“She looked directly up into the northern lights and she wondered if those cold-burning spectres might not draw her breath, her very soul, out of her chest and into the stars.”
-Eowyn Ivey, The Snow Child.
Hey guys! How are you all today? If you follow my bookstagram @cosyreads, then you’ll know I have a handful of favourite genres. One of them is historical fiction. I love historical fiction for its sheer variety of time periods, countries and characters. It’s a very wide genre that has a lot of different stories to explore, which means you’re always discovering new books to love!
I have quite the stack of historical fiction still on my tbr, but for now, these are my favourites!
The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall is set in Junchow, China, in 1928, where Lydia Ivanova is living in the Russian quarter with her mother after they managed to escape the Russian revolution. Lydia is one of my favourite characters in a book ever! The girl is fierce, passionate and loyal. Read this book for the atmospheric setting, the lovely writing and the great characters. Book 2, The Concubine’s Secret is less strong but still a good read and the third book, The Jewel of St Petersburg is a prequel that focuses on Lydia’s mother when she was younger, but is worth reading third if you’re planning on getting into these books.
The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons is set in Leningrad in 1941 and is an epic love story set in a time of great difficulty. Don’t be put off by the size of this book! It is gripping and extremely easy to get into and read and I ended up flying through it. The second book in this trilogy, Tatiana and Alexander is great too, but I didn’t enjoy the last book, The Summer Garden as much.
Sepulchre by Kate Mosse is set in Paris and the south of France in 1891 and is the second book in Mosse’s Languedoc trilogy, but it is not necessary to read them in order-they are each standalone stories that cover the same region of France in different time periods as well as having a contemporary POV that runs alongside the historical one. Mystery. Ghosts. Murders. Duels. This is a gripping one!
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is hands down one of my favourite books ever. Set in Alaska in the 1920s, it is evocatively written and deals with themes of heartbreak, hope and friendship amidst Jack and Mabel carving out a life for themselves on their new, remote homestead. Based on a Russian fairytale of a little girl made out of snow that comes to life, this book is magical and heartwarming and just beautiful. Also, I have been waiting for Eowyn Ivey to write her second book for years and I blinked and it’s already out?! WHAT?! *runs to order it*
All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is about a blind French girl and a German boy set in occupied France, in the chaos of the second world war. The concept of this novel was brilliant in its scope and just beautiful to read.
The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly is the third book in her Rose trilogy. In order, the books are The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose and then the The Wild Rose. These books are the best books set in the 19th century I’ve ever read! The atmosphere of East London in 1888 is just so atmospheric, along with the handful of other locations across the globe. An epic saga, some romance, plenty of intrigue and thrilling moments and another one of my favourite characters-Willa-a woman fighting to live her dreams of exploring the world and climbing mountains against all odds. I’m feeling a reread coming on!
The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs is set between Paris, 1928, where main character Lydia is full of promising talent and deeply in love, and Zurich, 1934, where she is being psycho-analysed by Carl Jung after her life has fallen apart. Evocative, gripping and just beautiful to read, this book is bittersweet and compelling. I especially loved reading the chapters set in the Avant-garde Paris of the 20s, with the fashion, the art, literature and dance that was thriving there at the time.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton is set in Amsterdam in 1686, where Nella has arrived at her new husband’s wealthy household for the first time. Receiving a wedding gift of a beautiful replica of their house, which is slowly furnished by a miniaturist throughout the book, she realises that the little house is mirroring their own in strange ways. Mysterious and atmospheric, this one is a slow burner! Jessie Burton writes beautifully and this book was very unique, but I am currently reading her second book, The Muse, and I think that that will be replacing The Miniaturist on this list shortly!
Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase was a lovely read and I’m sad it hasn’t been around on bookstagram more! Set between the 1960s and the present day, it tells of the idyllic summers the four Alton children spent at Black Rabbit Hall, where no two clocks told the same time and the days had a hazy quality. Until one summer when a tragic event changes their lives and relationships forever. Dark and tangled histories and lush summers, I really enjoyed this book!
And finally, The Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley. This is the second book in an epic seven book series that I am OBSESSED with! The first book is The Seven Sisters, followed by The Storm Sister, then The Shadow Sister and the fourth, The Pearl Sister will be out this November. An epic series that switches between the present day lives of seven adopted sisters whose father has just died, leaving them each clues to their true heritages from around the world and the historical stories that are different in each book, each book leaves me breathless for more. The settings are beautiful, the characters are brilliant and the entire concept holds a mystery at the heart of it that I am dying to unravel. But also really don’t want to because then it will all be over!
Annnnd you made it! That is probably my longest blog post I’ve ever written! If you managed to read it all the way to the end, thank you so much, you lovely human. Let me know your favourite historical fiction reads in the comments?