The Best Historical Fiction Books of 2022

covers of the books mentioned in the list, in a collage



As has been the case since, like, 2020, this year has not gotten off to the best start. I’m not going to get into the laundry list of why that is, but it’s safe to say you might need a bit of an escape right now. Historical fiction novels are your answer.

It’s not to say that the other time periods depicted in these books were necessarily “better.” These stories often take place during times of war or economic upheaval. But still, sometimes you need to get out of your Twitter timeline and think about another set of problems, ya know? Here are the best books for doing that, from a story based on the history of a famous building in New York City, to an epic saga told through letters written to a loved one.

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Violeta, by Isabel Allende

There is a lot to say about this book, which follows a woman born in 1920 and has an incredibly eventful life in South America, but the big headline for me is that the character lives through two different pandemics, so honestly, it’s the cathartic read You’re probably looking for right now. The English version of the book is linked here, but the original is in Spanish.


The Magnolia Palace, by Fiona Davis

When a portrait model loses her mother during the Spanish Flu, she suddenly needs to find a way to make some money. So she takes a job as a secretary for Helen Frick, the daughter of the industrialist Henry Clay Frick. Fifty years later, in that same mansion, a different model starts to investigate a famous murder that took place in the house.


A Ballad of Love and Glory, by Reyna Grande

Any book that has a tagline reading, “A forgotten war. An unforgettable romance,” gets an immediate yes from me. During the controversial annexation of Texas, a Mexican woman loses her home and her husband. Meanwhile, an Irish man decides to help the Mexican army fight against the US, and their lives become intertwined.


Our Last Days in Barcelona, ​​by Chanel Cleeton

In this dual-timeline story that takes place in, you guessed it, Barcelona, ​​a mother and daughter both push against their family’s expectations of them. It has espionage, family secrets, and reunions of long lost lovers. What more could you ask for?



Groupies, by Sarah Priscus

Okay, this is “historical” if you count the ’70s as historical, and yes, we do. If you liked Taylor Jenkins Reid’s “Daisy Jones & The Six,” this book is for you. Faun, a college drop-out, grabs her camera and moves to LA after her mom’s death. She reconnects with her childhood best friend, who is conveniently dating a rock star. It sounds like an amazing life pivot, but things get more complicated the longer Faun stays there.



Mercury Pictures Presents, by Anthony Marra

Another Hollywood story! Maria Lagana moves to Los Angeles to outrun her family’s past in Italy, and she finds herself working at Mercury Pictures, a movie studio. On the brink of WWII, she’s confronted with a man from her father’s past, and things get dicey.


The Tobacco Wives, by Adele Meyers

Maddie Sykes, an aspiring seamstress, moves to North Carolina to work with her aunt. She ends up being employed by the wealthy women of the town, but she learns that health problems have been following all of her clients, and she figures out the cause. Will she report what she knows, or keep it to herself?


Next Ship Home: A Novel of Ellis Island, by Heather Webb

Two women arrive at Ellis Island with different dreams: One is hoping to live in the United States, and the other dreams of being a translator for immigrants. But the corruption on the island proves to be more than either of them anticipated.


Peach Blossom Spring, by Melissa Fu

This book follows three generations of a Chinese family, and starts with the matriarch, Melin, fleeing China in 1938. Her son grows up and has to grapple with his own childhood while parenting his daughter, Lily. How much should he actually tell her about his past so she can know who she is?


Mademoiselle Revolution, by Zoe Sivak

Sylvie de Rosiers, a privileged woman living in Haiti, has to flee the island when a revolution starts to tear it apart. When she arrives in Paris, she becomes fascinated with that country’s own revolution, and its leader Maximilien Robespierre. She has to decide which side of history she really wants to be on in this gripping book.

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