Awards: Best Historical Fiction Books of 2020

Historical fiction is always popular with our She Readers, and this year was no exception. Thousands of you voted in our annual She Reads Awards, and these are the books you chose as the best historical fiction titles of the year.


The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

In 1935, three women in Key West are all dealing with their own issues. Helen, a Key West-native, wants to leave while Mirta and Elizabeth have barely arrived. During Labor Day weekend, these women all cross paths unexpectedly and are suddenly in danger not just from the secrets in their own personal lives, but also from the looming storm that’s threatening the Keys.


The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

Eva and her mother escape Paris and head toward a free zone in a mountain town after her father, a polish jew, was arrested by the Germans. Wanting to help children fleeing the Nazi’s, Eva begins to forge identity documents for them but wants to preserve their real names in The Book of Lost Names and even meets a fellow forger named Rémy. However, she is soon put to the test after her resistance cell is betrayed and Rémy disappears.


The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

Nurse Julia Powers works at an understaffed Ireland hospital during the height of the Great Flu alongside two other peculiar women, Doctor Kathleen Lynn and volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney. This hospital is full of pregnant women who are now quarantined together, but the three women do their best. However, they lose patients due to the flu, but also help bring life into the world and manage to find some light in a dark world.


Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain         

The year is 1940, and New Jersey artist, Anna Dale was commissioned to paint a portrait in a post office far away in a sleepy southern town. However, Anna soon realizes that prejudice runs deep and she is in danger. The year is 2018, and aspiring artist Morgan Christopher is in jail for a crime she did not commit and the only way out is if she agrees with a stranger’s request to restore a mural. Soon, Morgan begins to unravel the mystery of what happened to Anna Dale underneath all the layers of paint.


Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

When a young latin tutor falls in love and marries Agnes, an eccentric young woman, she becomes an amazing mother to their son and his biggest supporter as his career on the London stage takes off. However, when their son succumbs to the Black Death the couple is ravaged by grief and loss.


The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

Ana is a wealthy young woman expected to marry an old widower, but the thought of that scares her. However, when she meets an eighteen-year-old Jesus everything changes and Ana soon finds herself married to him and living with his mother and brothers in Nazareth. When Ana commits a brazen act, she flees to Alexandria where danger begins to unfold, but soon Ana decides her own fate in a string of events that is considered to make the most impact in human history.


The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

In 1913, Laura Lyons, wife to the superintendent of the New York Public Library, doesn’t question her role as a mother and housewife until she joins Columbia Journalism School and meets a radical female group who speak about women’s rights. However, when important books are stolen from the library, Laura risks it all to find them… even her family. Fast forward to 1993, Laura’s granddaughter, Sadie Donovan has just snagged her dream job as the curator for the New York Public Library, but it becomes a nightmare when items start to go missing from exhibits. Determined to save the items and her career, she learns about the dark history of her family and even learns a few things that shed light on what happened to her grandmother.


These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card

Stanford Solomon has done the unthinkable and faked his own death and stole his best friend’s identity and has kept up with it for thirty years. Stanford is really Abel Paisley. However, now nearing the end of his life, Stanford is going to meet his first-born daughter, a home health aide who has unknowingly shown up to care for the father she believed was dead.


Fast Girls by Elise Hooper

In 1928, set in the backdrop of a looming war between the U.S. and Germany, three gifted women athletes, Betty Robinson, Louise Stokes and Helen Stephens all want to go to the Olympics but must break the limitations that have been set on them. These three athletes will join together alongside other women athletes to show the world what they can really do.


The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, this multigenerational story tells the story of the Trần family. Born in 1920, Trần Diệu Lan must flee her home during the Land Reform with her six children as the Communist government came to power. Years later, her coming of age granddaughter, Hương, lives in  H Nộ and she watches as her parents and uncles head to Hồ Ch Minh to fight in a war that tore apart her country and family.


Click here to see the rest of the She Reads Best Books of 2020 Winners

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