Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Top Ten Historical Settings

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. There is a new subject each week and this week's topic is "Top Ten Historical Settings".

World War II

Whether it's on the home front in the U.S. and England or in war-torn Europe I like reading books that are set during this time period. When I was a teen, I read both true accounts like Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl and The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and fiction like the Zion Covenant series about a young violinist smuggling Jewish children to safety. More recently I read Sarah Sundin's inspirational Wings of Glory series about three American brothers who serve in the armed forces and the excellent Maggie Hope mysteries by Susan Elia MacNeal. Other favorites are The Nightingale, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Book Thief. I also loved the TV series Home Fires, which is based on the nonfiction book Jambusters (published in the States as Home Fires--haven't read it yet), about the role of the Women's Institute during the war. Really I have too many books to list here...

Tudor and Elizabethan England

I love studying about this time period and really got into it in college when I took a course called British History from the Tudors. It covered other time periods but the Tudor period was my favorite. I l enjoyed reading about Henry VIII and his six wives as well as Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. So much drama and scandal, it's hard to believe its true! I love reading historical novels either about real people that lived back then or ordinary people whose lives intersected. Some of the books I've enjoyed include The Maids of Honor series by Jennifer McGowan,The King's Rose by Alisa Libby, Tarnish by Katherine Longshore, the Lacey Chronicles by Eve Edwards (The Other Countess, etc.), The Queen's Governess by Karen Harper, My Lady of Cleves by Margaret Campbell Barnes and Fiona Buckley's Lady Ursula mysteries. I also like the nonfiction titles of authors like Alison Weir and Antonia Fraser.

Roaring 20s and the 1930s

I wasn't really into this time period until recently after watching shows like Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (based on the Kerry Greenwood mystery novels) and Downton Abbey, which now is set in the 20s. Deanna Raybourn's City of Jasmine, Night of a Thousand Stars and A Spear of Summer Grass all take place in the 20s as does Lauren Willig's The Other Daughter and Libba Bray's The Diviners and Lair of Dreams. Rhys Bowen's fun Her Royal Spyness mysteries are set in the 1930s and feature real historical figures. Ashley Weaver's Amory Ames mysteries (Murder at the Brightwell) also take place during that time.

Early 20th Century-World War I

I think Downton Abbey really impacted the publishing industry as the market filled with books set during this time period to fill the growing demand for books "like Downton Abbey". Some of the titles I've read include Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed and Summerset Abbey by T.J. Brown which are very similar to Downton Abbey by covering the lives of servants and aristocrats. A Question of Honor by Charles Todd is a historical mystery (part of the Bess Crawford series) set during this time period as are Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown and These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly.  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery also takes place in the early 20th Century. 

Regency England

Jane Austen's novels are among my favorite books, especially Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. I also enjoy reading other novels set during this time whether spin-offs from Austen novels like The Pursuit of Mary Bennet, mysteries like A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin, fun spy/romance novels like the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig, or historical romances like Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson and A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack.

Victorian England

This is another time period I like to read about from classics like Dickens' Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol to Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South and Cranford. Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia mysteries take place in this setting as does Y.S. Lee's fantastic Agency mysteries for teens. 

Pioneer fiction

I find this time period in American history fascinating. What drove people to pack up and move to the West? The journey there and the hardships they faced leave me with awe. I couldn't imagine doing that or starting over somewhere new in those conditions. I loved Little House on the Prairie as a little girl (both the show and the books) and later became interested in reading about the Oregon Trail and the Gold Rush. Some books I've read during this time include True Sisters by Sandra Dallas and Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson. 

1950s-1960s America

I think this was an interesting time in our recent history because of all the changes in society from the Civil Rights Movement to women's rights, the space race and protesting the Vietnam War. Some books that I've read that are set during this time are The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman, The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore, Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands by Susan Carol McCarthy, A Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe, Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain and the YA novel I'm Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil.

French Revolution

I've been fascinated by this time period since I read The Scarlet Pimpernel as a kid. I know that it is a pretty macabre topic and it is still hard to believe that so many innocent people died to end the monarchy in France. Some novels I've read that are set during this time include Madame Tussaud by Michele Moran,  The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent, Love's First Light by Jamie Carie, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner and The Bad Queen by Carolyn Meyer.

17th and 18th Century Scotland

I have been interested in Scottish history since I was a kid but this time period captured my attention as a teen when I read Lady of the Glen by Jennifer Roberson about the Glencoe Massacre in the 1600s. Then I discovered Outlander by Diana Gabaldon which takes place partly in the 1940s and then the 1700s when Claire travels back in time. I loved the setting and the historical details the author included. Another favorite is The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. Some of her other novels also tie in with Scottish history like The Firebird and A Desperate Fortune which are about Scottish people in Exile. 


  1. I love all of your settings, especially 17th/18th century Scotland, Regency England/Victorian England and WWII. I will have to bookmark your page and check out some of your recommendations that are new-to-me. Great list, Christina!

  2. I like all these picks! I haven't read a ton of WW1/WWII stuff but Letters from Skye was set in both time periods and I enjoyed it. The 1930's in particular seem to have popped into my reading more and more, and I had a blogger recommend the Miss. Fishers mysteries.

    I like the Victorian era, and pioneer fiction is a good one! I liked Little House too. :) And I've always been fascinated by the westward expansion and the LEwis and Clark expedition.

  3. Wow, what a great list of historical settings! I tend to be drawn to either the Victorian or Regency period the most. I would love to read more WW I settings like Downton Abbey but so far all of the ones I've tried have been sub par.

  4. I love WWII fiction!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/02/top-ten-tuesday-42/

  5. You listed so many wonderful time periods! I think we have some similar tastes.


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