A Few Favorite WWII Historical Fiction Novels

As we get older our reading choices develop and change. Over the last couple years, I’ve found myself drawn to historical fiction novels more than ever, especially those focusing on Europe during World War II. A terrible time in history, I find these stories both horrifying and fascinating. Three of my favorite books of this period also happen to take place in France during this time.

  1. The Nightingale by Kristin HannahThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – This is an excellent book sharing the powerful story of two sisters and how they each cope with the Nazi occupation in France. I was completely taken away by the bravery of these women and have recommended this book over and over again.

2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – Another great book, this is a beautifully written story with flashes of scenes between characters and time All the Light We Cannot Seeperiods. Two characters, a young blind girl in France and a brilliant German boy who is recruited by the Nazis, offer readers very interesting perspectives. As the book goes on we see how their worlds collide during wartime.

  1. Sarah's KeySarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay – A haunting twist in the book has caused this story to stay with me years after reading it. In an attempt to save her brother from the Nazis during World War II, a little girl hides the boy in their special hiding place. Throughout the book we see her journey to get back to Paris and her brother.

These books are all so well written and I continue to look for other books by these talented authors!

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A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

A Hundred SummersThis is one of my favorite books and I don’t throw that term around lightly. A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams is a fantastic historical fiction novel sharing the story of Nick and Lily. This was the first book I read of Williams and I have adored her writing style ever since.

A Hundred Summers switches between the years 1931 and 1938 in New York City and a nearby beach town where wealthy people spend their summers lounging by the shore. During present time in the book, 1938, Nick and Lily aren’t together, but when the story switches back to 1931 they are. The book is spent reconciling what happened between those years that tore the pair apart. Williams does a great job building characters and plot twists into the book to keep us readers guessing.

This story sucked me in and every misunderstanding between characters had me gripping the book in frustration. I love a book that makes me feel actively invested in the outcomes of the characters.

My one critique of A Hundred Summers was the ending, which was a bit random, but it worked. I loved this and every other book I’ve read by Beatriz Williams and I highly recommend her work!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale by Kristin HannahThis one is absolutely incredible! The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a story that must be shared and read over and over again. Hannah shares with us the story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, young women living in France during WWII. Hannah has done a fantastic job here, the book has great character construction and many different dynamics running throughout.

The elder sister, Vianne, has always been the weak one. When her husband is drafted for the war she has no choice but to stay strong for her daughter. Through Vianne’s story we get a glimpse into the life of a mother trying to survive through German occupation, while starving, freezing, and hosting German officers in her home.

Isabelle, the younger sister, is wild and has few thoughts for the consequences that her actions will cause. All her life she has felt unloved, a motherless girl being pushed away from a father and sister who cannot cope with the loss, kicked out of every boarding school she’s attended. When she joins the resistance against Germany she finds herself right in the center of it all.

The Nightingale is a beautifully written story and so terribly sad. These women are so brave, and although they are fictional, they represent very real people. I loved this book and highly recommend it to everyone, not only historical fiction lovers.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

The Winter Sea by Susanna KearsleyWhere to start on this one? First of all, The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley had me bursting into tears with a sudden plot twist that I DID NOT expect. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not uncommon for me to get emotional when reading, but I usually see it coming. You know a book is good when you are so invested in the story that you feel for the characters and their hardships and that’s what happened to me with this one.

The Winter Sea is a great book and I’m excited to have found it, it being the first novel I’ve read of Kearsley’s. This is an interesting story, the narrative switching between author Carrie, who is writing a historical fiction novel focusing on the 1708 Jacobite invasion into Scotland, and Sophia, the woman Carrie is writing about. In a twist of fate, it turns out that Carrie is more deeply entangled in Sophia’s story than she could have imagined. Carrie and Sophia’s lives seem to mysteriously mirror each other, both making a life for themselves and finding love along the way.

Kearsley has written a beautifully sculpted novel that portrays the passion an author has for her characters and how their story becomes engrained in her own life.

I really recommend this one, especially to all those historical fiction lovers out there!

Sunday Spotlight: Kate Morton

I’m really excited today because it’s the first post of my Sunday Spotlight series! Through these posts, I want to showcase incredible authors and spread their stories.

First up: Kate MortonKate Morton

Kate Morton is a wonder, her stories transporting readers into other worlds and times. I have read two of her historical fiction novels and was very impressed by her ability to sweep me away with the story. An incredibly talented author, Morton brings us stories set across the globe including settings in both England and Australia.

Morton’s books are not short, but she gives them the space needed to develop and creates twisting plotlines that keep you hooked.

The Secret Keeper by Kate MortonThe Secret Keeper by Kate Morton was an incredible read with shocking plot twists. The story focuses on Laurel, a modern day woman attempting to trace her mother’s mysterious past after remembering a crime she witnessed as a child in her family home. The story switches between Laurel in the present and flashbacks of England during the chaotic aftermath of World War II. I was completely STUNNED by a twist at the end of the story, a jaw dropping finish that left me with my mouth hanging open.

That fact that I couldn’t put The Secret Keeper down while studying abroad in Italy, only goes to show how great this story is.

The Forgotten Garden By Kate MortonThe Forgotten Garden is another great story of Morton’s with a woven plot split between narratives of 3 women, Cassandra, her grandmother Nell and a mysterious woman from Nell’s past.

The death of her grandmother sends Cassandra on a journey to trace Nell’s past, who was found abandoned on a dock at four years old. Not only does Cassandra find the truth about her ancestry, she finds a way to heal after a heartbreaking accident that left her alone in the world.

I highly recommend reading Kate Morton’s novels and I would love to hear whether any of you have read her work!