entry, Alva designs and builds mansions and hosts her own grand balls. Denied a box seat at the Academy of Music, she helps found the Metropolitan Opera House. Outspoken, brave, and fiercely independent, Alva defies convention by championing suffrage for women, African-Americans and immigrants, and supporting labor union strikes. And, when William’s attentions wander, Alva puts her future at risk—with a scandalous strategy that changes her life.
Set in Manhattan, Newport, and Paris, filled with glittering period detail and a cast of characters that includes the Astors, the Rothschilds, the Whitneys, the Belmonts, and other notable names from the era, A Well Behaved Woman tells the remarkable story of a woman who would not be denied.
Chariot on the Mountain by Jack Ford
Two decades before the Civil War, middle-class farmer Samuel Maddox lies on his deathbed. Elsewhere in his Virginia home, a young woman named Kitty knows her life is about to change. She is one of the Maddox family’s slaves—and Samuel’s biological daughter. When Samuel’s wife, Mary, inherits her husband’s property, she will own Kitty, too, along with Kitty’s three small children.
After Samuel’s death, Mary decides to grant Kitty—an educated woman who has been treated more like family than slave—and her children, their freedom. Helped by Quaker families along the Underground Railroad, Mary travels with them to Pennsylvania to file emancipation papers. But Kitty is not yet safe.
Dragged back to Virginia by a gang of slave catchers led by Samuel’s own nephew, Kitty takes a defiant step: charging the younger Maddox with kidnapping and assault. On the surface, the move is hopeless. But Kitty has allies—Mary, and Fanny Withers, a socialite who secures a lawyer. The sensational trial that follows will decide the fate of Kitty and her children—and bond three extraordinary yet very different women together in their quest for justice.
The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester
New York City/Paris, 1942: When American model Jessica May arrives in Europe to cover the war as a photojournalist for Vogue, most of the soldiers are determined to make her life as difficult as possible. But three friendships change that.
Journalist Martha Gellhorn encourages Jess to bend the rules. Captain Dan Hallworth keeps her safe in dangerous places so she can capture the stories that truly matter. And most important of all, the love of a little orphan named Victorine gives Jess strength to do the impossible. But her success will come at a price…
France, 2005: Fifty years after World War II, D’Arcy Hallworth arrives at a beautiful chateau to curate a collection of famous wartime photos by a reclusive artist. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, but D’Arcy has no idea that this job will uncover decades of secrets that, once revealed, will change everything she thought she knew about her mother, Victorine, and alter D’Arcy’s life forever.
The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox
Maine, 1846. Gideon Stone is desperate to escape the ghosts that haunt him in Massachusetts after his wife’s death, so he moves to Maine, taking a position as a minister in the remote village of Pale Harbor.
But not all is as it seems in the sleepy town. Strange, unsettling things have been happening, and the townspeople claim that only one person can be responsible: Sophronia Carver, a reclusive widow who lives with a spinster maid in the decaying Castle Carver. Sophronia must be a witch, and she almost certainly killed her husband.
As the incidents escalate, one thing becomes clear: they are the work of a madman inspired by the wildly popular stories of Mr. Edgar Allan Poe. And Gideon must find answers, or Pale Harbor will suffer a fate worthy of Poe’s darkest tales.
The Murder of Harriet Monckton by Elizabeth Haynes
The Murder of Harriet Monckton is based on an unsolved true crime.
On 7th November 1843, 23 year-old Harriet Monckton is found murdered in the privy behind the dissenting chapel she regularly attended in Bromley, Kent. The townsfolk are appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the autopsy reveals that Harriet was almost six months pregnant.
Drawing on the original coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, Elizabeth Haynes builds a compelling picture of Harriet Monckton’s final days through the eyes of those closest to her: her fellow teacher and companion, her would-be fiancé, her seducer, and her former landlord and lover. All are suspects. Each has a reason to want her dead.
Mycroft and Sherlock by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Anna Waterhouse
It is 1872, and a series of gruesome murders is the talk of London. Mycroft Holmes–now twenty-six and a force to be reckoned with at the War Office–has no interest in the killings; however, his brother Sherlock has developed a distasteful fascination for the macabre to the detriment of his studies, much to Mycroft’s frustration.
