For years, #1 New York Times bestselling author Kristin Hannah has captivated readers with her complex historical and romantic tales. With riveting relationships, hints of suspense and tragedy, and romance full of emotion, Hannah fully draws a reader into a story from start to finish.
If you’re yearning for more of the sort, let these 20 authors like Kristin Hannah pull on your heartstrings and transport you through history.
Lithuanian-American writer Ruta Sepetys travels from era to era to share fraught yet heartfelt tales of family, love, and survival in impossible times.
From New Orleans to East Prussia, and Madrid to Romania, Sepetys’ work spans significant historical times. Her deeply researched settings situate you fully, and with startlingly realistic characters, you won’t forget these stories any time soon.
Read Sepetys’ latest novel, I Must Betray You, here.
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Taylor Jenkins Reid’s work rose to TikTok fame, and soon, is coming to the silver screen with Amazon’s adaptation of Daisy Jones & The Six .
Reid depicts the complicated and captivating lives of famous fictional women. From big-screen-bombshell Evelyn Hugo to sultry singer Daisy Jones, Reid’s protagonists navigate femininity and ambition throughout the decades. With no shortage of romance or heartbreak, you’ll devour Reid’s books one after the other.
Since her 2014 debut, Celeste Ng has taken the literary world by storm.
A daughter of immigrants and Harvard graduate, Ng dives deep into fictional family histories to tackle topics of racism, complicated relationships, and the ties that bind us. Her first novel, Everything I Never Told You, follows a Chinese American family in the 1970s as they grapple with a startling death, and debuted to critical praise.
Find Everything I Never Told You here.
Here, you can also find Little Fires Everywhere, now a Hulu hit series.
Like Ng, Jodi Picoult excels at crafting family sagas with hints of romance that span generations. Her books don’t shy away from the complicated sides of love—or other controversial topics. Picoult is unflinching when it comes to writing about tough issues and does so with room for the reader to form their opinions alongside the character.
You can find her latest novel, Mad Honey, co-written with Jennifer Finney Boylan, here.
Through playing with perspectives and the passage of time, Markus Zusak creates stories that are haunting and heartfelt. His 2007 novel, The Book Thief , captivated readers by telling the story through Death’s eyes. Meanwhile, his 2018 novel, Bridge of Clay, drew audiences into a family saga about love and legacy.
Defiant and daring, Nigerian-American writer Chinelo Okparnta is highly decorated and highly inspired by Nigerian folktales.
Her 2015 novel, Under the Udala Trees, follows a young girl, Iijeoma, as she grows up in a time of civil war. When the war displaces her, she meets another child—another girl. Slowly, the two girls develop feelings for each other, and soon, Iijeoma questions how long she can hide her truth.
Poignant and hopeful, you won’t want to miss out. Find Under the Udala Trees here.
Over the years, Elizabeth Wein’s complex and twisty historical fiction has gathered critical acclaim.
Wein’s work depicts female friendship—with hints of a relationship beyond friendship—and explores the strength of women soldiers in World War II. Never without a degree of suspense, every turned page will have you redefining your understanding of the story.
Bestselling author Malinda Lo brings a queer perspective to history. With stories that are intimate and sweeping in the same breath, Lo turns her attention to lesbian and bisexual women situated throughout history. Lo might craft high-stakes plots and bring bold women to life, but her books always carry a tender undercurrent.
Follow Lily and Kath as romance blooms in 1950s San Francisco in Last Night at the Telegraph Club, which you can pick up here.
Carolina de Robertis
For more queer history, you’ll want to pick up Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis
Set in 1970s Uruguay, Cantoras follows five queer women as they forge their sanctuary in a time when homosexuality is outlawed. Over three and a half decades, they orbit each other and strive to live authentically despite the odds.
de Robertis is a powerful writer who is also active in the LGBTQ+ community.
You can find Cantoras here.
Like de Robertis, Paul Mendez brings a stunning queer story to life in his Lambda Literary Award-nominated novel, Rainbow Milk.
In the 1950s, Rainbow Milk follows Jamaican ex-boxer Norman Alonso after he immigrated to London, and later, at the millennium’s turn, follows Jesse, who comes from a broken family and seeks a fresh start in London.
Defiant and original, Mendez dives deep into topics such as class, sexuality, race, and culture.
Check out Rainbow Milk for yourself here.
For fans of Georgian, Regency, and Victorian romance, as well as sisterhoods as background relationships, Vanessa Riley’s work is a dream.
Riley’s stories explore multicultural communities throughout history. With snippets of suspense and plenty of swoon-worthy romance, you won’t want to miss out.
