21 Engrossing Historical Fiction Novels Book Clubs Will Love

Historical fiction is one of the most popular genres for book clubs to read, and for good reason! It’s emotional, discussion-worthy, and often, it allows us to experience and learn more about a particular time period in history. If you’re looking for your next book club pick, you can’t go wrong with these captivating historical fiction books for book clubs!

historical fiction novels for book clubs

**Please note, some links on this page are affiliate links. If a purchase is made through an affiliate link, I may receive a commission at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See my full disclosure policy here. Thanks for your support!

Best Book Club Historical Fiction Reads

Below, you’ll find lots of wonderful historical fiction novels to read and discuss with your book club, from WWII novels to stories set during the 1700s.

Most of these are set in the real world, but I’ve also included a few historical fantasy books and books with magical realism as well.

There are historical mysteries, stories laced with mythology, and novels by popular authors and debut authors alike. Something for everyone!

Need more book club ideas? Here are more wonderful, discussion-worthy book club books of 2024 and funny and feel-good novels perfect for book clubs.

The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon

The Frozen River book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

Written by the bestselling author of Code Name Hélène, this historical mystery novel is set in Maine during the late 1700s.

It follows the midwife of a close-knit community, who’s drawn into the investigation of a shocking murder – despite the risks it poses to her and everyone she cares about.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism/Mythology

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

Set in New York City during the turn of the century (early 1900s), two mythical creatures from different cultures – a golem and a djinn – cross paths and form a friendship.

And, if you love this book, there’s also a sequel called The Hidden Palace to enjoy!

James by Percival Everett

James book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction/Retellings

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

This reimagining of the American literary classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn tells the story from Jim’s perspective.

It follows the events of the novel we know – the treacherous river rafting down the Mississippi River and beyond – but with fresh eyes and an important new take on a beloved character.

The Women by Kristin Hannah

The Women by Kristin Hannah book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

This story follows a young woman who joins the Army Nurse Corps during the Vietnam War. It shines light on the forgotten sacrifices of women during the war.

Frankie McGrath comes of age during a turbulent time for her country: the 1960s. When her brother is shipped off to war, Frankie decides to leave behind her sheltered life and enlist as a nurse.

I read this book this year and absolutely loved it! Kristin Hannah is a favorite author of mine already, and I’m happy to report this was a solid 5-star read.

(This was one of my picks for the best book club books to read in 2024! Here are some helpful book club discussion questions for The Women.)!

Here are my favorite Kristin Hannah historical fiction books!

historical fiction book club novels on on a white mantel with a small plant beside it

Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See

Lady Tans Circle of Women book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

Inspired by a female doctor who lived in China during the 15th century, this story follows a woman who is trained as a physician for women’s illnesses during the time of the Ming Dynasty – when female doctors were rare – while dealing with societal pressures and an arranged marriage.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

After years of living in privacy, Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell her story. She spills all her secrets: from her early beginnings in Los Angeles in the 1950s, to her exit from show business in the 1980’s, and the seven husbands she had in between.

It’s a story about old Hollywood glamor, love, friendships, and so much more. (I read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo in two days, which should give you an indication of how good it is!) It’s filled with intrigue, romance, fame, and passion – all the makings of a story with star power, plus a little something extra.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

The Vanishing Half follows twin sisters in the American South during the 1960s, whose lives diverge when one decides to pass as white.

The story felt like floating through time as we follow the characters, their lives weaving through years and cities and relationships. It explores race, family, and identity in a profound way – both heartbreaking and hopeful.

This was the ultimate trifecta: a book that’s easy to get caught up in, that makes you think, and that tugs at your heartstrings.

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Cloud Cuckoo Land book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction/Science Fiction

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

This is a wide-reaching novel, following many characters in different places and times – from Constantinople in the late 1400s to an Idaho town in present day to a space ship many years from now. But somehow, each of these threads is tied together by an ancient story.

This is mostly historical fiction – but it mixes in some science fiction, too. It reminds me a bit of David Mitchell (who’s another favorite author of mine), but really, it’s in a league of its own.

This book totally lived up to the hype for me (and so did Doerr’s other, more traditional historical fiction story: All the Light We Cannot See). Highly recommended!

