Historical Fiction

2022 Historical Fiction To Add To Your TBR Right Now

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Rachel Brittain

Contributing Editor

Rachel is a writer from Arkansas, most at home surrounded by forests and animals much like a Disney Princess. She spends most of her time writing stories and playing around in imaginary worlds. You can follow her writing at rachelbrittain.com. Twitter and Instagram: @rachelsbrittain

I love looking forward to all the great new books coming out in the new year. And when it comes to historical fiction, 2022 looks to be a good year — a really good year. I’m looking forward to some great 2022 historical fiction novels, featuring everything from a retelling of the “Wife of Bath” from The Canterbury Tales to a novel about an Algonquian mother and daughter struggling with a closed-minded white French father in the 1600s. From both debut authors bursting onto the scene and bestselling writers we’ve come to know and love, these books are set to become new favorites.

Figuring out your TBR and first read of a new year can be a daunting task, I know. But these 13 historical fiction books are definitely contenders. These stories span centuries and continents and tell tales both forgotten and new, full of characters you’re sure to fall in love with. I suggest you go ahead and put the holds in at your library now, because some of these stories are probably going to go fast. As for what to read first? Well, I can’t tell you that, but I know whichever of these books you decide to check out for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

The Good Wife of Bath Book Cover

The Good Wife of Bath by Karen Brooks

This retelling of Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath” from The Canterbury Tales gives voice to a woman famously mocked in the literary classic. In 1364, a 12-year old girl named Eleanor is married off to an elderly farmer. Told to pray for her sins, she quickly realizes God is not on her side, or the side of any woman who is poor. Eleanor is determined to control her own life, and in this clever retelling, through marriages, lovers, and business pursuits, we get to see her do just that.

Release: January 25, 2022

Her Hidden Genius Book Cover

Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict

The brilliant Rosalind Franklin has always been something of an outsider. She has always felt more at home with science than with people. And when she’s assigned to study the structure of DNA at her lab, she knows she can unlock the very building blocks of life if only she works hard enough and takes one more after many thousands of x-ray pictures. Rosalind Franklin uncovers the double helix structure that makes up DNA — but that discovery is stolen from her. You’ve read about the men who lied and took credit for her experiments and discovery in your science books. But this is not their story; it’s hers.

Release: January 25, 2022

Violeta Book Cover

Violeta by Isabel Allende

Spanning the hundred year life of its eponymous protagonist, Violeta tells the story of one woman and one country through some of the twentieth centuries greatest upheavals and advances from 1920 to 2020. It’s a sweeping novel of epic proportions in a fashion only Isabel Allende could manage.

Release: January 25, 2022

Booth Book Cover

Booth by Karen Joy Fowler

Learn the history behind the family of one of the most notorious figures in American History. In 1822 a family moves to a secret cabin at a secret location 30 miles outside of Baltimore. Over the next 16 years, the family bears ten children and cements themselves as one of the eminent families of theatre. As the country reaches a boiling point that ends in secession, one family faces triumphs and scandals that begin to take a toll behind the scenes and set the stage for a presidential assassination.

Release: March 8, 2022

Daughters of the Deer Book Cover

Daughters of the Deer by Danielle Daniel

Reimagining the lives of her ancestors in the Algonquin territories of the 1600s, Danielle Daniel weaves a story inspired by a familial link to a girl murdered near Trois-Rivières in the early days of French settlement. Begged by the chief of the Weskarini Deer Clan to remarry after the death of her first husband and children in an Iroquois raid, Marie somewhat unwillingly agrees to marry the green-eyed French ex-soldier who wants her for a bride. After all, her people are dwindling from disease and attack. The marriage may help cement an alliance with the French against Iroquois and the British, but Marie knows her new husband’s stout Catholicism blinds him to the ways of her people. And their daughter, a Two-Spirit child who would be considered blessed by her people despite being neither entirely Weskarini nor white, is seen only as sinful and unnatural by her father.

Release: March 8, 2022

Things Past Telling Book Cover

Things Past Telling by Sheila Williams

This is a historical fiction novel that tells the incredible tale of one woman kidnapped from her West African home in the mid-18th century as part of the transatlantic slave trade at only 11 to be sold into enslavement. Inspired by a 112-year-old woman the author discovered in a census of Ohio and loosely based on the experiences of her real-life ancestors, Things Past Telling is the story of a terrible true past that encompasses both the worst and best of humanity.