To begin reading Vanessa Riley’s work, try the Rogues and Remarkable Women series—readers searching for Black or disabled characters in historical romance will be particularly delighted.
Find the first in the series, The Duke, the Lady, and a Baby, here.
Since 1994, USA Today bestselling author and NAACP Image Award nominee has brought Black historical romance to life. Beloved by critics and readers alike, Jenkins’ work is as romantic and daring as it is expansive.
While it may feel intimidating to dive into such a large body of work, Jenkins’ Women Who Dare series is a great place to begin. Set in post-emancipation New Orleans, Rebel, the first in the series, follows a woman as she strives to set up a school and falls into the arms of Captain Drake LeVeq.
Find Rebel here.
For another author who depicts fully realized women in trying times, look no further than Kiana Alexander.
Her 2022 novel, Carolina Built, brings the story of Josephine N. Leary to life. When Josephine moves to North Carolina, she balances real-world responsibilities with her dreams of becoming a businesswoman.
Dually focused on joy and ambition, Carolina Built is an achievement of a novel.
Be sure to pick up your copy here.
Silvia Moreno-Garcia blends Mexican history, horror, and a touch of magic in her stories.
There are few places Moreno-Garcia does not venture. From a reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau in nineteenth-century Mexico to gothic horror in 1950s Mexico, Moreno-Garcia always adds an original twist that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Highly decorated author Isabel Allende is one of the most prolific writers of this era. Awarded the 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom, Allende follows the magic realist tradition and draws inspiration from her Chilean heritage.
Her latest novel, Violeta, is a saga that spans decades and follows the illustrious life of one woman, Violeta Del Valle. Over her hundred-year life that begins in the wake of World War I, Violeta witnesses history’s ups and downs, and faces it all with searing strength.
Find Violeta here.
While you may have read other books by beloved author Elizabeth Gilbert, you won’t want to miss City of Girls.
From the author of Eat, Pray, Love comes a dazzling, New York City-set love story. The turn of the decade in 1940 sees Vivian Morris kicked out of college and sent to Manhattan. With her eccentric aunt, Vivian steps into the world of show business—and changes her world forever.
To enter the world of glitz and glamor with Vivian, pick up City of Girls here.
Elaine Castillo blends stories of women across generations in America is Not the Heart. Haunting, heartfelt, and humorous at times, the story begins with Filipino immigrant Hero De Vera. It continues with the family’s first American-born daughter, a girl who has questions Hero would prefer to leave unanswered.
Find the answers sought when you pick up America is Not the Heart here.
Christina Baker Kline
Christina Baker Kline writes to capture both hardships and triumphs in her works of historical fiction. Exploratory and emotional, Baker Kline doesn’t shy from tough or unknown subjects.
Her 2013 novel, Orphan Train, spent over two years on the New York Times bestseller list and shed light upon orphan trains, trains that ferried orphans across the country for adoption. Beyond its subject matter, Orphan Train is deeply sincere and explores intergenerational bonds.
Pick up Orphan Train here.
Jodi Lynn Anderson
Look no further than Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Midnight at the Electric for a novel that blends historical fiction with speculative elements.
Midnight at the Electric follows three women: Adri, selected to live on Mars in 2065, but who doesn’t want to leave Earth without researching the century-old journal she found in her home; Catherine, who lives in the 1934 Dust Bowl; and Lenore, a romantic soul who struggles with grief after World War I.
Adri, Catherine, and Lenore’s intertwined lives and nuanced relationships will linger long after you turn the final page.
Find Midnight at the Electric here.
Madeline Miller takes us to millennia past with her two novels focused on Greek mythology, The Song of Achilles and Circe.
Miller blends history and myth with these lyrical and intimate stories. Through her work, figures like Achilles, Patroclus, and Circe come to life in stunning detail. With Greek mythology’s characteristic tragedies and a strong emotional core, Miller’s work grips you and doesn’t let go.
History and Heartstrings
Whether you’re in it for the suspense, the history lesson, or the romance, these authors offer a story for every type of reader. Settle in and let these tales sweep you away (and word to the wise, you might want your tissues).
Should I read Kristin Hannah’s books in a specific order?
There is no specific order in which Hannah’s books should be read. However, Firefly Lane is the first in a two-book series. Be sure to check it out before you dive into Fly Away.
Have any of Kristin Hannah’s novels been made into movies?
Home Front, The Nightingale, and The Great Alone have been optioned for film.
Was The Nightingale based on a true story?
While many of the characters and their actions are heavily inspired by actual historical events, The Nightingale was not based on a true story.
What genre does Kristin Hannah write?
Hannah writes romance books, light fantasy with magical elements, and historical fiction.
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