Historical fiction is a genre that I haven’t talked about much on my blog this year, but the truth is that it’s one of my favourite genres. I love reading stories that transport me back into time periods that I would otherwise never be able to experience. It can offer a lot of insight into what life was like for the people who lived during these times, as well as enlighten me on how people have grown and evolved, or in some sad cases, reverted to what was harmful and abusive. Unfortunately, history doesn’t always help us to learn from mistakes, but rather plays as a guidebook on how to repeat those same mistakes.
For today’s post I wanted to share with you all a few historical fiction novels on my long-list TBR (to be read), and truth be told they are also my most-anticipated titles for said genre. I’m going to chat about all the diverse books first, and then talk about the rest afterwards.
Empress by Shan Sa
👑 7th Century China, #OwnVoices Chinese Literature
👑 The story revolves around one of China’s most influential and controversial figures, Empress Wu, from the time she was chosen to become one of the emperor’s concubines and how that eventually led her to the position of Empress.
👑 Stand-alone novel.
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
🌸 Early 20th Century San Francisco, #OwnVoices Japanese Literature
🌸 The novel is told via 8 perspectives, discussing the lives of young women who were brought over from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides.”
🌸 Stand-alone novel.
The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundarean
🏰 Late 15th Century to early 16th Century India, #OwnVoices Indian Literature
🏰 This book takes its readers into the world of the Indian Mughal Court’s imperial harem, where we encounter a girl names Mehrunissa. She ends up falling in love with Crown Prince Salim, and spends many years facing terrible conflicts and familial oppression before finally getting the chance to marry him.
🏰 First book in the Taj Mahal Trilogy.
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima
⛵ Early 1960s Yokohama, Japan, #OwnVoices Japanese Literature
⛵ The novel is about 13-year-old Noboru and his passionate distaste for the tenets that adults live by. When a sailor falls in love with his widowed mother, Noboru admires the man for his freedom and ideals as an independent soul. However, when the sailor sacrifices everything that sets him apart from other adults, Noboru’s admiration quickly fades into hatred. The novel is an allegory for the situation and struggles in Japan following its defeat in World War II.
⛵ Stand-alone novel.
This Scheming World by Saikaku Ihara
🏵️Late 17th Century Japan, #OwnVoices Classical Japanese Literature
🏵️The book sardonically explores the lives of commoner’s during a politically unstable era, and how flippant their morals were in the face of gaining and losing money.
China Dolls by Lisa See
🎎 1930s San Francisco, #OwnVoices Chinese Literature
🎎 The novel follows three girls who all audition to become showgirls at San Francisco’s most premiere “Oriental” club, formulating a friendship. One of the girls is Japanese pretending to be Chinese. When Japan bombs Pearl Harbour, and innocent Japanese Americans are sent away to internment camps, this girl is also caught and sent away, leaving her to wonder which one of her friends betrayed her.
🎎 Stand-alone novel.
The French Concession by Xiao Bai
🗡️ 1930s Shanghai, #OwnVoices Chinese Literature
🗡️ A noir narrative that follows a complex political conspiracy in Shanghai involving revolutionaries, violence, assassinations, and espionage with the Chinese, French, and Russian.
🗡️ Stand-alone novel.
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
👘 Early 20th Century Shanghai, #OwnVoices
👘 A white Californian named Lulu runs away with a Chinese painter to Shanghai and establishes the best courtesan house in the city, and soon afterwards has a beautiful “Eurasian” daughter, Violet. Then Lulu abandons her child and flees back to America. Through circumstance, Violet finds herself repeating history as she has a daughter as well.
👘 Stand-Alone novel.
Victoria by Daisy Goldwin
🌹 1830s England
🌹 The book tells the story of how Victoria became queen after her uncle’s passing, and follows her reign therefore afterwards.
🌹 Stand-alone novel.
🌹 Written by the same person who writes the PBS series, Victoria.
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
🐴 1920s China
🐴 The story is about a simple farmer named Wang Lung and his loyal wife, O-Lan, during the last emperor’s reign. The book explores the political and social upheavals of the era, specifically as it pertains to lower-class citizens.
🐴 First book in the House of Earth series.