When a ship carrying cargo belonging to Mycroft’s best friend Cyrus Douglas runs aground, Mycroft persuades Sherlock to serve as a tutor at the orphanage that Douglas runs as a charity, so that Douglas might travel to see what can be salvaged. Sherlock finds himself at home among the street urchins, and when a boy dies of a suspected drug overdose, he decides to investigate, following a trail of strange subterranean symbols to the squalid opium dens of the London docks.
Meanwhile a meeting with a beautiful Chinese woman leads Mycroft to the very same mystery, one that forces him to examine the underbelly of the opium trade that is enriching his beloved Britain’s coffers. As the stakes rise, the brothers find that they need one another’s assistance and counsel. But a lifetime of keeping secrets from each other may have catastrophic consequences…
Heads You Win: A Novel by Jeffrey Archer
Leningrad, Russia, 1968: From an early age it is clear that Alexander Karpenko is destined to lead his countrymen. But when his father is assassinated by the KGB for defying the state, Alexander and his mother will have to escape Russia if they hope to survive.
At the docks, they have an irreversible choice: board a container ship bound for America or one bound for Great Britain. Alexander leaves the choice to a toss of a coin…
In a single moment, a double twist decides Alexander’s future. During an epic tale, spanning two continents and thirty years, we follow Alexander through triumph and defeat as he sets out on parallel lives as Alex in New York and Sasha in London. As this unique story unfolds, both come to realize that to find their destiny they must face the past they left behind as Alexander in Russia.
Circe by Madeline Miller
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world.
The Lost Daughter: A Novel by Gill Paul
Summer 1918: Pretty, vivacious Grand Duchess Maria Romanova faces an uncertain future. The nineteen-year-old daughter of the fallen Tsar Nicholas II, she now lives with her family in suffocating isolation, a far cry from their once-glittering royal household. Her days are a combination of endless boredom and paralyzing fear; her only respite is a clandestine friendship with a few of the guards imprisoning the family—never realizing her innocent flirtations could mean the difference between life and death.
1973: When housewife Val Doyle hears her father’s end-of-life confession, “I didn’t want to kill her,” she’s stunned. So, she begins a search for the truth—about his words and her past. The clues she discovers are baffling—a jewel-encrusted box that won’t open and a camera with its film intact. What she finds out pulls Val into one of the world’s greatest mysteries—what really happened to the lost Romanov daughter?
House of Gold by Natasha Solomons
It’s 1911 and Greta Goldbaum is forced to move from glittering Vienna to damp England to wed Albert, a distant cousin. The Goldbaum family are one of the wealthiest in the world, with palaces across Europe, but as Jews and perpetual outsiders they know that strength lies in family. At first defiant and lonely, slowly Greta softens toward Albert, and as the wild paths and untamed beauty of Greta’s new English garden begin to take shape, so too does their love begin to blossom.
But World War I looms and even the influential Goldbaums cannot alter its course. For the first time in two hundred years, the family will find itself on opposing sides, and Greta will have to choose: the family she’s created, or the one she left behind.
The Dante Chamber: A Novel by Matthew Pearl
Five years after a series of Dante-inspired killings stunned Boston, a politician is found in a London park with his neck crushed by an enormous stone device etched with a verse from the Divine Comedy. When other shocking deaths erupt across the city, all in the style of the penances Dante memorialized in Purgatory, poet Christina Rossetti fears her missing brother, the artist and writer Dante Gabriel Rossetti, will be the next victim.
The unwavering Christina enlists poets Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, and Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes to decipher the literary clues, and together these unlikely investigators unravel the secrets of Dante’s verses to find Gabriel and stop the killings. Racing between the shimmering mansions of the elite and the seedy corners of London’s underworld, they descend further into the mystery. But when the true inspiration behind the gruesome murders is finally revealed, Christina must confront a more profound terror than anyone had imagined.
Court of Lions: A Novel by Jane Johnson
Kate Fordham, escaping terrible personal trauma, has fled to the beautiful sunlit city of Granada, the ancient capital of the Moors in Spain. There she is scraping by with an unfulfilling job in a busy bar. One day, in the glorious gardens of the Alhambra—once home to Sultan Abu Abdullah Mohammed—Kate finds a scrap of paper hidden in one of the ancient walls. Upon it, in strange symbols, has been inscribed a message from another era. The message has lain undiscovered since before the Fall of Granada in 1492, when the city was surrendered to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.
Born of love, in a time of danger and desperation, the fragment will be the catalyst that changes Kate’s life forever. An epic saga of romance and redemption, Court of Lions brings one of the great turning-points in human history to life, telling the dual stories of a modern woman and the last Moorish sultan of Granada, as they both move towards their cataclysmic destinies.
Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk
No king. No rules.
England, 1191. King Richard is half a world away, fighting for God and his own ambition. Back home, his country languishes, bankrupt and on the verge of anarchy. People with power are running unchecked. People without are growing angry. And in Nottingham, one of the largest shires in England, the sheriff seems intent on doing nothing about it.
As the leaves turn gold in the Sherwood Forest, the lives of six people—Arable, a servant girl with a secret, Robin and William, soldiers running from their pasts, Marion, a noblewoman working for change, Guy of Gisbourne, Nottingham’s beleaguered guard captain, and Elena Gamwell, a brash, ambitious thief—become intertwined.
And a strange story begins to spread…
The Last to See Me by M Dressler
Over one hundred years ago, Emma Rose Finnis was born and died in the remote northern California town she now haunts. When she was alive, she was a lowly chambermaid and worse, a Finnis. Now, no one remembers her hardworking life and her grand dreams—because there are none left to remember. In a world where phantoms are considered “unclean,” the spirits of her town have already been removed. All except Emma Rose.
But when a determined hunter arrives with instructions to extinguish her once and for all, Emma Rose refuses to be hounded from her haunt, the stately Lambry Mansion. She’s earned her place and she’ll keep it—even if it means waging a war on the living. After all, she’s got nothing left to lose. The same might not be said for those who still enjoy the luxury of a breath…
Home for Erring and Outcast Girls by Julie Kibler
In turn-of-the-20th century Texas, the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls is an unprecedented beacon of hope for young women consigned to the dangerous poverty of the streets by birth, circumstance, or personal tragedy. Built in 1903 on the dusty outskirts of Arlington, a remote dot between Dallas and Fort Worth’s red-light districts, the progressive home bucks public opinion by offering faith, training, and rehabilitation to prostitutes, addicts, unwed mothers, and “ruined” girls without forcibly separating mothers from children.
When Lizzie Bates and Mattie McBride meet there—one sick and abused, but desperately clinging to her young daughter, the other jilted by the beau who fathered her ailing son—they form a friendship that will see them through unbearable loss, heartbreak, difficult choices, and ultimately, diverging paths.
A century later, Cate Sutton, a reclusive university librarian, uncovers the hidden histories of the two troubled women as she stumbles upon the cemetery on the home’s former grounds and begins to comb through its archives in her library. Pulled by an indescribable connection, what Cate discovers about their stories leads her to confront her own heartbreaking past, and to reclaim the life she thought she’d let go forever.
The Undertaker’s Assistant by Amanda Skenandore
“The dead can’t hurt you. Only the living can.” Effie Jones, a former slave who escaped to the Union side as a child, knows the truth of her words. Taken in by an army surgeon and his wife during the War, she learned to read and write, to tolerate the sight of blood and broken bodies—and to forget what is too painful to bear. Now a young freedwoman, she has returned south to New Orleans and earns her living as an embalmer, her steady hand and skillful incisions compensating for her white employer’s shortcomings.
Tall and serious, Effie keeps her distance from the other girls in her boarding house, holding tight to the satisfaction she finds in her work. But despite her reticence, two encounters—with a charismatic state legislator named Samson Greene, and a beautiful young Creole, Adeline—introduce her to new worlds of protests and activism, of soirees and social ambition. Effie decides to seek out the past she has blocked from her memory and try to trace her kin. As her hopes are tested by betrayal, and New Orleans grapples with violence and growing racial turmoil, Effie faces loss and heartache, but also a chance to finally find her place.
The Dead by Christian Kracht
In Berlin, Germany, in the early 1930s, the acclaimed Swiss film director Emil Nägeli receives the assignment of a lifetime: travel to Japan and make a film to establish the dominance of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi empire once and for all. But his handlers are unaware that Nägeli has colluded with the Jewish film critics to pursue an alternative objective—to create a monumental, modernist, allegorical spectacle to warn the world of the horror to come.
Meanwhile, in Japan, the film minister Masahiko Amakasu intends to counter Hollywood’s growing influence and usher in a new golden age of Japanese cinema by exploiting his Swiss visitor. The arrival of Nägeli’s film-star fiancée and a strangely thuggish, pistol-packing Charlie Chaplin—as well as the first stirrings of the winds of war—soon complicates both Amakasu’s and Nägeli’s plans, forcing them to face their demons…and their doom.
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