Little Library: Best Historical Fiction Books About 1940’s Europe

“It was a long time ago now. And it was yesterday.” – Life After Life, Kate Atkinson

Best Historical Fiction Books About 1940s Europe

Many a book has been written about the World War II era of Europe. The time period has so many inherently interesting story angles. What was it like to be a German or occupied citizen during war? What were the repercussions of the Axis Alliance and its eventual demise? Did Resistance fighters understand all the perils they faced?  With so many titles to choose from, we decided to round-up the best historical fiction books about 1940’s Europe.

Best Historical Fiction Books About 1940s Europe

The Best Historical Fiction Books about 1940’s Europe:


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

This is a wonderful book narrated from the point on view of death.  He tells the story of Leisel, a foster child, with a Jewish man living in her basement. She shares her books and the story gives life to the period. This is a moving and wonderful book.  A must read.



All the light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr-

The story of a girl blinded at the age of 6 who lives with her father and a young German boy with a love of Radios.  When their stories converge it becomes a story that you will not soon forget. This book is both unforgettable and touching.



The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This  is the story of two sisters who live in France. It details how they survive the Second World War under Nazi Occupation. 




Princess Elizabeth’s Spy: The Maggie Hope Series by Susan Elia MacNeal  –

The second book in the Maggie Hope series (the first takes place in WWII Europe as well) this book is great as it explores the impact of the war on the British royal family.




City of Thieves by David Benioff 

is the story of two unlikely allies on a hunt to find eggs for the wedding cake of a powerful Soviet Colonel during the Nazi occupation.




The Guersney Literary Potato Peel Society by Annie Barrows

This novel is told as a series of letters back and forth from Juliet to the members of a society born out of necessity during the Nazi occupation.  This is a funny and heart-warming tale.




Once We were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson

This powerful novel tells the story of a well-known Jewish Philanthropist accused of being a nazi war criminal.  Solomon, the accuser, convinces Catherine to be his lawyer and represent him in the case.  The novel moves back and forth from past to present as Solomon recounts his story.



Life After Life by Kate Atkinson –

 A fascinating read about a little girl who dies and comes back to live the same life again and again.  Changing her actions in minor ways shifts the story outcome completely.




Distant Hours by Kate Morton 

A gothic novel about a woman who returns to the castle to question the inhabitants her mother stayed with as a child ward during WWII, in a quest to discover the mysteries of her mother’s past.



A Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian – T

aking place in the Italian countryside, in both 1943 and 1955, this mystery covers the Nazi/Italy Axis Alliance.  A murder from the war is coming back to kill the remaining members of an Italian family one by one.


There are so many more that we actually have on our TBR lists. Atonement, The Invisible Bridge and The Zookeeper’s Wife (updated with review) are at the top. We will be reviewing the book and movie adaptation of the latter later this month. Kirsten is currently reading Lilac Girls, so look for that review in March’s Novel Ideas.

Did we chose the best historical fiction books about 1940’s Europe? What are we missing?

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