2020 was a good year for me when it comes to reading. I read so many books and had a great time finding new historical books that were amazing and captivating. I want to share them with you guys. Some of these got into my top 5 and some of these are older releases and others are new books released in 2020. This is going to be a long post and I want you guys to be prepared for it. Get ready to dive into it. Let’s get into the list of my favorite historical fiction I read this year, shall we?
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Where The Lost Wander is a romantic historical fiction set on Oregon Trail and it tells us the hauntingly beautiful love story of Naomi May and John Lowry. They meet on their journey to California in search of a better life. We follow these two characters through their journey which is filled with difficulties, sicknesses, and trials that test their strengths and limits. Their journey was hard, filled with labor, pain, sweat, and tears.
Buy Where The Lost Wander –
The First Woman is my first book from the Ugandan novelist Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. Her first novel is very well received. When I read the synopsis of the book, I was intrigued. The novel tells the story of a young girl Kirabo raised by her grandparents in a rural village in Uganda. Her father is only an occasional visitor, while there is no news about her mother. As she starts to grow up, she feels the absence of her mother and is on a quest to find out more about her. She searches out Nsuuta, the village witch, to learn more about herself and her mom. Nsuuta tells her the story of women and how society tries to silence them using mythology and other tales. The First Woman is rooted in Ugandan mythology, and it paints a feministic account of what it means to be a woman in modern society and their power in the patriarchal community.
Buy The First Woman –
The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline is a well-researched historical fiction set in 19th century Australia. The book tells us the story of three women, Evangeline, Hazel, and Mathinna. Evangeline and Hazel are the two English convicts who get sentenced to Van Diemen’s Land. The Prisoners from Newgate Prison got often transported to the Island, where they had to complete the rest of their sentences. Mathinna is the Aboriginal orphan who gets uprooted from her life to live with the governor and his wife. The book is vividly descriptive and meticulously researched, giving the readers a distinct impression of the hardships and oppression faced each of these women during their time in England and Australia.
Buy The Exiles –
The Once And Future Witches is my first book by Alex E. Harrow. I haven’t read her debut novel, Ten Thousand Doors Of January. But I have seen a lot of raving reviews for it and, I knew I needed to check out her feministic story of justice and women’s rights movements with witching to aid the cause. It is a story told from the perspective of the three Eastwood sisters, and we get to know them intimately through the novel as it unfolds. The three estranged sisters come together in New Salem at a suffragist’s march, pulled by ancient witching. They want to make the fight for women’s rights count and decide to find out the forgotten ways and words to bring back the long-lost powers of the witching. As they move forward with their plans, strange shadows stalk and hunt them, putting roadblocks to stop their plans. While they are planning the witch movement to take down the male-dominated system, they also have to figure out a way to communicate with one another to resolve the broken bonds between them. The book tells the story of sisterhood, fighting for justice, and women’s rights movements all woven together to bring forth a wonderfully crafted character-driven novel.
Buy The Once And Future Witches –
The Strange Adventures Of H is a fascinating memoir-style coming-of-age story of a young girl by the name H. This story is set during the Great Plague of London. It also covers The Great Fire of London and The Shrove Tuesday Riots that happened in London. H tells the readers her life story by taking us through a series of unfortunate events that leads her to make difficult decisions and having to fend for herself in the 17th century London that wasn’t kind to young women who didn’t have a man’s protection. This is such an honest and raw account of her life experiences that make her the person she is today.
Buy The Strange Adventures Of H –
The Paris Library is a historical fiction based on the true story of brave librarians during WW2. The book follows two main POVs, one of Odile, who used to be a librarian at the American Library in Paris, and Lily, who is a teenager in Froid, Montana. Odile was happy getting her dream job and spending her time in the library helping people with book recommendations. Her life was almost perfect with a handsome police officer beau, a best friend who shared her love for reading. Then war comes calling, and everything perfect falls into despair. Her stable life gets swiped from under her leaving her disconcerted. With Jews getting discriminated against and loved ones going to fight against Germans, Odile and her loved ones try to find stability in things they love. Odile spends most of her time at the library, helping out and sending books to soldiers and their Jewish readers, at times risking imprisonment. Now, as a widow and alone at Froid, she finds herself being a mentor to the teenager Lily. Odile can relate to Lily and see herself in the young girl. Odile helps Lily deal with difficulties that arise in her life and often guiding her by instilling a deep love for literature and French and all things Paris.
Buy The Paris Library –
Wolf is the story of an amnesiac patient who finds friendship and loyalty and a sense of family in the unlikeliest person ever. Friedrich Richard wakes up with no memory of his life after surviving several fatal injuries from a shell attack. The amnesiac soldier who is taken to the Pasewalk hospital finds himself assisting A hysterically blind person. They form an unbreakable bond at the hospital which then leads our protagonist into making every decision based on his loyalty and friendship for this individual. The story gives us a fresh perspective in understanding Adolf Hitler as a human being, his background and his story without any preconceived bias. The man who is probably the most feared and hated individual on this earth also happens to have a side that is completely charming, captivating and loyal is mind-boggling. This book will definitely shatter our image of Hitler and give us the bare-bones of his story and his life through Friedrich’s eyes.
