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More Like This, Please: 5 Historical Fiction Bookalikes You’ll Love

by  | August 13
Featured books wrapped in a blanket

Some people might say their favorite element of Netflix is the sheer quantity of content: you could spend all day scrolling through dramas, comedies, thrillers, action flicks, documentaries, romances, sitcoms, police procedurals—the list goes on and on, and so do the choices. Personally, my favorite is the next step, beyond all the choices, when you’ve loved a show or movie and then a magical phrase appears: “more like this.” It’s the next content already primed for you and geared up. So, here’s a “more like this” take on historical fiction reads. Sit back, relax, and click on your next favorite.

Florence Adler Swims Forever

Florence Adler Swims Forever

by Rachel Beanland

If you loved The Guest Book by Sarah Blake…

Like much of The Guest Book, Florence Adler Swims Forever is set in the 1930s along the northeastern U.S. shoreline and follows complicated family dynamics in the aftermath of tragedy. In Beanland’s novel, the titular character drowns suddenly in the first few pages while swimming off the beach in her hometown of Atlantic City. Grieving the loss, her family decides to hide Florence’s death from her sister, who is convalescing at a maternity hospital due to a risky pregnancy. This huge lie begins to unspool other family secrets, and the three generations break apart—and come together—over the course of the summer to ultimately reveal the resiliency of the human spirit. In both books, the 1930s time period looms, with the threat of Hitler’s Nazism just over the horizon in Europe.

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These Ghosts Are Family

These Ghosts Are Family

by Maisy Card

If you loved The Book of Night Women by Marlon James…

The Book of Night Women follows the story of one heroine, Lilith, born into slavery on a Jamaican sugar plantation in the 18th century.  Similarly, the characters in Maisy Card’s debut, These Ghosts Are Family, experience life on a colonial Jamaican sugar plantation and the generational trauma it leaves behind. But instead of following one arc, it follows multiple storylines, tracing generations of a Caribbean family’s diaspora across two centuries. Also, as with The Book of Night Women, Card’s novel explores themes of identity, desire, and the strength of women throughout history.

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The Dovekeepers

The Dovekeepers

by Alice Hoffman

If you loved The Red Tent by Anita Diamant… 

As with The Red Tent, where Anita Diamant follows the biblical character of Dinah mentioned fleetingly in the Book of Genesis, The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman explores a little-known moment in Jewish history nearly two thousand years ago. Alice Hoffman has made a name for herself penning spellbinding stories, involving  magical realism, independent women, and the power of faith. In The Dovekeepers, she traces the lives of four bold and resourceful women who live on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert, and who face an epic siege from Roman armies. Both The Red Tent and The Dovekeepers are astonishing stories of sacrifice and survival in the desert, and tributes to the women often left out of the history books.

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A Long Petal of the Sea

A Long Petal of the Sea

by Isabel Allende

If you loved The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende…

Isabel Allende’s debut novel, The House of the Spirits, shot her to fame with its epic family saga spanning generations of a Chilean family during the country’s post-colonial and political turbulence. Allende’s most recent novel, A Long Petal of the Sea, also returns to Chilean history, but its path first begins in Europe and follows characters after the Spanish Civil War, which led hundreds of thousands of Spanish citizens to flee the country’s Fascist government. They eventually rebuild their lives in Chile, riding the waves of their new home’s instability while holding fast to their dream of returning to Spain. It’s a story of hope and the immigrant experience and, like Allende’s debut thirty-five years ago, the novel also features themes of family, fate and belonging amid revolutionary times.

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The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad

by Colson Whitehead

If you loved Kindred by Octavia Butler...

In Kindred, a contemporary Black woman is suddenly and inexplicably transported through time—leaving her white husband behind in the modern day—to early 1800s Maryland, where she encounters violent racism and white supremacy, including, most troublingly, from one of her own ancestors, a white plantation owner. Just as Kindred explores the horror of slavery and sexism using a speculative fiction framework, Colson Whitehead’s brilliant, Pulitzer Prize–winning novel about an alternate antebellum American South reimagines the period through a lens of magical realism. In The Underground Railroad, the novel expands upon historical situations by reimagining the Underground Railroad as a physical train that takes the characters on a harrowing journey through the states, pre-Civil War.  Both novels upend conventional narratives by reimagining and evaluating them through fantasy and history.

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Raised in London, Elizabeth graduated with a degree in English from Smith College in 2013. When not reading six different novels at once she can be found Instagramming artisanal pastries and working in the marketing department of Simon & Schuster. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @eliz_bree!