More historical fiction to look out for

Today the Walter Scott Prize Academy has announced its annual list of twenty recommended historical fiction novels published in the UK, Ireland and Commonwealth in 2017. This is in addition to the prize longlist of thirteen books which was released a few weeks ago.

I don’t have any plans to try to read all of these books, but I thought I would list them here because this is such an intriguing selection of titles:


The Death of the Fronsac by Neal Ascherson (Apollo, UK)

Mrs Osmond by John Banville (Viking, UK)

Softness of the Lime by Maxine Case (Umuzi, South Africa)

He by John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton, UK)

Larchfield by Polly Clark (Riverrun, UK)

Goblin by Ever Dundas (Saraband, UK)

The Water Beetles by Michael Kaan (Goose Lane Editions, Canada)

The Iron Age by Arja Kajermo (Tramp Press, Ireland)

My Beautiful Imperial by Rhiannon Lewis (Victorina Press, UK)

Soot by Andrew Martin (Corsair, UK)

Story Land by Catherine McKinnon (4th Estate, Australia)

Amah and the Silk-Winged Pigeons by Jocelyn Nullity (Inanna Publications, Canada)

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt (Tinder Press, Australia)

A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert (Virago, UK)

Speakeasy by Alisa Smith (Douglas & McIntyre, Canada)

A Reckoning by Linda Spalding (McClelland & Stewart, Canada)

The Secret Books by Marcel Theroux (Faber & Faber, UK)

The Esquimaux by Tom Tivnan (Silvertail Books, UK)

City of Crows by Chris Womersley (Picador, Australia)

The Photographer by Mieke Ziervoge (Salt, UK)


I do try to keep up to date with newly published historical fiction, but apart from Soot (which I have read and enjoyed), the only others on this list that I know anything about are Larchfield, Mrs Osmond and See What I Have Done. I haven’t even heard of most of the others!

What do you think? Have you read any of these books? Are there any that you think I need to read as soon as possible?

19 thoughts on “More historical fiction to look out for

  1. whatcathyreadnext says:

    Like you, I’m surprised that I was only aware of four of these – the same three as you, plus A Boy in Winter. Haven’t read any of them though. I’m adding them all to my wishlist but don’t expect to get round to them any time soon as I have enough trying to read the long-listed books. Amazed that so many obviously well-written books can go under the radar…Guess it could be because quite a few are published in Australia, Canada, etc.

    • Helen says:

      It’s surprising that there are so many neither of us have come across. They all sound interesting but I don’t know when I will have time to read any of them!

  2. piningforthewest says:

    I’ve only read Soot too, and that was on your recommendation – I enjoyed it. I hadn’t heard of any of the others, not even the Banville one.

  3. FictionFan says:

    I’ve only read three – one abandoned (the Banville, which really only works if you’ve read James’ The Portrait of a Lady, which I haven’t), another abandoned (See What I Have Done – I hated the writing style, but I seem to be in a minority so don’t let me put you off) and Goblin, which I found very good, original and an intriguing debut – recommended.

    • Helen says:

      I remember reading your review of See What I Have Done and that you didn’t like it. It’s not one that appeals. Goblin sounds good, though!

  4. Elle says:

    Have to say that I haven’t read The Portrait of a Lady and still found Mrs. Osmond very worthwhile – it helps to know the plot of Portrait, which I did, but having no detailed knowledge of the plot didn’t make it harder for me to follow. The way Banville echoes late Jamesian prose without getting quite as semantically knotty is impressive, too.

    • Helen says:

      I think they only started to release these lists last year. I won’t be trying to read all of those books, but there are a few that I’m interested in.

  5. Bianca Rose says:

    Thanks for this great list of historical fiction. It’s definitely my favorite genre! I recently read a phenomenal book that I think should be considered for your TBR pile. It’s called “The Jinn and the Sword” by authors Robert Peacock and Sara Cooke (if you wanna check out the website: It follows master swordsman Il Lupo and his daughter Francesca who have been summoned by Suleyman the Magnificent (Ottoman Empire). There have been assassination attempts against him and he needs protection. The descriptions the authors use for the location and people really transports you to another time and place. It is beautifully written and the characters are fantastic. If you do read it I would love to know what you think!

Please leave a comment. Thanks!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.