Release: March 15, 2022

Four Treasures of the Sky Book Cover

Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

Set against the backdrop of the Chinese Exclusion Act in the 1880s American West, Daiyu is a girl forced to keep reinventing herself. Kidnapped and smuggled across the ocean, Daiyu must learn to survive from the calligraphy schools to San Francisco brothels, always trying to outrun the fate of the tragic heroine for whom she was named. As anti-Chinese sentiment grows, Daiyu is forced to draw on each of the selves she’s been in order to finally claim her name and her story.

Release: April 5, 2022

An Unlasting Home Book Cover

An Unlasting Home by Mai Al-Nakib

This multigenerational sage follows three generations of Arab women from the 1920s to present day. Having returned to Kuwait from Berkley in the wake of her mother’s death, Sara teaches philosophy and grapples with her complicated feelings for her home country. But when a lesson about Nietzsche results in accusations of blasphemy that could end in execution, she must finally come to terms with her place in the world. Interspersed with Sara’s story, we see the twists and turns in the lives of her grandmothers and mothers from India to the United States.

Release: April 12, 2022

The Green Eyed Girl Book Cover

That Green Eyed Girl by Julie Owen Moylan

In a cramped Lower East Side apartment in 1955, two women must hide the truth of their relationship to protect their livelihood as teachers. But the truth of their private lives still manages to get out. Twenty years later, in the same apartment, a woman desperately attempts to conceal her mother’s fragile mental state from the eyes of her neighbors. But when her mother disappears, Ava receives a parcel addresses to apartment 3B. Inside is a photograph of a woman with the word LIAR scratched across her face. Ava’s search for answers about the photograph lead her down a trail of kindness, lies, and betrayal, all centered around one woman.

Release: April 14, 2022

Forbidden City Book Cover

Forbidden City by Vanessa Hua

Mei is a teenage poster child for the Chinese Cultural Revolution. With dreams of becoming a model revolutionary, Mei quickly answers the call for young girls recruited by the Community Party to come to the capital. When she realizes the girls’ job is to dance with party elites, she quickly sets her sights on the Chairman himself. Setting herself apart with her ambition and intelligence, Mei soon becomes Mao Zedong’s protégée and lover. In a world full of subterfuge and scheming rivals, Mei must prove her worth. But when she’s finally sent on a political mission by the Chairman, the brutality of this newest stage of the revolution begins to make her question her belief in the cause.

Release: April 19, 2022

Wingwalkers Book Cover

Wingwalkers by Taylor Brown

Wingwalkers is part adventure, part love story as it tells the tale of a former WWI pilot and his wingwalking wife as they barnstorm across the Depression-era United States. Della and Zeno Marigold fund their vagabond lifestyle by performing death-defying stunts as they travel from town to town, inspiring everyone from everyday townspeople to writer (and failed fighter pilot) William Faulkner, all building off of one true moment in the author’s life when he met two daredevils one chance evening in New Orleans.

Release: April 19, 2022

In the Face of the Sun Book Cover

In the Face of the Sun by Denny S. Bryce

The author of Wild Women and the Blues is back with another historical fiction novel to dazzle and amaze. The Hotel Somerville is Los Angeles’s newest hotspot for the African American elite in the 1920s. It’s also a favorite of up-and-coming journalist Daisy Washington, who reports on activism and Hollywood scandals in equal measure to save her family from poverty. Some 30 years later, she shows up to help her niece escape an abusive marriage. Frankie knows her eccentric aunt is an essential part of her escape plan, even if she may be up to some wild schemes of her own. But as old scores are settled and long-held secrets come out, both women must come to terms with where they’ve been and where they’re going from here.

Release: April 26, 2022

Our Last Days in Barcelona Book Cover

Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton

This is a new novel from one of my favorite historical fiction authors about the Perez sisters featured in When We Left Cuba and and Next Year in Havana. When her sister disappears in Barcelona in 1964, Isabel finds herself swept up in the world of espionage in order to find her. But Beatriz isn’t Isabel’s only connection to Spain; her mother journeyed to the country almost 30 years prior with her young daughter in tow as the rise of fascism threatened the world and Cubans joins the International Brigades. Family secrets and history intertwine as the narratives of a mother and daughter unfold.

Release: May 24, 2022

Want even more great historical fiction to add to your TBR? We’ve got you covered: