11 Books That Reimagine The Lives Of Your Famous Authors, From Jane Austen To Agatha Christie

by Melissa Ragsdale

Sometimes it feels like my favorite novelists and authors know me better than anyone, even though we've never met. But what if I could step into their world? Good news: with the magic of fiction, you can easily travel to the hearts and minds of literature's greats and imagine what it was like to be in their inner circle.

They say art imitates life, so it's no wonder that many authors of classic literature led intriguing and tumultuous lives. From devastating tragedies to heart-wrenching love affairs to sizzling friendships, the lives of these authors were filled with drama. But fiction has the unique power to take you beyond their biography, and bring you closer to your favorite authors' lives than ever before.

All of these books blend fact and fiction to immerse you in the world of literature's greatest. They drew from famous authors' works, biographies, and pure imagination to craft spellbinding stories. While some of these reads fantasize more than others (sorry, Jane Austen wasn't actually a super-sleuth), you'll get a whole new perspective on your favorite literary giants.

So, if you're curious about what it would be like to have tea with Emily Dickinson, or you're dying to learn more about the peculiar life of Mary Shelley, look no further than these exquisite novels.

'The Woman on the Orient Express' by Lindsay Jayne Ashford

This novel stars the Queen of Suspense, Agatha Christie. In this story, Christie disguises herself and boards the Orient Express (which readers will recognize from Christie's famous work Murder on the Orient Express) in hopes of fleeing her marriage. But as the train barrels toward the Middle East, Christie discovers that the women that make up the train's other passengers are holding their own secrets.

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'The Master' by Colm Tóibín

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this book tells the story of Henry James's fascinating life.

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'Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald' by Therese Anne Fowler

Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald are literary legends, known for their writing and their tumultuous romance. This novel takes you back to the Roaring '20s as it tells the story of how Zelda met, fell in love with, and married Scott.

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'Romancing Miss Brontë' by Juliet Gael

After two years in Brussels, Charlotte Brontë (who we now know as the author of Jane Eyre) returned to the Yorkshire moors. Determined not to be held back by her alcoholic brother and blind father, she set out to publish novels. This book imagines a love affair between Brontë and her publisher, George Smith.

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'Vanessa and Her Sister' by Priya Parmar

This novel takes you into the world of Vanessa Woolf, the sister of Virginia Woolf. It's London in 1905, and as Vanessa falls in love, Virginia careens towards self-destruction.

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'Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath' by Kate Moses

This novel takes you into the life of Sylvia Plath shortly before her death. In December 1962, Plath moves her children into a flat in London. Flashing back through her tumultuous marriage with Ted Hughes, this novel is a unforgettable imagining of the final days of Plath's life.

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'The Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein' by Antoinette May

The daughter of political philosopher William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley's life was truly complicated and unique. This book recounts how she fell in love with and married Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and spins a tale that places Shelly in the middle of a heated love triangle.

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'The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott' by Kelly O'Connor McNees

It's the summer of 1855 and Louisa May Alcott (author of Little Women) is 22-years-old and stuck in small town New Hampshire. But when she meets Joseph Sanger, she begins to dream of life as a writer in Boston.

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'Afternoons with Emily' by Rose MacMurray

Emily Dickinson's life continues to elude fans and scholars. In this gorgeous novel, Rose MacMurray imagines a reality where a young woman, Miranda, enters Dickinson's private world and a strange friendship buds between the two women.

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'The Book of Salt' by Monique Truong

It's 1929, and Binh has just fled Saigon for Paris. When he finds himself employed as a cook for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, he becomes witness to their famous salons of literary ladies. But as Stein and Toklas prepare to move America, Binh must decide if he wants to come along.

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'Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor' by Stephanie Barron

This fun series reimagines Jane Austen as a detective, which is exactly what you need in your life. On a visit to a friend's estate, Jane soon stumbles upon a mysterious death, followed by a missive accusing her friend of murder. Soon, Jane is on the case.

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