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Historical Fiction Books to Take Along Your Next Getaway

Are you putting together a list of books to take with you while you’re traveling this summer? Perhaps as part of your travels, you’d like to take a little trip back into the past. We don’t have an actual working time machine, unfortunately, but we do have the next best thing: this list of amazing historical fiction novels. 


Anna the nuclear scientist, Molly the burgeoning comic book artist, and Raisa the math and science whiz: three generations of one family whose fates are altered by one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters. The force of the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986 sends Anna hurtling into the future, where her dying daughter urges her to go back in time and make things right. Meanwhile, in the years before Chernobyl, Raisa wonders who this woman claiming to be her grandmother really is and puzzles over the secrets contained in a mysterious comic book… secrets that could change the future as they know it. 


Vaishnavi Patel’s debut novel is a retelling of the story of Kaikeyi, the queen of Ayodhya and second wife of King Dasharatha in the Ramayana. The only daughter of the ruling family of Kekaya, Kaikeyi was born on what should have been an auspicious day, but her life is an unhappy one. Her father has banished her beloved mother and she seems destined to be brokered into an arranged marriage. Kaikeyi, taking inspiration from the stories of gods and heroes she has grown up listening to, decides to take her destiny into her own hands and establish a new future for herself and her family. But it is a decision that could have fateful consequences. 


Trung Trac and Trung Nhi are the two daughters of a nobleman in ancient Vietnam – a kingdom that is under the increasingly oppressive rule of the Han Chinese. But as sisters, they are quite different. Trung Trac is the dutiful and studious sister while Trung Nhi is interested mainly in having fun and living life as she pleases. But life changes when their father is executed. The two sisters must band together and lead the people in an uprising against the Han regime.


Growing up in Hawaii in the 1950s and the 1960s, twin sisters Hana and Kei were once as close as sisters could be – so close that they shared the nickname Koko. But a terrible family tragedy drives the two apart and they do not see each other again for six years, when Kei unexpectedly arrives at Hana’s New York apartment with a long-kept secret. The key to everything that has happened to the two sisters stretches back decades to World War II, amid the horrors of internment camps and the Hiroshima bombing. Shadow Child explores how traumas and tragedy can flow down a family tree.  


Diana Giovinazzo paints an extraordinary portrait of Anita Garibaldi – a woman destined to play a major role in Brazil’s bid for independence from Portugal and then the unification of Italy in the nineteenth century. Anita, a young woman in an unhappy marriage, makes the acquaintance of Giuseppe Garibaldi – an exiled Italian mercenary who is among the leaders of the Brazilian resistance. The two become lovers and allies, and Anita will accompany Garibaldi back to Italy on his campaign to unite the Italian kingdoms into one country. 


Claire North’s forthcoming novel is a retelling of the story of Penelope. For twenty years, Penelope has watched over her family’s home in Ithaca as her husband Odysseus fights in Troy. But with each passing year, it becomes more and more likely that Odysseus will never come home again – and now, Penelope must deal with the throngs of suitors pressuring her to choose one of them as her new husband. It is up to Penelope, and a trusted circle of maids and servants, to keep the delicate balance of power on Ithaca from tumbling into chaos. 

Erin Roll is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader. Her favorite genres to read are mystery, science fiction, and fantasy, and her TBR pile is likely to be visible on Google Maps. Before becoming an editor, Erin worked as a journalist and photographer, and she has won far too many awards from the New Jersey Press Association. Erin lives at the top floor of a haunted house in Montclair, NJ. She enjoys reading (of course), writing, hiking, kayaking, music, and video games.