Book club recommendations: five highly readable historical novels

My definition of historical fiction is simple: fiction that is set in the past. Here is some historical fiction for book clubs.

The Star of the Sea by Joseph O’Connor
In the bitter winter of 1847, from an Ireland torn by injustice and natural disaster, the Star of the Sea sets sail for New York. On board are hundreds of fleeing refugees. This novel by Joseph O’Connor is popular and worth consideration on our historical fiction for book clubs list.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
The story of Dinah, one of the wives of Jacob is found in the Biblical book of Genesis. In this novel, her story is told from her own perspective and from that of the women in her circle.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

There have been quite a few first World War novels published in recent times and many of them are excellent – Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy comes to mind, as does Sebastian Barry’s A Long, Long Way but my choice for this list is Sebastian Faulks since Birdsong is one of those titles that many people have heard of but perhaps not read. It’s a good choice for a book club – a moving read that will produce plenty to talk about at your meeting.

Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
You’ve probably seen the movie, but did you know this book won the Booker prize back in 1975? Jhabvala is an accomplished writer and this is an engaging love story centered on Anglo-Indian relations that will give your book club plenty to discuss.

The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer
Regency romance, crime fiction, a hint of Mills and Boon but there’s something utterly engaging about Georgette Heyer’s writing. Read one of her books, and you’re likely to want to read your way through the rest. I discovered her in my teens and she was my constant companion for several years. Book clubs are sometimes very serious in the reading matter they choose. For a bit entertainment and escapism, you could do a lot worse than Ms Heyer and you will learn something of society and costume and customs along the way. Amazon has the blurb on this one nicely down to two sentences: Stepping into the wrong carriage at a Sussex village, Elinor Rochdale is swept up in a thrilling and dangerous adventure. Overnight, the would-be governess becomes mistress of a ruined estate and partner in a secret conspiracy to save a family’s name. By midnight, she is a bride, by dawn a widow.

If you are interested in more historical fictions suggestions, check out the links on my home page.

Book club recommendations : five good selections for fiction lovers

Many club members like book club recommendations for shorter novels because it can be difficult to find the time between book club meetings to read longer works. And keen readers will often want to have some spare time to read outside the group choices and pursue their own interests. Here are five book club recommendations that are interesting enough to give your book club lots to talk about but that won’t take too long to read. Each of these book club recommendations also has a movie tie-in that your club could perhaps get together to watch.

  • The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. A short, perfect novel with not a word too many used by the author.
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  A moving post-apocalyptic novel centred on a father-son relationship.
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. Innocent and sad.
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan. Love, war, lies and class prejudice in a quintessentially English setting.
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. The heroine, Holly Golightly, is one of fiction’s best known characters. She was portrayed by Audrey Hepburn in the movie version but the novel is darker than the movie. More novella than novel but an interesting book club selection with the potential to provoke discussion on society and morality.

If you found this list of book club recommendations useful, please let me know.