Books

9 Historical Fiction Books About Incredible Women

From the 12th century to the 20th.

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Women's History Month might be winding down, but our love for women in literature never does. That's why we've got this list of historical fiction books about incredible women for you to check out. Spanning nine centuries, these stories will remind you just how badass women have always been.

More often than not, history is written by old white guys whose stories skim over, leave out, or blatantly ignore the contributions of marginalized populations, including women. History books are filled with the names and accomplishments of only a fraction of the people they should cover. Historical fiction novels, on the other hand, are an opportunity to explore the real-life accomplishments and experiences of people who go overlooked far too often.

With these historical fiction novels, readers have the chance to explore and celebrate the lives of women throughout time, from powerful rulers to those who exist only in the footnotes of history. Here are nine historical fiction books about incredible women you should have on your reading list this Spring:

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1

Reno, Nevada became a divorce haven for women in 1930s America, thanks to its lax laws, which only required individuals to stay in town for six weeks to establish residency. Set at a dude ranch designed to appeal to wealthy soon-to-be divorcées, Julia Claiborne Johnson's Better Luck Next Time centers on three people — ranch hand Ward, pilot heiress Nina, and meek Emily — brought together over the course of six fateful weeks in 1938. — K.W. Colyard

2

Set against the backdrop of McCarthyism, Malinda Lo's Last Night at the Telegraph Club follows Lily, a 17-year-old Chinese American who falls in love with another girl, Kath, the moment she sees her at the eponymous lesbian nightclub. — K.W. Colyard

3

We Love You, Charlie Freeman author Kaitlyn Greenidge returns to store shelves with Libertie: a coming-of-age story set in Brooklyn during the Reconstruction. Libertie's mother wants her to become a doctor and join her practice, but the girl has her own dreams and ambitions. When she seizes the chance to escape the United States and travel to Haiti, however, Libertie begins to realize that her impressions of the world may not align with its realities. — K.W. Colyard

4

Inspired by the unbelievable life of a real World War II heroine, Martha Hall Kelly's 2016 debut novel is a beautiful story of love, bravery, and the fight for justice. In Lilac Girls, readers meet three remarkable women: Caroline, a New York socialite busy at work at the French Consulate; Caroline, a Polish teenage and secret messenger for the resistance; and Herta, a young doctor struggling to stay afloat in the male-dominated Nazi society. Though separated by continents, these three women's lives become intertwined, and none of them is ever the same again. — Sadie Trombetta

5

A Mexico City socialite answers her cousin's desperate plea for help in Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic. Newly wed to a wealthy Englishman, Catalina writes to Noemí when she grows fearful of what goes on at her husband's family estate. Is Catalina living with a nervous condition, or is something truly sinister afoot at High Place? — K.W. Colyard

6

Stolen Beauty weaves a remarkable tale of love, art, and war centered around two incredible women willing to risk their lives to protect what they believe in. First, there is Adele, a young and beautiful Jewish girl who falls head-over-heels for painter Gustav Klimt amid the growing rise of political unrest. Years later, there is Adele's niece, Maria, who has seen the unrest blossom into war, and who must call upon every ounce of bravery she has to keep her family, her aunt's legacy, and the paintings, alive. — Sadie Trombetta

7

Travel back in time to the 12th century and get to know one of history's most remarkable monarchs in Elizabeth Chadwick's breathtaking The Summer Queen. The first in a well-researched trilogy about Eleanor of Aquitaine, The Summer Queen introduces readers to a young Eleanor just as the world around her begins to fall apart: her beloved father dies, and she is forced to marry Prince Louis VII of France and become Queen at the young age of 13. You'll be reaching for the second book in the series as soon as you've finished the first. — Sadie Trombetta

8

A fascinating biographical novel from the creator and writer of the PBS special by the same name, Victoria breathes new life into the astonishing story of Queen Victoria's life and over six decades of rule. Exciting, intriguing, and inspiring, Victoria will help you get to know, and inevitably admire, the queen like never before. — Sadie Trombetta

9

Once upon a time, Honoree Dalcour rubbed elbows with Chicago's hottest entertainers. Now a supercentenarian living out her final days, she's approached by a film student, Sawyer, who has questions about a famous director. Honoree's the last living connection to Oscar Micheaux, but her trip down memory lane with Sawyer digs up secrets neither of them expected to encounter, in Denny S. Bryce's Wild Women and the Blues. — K.W. Colyard