The Greatest New Zealander "Historical fiction" 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 280 '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.

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  1. 1. Plumb by Maurice Gee

    In "Plumb" by Maurice Gee, readers are introduced to a small New Zealand town called Waimaru, where a tragic accident occurs, leaving a young boy dead. The aftermath of this event reveals the dark secrets and hidden tensions within the community, as the lives of various characters intertwine and unravel. With beautifully crafted prose and a keen exploration of human nature, Gee delves into themes of guilt, loss, and the complexities of human relationships, creating a gripping and thought-provoking narrative.

  2. 2. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

    Set during the New Zealand Gold Rush of the 19th century, this novel follows Walter Moody, a prospector who stumbles upon a secret meeting of twelve local men who are trying to solve a series of unsolved crimes. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the crimes, which include a rich man's disappearance, a prostitute's attempted suicide, and a huge fortune found in a drunkard's cottage, are all interconnected. The novel's complex narrative structure, which uses astrology to organize its characters and events, adds another layer of intrigue to the story.

  3. 3. Live Bodies by Maurice Gee

    In "Live Bodies" by Maurice Gee, a small town in New Zealand becomes the setting for a mysterious and unsettling series of events. As the townspeople grapple with their own secrets and desires, a young girl named Alice discovers a hidden power within herself. As tensions rise and the lines between reality and fantasy blur, Alice must confront the darkness that lurks beneath the surface of her seemingly idyllic community. With rich prose and a captivating plot, "Live Bodies" explores themes of identity, power, and the complexities of human nature.

  4. 4. The Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox

    "The Vintner's Luck" is a captivating novel that follows the life of a young vintner named Sobran, who forms an unlikely friendship with an angel named Xas. Set in 19th century France, the story explores themes of love, passion, and the pursuit of dreams as Sobran navigates the challenges of winemaking and the complexities of his relationships with both mortals and celestial beings. Through beautifully descriptive prose and rich character development, the book delves into the intricacies of the human spirit and the intertwining of the mundane and the divine.

  5. 5. The Book Of Fame by Lloyd Jones

    "The Book of Fame" by Lloyd Jones is a captivating novel that delves into the lives of the 1905 All Blacks, New Zealand's first national rugby team. Through a series of interconnected stories, the book explores themes of fame, identity, and the impact of sport on society. It offers a unique perspective on the players' journey to international recognition, their struggles, triumphs, and the lasting legacy they leave behind. With its lyrical prose and rich characterization, this book is a celebration of both rugby and the human spirit.

  6. 6. Tu by Patricia Grace

    "Tu" is a heartfelt novel that explores the life of a young Maori boy named Tu, who is raised by his grandparents in rural New Zealand. Set in the 1960s, the story follows Tu's journey as he navigates the challenges of growing up in a changing society, grappling with his identity, and finding his place within his community. Through vivid storytelling and rich cultural references, the novel delves into themes of family, tradition, and the enduring power of love and resilience.

  7. 7. Blindsight by Maurice Gee

    In a dystopian world where a mysterious disease has left people blind, a young boy named Theo possesses the ability to see. As he navigates through a society that fears and shuns him, Theo discovers a hidden underground community of others with sight. Together, they embark on a dangerous journey to uncover the truth behind the epidemic and restore hope to their shattered world. This captivating novel explores themes of resilience, acceptance, and the power of perception.

  8. 8. Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

    In a war-torn village on a remote island, a young girl named Matilda finds solace and escape in the pages of a book called "Great Expectations". Taught by a mysterious and charismatic teacher, Mr. Watts, Matilda becomes enthralled by the story and its protagonist, Pip. As the conflict escalates and the outside world encroaches upon their isolated community, the power of literature and the transformative impact of storytelling are revealed, leaving a lasting impression on Matilda and those around her.

  9. 9. As The Earth Turns Silver by Alison Wong

    Set in early 20th century New Zealand, "As The Earth Turns Silver" is a historical novel that explores the complex relationships between Chinese immigrants and the European settlers. The story follows the lives of two characters, a Chinese immigrant named Yung, who works as a valet for a wealthy white family, and Katherine, the wife of the family's lawyer. As their lives intertwine, they navigate the societal prejudices and expectations of the time, while also confronting their own desires and secrets. Through their forbidden love affair, Wong delves into themes of identity, racism, and the struggle for acceptance in a changing world.

  10. 10. The Hut Builder by Laurence Fearnley

    "The Hut Builder" is a captivating novel that follows the journey of a middle-aged man named Boden Blackwood, who retreats to the remote wilderness of New Zealand to build his dream hut. As he immerses himself in the challenging task of constructing the hut, Boden's solitude is interrupted by unexpected encounters with the locals, each bringing their own stories and struggles. Through these interactions, Boden discovers the profound impact that human connections can have on one's sense of purpose and belonging. With beautiful prose and a deep exploration of solitude and community, this novel takes readers on a reflective and moving journey of self-discovery.

  11. 11. Rangatira by Paula Morris

    "Rangatira" is a historical fiction novel set in 19th century New Zealand. The story follows the journey of a young Maori chief, who, after being chosen as a rangatira (leader) of his tribe, embarks on a voyage to England. Through his experiences in the unfamiliar Western world, the protagonist grapples with cultural clashes, identity, and the complexities of colonialism. The narrative seamlessly weaves together Maori mythology, European history, and personal reflections, offering a thought-provoking exploration of indigenous perspectives in a changing world.

  12. 12. The Big Music by Kirsty Gunn

    "The Big Music" is a profound and lyrical novel that explores the life of a Scottish bagpiper and his obsession with composing a piece of music that captures the essence of his family's history and the rugged landscape of the Highlands. Through a series of interwoven narratives, the book delves into themes of love, loss, and the power of music to transcend time and connect generations. With its rich prose and evocative descriptions, the novel immerses readers in a mesmerizing tale of creativity, heritage, and the enduring power of the human spirit.

  13. 13. The Wish Child by Catherine Chidgey

    "The Wish Child" is a powerful and haunting novel that explores the lives of two children, Sieglinde and Erich, growing up in Nazi Germany. Set against the backdrop of World War II, the story delves into the complexities of their friendship and the impact of the Nazi regime on their lives. Through vivid and evocative prose, the author skillfully captures the innocence and resilience of children in a time of darkness and uncertainty, while also shedding light on the moral dilemmas faced by ordinary individuals during a tumultuous period in history.

  14. 14. This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman

    Set in 1950s New Zealand, "This Mortal Boy" tells the gripping true story of Albert "Paddy" Black, a young Irish immigrant who finds himself caught up in a tragic turn of events. When Paddy is accused of murder, his fate rests in the hands of the justice system and the public's perception of him as an outsider. As the trial unfolds, the novel explores themes of prejudice, class division, and the power of love and hope in the face of adversity.

  15. 15. The Axeman's Carnival by Catherine Chidgey

    "The Axeman's Carnival" is a gripping historical novel set in 1918 New Orleans, during the height of the Spanish flu pandemic. As the city grapples with fear and uncertainty, a serial killer known as the Axeman terrorizes its inhabitants. The story follows three main characters—a jazz musician, a young girl, and a detective—as their lives intertwine amidst the chaos. With vivid descriptions and a suspenseful narrative, the book explores themes of resilience, identity, and the power of music in the face of darkness.

Reading Statistics

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

Download

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.

Download