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50 of the Best Historical Fiction Books

50 of the Best Historical Fiction Books

By Book Riot

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About the list

Whittling all historical fiction books into one manageable list is impossible, truly. Instead of putting together a list of the 223,546 best historical fiction books, we opted instead for adult historical fiction showstoppers that present a wide array of time periods, places, characters, and more. We read historical fiction because we want to travel through time and space. This list gives you the broadest view of our world’s shared past.

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A Gentleman in Moscow

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2019 | Amor Towles

Rated by 25 people

"From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility--a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel With his breakout debut novel, Rules of Civility, Amor Towles established himself as a master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction, bringing late 1930s Manhattan to life with splendid atmosphere and a flawless command of style. Readers and critics were enchanted; as NPR commented, "Towles writes with grace and verve about the mores and manners of a society on the cusp of radical change." A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel's doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery. Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count's endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose"--

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Alias Grace

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1996 | Margaret Atwood

Rated by 1 people

In the astonishing new novel by the author of the bestsellers "The Robber Bride, "Cat's Eye, and "The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood takes us back in time and into the life and mind of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the nineteenth century. Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer, the wealthy Thomas Kinnear, and of Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence after a stint in Toronto's lunatic asylum, Grace herself claims to have no memory of the murders. Dr. Simon Jordan, an up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness, is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story, from her family's difficult passage out of Ireland into Canada, to her time as a maid in Thomas Kinnear's household. As he brings Grace closer and closer to the day she cannot remember, he hears of the turbulent relationship between Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery, and of the alarming behavior of Grace's fellow servant, James McDermott. Jordan is drawn to Grace, but he is also baffled by her. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories? Is Grace a female fiend, a bloodthirsty "femme fatale? Or is she a victim of circumstances? "Alias Grace is a beautifully crafted work of the imagination that reclaims a profoundly mysterious and disturbing story from the past century. With compassion, an unsentimental lyricism, and her customary narrative virtuosity, Margaret Atwood mines the often convoluted relationships between men and women, and between the affluent and thosewithout position. The result is her most captivating, disturbing, and ultimately satisfying work since "The Handmaid's Tale--in short, vintage Atwood.

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