Historical reads perfect for Prime members

Vannessa Cronin on January 31, 2020
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Prime Reading offers thousands of books and magazines that are free to download for Prime members. But if you’re anything like me, a cornucopia of book offerings can first inspire delight and then deliver paralysis.

We’re here to help. These stories, rich in historical detail, emotionally resonant, are the kind of titles you recommend to your mom, your best friend, and your book club. And the best part is, as soon as you’re done with one, you can download the next great book on the list.

The selection of books and magazines changes regularly, so don’t miss these page-turners before they leave Prime Reading.


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The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

Richness in period detail, family drama, and court intrigue make The Accidental Empress an absorbing read as well as a look at a shocking love match that changed the course of history. It’s 1853, and the Habsburgs rule a vast empire that stretches from Austria to Russia and from Germany to Italy. Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth, “Sisi,” Duchess of Bavaria, travels to the Habsburg Court with her older sister, who is betrothed to the young Emperor Franz Joseph, where she find herself falling for her sister’s intended. And her love is returned. But the new Queen’s subjects, particularly those in court, and even in her own family, will not easily be won over.


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The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

Perfectly balancing historical and emotional detail, The Boston Girl is about a young Jewish woman growing up in a multicultural Boston neighborhood at the turn of the last century. With everything from a college education to a career suddenly open to young women, it’s a brave new world for all women, but especially for one whose parents still have a foot in the old world. At 85, Addie looks back on her young womanhood with humor and affection, offering a loving and inspirational look at immigrant life and love in the early twentieth century.


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The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Nearly two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. Just two women and five children survived. The Dovekeepers uses that historical event as the backdrop to an intriguing story of four strong, resilient women, from very different backgrounds, who find themselves in Masada, confronting a harrowing future. United by sacrifice, duty, and secrets that must be kept, these woman and the complex relationships they forge with one another in the heat of the battle to survive will stay with readers long after the conclusion.


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East of the Sun by Julia Gregson

It’s Fall 1928 and the ship Kaisar-I-Hind is about to set off from England for Bombay, with a cargo of young women, known as the “Fishing Fleet,” all bound for India in search of husbands. East of the Sun earns its stripes as a saga, following three women as they heedlessly plunge into an unfamiliar and sometimes frightening world, in pursuit of love, position in society, excitement, or simply security. Along the way, the friendships formed aboard the ship will help them find their place in this new, exotic world. Romantic, sweeping, eye-opening, and uplifting, this is a novel you will find yourself recommending to others.


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The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

After four harrowing years at war on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as lighthouse keeper on an isolated island, Janus Rock. With him, he brings his young wife Isabel. Their years on the rock are happy except for their inability to have children. When a boat washes up on the island, carrying a dead man and his living infant daughter, their response will save their lives in the short term but almost destroy them. Thoughtful and quiet, this novel, adapted as a movie starring Michael Fassbender, is a novel that raises important questions about love and responsibility.


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The Lost Queen by Signe Pike

Described as “Outlander meets CamelotThe Lost Queen is the first book of a thrilling historical trilogy that reveals the untold story of Languoreth, twin sister of the man who inspired the legendary character of Merlin. And if you don’t recognize her name, it’s because, despite her power and influence, this queen of medieval Scotland has been—until now—forgotten and lost to history. Thrown together by war, Languoreth and handsome warrior Maelgwn fall for one another. But Languoreth is promised in marriage to Rhydderch, son of a High King who is sympathetic to the followers of Christianity, and is duty-bound to fight for the preservation of her kingdom.


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To Die For by Sandra Byrd

When Anne Boleyn secures a place in the court of Henry VIII, she brings her best friend Meg Wyatt along with her. But as Anne’s star rises and falls, so too does Meg’s. And in the Tudor court, falls from favor spell deadly danger. But a childhood love of Meg’s, thwarted by the young man’s devotion to his faith, is rekindled amid the turmoil of the English reformation. Byrd breathes such life into these historical characters that readers will be transfixed by their heartrending journeys as they find out what love truly means and what is worth fighting for—and even dying for.


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