Historical Fiction Recommendations for History and Fiction Buffs

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R E C C O M E N D A T I O N – B O O K 

Tanzina Tabassum Nova, Tasnia Shahrin

Historical fictions can work like time-machines. They possess the ability to take the readers back in time. Besides, they might help spark the readers’ interest in a particular period or section of history to explore it thoroughly.

If you love reading such books, this is a list for you. These are some historical fictions that we believe you will enjoy reading.

The Last Garden in England | by Julia Kelly

We think the best part of any historical fiction is that it allows time-travelling through detailed and vivid descriptions. The Last Garden in England is a similar novel that sweeps you away to the Highbury House Estate in Warwickshire, England. The writing style is rich and eloquent. The characters are passionate, courageous, and authentic. And the plot is a delightful tale set from 1907 to the present day that moves with ease between multiple perspectives. It talks about life, loss, tragedy, grief, hope, history, family, sisterhood, and friendship. It’s a heartwarming novel that will surely please avid readers of historical fiction.

Puber PurboPurushera | by Masudul Haq

This short novel depicts early 17th century Bengal (now Bangladesh). When the Mughal Sultanate was on the verge of decline, Portuguese settlers and pirates slowly began to control Bengal. The story mainly focuses on the lives of the legendary muslin weavers. Not much is known about Bengal at that time, but the writer perfectly utilised the information he could find. The writer’s flowing prose makes the novel a pleasant read. The only complaint about the novel is that it contains too much information within a short space. However, that doesn’t make the story boring.

The Lost Apothecary | by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner is a recently released novel that tells three women’s story through dual perspectives. It tries to voice the struggles of these women as they were victims to deceit.

In this historical fiction, there is fear and betrayal of trust with a desire for revenge, leading to a quite dark and a bit sinister setting. Such a tone blends well with the narrative and brings a ghostly and gothic mood for the readers. Overall, this book is a unique blend of gothic as well as historical fiction.

Arek Phalgun | by Zahir Raihan

This is a story of the preparation of and the celebration of 21st February in 1955. Three years after the language movement, its memory was still fresh in the minds of the people. Although the government strictly forbade any event regarding the day, college and university students formed elaborate plans to observe it. Zahir Raihan is known for his vivid storytelling. If you want to walk the streets of the 1955 Dhaka with Munim, Asad, Rahat, Rowshan, and others while cherishing the spirit of the language movement in your heart, this novel is a must-read for you.

All the Light We Cannot See | by Anthony Doerr

Doerr uses multiple perspectives to tell this harrowing story. On one side, we have Marie Laure LeBlanc, who had gone blind at age six; while her father, Daniel, has PTSD from WWI and had kept himself indoors for two decades. On the other hand, we have Werner and Jutta Pfennig, raised in a German orphanage after their father died in the local mine. Werner has a gift for electronics and joins a special school that will nurture his talent, despite the many horrors of the experience.

The story is told mainly in alternating Marie Laure’s and Werner’s perspectives. But there is a third stream as well, and that of Sgt Major Reinhold von Rumpel, a gem appraiser appointed to examine the jewels captured by the military and collect the best for a unique collection.

The book addresses many substantive issues that led it to win the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. The primary characters, and a few of the secondary ones, are very well portrayed. Overall, you will most definitely get engulfed by this book and stick till the end to find what happens to the characters.

Chilekothar Shepai | by Akhtaruzzaman Elias

The year 1969 was a turbulent time for Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) — people were protesting against Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other leaders’ arrest, and also demanded that Ayub Khan should renounce power. Amidst this uprising, Osman, the protagonist, spent most of his time in his attic. Although he took part in the meetings and processions, he could not connect to any of them.  The tumultuous situation of the country is also described from the viewpoint of Haddi Khijir, a rickshaw puller, and Anwar, a political activist.

Chilekothar Shepai is one of those books which you have to read yourself to understand and feel it. Akhtaruzaman Elias is one of the most unique litterateurs in Bangla literature. His imagery is lifelike and can make you picture the images described. Another notable feature of this novel is the writer’s use of language. All the characters from various walks of life use their dialect with the particular dialect’s features intact.

The Book Thief | by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief is not one of those books you read impulsively, desperate to find out what’s on the next page. It is, in fact, better to read it slowly, experiencing it in small doses, in a way that lets you savour every word and absorb the thematic power it contains.

Death himself narrates the story about a little girl named Liesel growing up with her foster parents in Nazi Germany. If something terrible is about to happen, Death warns you ahead of time. My favourite part is when Death stomps on a framed picture of Hitler on his way to retrieve a thousand souls from a bombing raid. Death is trying to understand the human race as much we do. It’s also an unusual take on the Holocaust.

We’d like to recommend by stating an obvious opinion that—The Book Thief should find its place in every school textbook worldwide. Trust us, once you read it, you’ll agree too.

1971 | by Humayun Ahmed

Humayun Ahmed wrote several novels and short stories on our liberation war’s backdrop, but 1971 is not among his much-discussed works. This novel differs from the others because it is the most disturbing of them all. He generally tended to avoid portraying the brutality and atrocity committed by the Pakistani army during the war, but in this novel, he didn’t refrain from it. The story is simple and straightforward. The Pakistani military suddenly invaded Nilganj, a remote village in the Mymensingh district. Their atrocity and the helplessness of the ordinary people are the focal points of the novel. However, readers might complain that the book ended too soon.

Happy time-travelling!


Tanzina Tabassum Nova is a full-time couch-potato, and a part-time reader, writer, translator, and reciter.

Tasnia is a proud Slytherin who loves binging on poetry and graphic novels in her free time.


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