Historical Fiction Favorites in 2014 and Giveaway!



Every year I try to hold this post until the absolute end of 2014, but I realized readers might need some last minute gift ideas for holiday shopping. This is the (agonized over) list of my favorite historical fiction this year. Some of the books were not necessarily published in 2014, but that is when I read them.

My criteria for making the list:

*I read it obsessively.

*I can’t stop thinking about it.

*I can’t stop recommending it.

I did read quite a few novels set in contemporary time that would have made this list if my blog were not dedicated to historical fiction, but I must keep to my rules. If you’d like to know what else I loved, visit my Goodreads book reviews. (I do not review books I did not enjoy, so you will only see 4-5 star recommendations.)

Here we go, and in no particular order:

1. The Garden of Letters, Alyson Richman

2. The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton

3. All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

4. The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd

5. The Secret Life of Violet Grant, Beatriz Williams

6. Mrs. Hemingway, Naomi Wood

7. The Age of Desire, Jennie Fields

8. Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline

9. The Paris Winter, by Imogen Robertson

10. The Beautiful American, Jeanne MacKin

Please let me know if any of these were your favorites, or what you would add to the list. If you comment, you will be entered into a giveaway for a copy of Sue Monk Kidd’s marvelous novel, THE INVENTION OF WINGS. I’ll pick a winner on Friday, Dec. 26th. Happy Reading!


103 thoughts on “Historical Fiction Favorites in 2014 and Giveaway!

  1. Jessica says:

    I loved THE MINIATURIST, VIOLET GRANT, ORPHAN TRAIN and THE PARIS WINTER. I love being taken to another place and time. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. dsilva2377 says:

    Really enjoyed THE beautiful American and currently loving and reading Stephanie THORNTON the women of Ghengis Khan

  3. I really want to read “All the Light we Cannot See” and “The Beautiful American”.

  4. Somer Hanson says:

    I also really enjoyed THE SECRET LIFE OF VIOLET GRANT. A page turner with a twist at the end! My to-read list just included nine more. Thanks Erika!

  5. Kimberly V says:

    I have several of these on my TBR list, but now I will add the others. I love your choices.

  6. Julia reffner says:

    Loved Kristin Hannah’s The Nightengale and Pope Joan, although I know that is an older one…also…Grand Central! Can’t wait for your next release!

  7. Jennifer Huelsebusch says:

    I read both The Secret Life of Violet Grant and Garden of Letters and really liked them as well. Several of the others are on my TBR list too. I also really enjoyed Grand Central……..the best part was the introduction of new to me authors!

  8. Elizabeth says:

    All The Light We Cannot See would definitely make my list! A couple on your list were just added to my TBR list. I really want to read The Miniaturist.

  9. Thanks for the great recommendations! I really enjoyed Mrs. Hemingway, and some of these others have been on my to-read list. I’ve been recommending Fallen Beauty to everyone this year! It was such a compelling read, and I still find myself thinking of the characters months after finishing it. Another of my favorite novels this year was Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander # 8) by Diana Gabaldon. Outlander can be hard to classify, but I do think of it primarily as historical fiction.

  10. Eleanor Holman says:

    A great list I found a new series that is really good, The Pirate Captain, Chronicles of a Legend by Kerry Lynne (two books out) historical fiction with a twisted love story; one reviewer called it Outlander, the Pirate Edition. I agreed loved the characters.

  11. Amy in Atlanta says:

    Both of the books that I’ve read from your list also made my Top 10–All the Light We Cannot See and Orphan Train. Looking at Stephanie’s post above–Outlander 8 was my favorite novel of the year and I also view it as historical fiction. The other historical fiction that falls into my Top 10 is also fantasy–Helen Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni. I adored that novel!

  12. Chrissy Nemeyer says:

    I loved Orphan Train! I haven’t read any of the others but will add them to my list!

  13. Jenna says:

    Thank you for this list, I love reading historical fiction but have a hard time finding novels. I loved the Orpfan Train! I am also reading the Buddha In the Attic, great (historical fiction) book.

  14. Vicky Zakrzewski says:

    I thought Orphan Train was a powerful book. I didn’t know anything about the orphan trains or the way the so-called adoptions took place. Great read!

  15. tiffany s says:

    I loved Orphan Train! I have been focusing on historical fiction about events I did not know about. This makes me research and learn more 🙂

  16. Bonnie K. says:

    Sadly, I’ve only read Orphan Train. I did enjoy it and recommend it. I do want to read the others listed. I’ve read several books by Sue Monk Kidd and know that I want to read The Invention of Wings.

  17. SusanR says:

    I have read several of the books on the list but The Invention of Wings was my favorite book of the year. It was well written and well researched. In second place is Orphan Train and The Garden of Letters. I need to add a few of these to my list of books to read next year!

  18. Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson and the Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman

  19. Leah Lowe says:

    I enjoyed reading The Orphan Train. The Light We Cannot See has been on my to-read list.

  20. Pam Stouder says:

    I have only read The Secret Life of Violet Grant from your list. I really liked it though and now I have a great list of other books to read in 2015!! Thanks!

  21. Peggy Busch says:

    I loved Orphan Train, and I would add Written in My Own Heart’s Blood to the list. I love historical fiction.