North Woods by Daniel Mason

North Woods book cover

Genre: Historical/Literary Fiction

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

This sweeping story follows one house in the New England woods, and the many lives who inhabit it across centuries.

It’s about memory, fate, the cyclical force of nature, and how we – as humans – interact with our environment.

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

The Island of Missing Trees book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

This beautiful historical fiction novel covers multiple generations, opening with a forbidden love between Greek and Turkish teenagers, and following one of them years later when he returns to the island as a botanist.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

Decades after Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps during World War II, a decrepit hotel – what was once the gateway to one of those camps – falls under new ownership.

Long-lost items are rediscovered, bringing back tides of memories for the people who once occupied the hotel.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Once Upon a River book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism/Mystery

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

Set in the late 1800s, this historical mystery – woven with threads of fantasy/magical realism – follows the inhabitants of a town in England near the river Thames.

One winter night, a child is found on the riverbank. She isn’t breathing. Hours later, she miraculously stirs. But where did she come from, and how is she alive?

The River We Remember by William Kent Krueger

The River We Remember book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction/Mystery

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

From the author of This Tender Land comes a new standalone novel set in small-town Minnesota in 1958.

When the wealthiest landowner in town is killed on Memorial Day, it sends the entire town into a whirlwind of vicious gossip and accusations – many of which are focused on a Native American World War II veteran.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale book cover

Genre: WWII Historical Fiction

Set in France during the late 1930s to early 1940s, this powerful and atmospheric WWII story follows two French sisters as they grapple with the Nazi’s invasion of their homeland.

In a small, remote village, Vianne and her daughter are forced to live with a German captain in their home, doing what they can to survive while resources grow scarce.

Vianne’s younger sister, Isabelle, decides to risk her life by joining the Resistance in Paris – surrounded by danger at every turn.

Will the sisters ever see each other again?

The God of the Woods by Liz Moore

The God of the Woods book cover

Genre: Mystery/Historical Fiction

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

The bestselling author of Long Bright River is back with a new multi-layered family drama/mystery novel.

When a girl goes missing at summer camp in 1975, tensions flare between the rich family that owns the camp and the blue collar community that serves them.

Even stranger, this isn’t the first time one of the family’s children has gone missing – the girl’s older brother disappeared sixteen years ago.

Is it a pattern, or mere coincidence? And who’s to blame?

Release date: July 2nd, 2024

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

This beautifully-written historical fiction novel follows a Russian aristocrat in 1922 who is sentenced to a decades-long “house arrest” in the attic of an old, grand hotel.

The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery/Fantasy

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

This historical fiction novel set during World War II follows two young sisters who evacuate to the English countryside to escape the war. But soon, the younger sister goes missing.

Twenty years later, the older sister – wracked with guilt – finally thinks she’s found a clue as to her sister’s disappearance, hidden in a book.

Will she finally discover what happened to her sister all those years ago?

The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng

The House of Doors book cover

Genre: Historical/Literary Fiction

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

Set in 1921 in Penang, Malaysia, this is a fictional story inspired by true events featuring none other than prolific novelist M. Somerset Maugham.

Weyward by Emilia Hart

Weyward book cover

Genre: Historical Fantasy/Magical Realism

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

Spanning multiple centuries, Weyward follows the stories of misunderstood women, from a woman who’s hunted as a witch in the 1600s to a modern-way woman discovering her ties to the power of the natural world.

The Bookbinder by Pip Williams

The Bookbinder book cover

Genre: Historical Fiction

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

This story follows a young woman who works at a book bindery in England during World War I.

She dreams of attending Oxford’s Somerville College, but war, illness, and love may reshape the trajectory of her life.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie book cover

Genre: Historical Cozy Mystery

Order on Amazon | Order on Bookshop.org

This historical cozy mystery series set in the 1950s follows a young amateur detective and aspiring chemist – Flavia de Luce – who lives in an old mansion with her family.

She boldly solves murders in her sleepy English countryside village, complete with a revolving cast of eccentric characters.

Are you a fan of historical fiction books? See any favorites on this list?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *