BBT’s Best Books of 2015: Historical Novels

In 2015, three novels of historical fiction stood out form the pack. Or should I say, the bookshelf. Their authors reimagined the loves and trials of prominent figures from the past. In each case, the reader gets to delve into the minds of the characters to find out what emotions and influences that set them on their paths. Warning: these books are so good, fiction may just become better than reality.

All TruAllTrueNotALieInIte Not a Lie in It by Alix Hawley blew me away. It examines the life and trials of Daniel Boone in a fresh, new light. So many gorgeous passages. Heart-stopping narration. Don’t want to take my word for it? Well, it won the 2015 First Novel award in May. This fall, it was longlisted for the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize. Read my review, then check out the author’s blog for more info about her writing process and fun facts about Daniel Boone. Then, get your hands on the novel. If you get sad when you finish reading it, take solace in knowing that Hawley is working on the sequel as we speak.


MarriageofOppositesIf you’ve been following my blog, you may know that I love author Alice Hoffman‘s work. She delivers. Every. Time. It’s no surprise that her latest novel, The Marriage of Opposites, made my list of 2015’s best historical novels. It is the story of the Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro and his family. Inspired by Latin American literature, this multi-generational story is laced with bursts of passion and shades of magic realism. Oh, and the ending? It’s perfect.


The mytholoVanessa_Cover_Onegy of Virginia Woolf has been the subject of several films and books over the years. Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar can be added to that list under the heading “inventive point of view”. The epistolary novel is made up primarily of fictional journal entries by Virginia’s older sister, Vanessa.  Under the suffocating shadow of her sister, Vanessa finds the strength to grow as an artist, a mother, and a lover. Reading her story through journals, letters, and postcards was an intimate, memorable experience. I read the book and wrote a review nearly a year ago, but still find myself thinking about the characters today.

What was your favourite historic novel of 2015?


6 thoughts on “BBT’s Best Books of 2015: Historical Novels

  1. As you know, I also loved All True Not A Lie In It (I don’t like typing out the title, though). I was surprised by how mesmerizing it was to read about Daniel Boone, someone I hadn’t given much thought to before.
    So, this would definitely be one of my favourite historical novels of the year. I also really liked A Measure of Light by Beth Powning and Against A Darkening Sky by Lauren B. Davis.

    • Carole Besharah says:

      A Measure of Light sounds so good. I’ll have to check it out. I hope Santa will put in under my tree in a few days ;).

  2. I generally think that I don’t enjoy historical fiction but when I think of some of my favourite books, they could probably be classified as such. I’ve been wanting to read that Alix Hawley since it’s been getting rave reviews all around. It’s from a few years ago but my favourite historical fiction that I read this year was probably David Mitchell’s Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.

    • Carole Besharah says:

      Funny, I did not know that David Mitchell wrote a historical novel! I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for the heads up, Karissa.

      I hope you do read Hawley’s novel. Original style. Great story.

  3. No historical novel, but histories, yes! Strangely (even I’ll admit that it’s strange), I really really liked a modern forensic review of a great poisoning murder in early Victorian England. I wasn’t so enthralled by the mystery, but the historical details I LOVED. I often have small, odd questions like ‘how DID that work then?’ and it’s very difficult to find an answer. (Even with Google’s abundant resources.) Well, THIS fellow seemed to anticipate and gave me all sorts of answers before I even thought of the question.

    Well. THAT was fun to tell you.

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