The Greatest "Historical fiction, Domestic" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 313 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Historical fiction

Historical fiction is a genre of literature that combines fictional stories with real historical events, settings, and characters. These books often take place in a specific time period and are based on research and factual information, but also include imaginative elements to create a compelling narrative. Historical fiction allows readers to experience the past in a unique and engaging way, while also providing insight into the social, cultural, and political issues of the time.


The "Domestic" category of books typically refers to stories that focus on the everyday lives and experiences of individuals and families within their homes and communities. These books often explore themes such as relationships, family dynamics, personal growth, and the challenges and joys of daily life. Domestic fiction can include a range of sub-genres, from heartwarming family dramas to suspenseful psychological thrillers, but all share a focus on the intimate and personal aspects of human experience.

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  1. 1. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

    The novel is a poignant tale of an English butler, Stevens, who reflects on his life and career during a road trip through the English countryside. As he delves into his past, he reveals his unquestioning loyalty to his former employer, Lord Darlington, and his unexpressed love for the housekeeper, Miss Kenton. The narrative explores themes of dignity, duty, and regret, as Stevens comes to terms with his unquestioning devotion to his employer and the missed opportunities in his personal life.

    The 263rd Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. The Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett

    This novel explores the lives of two sisters, Constance and Sophia Baines, who are brought up in a small town drapery shop in the mid-19th century. Constance remains in their hometown, marries and leads a relatively uneventful life, while Sophia elopes to Paris with a traveling salesman, living through the Siege of Paris and the Franco-Prussian War. The book contrasts the sisters' different experiences and how their choices shape their lives, ultimately reuniting them in their old age.

    The 331st Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. Passing by Nella Larsen

    "Passing" is a novel about two light-skinned African-American women, Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry, who can 'pass' as white. Set during the Harlem Renaissance, the story explores the intricacies and challenges of racial identity in 1920s America. Clare, who has chosen to live as a white woman, married to a racist who is unaware of her true heritage, risks everything when she reconnects with her childhood friend Irene, causing both women to grapple with their identities and desires, leading to tragic consequences.

    The 486th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

    "Love Medicine" is a novel that explores the lives of several generations of a Native American family living on a reservation in North Dakota. The narrative is presented through a series of interconnected stories, each told from the perspective of different family members, and spans over 60 years, from 1934 to 1999. The book explores themes of love, family, identity, and the struggle between tradition and modernity. It provides a deep and poignant look into the complexities of Native American life and culture, and the challenges faced by the community.

    The 593rd Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. The Group by Mary McCarthy

    The novel follows the lives of eight female friends who graduate from Vassar College in 1933. As they navigate the complexities of adulthood, their stories intertwine and diverge, exploring themes of social class, sexuality, and women's roles during a time of political and social upheaval. The narrative delves into their personal and professional struggles, relationships, and the evolving landscape of women's independence, offering a candid and multifaceted portrayal of the challenges and expectations faced by women in the early 20th century.

    The 695th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Amongst Women by John McGahern

    "Amongst Women" is a novel that tells the story of Michael Moran, a bitter, aging Irish Republican Army (IRA) veteran, and his relationships with his wife and five children. The narrative explores themes of family, power, love, and the struggle between freedom and control. Moran's domineering personality and the effects of his past experiences in the IRA have a profound impact on his family, shaping their lives and relationships in complex and often destructive ways.

    The 1202nd Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard

    The novel follows the lives of two orphaned Australian sisters, Caroline and Grace Bell, who move to England in the post-World War II era. The story revolves around their relationships, particularly Caroline's complex and often tragic love life. The narrative is filled with themes of love, fate, time, and the intricate complexities of human relationships, all set against the backdrop of significant historical events.

    The 1556th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. The Rector's Daughter by F.M. Mayor

    The novel delves into the life of a dutiful and unassuming clergyman's daughter living in a small English village. As she navigates the constraints of her social position and the expectations placed upon her, she develops a deep affection for a man who seems to reciprocate her feelings. However, their potential romance is thwarted by societal pressures and personal obligations, leading to a poignant exploration of unfulfilled love, personal sacrifice, and the quiet tragedies of an ordinary life marked by missed opportunities and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of disappointment and duty.