Buy Wolf –
Paris By Starlight is a fantasy/magical realism book by Robert Dinsdale. This is my first experience with this author, and I can confidently say it won’t be my last book from him either. I didn’t know what I will be getting out of this book and going in blind really helped me enjoy it. The story is so descriptive and full of imagery that will enchant you, make you fall in love with the world Robert has crafted for us. It’s slow-pacing, and multiple POVs help us understand the characters in a way character-driven stories usually do. The story has a fine-balance of character & plot-driven moments and makes the smooth transition between the two without being too disruptive. The folklores/fairytales told in the book was filled with little nuggets of wisdom. The story may appear on the outside at first glance, a fantasy/magical realism story, but at the core of it is a human story. One that will make us think and reflect on later.
Buy Paris By Starlight –
The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue is my 6th book from VE Schwab, who is one of my favorite authors. The story is about a Faustian bargain struck between a young girl and a God who answers after dark. Addie has always longed for more than she was given. She dreamed of more than she was allowed to. A girl with endless love for life and art makes a deal with the being who answers after dark, cursing herself to a lifetime of being alone and lonely and being forgotten by people around her. Her life is told in alternating chapters of present and past, taking us along for the endless journey that is her life. She meets a boy who remembers her and sees how the two of them navigate their new normal. The dual POVs adding to the narrative elevated the storytelling giving us an up-close view into their lives. It was raw and intimate, and the impeccable portrayal of these characters gives us a glimpse into their minds as well.
Buy The Invisible Life Of Addie Larue –
10. THE FORTY RULES OF LOVE BY ELIF SHAFAK
I felt so happy and serene after reading this book and it was the best feeling to be left with after reading a book in my opinion. The book had a magical feel to it throughout. The stories were so beautiful and fills you with a lot of warmth. Now that I have gushed about the book, I can let you know my thoughts without me going off on a tangent gushing about it every now and then. The book is about Ella and Aziz and how their lives get intertwined because of Aziz’s book. Through this book, they find themselves close to one another and we see Ella transformed into a new person at the end of this journey. The story is also about the famous poet Rumi and his spiritual companion Shams. I loved how the two stories kept going back and forth making smooth transitions and often bringing out these synchronicity and serendipitous moments that bring a smile to our face.
Buy The Forty Rules Of Love –
How Beautiful We Were is a literary fiction/cultural fiction written by Imbolo Mbue. The story is set in the fictional African village of Kosawa. It tells the heartwrenching tale of the suffering and turmoil caused by the greed of western oil companies. The story is an unforgettable one written with brutal honesty and captures the readers from the get-go. It is told from multiple perspectives helping us put together the puzzle that will leave us with the whole picture. All characters provide us with insight into the situation and help us learn the life before and after the companies started to drill for oil. It is a powerful story that will leave us heartbroken, angry, and wanting to fight for justice on behalf of the people of the village of Kosawa. It’s a staggering display of greed and the superiority of Western countries. The parallels to today’s world and similar projects make us understand that greed and avarice don’t concern itself with the cost of life or the destruction it leaves behind. The ugly side of what corporate companies do to be the big giants they are is laid bare for the readers to see.
Buy How Beautiful We Were –
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart is the winner of the 2020 Booker Prize. To know that this book was rejected 32 times before it got published is baffling to me. Reading that was such a shock and the irony of it is just great. The book is a winner for the Booker Prize, and it’s almost like the universe telling the publishers where to take their rejections. I haven’t read the other books on the list, and I do have to say after reading this book, I am not surprised that this book got the recognition it did. Every time I see a book that is a popular book, on Netgalley, especially one that is already published, I know that there is no chance I could get to review it. But despite my doubts, I still requested it, and I am happy to say I was excited when I saw this on my shelf.
Buy Shuggie Bain –
I absolutely loved it and will be one of my favorite books of all time. The book was an emotional, heartbreaking and unforgettable journey that will tug at your heartstrings. It will grip your heart and pull it out and stamp all over it. The story of Amir and Hassan is so tragic and devastating that I was choked up about the majority of the time. I didn’t cry but was very close to losing control of my emotions. This is the best hard-hitting fiction I have read in a long time.
Buy The Kite Runner –
The story is crafted around two women who were victimized repeatedly by the same person and how they find themselves supporting one another through their life journey. This book destroyed me completely and I could relate to a lot of the cultural practices that abuse the rights of women. These practices are often carried out under the guise of being Islamic. The lack of women’s education in Islam is one of the reasons why a lot of women tend to put up with the abuse for so long thinking it is what’s prescribed in Islam. The men who are appointed as protectors of the women are often the ones who misuse, abuse and mistreats them. The horrific situations these women have to go through on a daily basis and having to wake up each day to face it all over again shows the courage and the strength these women possess. I don’t think I will ever be the same after reading this story. The impact of it is indescribable and leaves a mark that will stay on forever haunting you.
Buy A Thousand Splendid Suns –
As I was reading this book, I realized that this is not from just one person’s point of view, but the story is told from several other character’s POV as well. I wasn’t really expecting it and after the initial surprise had worn off, I really got pulled into the story of Abdullah and Pari. I have to say Abdullah stole my heart and the pain he carried in his heart for as long as he lived and remembered just makes me want to cry. Before I could drown in the emotions the story of Pari and Abdullah and everything they have to go through as kids, I am pulled into another story and characters.
Buy And The Mountains Echoed –
What were your favorite historical fiction books of this year or your all time favorites? I would love to know them. Please let me know your recommendations in the comment section down below.