Her Side of the Story: Historical Fiction Featuring Real Women

Women's History Month is this month, a time dedicated to honoring and highlighting the contributions and achievements of women throughout history. This Women's History Month, I want to take a closer look at a handful of remarkable women who have left their mark in history and the equally remarkable historical fiction based on their achievements that's out there for us to enjoy. 

A Bit of Background

Women's History Month is an annual observance held in March to honor and celebrate the contributions and achievements of women throughout history. It serves as a time to recognize the vital roles that women have played in shaping society, culture, politics, and countless other fields, even when their efforts remained unknown in their own time.

The month-long celebration provides an excellent opportunity to highlight the often overlooked or marginalized contributions of women from all walks of life and to inspire future generations of women and girls to pursue their aspirations, regardless of what the world may think.

There are some truly remarkable women whose stories have gone untold...until recent years. If you're Jonesing for a good book based on real women to read this month, check out this list of 15 novels that share Her Side of the Story: Historical Fiction Featuring Real Women.


Reading historical fiction based on real women is both inspiring and educational, as well as downright engaging. If you're eager to read history from a different perspective, here are fifteen great places to begin. 

1. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - Inspired by the story of Andrée de Jongh, a member of the Belgian Resistance during World War II.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - Narrated by Death, this novel follows Liesel Meminger, a young German girl living during World War II.

3. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - Explores the life of Hadley Richardson, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway.

4. The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin - Tells the story of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of aviator Charles Lindbergh.

5. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd - Inspired by the life of Sarah Grimké, an abolitionist and women's rights activist.

6. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain - Based on the life of Beryl Markham, a pioneering aviator and horse trainer in 1920s colonial Kenya.

7. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant - Reimagines the story of Dinah, a minor character in the Bible, as a central figure in her own right.

8. The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan - Non-fiction narrative that follows the lives of women who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II that reads like fiction.

9. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert - Inspired by the real-life botanist and explorer Alma de Groot as she grapples with scientific discovery, love, and the search for meaning in her life.

10. The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict - Fictionalized account of Mileva Marić, the first wife of Albert Einstein, and her contributions to his scientific work.

11. The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory - A fictionalized account of the real lives of the three Grey sisters (one of whom was briefly the Queen of England), offering insights into the experiences, ambitions, and turbulent political climate of Tudor England, highlighting the role of women in shaping the course of history during the period.

12. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova - Explores the lives of several women, including a fictionalized version of French Impressionist painter Berthe Morisot.

13. Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict - The life of Clementine Churchill, the wife of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, with insights into her influential role during World War II, her contributions to her husband's political career, and her personal struggles and triumphs. 

14. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler - Explores the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and her struggles with mental illness and identity.

15. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn - The story of two women, one a female spy in World War I and the other a socialite searching for her cousin in post-World War II Europe, both based on real historical figures.

Share Your Favorites

I shared a few novels that offer fictionalized accounts of real women's lives, shedding light on their experiences, challenges, and contributions to history.

Now it's your turn.

Which titles would you add to the list? Share your favorites in the comments.

1 comment

  • A couple years ago I read “A Girl Called Samson” by Amy Harmon. It’s about a female soldier during the American Revolution. Real women, real events. Fictionalized relationships. Really enjoyed this one!

    A long time favorite of mine that I read when I was about 12 after my mom introduced me to it when she read it as a little girl: Mrs. Mike: The Story of Katherine Mary Flannigan, by Benedict and Nancy Freedman. It was sort of advertised as a biography but received criticism for its sensationalized events. Still one of my favorites. Boston girl meets Canadian Mountie and they adventure into the life together in the Canadian wilderness. A bit of little house, a little outlander vibe (after the new world). I did a book report on this in the 8th grade and my teacher had also read this when she was a younger and also loved it! I remember she grabbed my shoulder and said “Mildred, his eyes were so blue you could swim in them…” when I turn in my report. Ha ha.

    Kristen Wischmann

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