Best Fictional History Books
History is a very intriguing topic. Reading through the catastrophes, events, and stories of something that happened over 100 years ago and knowing that the world we live in is a byproduct of all the events that once occurred is fascinating.
Building a fictional story in the world of yesterday gives modern readers a chance to resonate with another timeline & another world! It also provides knowledge and insight into the eras long past. When a fictional story is told alongside a real-life history, it adds life to the story.
Historical fiction, by definition, is a literary genre where a fictional story takes place in the past. It captures the details of the time period while retaining the authenticity, social norms, culture and traditions. There are various sub-genres to historical fiction:
- Historical Fantasy
Includes elements of fantasy into a realistic timeline. It can consist of any superficial part, science fiction, the gods and can potentially alter the events that once occurred. They have plots that are very similar or loosely based on Mythology. Example for this is
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
It is a story set in the 1940s, based on a woman who travels back in time to the late 16th century and observes how history unfolds in front of her eyes! The book perfectly paints a picture and captivating story that focuses on Scotland’s uprising, downfall, and much more!
- Alternate History
Based on a very speculative nature of storytelling that focuses on the ifs and buts of history. What if India won Independence in the year 1900? What if the World Wars didn’t happen? How different would society be today? Unfolding an alternate world is usually the crux of the alternate history genre. An example for this genre would be:
The Man in the High Castle by Philip. K. Dick
It is an alternative history of the Second World War where the Allies defeat the Axis Powers. It covers a wide range of actual incidents, including the Great Depression, political scenarios, Nazism, and more!
- Multi-period Sagas
It covers an element of history, a place/geographical area change over a period of time. These epic tales are generally written with a dramatic flair and are often adapted to movies and television shows. An example for a multi-period saga would be:
Chesapeake by James Michener
It is an epic 400-year saga of the American Eastern shore that follows Native Americans, revolutionary war, settlements all the way to the modern era. What makes it a beautiful fantasy story is that it focuses on one fictional family while parallelly bringing forth American history and the pursuit of freedom.
- Biographical History
This subgenre highlights a fictionalised story of a real person’s life, a family or a close set of people. For example
Middle Passage by Charles Johnson
This award-winning book is set in the 1800’s New Orleans and focuses on a newly freed slave Rutherford Calhoun and his voyage of human atrocities, notions of freedom, abolishing the law and much more! This historical fiction brings forth a philosophical narrative in a medieval setting! A must-read.
As a writer and a history enthusiast, here are some of my top favourite historical fictions novels:
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
This Pulitzer-prize winning novelist perfectly encapsulates the struggles of slavery through the eyes of a Black woman named Sethe. Set in the United States, the story covers her journey as a slave during the pre-civil war days to the late 1900s.
2. Shadow Princess by Indu Sundaresan
Set in the Mughal era, it is the story of a young Princess Jahanara, daughter of Shah Jahan, who fights through the grief of her mother’s loss in the politically ridden city. It covers her time in exile, her relationship with her father and more. The book is a perfect insight into the Mughal world at the height of its glory!
3. The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Set in post-world-war Hollywood, this period drama takes you through a rollercoaster of events in Evelyn Hugo’s life. It covers her seven marriages and her relationship with each one of them. It is a story of fame, greed, and passion!
4. The City of Tears by Kate Mosse
The City of Tears is set in the late 1500s in the city of France. Set during the war of religion, it is a breath-taking novel of revenge, loss and persecution. Fueled with drama, this story is an absorbing historical yarn with action, family drama and more!
5. The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
This marvelous novel of Charles Dickens focuses on a French Doctor Manette and his 18-year-old imprisonment in the Bastille of Paris. His relationship with his daughter Lucie was set in the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror era.
If you are a budding writer, these books will give you the perfect insight into world-building, character development and writing styles. Get your goggles on, know about your past and get your creative juices flowing! Happy writing.
Also read : Must-Read Books By Indian Authors