A Gentleman in Moscow
Amor Towles’ charming, wry novel shows us the unusual “unrepented” life of Count Alexander Rostov, an aristocrat in 1922 sentenced to a life’s term of house arrest in a luxe hotel’s attic. As the Count makes friends, gossips, and observes the goings-on of a Russia he’s no longer truly in sync with, you’ll see why this instant favorite makes an indelible impression on historical readers.
The Boy In the Striped Pajamas (Movie Tie-in Edition)
Uprooted by his family’s move and his father’s promotion in a shifting 1942 Berlin, young Bruno finds himself adrift in a place where there’s nobody to play with, and a tall fence separating him from strangers. After he befriends another boy from that forbidden side, Bruno and his new friend’s lives are ruptured by unforeseen consequences.
Martha Hall Kelly
Weaving together the tumultuous lives of a New York socialite, Polish teenage girl, and an ambitious young female German doctor in 1939, Lilac Girls undertakes an epic struggle for justice and what’s right amid the unfolding terrors of Nazi Germany. Crossing continents, from America to Europe, this vital novel is remarkable and powerful.
Cutting for Stone
Set against the backdrops of Addis Ababa and New York, two orphaned twin brothers come into their own. As they reconcile their past as sons of an Indian nun and a British surgeon, they must cope with the very real revolution that seems on the edge of engulfing Ethiopia.
As Bright as Heaven
Amid the terrorizing backdrop of the Spanish Flu’s encroachment on America, this moving story sweeps a hapless family into the despair of sickness, and the fight for their future. As they grieve their own loss, and adopt a baby orphaned by the illness, the resilient family show how far they’ll go to preserve their world—and purify it if they can.
The Alienist (TNT Tie-in Edition)
Grippingly set in the Gilded Age, this book unearths an incredible cast, from Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, to an intrepid psychologist, called an “alienist.” Coming together to solve the murder of a boy, and race against the possibility of more killings to come, this book will have you breathless to the last page.
The Paris Wife
The Paris Wife invites us into the marriage of Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Hadley, and the beauty and tumult that arises. As Hemingway struggles to find his literary voice, and Hadley resists being pulled apart by the varying demands of her new life as wife and muse, we’re witness to something truly poignant and impassioned.
The Chilbury Ladies' Choir
Left in their village as the men head off to fight in World War II, the local women’s choir proves their strength in spirit, defying the wishes of the church and still singing even as war threatens all they hold dear. Above all, the ladies of Chilbury show us how to live defiantly, and with purpose.
Anatomy of a Miracle
Braiding science, mystery, and faith, this inventive tale toggles between reportage and narrative to tell the story of an injured man who makes a seemingly miraculous recovery. Or is it? Sorting through the biggest questions of belief and healing, you will be thinking about this one long after you’ve finished.
Historical fiction is a great literary equalizer, one that sets the imagination of today against the narratives of the past. From barren tales of Russian exile to surviving Berlin in the era of savage Nazism, these historical novels give readers some of the most enduring, unforgettable plots inspired by true life. Taken from our wide-ranging bookish poll, these works represent the very favorites as told to us by our readers. Within these books, you can take a sojourn through some of history’s most charming, devastating, and redemptive literary moments—and come away with new eyes on older times.
Featured illustration: Kate Gavino