My Favorite Historical Novels– Non-Romance Division (You can Play Too!)

I am the absolute worst at memes which strike me as

  1. No different from chain mail
  2. Fun

So, at the same time I think wow, that would be fun to list [Insert Meme here] I also think all six of my friends will HATE me for dumping this time suck on them. So I end up never doing them because of the requirement of forcing innocents to participate and also never having the required number of vict… er…. friends.

But I got to thinking that lists are kind of fun. So, herewith, my highly personalized list of Historical Novels I Liked A Lot. You’ll probably notice that some of my choices were not historical when they were written. It’s my list so I can do that. Also, because it’s my list, I get to include books that maybe aren’t considered literature.

  • Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • Villette, Charlotte Bronte
  • Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
  • Castle of Otranto, Horace Walpole
  • Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  • The Makioka Sisters, Junichero Tanizaki
  • Connigsby, Benjamin Disraeli
  • The King Must Die, Mary Renault
  • Fire From Heaven, Mary Renault
  • The Last Days of Pompeii, Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • The Silver Chalice, Thomas Costain
  • The Marble Faun, Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Black Tulip, Alexandre Dumas
  • Beowolf (but not until long after I was done reading it.)
  • Captain Blood, Rafael Sabatini
  • Robin Hood

I know there’s more, but that’s my beginning list.

And since I said you can play too, what are yours? Do your own blog post or opine in the comments or both.

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13 years ago

Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien though not a “true” history, it was the first I read of its nature and definitely influenced my love of history.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Those Who Love by Irving Stone Biography of John and Abigail Adams, though I suppose this is actually a romance.
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Megan Frampton
13 years ago

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
House of Mirth, Edith Wharton
Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas
Katharine, Anya Seton
Jane Eyre, some Bronte or another
Wuthering Heights, the first half, ditto as to author
Pickwick Papers, Dickens
A Conspiracy of Paper, David Liss
Possession, A.S. Byatt

I will likely think of more later and read everyone else’s comments and nod in agreement. Cool post today, Carolyn!

Victoria Janssen
13 years ago

You’ll probably notice that some of my choices were not historical when they were written. It’s my list so I can do that.


I’ll play – Dorothy Dunnett and Patrick O’Brian and, in young adult/children’s, Rosemary Sutcliff and Elizabeth Marie Pope and, more recently, M.T. Anderson.

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens
Persuasion, Pride & Prejudice, and Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas (and mentioned by Judy)
The Sharpe novels by Bernard Cornwell

Jane Austen
13 years ago

Persuasion by Jane Austen (good choice Diane)
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
The Lady Emily Series by Tasha Alexander
The Amelia Peabody Series by Elizabeth Peters
Possession by A.S.Byatt (good choice Megan)
The Welsh Princes Trilogy by Sharon Kay Penman
A Break With Charity by Ann Rinaldi
Sebastian St. Cyr by C.S. Harris
The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbit
Anything by E. Nesbit
Speaking Likenesses by Christina Rossetti
(The last two are not historical exactly since some magic happens, but they do take place in Victorian times)
The first three Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Windspear
Rosie Winter series by Kathryn Miller Haines

Okay I think that’s enough for now.

Megan Frampton
13 years ago

ANYTHING Cornwell, well, except for his couple of contemporaries. And Stonehenge. Didn’t like that one.

But, dang, all the rest! Love him!

Jane Austen
13 years ago

Oops…I totally forgot Edward Rutherfurd.

For those of you that like Regencies….is that anyone on this site?….The Forest by Edward Rutherfurd has one of the best little Regencies stories which is actually based a little off an aunt of Jane Austen. I love to read that chapter over and over again. Hmm…..I might want to read it now. Must see if I can get it on Kindle. (The instant gratification of Kindle is wonderful and sometimes hard on the checkbook).

Susan Wilbanks
13 years ago

– Eight Cousins/Rose in Bloom and An Old-Fashioned Girl, Louisa May Alcott
– Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion, Jane Austen
– Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe and Starbuck books (I’m not quite as drawn to his other settings, though I’ll read all but the contemporaries)
– The Midwife’s Apprentice, Karen Cushman
– The Course of Honour, Lindsey Davis
– Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and Lord John books
– Anne’s House of Dreams and Rilla of Ingleside (my favorites of the series), LM Montgomery
– Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series
– Jennie About to Be/The World of Jennie G./Jennie Glenroy, Elisabeth Ogilvie
– A Vision of Light, Judith Merkle Riley
– Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years, Laura Ingalls Wilder

13 years ago

I couldn’t resist the encouragement to make a blog post on this topic.

So, if interested, you can see my initial (off the top of my head) list here:


Tiffany Clare
13 years ago

I have some favorites that are historical but not written so long ago.

Anchee Min’s Empress Orchid and the Last Empress. Beautifully told books.

Angels & Insects A.S. Byatt

Amanda McCabe
13 years ago

Oooh, yes, love Possession! It’s one of my favorite re-reads. (the movie is okay, but not as rich and complex–but then how could it be?)

I love so many of the books listed here (the Austens and Brontes and Whartons and Dunnetts), and have a few to look for now. I think I love too many historical novels to think of at the moment, but a couple off the top of my head are “Middlemarch” and “Our Mutual Friend”. (I also remember getting hooked on history by Victoria Holt/Jean Plaidy novels when I was a kid. She had a great one about Lettice Knollys and one about Marie Antoinette, as well as the Plantagenents. Good times…)

Right now I’m reading a book that is set in post-WWII England, Sarah Waters’ “The Little Stranger.” Terrific, but scary as all heck

Jane George
13 years ago

Tess of the D’urbervilles, Jane Eyre, A Christmas Carol, Huck Finn, The Scarlet Letter, Oliver Twist, Middlemarch, Silas Marner, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow…those all had a lasting effect upon little ol’ me. And more properly historical, The Far Pavilions and The Mists of Avalon. KInda squeaky with the last one, but there it is.

Thanks for the fun time suck.
Yours in victimhood,

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

JaneGeorge, you’ve reminded me. I should have included Thomas Hardy. And I remember LOVING The Far Pavilions.

13 years ago

Ok, I hate you all now, because I did NOT need to end up with more books for the TBR.

But Word on so many of these books!

I loved the Count of Monte Christo.

Agree that Lord of the Rings can be safely included.

Another great one is the Angelique series. Those are wonderful books.

Georgette Heyer, too.

13 years ago

Don’t forget Henry James – my favourite is The Portrait of a Lady – I’ve read it several times and still can’t figure out why Isabel stays with her husband.

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