    The 1649th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

    This novel explores the lives of two Afghan women, Mariam and Laila, who are brought together by war and fate. Mariam, an illegitimate child, suffers from the stigma surrounding her birth and the abuse she faces from her bitter mother. When she is married off to Rasheed, her life becomes a nightmare. Later, she becomes a co-wife to Laila, a beautiful and educated girl who also ends up as Rasheed's wife due to a series of tragic events. Despite their initial rivalry, the two women form a bond and become sources of support for each other in the face of their husband's brutalities and the war-torn world of Kabul.

    The 2011th Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall

    This novel explores the life of a young Barbadian-American girl growing up in Brooklyn during the Great Depression and World War II. The protagonist struggles with her identity as she navigates the cultural divide between her parents' traditional Barbadian values and her own American aspirations. The story delves into the themes of immigration, cultural identity, race, and gender, as the protagonist comes of age and seeks to establish her independence.

    The 2223rd Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. A Day Off by Storm Jameson

    "A Day Off" is a novel that depicts a day in the life of a middle-aged woman named Eleanor, who is struggling with the mundanity and hardships of her life. Eleanor, who is married to an unfaithful husband and has a strained relationship with her daughter, decides to take a day off from her routine. Throughout the day, she reflects on her life, her dreams, regrets, and the choices she has made. The novel poignantly explores themes of love, loss, and the human condition.

    The 2223rd Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

    Set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi, the story revolves around three main characters: two black maids and a young white woman. The maids, who have spent their lives taking care of white families and raising their children, agree to share their experiences with the young woman, who is an aspiring writer. The book offers a poignant and humorous look at the complex relationships between these women, while also exploring the racial tensions and social changes of the era.

    The 2588th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

    The novel tells the story of a young Irish woman, Eilis Lacey, in the 1950s who, unable to find work at home, is sent to Brooklyn by a helpful priest where she builds a new life. She finds work, studies to become a bookkeeper, and falls in love with an Italian plumber named Tony. However, a family tragedy forces her to return to Ireland, where she must choose between her new life in America and her old life at home.

    The 2656th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. The Man of Property by John Galsworthy

    "The Man of Property" is a novel set in the late 19th century England, focusing on the wealthy Forsyte family. The story revolves around Soames Forsyte, a successful solicitor who views everything, including his beautiful wife Irene, as property. His possessiveness and inability to comprehend love and passion lead to a marital crisis and a scandal within the family. The novel explores themes of wealth, social status, love, and the concept of property, offering a critique of the materialistic upper-middle-class society of the time.

    The 2831st Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. Islanders by Helen R. Hull

    "Islanders" is a novel that delves into the complexities of human relationships and the intricate dynamics within a small, insular community. Set on an island, the narrative explores the lives of its inhabitants, who are bound together by geography and shared history, yet often find themselves at odds with one another due to personal conflicts, social expectations, and the challenges of isolation. The story examines themes of identity, belonging, and the struggle to maintain individuality in a place where everyone knows each other's business, ultimately revealing the profound impact of environment on personal growth and community ties.

    The 2983rd Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. Women And Appletrees by Moa Martinson

    The book is a poignant exploration of the lives of rural Swedish women in the early 20th century, focusing on their struggles, relationships, and the societal expectations that confine them. Through the lens of various female characters, the narrative delves into themes of poverty, motherhood, and the pursuit of independence. The women's connection to the land and the symbolic presence of apple trees serve as a backdrop to their stories, highlighting their resilience and the cycles of life that both challenge and sustain them. The novel is a testament to the author's feminist perspective and her own experiences as a working-class woman, offering a vivid portrayal of the hardships and triumphs that shape these women's existences.

    The 2983rd Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. Before Lunch by Angela Thirkell

    This novel is a charming and witty exploration of the social dynamics and idyllic country life in pre-World War II England. Set in the fictional county of Barsetshire, it delves into the lives of its inhabitants, focusing on the romantic entanglements and societal pressures that animate their daily existence. At the heart of the story is the relationship between a landowner and his neighbor, a spirited woman who challenges the traditional expectations of her time. Through a blend of humor, satire, and keen observations on human nature, the narrative paints a vivid picture of a community navigating the complexities of love, friendship, and the pursuit of happiness amidst the changing landscape of the English countryside.

