History meets contemporary storytelling — meets romance, mystery, and lots of drama.
May 19, 2023
Bookworms can’t get enough of Taylor Jenkins Reid. The historical fiction-romance-contemporary author (seriously, what genre can’t she nail?!) is a permanent fixture on the New York Times Bestsellers List. While TJR was already relevant well before BookTok blew up, HelloSunshine’s adaptation of Daisy Jones & The Six propelled her to ultra-author popularity.
Every novel she’s published since 2017, including The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Malibu Rising, and Carrie Soto is Back, has been optioned for TV or film, making TJR’s career the literal definition of when it rains, it pours (in the best way).
So, what makes a TJR novel that good? She knows how to pull at her readers’ heartstrings while keeping them on their toes. Her books have mystery, fiery romances, betrayal, loss, laughs, and complex relationships. Additionally, she’s found a way to write historical fiction storylines that aren’t dry or education-y.
Whether you want to get more into historical fiction or are looking to fill your time until TJR announces her next project, this list of similar authors will keep your library and imagination booked and busy.
'The Secret Book of Flora Lee' by Patti Callahan Henry
Like TJR, Patti Callahan Henry dabbles in both contemporary and historical fiction writing. But also like the Malibu Rising author, Henry writes in dual timelines, weaving together her characters' past and present lives in such enchanting and exquisite details — you'll feel like you know the protagonists and antagonists inside and out.
Currently, Henry has five historical fiction novels under her name. Her most recent, The Secret Book of Flora Lea, spans 20 years in London, from 1939 to 1959, and centers around a missing younger sister and a mysterious fairy tale. However, if you're a C.S. Lewis fan, you'll want to start with Once Upon a Wardrobe. It's a touching nod to the late author's early life and his most famous masterpiece, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.
'The Spectacular' by Fiona Davis
I could go on and on about how incredible of a historical fiction author Fiona Davis is. She has this insanely cool talent for writing stories that center around historic buildings and landmarks in New York City. It’s incredibly niche yet brilliantly written for the general reader to enjoy. Who doesn’t want to read about hidden rooms in the New York Public Library (The Lions of Fifth Avenue, my personal favorite of hers) or the notorious “Big Apple Bomber” and its ties to Radio City Music Hall (The Spectacular, due this June)? The vibe of Davis’ novels is very much that of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and often explored over dual timelines.
'Hayley Aldridge Is Still Here' by Elissa R. Sloan
If your favorite TJR novel is Daisy Jones & The Six, then run, do not walk, to pick up a copy of The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes. Much like TJR, Elissa R. Sloan’s novels heavily lean into the glitz and glamor of being a Hollywood “it” girl. But as we’ve seen play out in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones, with great fame comes even greater hardships. While Sloan’s debut novel centers around a girl group in the early 2000s, her sophomore title Hayley Aldridge Is Still Here is largely inspired by the #FreeBritney movement.
'Take My Hand' by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Dolen Perkins-Valdez is a fan favorite amongst Scary Mommy Book Club members. Her moving novel Take My Hand was a July 2022 Book Club pick, and more than a year after its release, our community still never misses an opportunity to praise Perkins-Valdez’s storytelling and its resonation in the aftermath of overturning Roe v. Wade. Set in 1970s Alabama, the book follows a young nurse named Civil Townsend eager to make a difference. Her journey — alternating between her first day and impending retirement — highlights the vast disparities in care between Black and white Americans in our healthcare system. Other Perkins-Valdez titles worth checking out include Blam and Wench.
'The Four Winds' by Kristin Hannah
A historical fiction writer who needs no introduction, Kristin Hannah has authored over 15 books. Some of her most famous titles include The Four Winds, The Great Alone, Nightingale, and Firefly Lane, the latter of which was adapted into a Netflix series. Hannah’s chronicles span a wide range of settings, eras, and POVs. If you enjoy the relationship intricacies between TJR’s characters, you’ll have a fun time piecing together the different ties among Hannah’s characters.
'The Mitford Affair' by Marie Benedict
If TJR was your introduction to historical fiction and you’re itching for more, take a peek at Marie Benedict’s catalog. She unearths important women in history, often forgotten or unrecognized during their time, and brings their hidden stories to life. She’s written about Albert Einstein’s wife and Lady Clementine. The Mystery of Mrs. Christie — as in the Agatha Christie — came out in 2018 and was an instant New York Times and USAToday bestseller. Benedict’s most recent titles, Her Hidden Genius and The Mitford Affair, have also struck a chord with fans and climbed the charts.