Historical Fiction Books I Read in October

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Did you read any good books in October? I’ve got four fun historical fiction books to share this month, all of which will expand your horizons. And your kids’.


I guess you can tell it’s the school year based on which books I’ve actually read! As a homeschool mom, the months of September through May are very crazy for me. I love summer break because that’s when I get to read for myself.

That said, family read alouds have always been a highlight of my homeschool days. I think my kids would agree. Even though my high schoolers are long past the stage where they need me to read to them, I will catch glimpses of them lingering in the hallway as I read to my littles.

While my “littles” are all old enough to read to themselves, I’ve realized that it enhances our history study when I read to them. It also helps me have that connection with the kids since the days are full and my students are many.

Historical Fiction Books I Read in October

Here’s how I was booking it in October — with my kids.


Queen Eleanor: Independent Spirit of the Medieval World

by Polly Schoyer Brooks

Queen Eleanor: Independent Spirit of the Medieval World is a biography about Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her lands included Poitiers and Bordeaux, the two cities I lived in during my college year in France. My French was so poor at the time, however, I had no real comprehension of who she was or what she accomplished.

While FishBoy12 has marked her down as a horrible wife and mother — with which I really can’t disagree — she was also a pretty accomplished woman in terms of the rights she effected for herself in a time when women were considered property. Her story of having been married to the kings of both France and England is really interesting.

All of us really enjoyed this book; and yes, the big boys listened from the wings. 😉


Sword Song

by Rosemary Sutcliff

Sword Song tells the story of a young Viking man/teen who is banished from his settlement for five years for having killed a priest. While his chief was not a Christian, he had great respect for the “White Christ” and his followers.

Bjarni “sells his sword” to whatever Vikings will take him, and so we see his journey from boyhood to manhood, as well as his transformation from Viking pagan to “almost Christian”. It’s a beautiful story, and I confess to reading ahead.


Son of Charlemagne

by Barbara Willard

Again, I’m filling in the gaps of my own college education by teaching my kids at home. Son of Charlemagne tells the fascinating story of Charlemagne and how he orchestrated his family and power to build the greatest empire since Ancient Rome.

This story had me consulting wikipedia for the extra details. Willard sanitizes some of the notorious aspects of Charlemagne’s history, but it’s a great tale, nonetheless. Her version is plausible, and yet definitely “cleaner” than what might have really happened.

Don’t you want to learn about Charlemagne now?

nine tailors

The Nine Tailors

by Dorothy Sayers

The Nine Tailors isn’t exactly “historical fiction” but it does incorporate true aspects of church history in its very detailed account of bell ringing. It is a thing. And it is complex. And it helps Lord Peter solve a murder.

I read this book with my high schoolers in October. I love Lord Peter, but this definitely wouldn’t be my favorite of the series, good though it may be. Lord Peter is one of my very favorite British characters, though. You can read the 2013 Booking It review of Nine Tailors here.

So, that’s it. Only 4 books for the month of October, but for the most part they were all good and I got to share the experience with my kids.

What have you read lately?

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  1. Thanks for some suggestions for more medieval reading. A couple of books you might be interested in about the same time period are books by Sharon Kay Penman. Our favorite is When Christ and His Saints Slept. Have you watched “A Lion in Winter””? It is about Henry and Eleanor and stars Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn. Oh what a family those Plantagenets were!

    1. My husband and I both enjoy Penman’s books. I would not recommend them for kids, however, Plantagenet sexual mores being what they were. We love A Lion in Winter as well. (Hubs majored in history back in the day, and I was an English major, so we’re both history/literature fans.)

      We also enjoyed the works of Rosemary Sutcliff and Barbara Willard when we were homeschooling. Geraldine McCaughrean is another good author for YA lit.

      If you’re interested in more information about Charlemagne, you might try Two Lives of Charlemagne by Einhard and Notker the Stammerer (translated by Lewis Thorpe and published by Penguin). Hubs and I had to read it in our medieval history class 30+ years ago, and I see that it’s still available through Amazon.

    2. I saw that there was a movie, but wasn’t sure how much was changed. Seems like that era of Hollywood always rewrote the story. Thanks for the book rec.

  2. I’m not quite ready for October to be over! I like to read historical fiction, but I haven’t been doing as much of that. I’m in the process of reading “The Kitchen House,” but I have to read bits and then take a break. The themes are heavy.

    I did get some reading done in October, more along the lines of cozy mysteries (like “Die Like an Eagle” and “Killing Thyme”) and some novels (“Rich and Pretty,” “The Stuff that Never Happened,” “Truly, Madly Guilty,” and “The Rumor”).

  3. We spent too much of October sick – all four of us at various points. It felt like any routine we had established went right out the window. We did a few shorter read alouds though – my kids are 5.5 and nearly three. I’m still working my way through the third book in the Outlander series. Slow going but fabulous!! I did just complete a large book order though with some classic read alouds that I loved as a child: the Little House series, a Roald Dahl collection, an EB White collection, and the Ralph S Mouse books by Cleary along with a smattering of picture books. My sister is 38 weeks with her first so I am looking forward to passing many of our ‘baby’ books along to cousin C. That will free up some real estate in the book cases! With the cooler darker weather I’m optimistic that we have some good reading days ahead.

  4. We’re studying the Middle Ages also and Son of Charlemagne is on the list but I haven’t heard of the other two. Will have to check those out.