9 Historical Fiction Books to Read in June 2023

Raise your hand if you’ve ever learned something new about history from a book. In 2023, there’s a treasure trove of captivating historical fiction books waiting for you. Journey through time, from ancient civilizations to the 20th century, and immerse yourself in the lives of unforgettable characters.

Independence by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

1. Independence by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

In Ranipur, Bengal, Dr. Nabakumar Ganguly’s daughters—Priya, Jamini, and Deepa—live safely until their world is shattered when their father is killed on Direct Action Day. Priya, determined to become a doctor like her father, finds support from Somnath Chowdhury. Jamini stitches Kanthas while nursing a secret desire, and Deepa, planning to marry well, falls in love with Raza, a Youth Leader. As India partitions, the sisters face separation, learning the true meaning of independence and its price. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s novel explores loyalty, love, and sisterhood in the backdrop of India’s independence movement.

Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

2. Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Carrie, the greatest tennis player the world has ever seen, retires after shattering every record and winning twenty Slam titles. However, six years later, her records are broken by a remarkable British player named Nicki Chan. At thirty-seven years old, Carrie decides to come out of retirement, coached by her father, for one final year to reclaim her glory, despite criticism from the sports media and her aging body. She must also confront her complicated past with Bowe Huntley, her former love interest and fellow player. In Taylor Jenkins Reid’s gripping novel, Carrie Soto embarks on an epic comeback season, exploring the sacrifices of greatness and the quest for redemption.

Honor by Thrity Umrigar

3. Honor by Thrity Umrigar

In this captivating and tender novel, bestselling author Thrity Umrigar tells the story of two couples facing the challenges of love across a cultural divide. Indian American journalist Smita reluctantly returns to India to cover a story, where she encounters Meena, a Hindu woman facing backlash for marrying a Muslim man. As Smita investigates and grapples with her own past, she finds herself drawn to Mohan. The novel explores themes of love, hope, familial devotion, betrayal, and sacrifice as two courageous women navigate their identities and loyalties.

The East Indian by Brinda Charry

4. The East Indian by Brinda Charry

Meet Tony: insatiably curious and deeply compassionate, he finds himself kidnapped and transported from the British East India Company’s outpost to Jamestown, Virginia. Alongside fellow indentured servants, he works the tobacco plantations, longing for home but eventually adjusting to his new life. Dreaming of becoming a healer, he navigates a world filled with oddities and hijinks, reminiscent of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Set during the early days of English colonization in Jamestown, The East Indian gives voice to this unknown historic figure and presents a captivating coming-of-age tale, narrated by a memorable literary rascal.

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The First Ladies by Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray

5. The First Ladies by Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray

Mary McLeod Bethune, the daughter of former slaves, defies white supremacists and emerges as a celebrated activist and educator, forming a deep friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt. Together, they navigate adversity, including Roosevelt’s discovery of her husband’s affair, and collaborate closely as they champion civil rights. Threats against Roosevelt intensify their shared determination to fight for justice and equality. Their exceptional bond and unwavering commitment serve as a foundation for the modern civil rights movement.

The Golden Doves by Martha Hall Kelly

6. The Golden Doves by Martha Hall Kelly

In 1952, more than a decade after their arrest and imprisonment at Ravensbrück concentration camp for their Resistance work, Josie, now with the U.S. Army, seeks revenge against Nazi scientists who harmed her mother, while Arlette, depleted financially, reluctantly teams up with a stranger to search a potentially Nazi-infested orphanage in French Guiana, both determined to uncover the truth and save their loved ones from grave danger.

The Last Lifeboat by Hazel Gaynor

7. The Last Lifeboat by Hazel Gaynor

In a remarkable tale inspired by true events, a young teacher bravely evacuates children across treacherous waters, while bestselling author Hazel Gaynor weaves a moving and triumphant novel. Set in 1940, Alice, an adventurous soul through books, discovers newfound strength amid the looming German invasion. Simultaneously, Lily, a mathematician with a humble life, faces an impossible choice during the war. Their lives intertwine when a Nazi U-boat sinks a ship carrying children to Canada, leaving Alice and Lily as each other’s beacon of hope in a storm-tossed Atlantic.

The Paris Deception by Bryn Turnbull

8. The Paris Deception by Bryn Turnbull

In this captivating novel by Bryn Turnbull, set in Nazi-occupied Paris, two brave women take on the perilous task of rescuing stolen masterpieces from the clutches of the Reich. Sophie was forced to work under the German art commission at the Jeu de Paume museum, and Fabienne, mourning her husband and determined to survive, join forces to replace the looted artwork with skillful forgeries. As they navigate a dangerous illusion, the question remains: how long can their daring plan endure?

The Librarian of Burned Books by Brianna Labuskes

9. The Librarian of Burned Books by Brianna Labuskes

In 1933 Berlin, American writer Althea James is invited by Joseph Goebbels to join a culture exchange program. She becomes entangled with resisters challenging her perceptions. In 1936 Paris, Hannah Brecht escapes Berlin but finds no refuge from anti-Semitism. She seeks redemption through her work at the German Library of Burned Books. In 1944 New York, Vivian Childs fights censorship, unaware her battle will uncover hidden truths. The lives of these three women converge, forever changing them, in “The Librarian of Burned Books,” inspired by the Council of Books in Wartime—a WWII organization using books as weapons. It’s a powerful historical novel celebrating the written word.

Which of the above historical fiction books do you plan to read? Comment below!