    The 3490th Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. The Three Sisters by May Sinclair

    This novel explores the lives and emotional complexities of three sisters living in a provincial English town at the turn of the 20th century. Through their interactions and personal growth, the narrative delves into themes of love, independence, and societal expectations. The sisters, each with distinct personalities and desires, navigate the challenges of finding their places in a world where their choices are limited by their gender and social standing. The story is a poignant examination of the struggles for personal fulfillment and the search for identity within the confines of a restrictive society.

    The 3490th Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. A Modern Instance by William Dean Howells

    The novel explores the complexities of marriage and divorce in the late 19th century through the story of Bartley and Marcia Hubbard, a young couple from a small New England town. As Bartley's journalistic career takes off, his moral shortcomings and infidelity strain the marriage, leading to a tumultuous relationship. The narrative delves into the social and personal consequences of their failing marriage, highlighting the challenges of adhering to societal expectations and the impact of personal choices on the lives of individuals and their communities. The book is a critical examination of the institution of marriage, the evolving roles of men and women, and the pursuit of happiness in the face of societal pressures.

    The 4282nd Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. Four Generations Under One Roof by Lao She

    Set in Japanese-occupied Beijing during World War II, the novel intricately weaves the lives of a single extended family living together in a traditional courtyard house. The story explores the complex dynamics and tensions among the family members, each representing different generations with distinct values and responses to the political turmoil surrounding them. Through their interactions, the narrative delves into themes of cultural identity, resistance, and the struggle to maintain familial unity amidst external pressures and internal conflicts.

    The 4434th Greatest Book of All Time
  21. 21. Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

    The novel is a unique blend of family saga and historical fiction, told from the perspective of Ruby Lennox, whose narrative begins before her birth and spans over three generations of women in her family. Ruby's story is interwoven with "footnotes" that delve into the lives of her ancestors, revealing secrets, tragedies, and the complexity of their relationships. The book explores themes of motherhood, loss, and identity, while providing a humorous and poignant look at life in the 20th century England.

    The 4788th Greatest Book of All Time
  22. 22. The Flint Anchor by Sylvia Townsend Warner

    The novel is a historical family saga set in the 19th century, revolving around the Barnard family, whose patriarch, John Barnard, is a stern and pious man who rules his family with an iron fist. As the story unfolds, the narrative delves into the lives of the Barnard family members, exploring themes of duty, rebellion, and the quest for personal freedom. The characters grapple with the constraints of their social roles and the expectations placed upon them, leading to a rich tapestry of interpersonal dynamics and generational conflicts. The novel paints a vivid portrait of Victorian society, with its rigid moral codes and the undercurrents of change that challenge the status quo.

    The 4918th Greatest Book of All Time
  23. 23. A Drama In Muslin by George Moore

    "A Drama In Muslin" is a captivating novel that delves into the lives of a wealthy Irish family living in London during the late 19th century. The story revolves around the complex relationships and secrets that unfold within the family, particularly focusing on the struggles faced by the women. With its vivid descriptions and insightful exploration of societal norms and expectations, the book offers a compelling portrayal of the challenges and desires of individuals striving to find their own identity and happiness in a restrictive society.

    The 5460th Greatest Book of All Time
  24. 24. A Belfast Woman by Mary Beckett

    The book is a poignant collection of short stories that delve into the lives of women from Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the tumultuous times of the Troubles. Through a series of intimate narratives, the author explores the complex emotions, daily struggles, and the resilience of women as they navigate a society riven by political conflict. The stories offer a nuanced portrayal of the female experience, highlighting themes of family, love, loss, and the quest for personal identity against a backdrop of violence and social upheaval.

    The 6138th Greatest Book of All Time
  25. 25. H. M. Pulham, Esquire by John P. Marquand

    The novel is a reflective account of the life of Harry Pulham, a middle-aged, conventional Bostonian who is prompted to examine his past and the choices he has made during the process of writing a Harvard class reunion biography. As he delves into his memories, he confronts his youthful ambitions, his experiences in World War I, and his complex relationships, particularly with a vivacious woman who challenged the conservative values of his upbringing. Through this introspection, Harry grapples with the realization that he has conformed to societal expectations at the expense of his own happiness, leading to a poignant exploration of the conflict between individual desires and societal pressures in early 20th-century America.

    The 6195th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.