Saturday, August 27, 2022

Ten more recent and upcoming historical novels set before the 20th century

Here's the second part of my focus on historical novels with pre-20th century settings.  If you missed part 1 or want to get back to it, you can find it here.  The following ten novels all have 2022 publication dates. Some are already out, and others are forthcoming this fall. They're in reverse alphabetical order because Blogger uploaded them that way, and changing them while leaving the images centered proved to be complicated.  Besides, it seemed fair to list authors with surnames toward the end of the alphabet first for a change.  Hope you enjoy browsing through these!

Dark Earth by Rebecca Stott

Rebecca Stott's latest novel Dark Earth, a fantasy-tinged story, focuses on two sisters living in early 6th-century (post-Roman) Britain struggling to survive and escape possible enslavement by a local lord after their father's death. Random House, July 2022.  [see on Goodreads]

Moonlight and the Pearler's Daughter by Lizzie Pook

An Englishwoman who had relocated to Australia in the late 19th century with her family goes in search of her father a decade later, after an accident at sea during which he, the captain of the pearl-diving boat, had mysteriously disappeared. What really happened?  A friend recommended this to me, and I can't wait to read it. Simon & Schuster, June. [see on Goodreads]

The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell

In this suspenseful literary novel, Lucrezia de' Medici, 16th-century Duchess of Ferrara and the tragic subject of a haunting poem by Robert Browning centuries later, is aware that the husband she recently married will try to kill her.  What will she do next?  Look out for my review soon.  Knopf, Sept. 2022.  [see on Goodreads]

Ithaca by Claire North

Tapping into the current reading craze featuring women from classical mythology, North homes in on Penelope and other women left behind in Ithaca after King Odysseus sailed away to the Trojan War.  First in a series.  Redhook, Sept. 2022. [see on Goodreads]

Bronze Drum by Phong Nguyen

Phong Nguyen, in Bronze Drum, presents the story of the legendary Trưng sisters, daughters of a Vietnamese lord, who rose up against the oppressive Han Chinese rulers of the land in the first century CE.  I'm reading this one now (review up soon).  Grand Central, Aug. 2022. [see on Goodreads]

Benevolence by Julie Janson

An Australian Aboriginal author from the Darug nation tells a story of her own people from the early 19th century: a tale of first contact with British settlers, colonialism, and endurance as seen from the viewpoint of a girl, Muraging, just ten years old as the novel begins. HarperVia, Aug. 2022. [see on Goodreads]

We Should Not Be Afraid of the Sky by Emma Hooper

The story of five young women who push back against the restrictions of era: Portugal during the time of the Roman Empire. From the epigraphs in the beginning, it looks to dramatize the lives of early Christian saints. Penguin Canada, Aug. 2022. [see on Goodreads]

The Fire and the Ore by Olivia Hawker

Hawker (who has also written as Libbie Hawker and Libbie Grant) has turned to writing historical fiction about her pioneer ancestors. The Fire and the Ore takes place in mid-19th century Utah Territory and follows three women - each with her own individual story - who become sister-wives to the same Mormon settler. Lake Union, Oct. 2022. [see on Goodreads]

The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper

The first book in Elodie Harper's trilogy about the enslaved women in a Pompeii brothel in the first century, The Wolf Den, was a terrific read, so I'm looking forward to this sequel, which follows her heroine Amara as she navigates her way in her new life. The UK edition was published in May. Union Square, Sept. 2022. [see on Goodreads]

The Thread Collectors by Shaunna J. Edwards and Alyson Richman

A growing number of historical novels are co-written by two or more authors. A multilayered story about love and liberty, The Thread Collectors, set in New York and New Orleans during the US Civil War, focuses on two women (one Black, one Jewish) as their paths intertwine. Graydon House, Aug. 2022 [see on Goodreads].


  1. This is an intriguing list - thanks! Our book group is reading books set in Australia this round, so Benevolence would fit right in.

  2. That sounds like fun. There are many great books to choose from.

  3. Interesting for not just the classical myths but also the books set in Roman times and Early Britain. I read THE WOLF DEN and liked it but #2 - well, life was pretty grim back then for most people

  4. Intriguing comment about the Wolf Den sequel (you're right, of course). I'd like to see ancient times make a greater comeback, though I am enjoying the classical reinterpretations.