Can’t miss biographical fiction books for fans of historical fiction
I constantly find myself intrigued whenever I read a book jacket and find that I’m holding a biographical fiction book. I love to read about real people! And while these books are fictionalized accounts of a person’s life, they are based heavily on true stories.
Do you love them also? If so, you’ll love this selection of books!
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What is Biographical Fiction?
So, what is the difference between a biography and biographical fiction? First, you should know that a biography sticks to the facts, an author is not speculating on anything that is not known. These books are classified as nonfiction.
In biographical fiction, the author uses the facts of a person’s life to tell a story. Details can be reimagined, dialogue is created, and sometimes minor fictional characters are inserted in. These books are often heavily researched, but the author uses their artistic license to tell a story.
Biographical Fiction That You’ll Love
Here is a list of books within this genre that I greatly enjoyed. They range from telling the stories of well-known people and also lesser-known people, from artists to actors and includes many remarkable women.
Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
There are a few popular authors right now that tend to write a lot of biographical fiction and Nancy Horan is one of them. In Under the Wide and Starry Sky, Horan introduces us to Fanny van de Grift Osbourne.
Fanny was an American woman who took her children and fled to Europe to escape a philandering husband. While there, Fanny pursues her artist dreams and meets the younger author Robert Lewis Stevenson who is immediately smitten.
This book tells the story of their love and their later marriage. It’s tumultuous at times, but rather fascinating. Pick this one up if you’re looking for a thick, meaty saga that covers decades.
Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin
Melanie Benjamin is another writer that specializes in biographical fiction. I’ve read and loved several of her books. In this book, Benjamin takes us to World War II Paris inside the famous Ritz Hotel.
Mistress of the Ritz is based off the true story of Blanche Auzello, the wife of the director of the Ritz Hotel in Paris. The Ritz was a place of fairy tales and glamour until June of 1940 when the German army occupied Paris and used the Ritz as one of its headquarters.
Their current long-term guests (including Coco Chanel) stayed in the hotel alongside the Germans. The Auzellos were forced to continue to operate the hotel to its usual standards, despite the difficulties of war-time living. This is a story about living (and resisting) under German occupation. It’s the story of a brave couple in a unique situation who did what they needed to do to survive, protect their guests, and help France.
Pick this one up if you’re a fan of World War II fiction or love a book set in Paris. READ MORE ABOUT THE BOOK HERE
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
I’ll admit that I didn’t even know Beryl Markham’s name before picking up Circling the Sun, but it didn’t take long to see just how fascinating she was. Beryl was an adventurer, horse trainer, aviatrix, and writer who grew up in Kenya in the early 1900’s. Her life and loves truly were an adventure.
Beryl Markham is definitely a flawed character, as most subjects of biographical fiction tend to be. (As an aside, I absolutely love reading about flawed characters because as humans, we’re all flawed.) But, without these flaws she never would have become the remarkable woman we read about today.
If you’re a fan of Out of Africa, you’ll find an overlap of story and characters. Both are based on true stories of people whose lives intertwined and are set in the same time period.
This book is a great choice for people who love beautiful settings and stories of fiercely independent women.
FInding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts
Do you ever run across a book that you can’t wait to read? Finding Dorothy was one of those books for me. I’ve long been a fan of The Wizard of Oz and was excited to read more about the book and movie.
Finding Dorothy tells the story of Maud Baum, the wife of L. Frank Baum, and her experience on the set of The Wizard of Oz. You’ll learn about Maud’s childhood and suffragette mother as well as her lengthy and happy marriage to L. Frank Baum. In addition, you’ll go behind the scenes of the filming of the movie for which Maud serves as a consultant. The book alternates between these two stories and they weave together beautifully.
This book was well-researched and the storytelling drew me in from the very beginning. All in all, I loved this book. Maud was fascinating as was the story behind the book and behind the movie. I loved getting a glimpse of Judy Garland as a teenager and reading about her friendship with Maud. I could not put this book down!
Pick up this book if you’re a fan of The Wizard of Oz or love to read books about American history. READ MORE ABOUT THE BOOK HERE.
The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict
Up until recently, the only thing I knew about Hedy Lamarr was her Hollywood career But, that was only a tidbit of her amazing life. The Only Woman in the Room covers Lamarr’s life from her early acting career in Austria to her scientific inventions during World War II.
This heavily researched book has been highly recommended in many places and for good reason. It’s a fascinating story. Lamarr’s beauty and brains brought about a privileged life from her marriage to an Austrian arms dealer, which she hoped would save her family from the threat of Nazis, to her escape to the United States. All the while, she is very aware of how lucky she is and is determined to use her intelligence and scientific ability to help out with the war in any way that she can.
This book is a fascinating piece of Hollywood history and World War II history. It’s perfect for people who are fascinated by the lives of women in science and are looking for a portrait of a strong woman.
The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper
The Royal Nanny tells the story of a little-known person within the British royal family. That person is Charlotte Bill, known as LaLa to her charges, who took care of an entire generation of royal children, including two future kings.
It was fascinating to read about royalty through a viewpoint that you don’t usually see, that of the children and their caretakers. Charlotte was a gently character which led to a lovely story. This is a great choice if you’re looking for something that is not too heavy.
Pick up this book if you love reading historical fiction about royalty or need a break from heavy reads.
Do you have any recommendations as to what I should read next?