Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Ideas Needed: Adult Historical Fiction for Read Outside the Box

The first two editions of Read Outside the Box were great successes. Check out my and my readers' favorite Biographies/Memoirs and Adult Mysteries if you haven't already!

I'm getting a late start on next month's topic, but I'll post it late because of BEA. Here's the topic:

Adult Historical Fiction

Historical fiction has always been one of my favorite genres, so I'm really excited to share my favorites and find some new reads from you!

What are one or two of the best adult historical fiction books you've ever read?


Leave a comment or email me at with your suggestions.

I'm hoping to post the list in mid-June, so be on the look out for the newest edition of Read Outside the Box!!!


  1. I'll do what I can to limit myself to two because HF has always been an absolute favorite of mine. It's what got me reading and blogging to begin with, in fact.

    So here are two options:
    - A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - set in the last 40 years in Afghanistan including Soviet presence and the development of the Taliban. Absolutely amazing. He was instantly propelled to one of my favorite authors ever after this.

    - Any of the books in her "Of Rome" series by Kate Quinn. I know, I'm cheating by giving you three books but they're great. They're also a really great transition from YA to HF as the themes aren't so... Roman. I mean, yes, there's war and gladiators and other Roman like things but they're written in a way that's easy to digest. Although it's considered a series because they all intertwine, you can really pick up any of the three (Mistress of Rome, Daughters of Rome or Empress of the Seven Hills) without missing a beat.

    I'm adding another just in case:
    - The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. It's a long book. And it's kinda dark with intense themes but it is so unbelievably good. It's poetic and tragic and all together amazing. This is probably my favorite of the bunch but it's sort of required that the reader go into it understanding that it's not "a summer read".

  2. Historical Fiction is my favorite genre so it is hard to pick just a few. I would have to go with:

    The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

    Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman

    The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

  3. Here are some that I have enjoyed:

    The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
    Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

    and my favorite of those listed here:

    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

    Good luck with your choice!

  4. Does Outlander by Diana Gabaldon count? It's not 100% historical fiction because of the time travel subplot, but it's mostly historical fiction. And it's such a beautiful book.

    1. It should totally count. It's my suggestion for sure.

  5. I don't read much adult historical fiction, but I did read The Other Boleyn Girl a while back and LOVED that one. I think pretty much anything by Philippa Gregory is a winner:)

  6. Here are some of my recent favorites:

  7. Lacuna, by Kingsolver.
    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by See
    The Dovekeepers by Hoffman

  8. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant, Juliet by Anne Fortier, and anything by Philippa Greggory.

  9. The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman, which is about Richard III and the Wars of the Roses, is one of the best novels that I've ever read. There are quite a few parallels between it and George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones (characters, multiple POVs).

  10. The Matthew Shardlake books by C. J. Sansom are mysteries from the time of Henry VIII. They are REALLY good.

  11. My favorite adult historical fiction novels are by Sarah Waters, who writes these twisty, literary books with plenty of mystery and feminine drama. One of the few authors I have an auto-buy. :)

    Tipping the Velvet
    The Little Stranger

    Look forward to seeing all the other suggestions!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    1. YES! Fingersmith! I read it for a class assignment and it's crazy good.

      I'm not a bit HF reader, so it takes something extra special to keep my attention. Looking forward to the list!

  12. I honestly don't know. I would say The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George. It really grabbed my attention. I would have to go back and look over my GR list. Good luck picking a good one!

  13. My favorite historical fiction books are The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

    I know To Kill a Mockingbird can be classified as YA, but think of it more as adult just because the writing is so much more complicated than most YA novels.

  14. Anything by Philippa Gregory or Alison Weir!!!

  15. This is one I can't contribute to. I read a little bit of everything but historical fiction is one I haven't been able to get into. Definitely looking forward to the suggestions so I can try a few and hopefully find something I like!

  16. One of my favorote historical fiction is the Soulless series by Gail Carriger! Literally, I feel like I fly back in time with that book.

  17. LONESOME DOVE, which I thought would be a cheap Western until I read it. Larry McMurtry really earned that Pulitzer, and I loved how nuanced ALL the characters were: not just the Rangers and cowboys, but also the women, the non-white people, and the non-glamorous people.

    I'll use my second slot for GONE WITH THE WIND, which is now a double whammy as a great work of historical fiction and also a historical document of American perceptions of race during the 1930s.

  18. I love reading historical fiction, so I'm excited to share my favorites as well as see what everyone else comes up with. First for some not so recent ones, anything published by Jean Plaidy, (although my favorites of hers are probably The Loves of Charles II or Victoria Victorious.

    As for more recently published books Roses by Leila Meacham, The Tea Rose Trilogy by Jennifer Donnelly, and The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman.

  19. I'd have to second A Thousand Splendid Suns, The Other Boleyn Girl, and Memoirs of Cleopatra. I read those three in high school and remember enjoying them!

  20. Like Wendy, I think Sarah Waters is an amazing writer! I love all her books.

    I love the Tudor period. If you prefer lighter HF, The Other Boleyn Girl is good. If you want a long, more literary book, I liked Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.

    I love Jennifer Donnelly's YA, so I will have to try the Tea Rose. Is it me, or do other bloggers have trouble finding time to read long books that they aren't reviewing???

    1. Yes, I have a lot of trouble finding time to read long books. I actually have the Tea Rose on my shelf and have read 50 pages or so, but it's hard to get through when I have so many other things to read.

  21. Oh boy, limit myself to only two?! I will try :P

    The Alexandrian by Martha Rofheart is an awesome, highly under-appreciated book about Cleopatra (with a god awful cover). The first-person narrative really sucked me into the story and made Cleopatra feel like she was sitting right in front of me telling her story. I've read a lot of Cleopatra books, but this is hands down my favorite.

    The Master and Commander series by Patrick O'Brian is amazing! The first book was a little hard for me to get into in the beginning because there was a lot of "ship speak" but after that it was smooth sailing (erm, pardon my bad pun). Imagine if Jane Austen met up with the dynamic duo Sherlock Holmes and Watson and they made a book together set during the Napoleonic Wars following the British Royal Navy with a combination of Jane's sly, dry wit and my super cheesy puns and you pretty much have O'Brian's series.

  22. I'm a little late to this, but I really enjoyed The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark, which is set in India just before the exit of the British Raj.


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