  22. Lu Anne Pliska says:

    Hands down Orphan Train is #1 🙂

  23. Kathy C says:

    Thanks for more TBR’s. I have only read 2 on your list-The Invention of Wings, which I absolutely loved, and Orphan Train, which we read in our book club and everyone loved. I can’t get enough of Diana Galbaldon-Written in My Own Heart’s Desire and The King’s Curse-still love Gregory’s books. I will be sharing your list to my Book Club’s page and I look forward to many new reading adventures in 2015!! Thank you!

  24. Brenda says:

    Thanks for the list………..

  25. Randi Adleberg says:

    I would add these 2:
    –The Orphan Master’s Son – Adam Johnson
    — A Constellation of Vital Phenomna- Anthony Marra

  26. michelleramsay says:

    I love lists of good books almost as much as I love books!

  27. I think for me on your list I had to The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson. This not fiction but I am truly enjoying Unbroken right now!

  28. Kerry M says:

    I’ve only read three of these (All the Light, Invention of Wings, and Mrs. Hemingway), but have just added several more to my list! I read The Absolutist this year–though it wasn’t a 2014 release–and found it had a lot of sticking power. Really incredible WWI-era novel. Land of Love and Drowning was also a wonderful one this year!

    (PS — No need to enter me, I already own/have read Kidd’s book!)

  29. Theresa says:

    Adored The Invention of Wings and am still waiting to get a copy of All the Light.

  30. Dena C. says:

    Loved the Orphan Train, and The Beautiful American. And [not on your list] Dollbaby (fabulous!). Also loved, loved Fallen Beauty!! The others you mentioned will definitely make my TBR list. Thanks so much for the recommendations – and Happy Holidays!

  31. Diyar Harraz says:

    Loved Orphan Train and The Invention of Wings!

  32. I’ve just picked up The Miniaturist and plan to read it all Christmas while others play with their toys! It’s wonderful.

    • erikarobuck says:

      I look forward to hearing what you think, Linda. I will say that it took me about 30-40 pages to get used to the style. It almost read like a translated text, thought I do not believe it was.

  33. Roxanne says:

    It is a tie for me between Orphan Train and A Paris Winter. So happy Historical Fiction is a blooming genre.

  34. Jo-C Mertz says:

    The Orphan Train was my favorite. I have recimmended it to several people. Thank you for your list, as I have not read most of those books on it. I am looking forward to checking them out. Historical fiction is my favorite genre!

  35. Sue smith says:

    Loved orphan train

  36. Laurice says:

    I loved Orphan Train and The Paris Winter is on my TBR pile.

  37. Karen says:

    I, too, loved a Orphan Train and find myself thinking of it quite often.

  38. Melissa Crytzer Fry says:

    Orphan Train has been waiting patiently for me on my bookshelf, and I’ve been salivating to read Sue Monk Kidd’s first historical fiction debut – especially given its time period (I loved Secret Life of Bees). The favorite historicals I read this year – hands down – are THE SON by Philipp Meyer, WILDERNESS by Lance Weller and EVERGREEN by Rebecca Rasmussen. I also really enjoyed THE WIFE, THE MAID & THE MISTRESS.

    (Sadly I was not a fan of All the Light We Cannot See).

    • erikarobuck says:

      I have not read any of those books, Melissa, so I will have to check them out!

      Interesting that you did not enjoy All the Light! What was it missing for you?

      • Melissa Crytzer Fry says:

        The structure of the novel was what was so difficult for me — the very short chapters with alternating POVs. While I don’t mind multiple POV stories at all, on this one, I’d feel I’d just get engaged in one storyline (and want more), then be ripped away from it. For me, that style also distanced me greatly from the characters. I don’t mind non-linear stories either, but for this book it just served as yet another structural distraction that prevented me from getting lost in the story. I am – ahem – OBVIOUSLY in the vast minority regarding my opinion, here! The concept of the story and the story itself, I absolutely loved.

      • erikarobuck says:

        I totally understand! It took some getting into the rhythm…

  39. Teresa Hunt says:

    I loved Orphan Train. Several others are on my “To Read” list and I am putting a few more on there now. Thanks!

  40. Melinda Hopf says:

    Not on your list, Paris the Novel by Edward Rutherfurd. I loved this book!

  41. Sonya Russell says:

    The Orphan Train is on my favorites list. I will
    Add all of yours to my List!

  42. Deb krenzer says:

    I haven’t read any of these. But I did enjoy The Aviator’s Wife and Under the Wide and Starry Skies.

  43. Laurie Blum says:

    The Garden of Letters was an interesting historical fiction which is my favorite genre … thx for the chance to win!

  44. TAMMY CUEVAS says:

    I don’t think I read any of these, but “Mrs. Hemingway” has been on my TBR list for a while.

  45. Barbara J. Hansen says:

    I have only read the Orphan Train and loved it. i live in Iowa and a train stop is about 20 miles away. I now have new books to add to my To-Read list!

  46. Cathie Coyne says:

    My favorites were The Invention of Wings and The Boston Girl.

  47. Nancy Hardy says:

    The Orphan Train and The Invention Of WIngs

  48. Susan Curry says:

    Merry Christmas Erika!!! I loved Orphan Train and The Secret Life of Violet Grant! I asked for “All The Light We Cannot See” for Christmas! I will add these others to my list! Hope to see you in 2015!!! Blessings!

  49. Cindy Kuehnel says:

    Thanks for the list, Just found Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

  50. erikarobuck says:

    Using Random.org, I have found a winner: Amy in Atlanta! Congratulations, and thank you to all of you for participating!

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