The most anticipated historical fiction of 2020

most anticipated historical fiction books of 2020

As 2019 is coming to a close, I begin to turn my attention to 2020 and the myriad books that are to come. Because historical fiction is a favorite of mine, I particularly enjoy focusing on books in that genre, and for 2020, the list of historical fiction titles slated to be published is already incredibly long. After much deliberation, I settled on the 14 most anticipated historical fiction books of 2020.

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

Harmel’s latest novel chronicles the story of a skilled forger who risks her life during World War II to help hundreds of Jewish children escape the Nazis. To ensure that the children’s original identities will not be permanently erased, Eva and a fellow forger create a coded system to secretly preserve the real names and identities of the escapees. Decades later, the code is discovered but cannot be decoded, and Eva must decide if she has the strength to revisit the past.


Cartier’s Hope by M.J. Rose

Set in Gilded Age New York City, Cartier’s Hope stars Vera Garland, an investigative journalist who is determined to avenge the deaths of her father and uncle. Her quest takes her into the glittering world of jeweler Pierre Cartier who recently purchased the Hope Diamond. Vera decides to investigate rumors that Cartier is scheming to manipulate the value of his newly acquired purchase, and she soon learns that more is at stake than just retribution.


Fast Girls: A Novel of the 1936 Women’s Olympic Team by Elise Hooper

Fast Girls shines the light on three little-known American female Olympians who doggedly pursue their dreams to compete in the Nazi-sponsored 1936 Berlin Olympics. These women must each overcome their own personal obstacles and roadblocks in order to have their time on the Olympic track and defy those who think women (and people of color) should not compete.


The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn

When a present-day marine scientist discovers an unsent collection of love letters from the 1950s, she sets off a chain of events with far-reaching results. After reading the beautiful and heartfelt love letters, she is determined to track down the recipient, and this determination unveils dark secrets kept under wraps for over six decades.


The Girl in White Gloves by Kerri Maher

Grace Kelly’s story is a Cinderella tale known throughout the world. But the behind-the-scenes story was different and much more complicated. Maher brings the real Grace Kelly to life balancing her glamorous life, love affairs and fame with the loneliness she endured and the sacrifices she made.


The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz

In The Grace Kelly Dress, a replica of Kelly’s iconic wedding gown is the thread that weaves the lives of three generations of women together over a 60 year period. The dress plays a different role in each woman’s life and as the story unfolds, the history of the dress will reveal unexpected secrets and allow each woman to find her own place in the family and the world.


The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

Set during the Great Depression, Cleeton’s new novel takes place in Key West, Florida. As a mighty hurricane blazes toward Key West over the 1935 Labor Day weekend, three women find themselves thrown together as secrets emerge, love is challenged and danger is prevalent.


The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

Set in the beautiful and historic New York Public Library, The Lions of Fifth Avenue is a dual timeline tale about two women living 80 years apart who both must deal with the theft of valuable books from the library’s collection. While investigating the missing books, each woman makes discoveries that may alter her life forever.


The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

The Mountains Sing follows multiple generations of the Tran family against the background of the Vietnam War. From the rise of the Communist government in North Vietnam to the years of conflict during the war itself, The Mountains Sing highlights the impact and cost of the Vietnam War on the Vietnamese people from their perspective and highlights the language and traditions of their culture.


Red Letter Days by Sarah-Jane Stratford

Set during the Red Scare, Red Letter Days follows two women impacted by McCarthy’s blacklist who flee Hollywood for London. Across the ocean, the women tackle the unjustness of the Red Menace from afar but find that danger is still lurking as they end up fighting for not only their careers but their lives.


Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles

As the War between the States is slowly coming to an end, Simon Boudlin is conscripted into the Confederate Army after years of evading service and is recruited to play the fiddle in a regimental band. As the war draws to a close, the band plays for the officers and families of both Union and Confederate forces, and Simon meets an Irish girl who captures his heart. Forced to separate when the war ends, Simon vows to track her down no matter the cost.


These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card

As he nears death, Stanford Solomon feels compelled to share his darkest secret. Stanford is actually Abel Paisley – 30 years prior he faked his own death and stole the identity of his best friend. Spanning the generations of the Paisley family from colonial Jamaica to present-day New York City, These Ghosts Are Family traces the impact of Abel’s deception on his entire family and demonstrates how the choices a person makes can resonate for many years to come.


We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall

Against the backdrop of the 1939 New York World’s Fair, two women forge a friendship and summon up the courage to pursue their dreams and overcome adversity. Vivi Holden wants to be a famous actress and first must perform well as the headliner for the Aquacade, the synchronized swimming extravaganza at the World’s Fair. Max aspires to be a journalist and must prove her worth covering the fair for a pop-up publication. Steeped in the spectacle and hoopla of the New York World’s Fair, We Came Here to Shine is a story about courage, friendship and having the strength and determination to achieve one’s goals.


The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner

During World War II in Poland, a Jewish mother and her musical prodigy daughter hide in a neighbor’s barn as Nazis round up the Jews in their town. Anxious to keep her young daughter Shira quiet and safe, Roza tells her a story about a girl who lives in an enchanted garden. The girl is not allowed to make any noise so instead, a yellow bird sings: the bird sings whatever the girl composes in her head. While the enchanted tale keeps Shira safe initially, the Germans decide to use the barn where they are hiding, and Roza is forced to make a choice no mother should have to make.


*Disclosure: The links above are affiliate links. These picks are editorially selected, but if you purchase, She Reads may get something in return. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. 

Cindy Burnett

Cindy Burnett currently works part time at Murder by the Book, a crime fiction book store in Houston, Texas. She is a voracious reader and book reviewer who administers a bookstagram account, @thoughtsfromapage, where she talks about all things book related. Cindy is a co-creator of Conversations from a Page (cfapage.net) a Houston author event series that brings authors and brings authors and readers together in a relaxed and welcoming setting. As a She Reads contributor, she writes book articles centered around themes such as historical fiction and mystery series. Cindy also writes book reviews for Bookreporter.com, the New York Journal of Books and Publishers Weekly and judges the BookLife prize for Publishers Weekly in the summer. In addition to reading, Cindy loves theatre, art, movies, National parks, travel and hiking in Colorado during the summer.

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