Historical Musings #10: Possible reads for 2016

Historical Musings For my first Historical Musings post of the year I’ve decided to keep things very simple. The questions I’m asking this month are:

Will you be reading any historical fiction in 2016? If so, which books are you hoping to read? Are there any new historical fiction novels being published this year which you’re looking forward to, or will you be reading books already on your shelves? I’d love to hear your plans for the year ahead!

If you’re interested in books being released this year, the Historical Fiction 2016 list at Goodreads or the Historical Novel Society’s list of Forthcoming Historical Novels for 2016 might give you some ideas, but there are not many upcoming books that I feel excited about this year, if I’m honest. I’ve received a few of the books on those lists as review copies from NetGalley (The Queen’s Choice by Anne O’Brien, Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye and For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser) and I’m sure I’ll end up picking up some new releases in the library too, but otherwise there are plenty of older books that I would like to read in 2016. I want to try more books by authors like Margaret Campbell Barnes, Cecelia Holland, E. Barrington, Valerie Anand, Marjorie Bowen and Martha Rofheart, all of whom have been recent discoveries for me.

This year, as one of my Reading Resolutions, I’m determined to make time to re-read some of my old favourites (which naturally include a lot of historical novels) but I do also have a lot of unread books on my shelves.

Here are some books which I would like to get to in 2016:


The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor (reading now)
Some Luck by Jane Smiley
A Dark and Distant Shore by Reay Tannahill
The Walls of Byzantium by James Heneage
The Rose of Sebastopol by Katherine McMahon
Shadow of the Moon by MM Kaye
Red Sky at Night by Jane Aiken Hodge
The Kingmaking by Helen Hollick
Prince of Foxes by Samuel Shellabarger
The Love Knot by Elizabeth Chadwick
The Reckoning by Sharon Penman
Renegade by Robyn Young
Daughter of Siena by Marina Fiorato
Queen of Silks by Vanora Bennett
The Heaven Tree by Edith Pargeter

I also still have a lot of Walter Scott Prize nominees to get through. And of course, I haven’t forgotten about all the wonderful recommendations left in the comments on previous Historical Musings posts (including books about Ancient Rome, women’s classics, books set in Africa and books for younger readers).

As you can see, there are more than enough books to keep me busy in 2016!
What about you? What will you be reading?

16 thoughts on “Historical Musings #10: Possible reads for 2016

  1. Karen K. says:

    I want to finish the Poldark series (only 4 left!), and I also want to finish my Classics Club list, so I need to read The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Man in the Iron Mask. I also want to finish as much of the historical fiction on my own shelves as possible. I definitely want to read Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks which I’ve owned forever. After that, we’ll see.

    • Helen says:

      I read the first Poldark novel last year and loved it, but still haven’t continued with the series. Maybe I should add the second book to my list of potential reads for this year too! Good luck with finishing your Classics Club list. I enjoyed The Hunchback of Notre Dame but haven’t read The Man in the Iron Mask yet.

  2. Lisa says:

    I don’t do much planning, so I’m always open to suggestions, and very susceptible to reviews 🙂 I don’t know much about current historical fiction, and you’ve introduced me to a lot of books and authors.

    I’d like to get to some of the Dumas on my shelves this year (I’m currently reading La Reine Margot), and also Charles Reade’s The Cloister & the Hearth.

    • Helen says:

      I’ve been meaning to read The Cloister and the Hearth for a long time but never seem to get round to it. Maybe this should be the year! I’ll be interested to hear what you think of La Reine Margot as I’m hoping to read that one after I finish the d’Artagnan series with Louise de la Valliere and The Man in the Iron Mask.

  3. Alex says:

    I’m no longer a great reader of historical fiction, but as a teenager I certainly was and the name Margaret Campbell Barnes is one that recalls many happy hours of reading. I think she taught me most of what I know about the Tudor world. Are her novels easily available? I might be tempted to go back and re-read some of them. I particularly remember ‘The King’s Fool’ with great pleasure.

    • Helen says:

      Most of Margaret Campbell Barnes’ novels have been reissued in the last few years as paperbacks and ebooks. So far the only one I’ve read is Mary of Carisbrooke, a novel about the imprisonment of Charles I, but I would like to try another of her books and will put The King’s Fool at the top of the list.

  4. jessicabookworm says:

    I also received a copy of The Queen’s Choice by Anne O’Brien and I still have Master of Shadows by Neil Oliver; both of which I am excited to read this year. On my bookshelf I also have Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, The Ill-Made Knight by Christian Cameron, Drood by Dan Simmons and The Tudor Princess by Darcey Bonnette. Looks like we have plenty to keep us going; happy historical reading 🙂

    • Helen says:

      I hadn’t heard of The Ill-Made Knight but I’ve just looked it up and it sounds great. I hope you enjoy it! I’ll be interested to hear what you think of Master of Shadows too as I read it a few months ago.

  5. Jane @ Beyond Eden Rock says:

    I’ve not spotted any of my small handful of must-read authors among the new releases, but I’m sure I’ll find a new historical novel or two that I want to read as the year progresses, I’m in the early stages of Anna Hope’s new novel, The Ballroom, at the moment and it’s looking very promising. Otherwise it’s author’s from the past who are calling me. I have a couple on my Classics Club list, I want to read more Dumas, and this might be the year what I take up your recommendations of Rafael Sabatini.

    • Helen says:

      The Ballroom sounds great and I still have Anna Hope’s first book, Wake, to read as well. I will be reading more Dumas this year too as I have the final two books in the d’Artagnan series to finish. I would definitely recommend trying Sabatini as I find him very similar to Dumas. I thought of you when I was reading The Sea Hawk because it’s set partly in Cornwall. 🙂

  6. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review says:

    I just was sent the new American paperback edition of The Child from the Sea by Elizabeth Goudge, so I’m intending to read that. And I have a copy of The Wolves of Andover from a book swap that I’d like to read for my Reading New England challenge. Oh, and I have a review copy of Nelly Dean that I ought to get to soon. That’s what I have on my shelf already but I’m sure I’ll come across more during the year. I have not read anything from your list so if you end up recommending them they’ll get added to the pile.

    • Helen says:

      I read Nelly Dean last year and will be interested to hear what you think of it! The Child from the Sea is the only Elizabeth Goudge book I’ve read so far (for your reading week last year) but I did enjoy it and would like to read more of her books.

  7. Charlie (The Worm Hole) says:

    I’m not sure about ones released this year, but I looked at my book shelf the other day, saw the Elizabeth Chadwick books I haven’t read (most of them, still) and a vague plan was formed. The Love Knot’s one of them. I also have a Vanora Bennett I really should get to.

    • Helen says:

      I also have a lot of Elizabeth Chadwick books still to read, but The Love Knot is the only one I actually own so it makes sense for me to read that one next. I hope you enjoy your Vanora Bennett book – I have only read Midnight in St Petersburg so far.

  8. Alex from Carlisle says:

    I’m still waiting for any novel set in Mediaeval England that is mainly about English folk: peasants and townsfolk rather than lords and royals, Wulfric and Hilde instead of Lord William and Lady Blanche.

    I’m probably in for a long wait though.

    • Helen says:

      There are certainly not many; Karen Maitland’s books are the only ones I can think of at the moment, but I’m sure there are others. I do have a future Historical Musings post planned on a similar theme, so maybe other readers will have some recommendations.

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