Historical fiction is a great way to learn about history. In fact, I learned a lot of my history facts from novels. I’m often moved by a fiction book to go look up the story behind the story, to see if the author got her facts right. Here are a few adult fiction titles set in or around the turn of the century—nineteenth to twentieth, that is. No, I haven’t read all of these, but I have tried to give you a link to a review written by someone who has for each book listed. If you have reviewed any of these, leave a link in the comments, and I’ll add your review to the list. Or if you have read another book set in the early 1900’s that you liked, please share.
The Tale of Hilltop Farm by Susan Wittig Albert. Author Beatrix Potter solves mysteries in this book and the ones the follow in the series when she moves to Hill Top Farm after the death of her fiance. Reviewed by Allison at On My Bookshelf.
City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell. Highly recommended. A young Mennonite missionary in China meets and marries a fellow missionary and lives through the turmoil of civil war. Semicolon review here.
Anna’s Book by Barbara Vine. Mystery and suspense in early twentieth century London. Reviewed by Superfast Reader.
Arthur and George by Julian Barnes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle attempts to exonerate a falsely imprisoned man named George.
Beautiful Dreamer by Joan Naper. Chicago, 1900. Reviewed by Sarah Johnson at Reading the Past.
The Birth House by Ami McKay. A midwife in a Nova Scotia fishing village. Reviewed at Maw Books Blog..
Empire by Gore Vidal. Caroline Sanford runs a newspaper dynasty during the years 1898-1907–with insights into the Spanish-American War, the Hearst newspaper conglomerate, and the presidencies of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, among other historical events and persons.
A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick. In 1907, a fifteen year old girl dreams of a career in photography, a dangerous job reserved for men. Reviewd by Tracy at Relz Reviewz.
Jack London: Sailor on Horseback by Irving Stone. Biographical novel about the eponymous author.
Lake of Fire by Linda Jacobs. Romance blossoms in Yellowstone National Park, June, 1900. Reviewed by Sarah Johnson at Reading the Past.
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. Highly recommended. Will’s grandfather elopes with a woman half his age three weeks after his wife dies in 1906, causing a scandal in their small Georgia town. Cold Sassy Tree is on my list of the 100 Best Novels of All Time.
City of Light by Lauren Belfer. 1901 in Buffalo, New York as Niagara Falls is being harnessed for electricity.
The Outlander by Gil Adamson. Idaho and Montana, 1903. A nineteen year old woman murders her abusive husband and then runs away from his brothers who are thirsty for revenge.
The Quickening by Michelle Hoover. American Midwest in the early 1900’s. Reviewed by Caribousmom.
Painted Ladies by Siobhan Parkinson. A community of artists in Skagen, a fishing village in the north of Denmark, live a Bohemian lifestyle while producing great works of art. Reviewed by Sarah Johnson at Reading the Past.