Summer reads if you like historical fiction

From the beaches of Sussex in 1935, to the swinging sixties in London and Sicily in the 1870s, these books will take you to another time and place, wherever you're spending the summer.

From the beaches of Sussex in 1935, to the swinging sixties in London and Sicily in the 1870s, these books will take you to another time and place wherever you’re spending the summer.  

Looking for more inspiration? Discover our edit of the best historical fiction

The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives . . .  She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.
 Matilda, Roald Dahl

The Faithful

by Juliet West

Stuck in her small village on the Sussex coast in 1935, sixteen-year old Hazel faces a long, boring summer with her Mother, until Oswald Mosley’s mysterious Blackshirts arrive for their annual rally. Soon, Hazel is befriended by two young men from the cause, one who wins her heart. From the sandy beaches of rural Sussex, to civil war Spain, Juliet West’s second novel The Faithful tells a gripping tale of love, deception and desire.

The Wonder

by Emma Donoghue

When an eleven-year-old girl living in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s stops eating but remains miraculously alive and well, a nurse is sent to investigate whether she is a fraud. Inspired by real-life cases of ‘fasting girls’ in Europe and North America, Emma Donoghue’s latest novel is a thriller about the murder of a child happening in slow motion before your eyes.

The Muse

by Jessie Burton

Split across two timelines, in two different countries, the stories of the women in Jessie Burton’s The Muse are connected by one extraordinary painting. Following the life of Odelle Bastian, who has emigrated to London in the swinging sixties, and nineteen year old Olive Schloss, the daughter of an art dealer in Southern Spain, Jessie Burton's second novel is a moving story of their aspirations and identities.         

The Good People

by Hannah Kent

Based on true events and set in a lost world bound by its own laws, The Good People follows the lives of three very different women Nora, Mary and Nance, who are united by their mission to help one sick boy. Set in County Kerry in Ireland in 1825, in The Good People Hannah Kent evokes the same sense of place as she does in her first novel, Burial Rites

The Children of Jocasta

by Natalie Haynes

The Children of Jocasta is a classic Ancient Greek tale flipped on its head. Jocasta is just fifteen when she is told that she must marry the King of Thebes, an old man she has never met. Ismene is the same age when she is attacked in the palace she calls home. With the turn of these two events, a tragedy is set in motion. But not as you know it. In gripping prose, Natalie Haynes reimagines the Oedipus and Antigone stories from mythology if the often-overlooked female characters were at the centre, and in the process tells a new side of this ancient story.

The Pillars of the Earth

by Ken Follett

Ken Follett’s classic masterpiece is a tale of ambition, anarchy and absolute power, set against the medieval canvas of twelfth-century England. Following the Prior of Kingsbridge in his mission to build an epic Gothic cathedral, this is the first book in the Kingsbridge series, which continues in Autumn 2017 with the publication of A Column of Fire.

The Brewer of Preston

by Andrea Camilleri

Following unification under the Kingdom of Italy in the 1870s, the population of Sicilian town Vigata are ready to rebel, and the arrival of a pompous mainlander who claims he’s in charge can only make things worse. When this new charge forces the townspeople to perform in his mediocre new-opera, all the town can do is unite to wreck havoc on his plans. From the master of Sicilian storytelling and bestselling author of the Montalbano mysteries, Andrea Camilleri, The Brewer of Preston is a hilarious stand alone comedy novel.


Book cover for Lamentation

London, Summer, 1546. Lawyer Matthew Shardlake is summoned to the chamber of Catherine Parr, his old patron and now desperate wife of the dying Henry VIII. Threatened with the unveiling of her secret, that she has written a book so Protestant that she could burn at the stake, which is now missing, she employs Shardlake to investigate its disappearance. Meticulously researched, Lamentation will immerse you in a world of London’s backstreet printshops, and the intriguing world of Whitehall Palace during the last days of the infamous Tudor King.

The Lake House

Book cover for The Lake House

Three stories, seventy years apart, all connected by one tragedy. In The Lake House Kate Morton takes you from Cornwall in the 1930s, to the Hampstead house of a bestselling author seventy years later, and the story of a young detective who is trying to solve a mystery long forgotten and never solved.