Do you love to read Word War II Novels as much as I do? If so, take a look at the best World War II novels of the last decade.
One of my favorite ways genres to read is historical fiction. I love being immersed in a different time period and leaving my present-day cares behind.
Of all the historical periods, I would have to say that World War II novels are my favorite ones to read. In the last decade, some great World War II novels have been published, and I knew I couldn’t let the decade end without reflecting back on the best of the best.
I’ve always been fascinated by World War II novels. As a little girl, I used to watch old war movies with my dad. Kelly’s Heroes, Patton, and Where Eagles Dare were my favorites. World War II is such a fascinating period to read about. The acts of bravery and the depths of horror that took place just boggle the mind.
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction books about World War II. Hopefully, I’ll have some great ones to recommend to you soon. But for now, here are my favorite World War II novels of the last decade.
Did I miss any of your favorite recent World War II novels? Find out what WWII historical fiction our readers have recommended to us.
The Best World War II Novels
Code Name Hélène
At the top of my list of books about true stories is Ariel Lawhon’s amazing World War II novel. Nancy Wake, a New Zealander living in Paris, becomes a spy for the British and rises to one of the top leaders of the French Resistance and one of the most decorated women of the war. The story is split into two narratives – the first starting with Nancy parachuting into France in 1944 and the second telling of her courtship with her husband, Henri Fiocca, before the war. You’ll fall in love with Henri and cheer on Nancy as she transforms into a fierce fighter and respected commander. As the earlier timeline catches up with the later one, you’ll feel all the emotions of a woman caught up in a terrible war.
All the Light We Cannot See
This one is my favorite World War II novels on this whole list. I’m not at all surprised it won a Pulitzer Prize; the writing is absolutely fabulous. Anthony Doerr masterfully interweaves the stories of Marie-Laurie, a blind French girl who flees from Paris to the coastal city of Saint-Malo with her uncle, and Werner, a German radio operator charged with rooting out the French resistance. While the plot is interesting in and of itself, the character development and storytelling will keep you glued to the page.
Coming in at a close second, Kristin Hannah’s novel is one that would make pretty much anyone fall in love with historical fiction. Set in a small village in occupied France, the story centers around two sisters. Forced to house a German officer in her home, the older sister Vianne Mauriac must decide, to protect her daughter, where exactly she should draw the line of being complicit with German demands. On the other hand, her younger sister Isabelle Rossignol feels committed to doing anything she can to resist the German occupation.
The Diamond Eye
Based on the true story of Mila Pavlichenko, a librarian turned sniper known as Lady Death, who became a national hero during World War II. When Hitler invades Russia, Mila must abandon her books to fight in the war, becoming an expert sniper. After her 300th kill, Mila is sent on a diplomatic mission to Washington, DC, where the shadow of an old enemy looms.
World War II Novels Perfect for Book Clubs
Beneath a Scarlet Sky
Mark T. Sullivan
Of all the WWII historical fiction often recommended to me, this is the one that everyone seems to be raving about. Pino Lella wants nothing to do with World War II. He just wants to be a normal Italian teenager. Yet the war inevitably comes for him, placing him in the perfect position to spy for the Allies inside German High Command. This book is currently under development to be turned into a movie. Be sure to read it before it does.
The Alice Network
In 1915, Eve Gardiner is overjoyed to join the Alice Network of the French Resistance during WWI, only to see it betrayed. Then, in 1947, Eve agrees to help Charlie St. Clair, an American socialite desperate to find her cousin, Rose. Rose disappeared in France during the Second World War, and Eve sees the shadows of her past in this new case. Combing both the major world wars, The Alice Network is quite a find for historical fiction readers.
The Whalebone Theatre
When a whale washes up on an English beach in 1928, twelve-year-old orphan Cristabel Seagrave and her household build a theater from the whale’s ribcage. In the Whalebone theatre, Cristabel is able to escape the stress of her stepparents and their expectations. Using their acting schools, Cristabel and her brother become British secret agents during WWII, a task that threatens to tear their family apart.
Send For Me
Growing up in Feldenheim, Germany, Annelise has always discounted the growing anti-Semitic sentiments for her family is hardly religious. While working at her parent’s popular bakery, Annelise falls in love, marries, and has a daughter. As things go downhill fast, Annelise must decide whether to take the opportunity to flee to America with her husband and daughter, even if it means leaving her parents behind. Meanwhile, in present-day Wisconsin, Annelise’s granddaughter discovers a stack of Annelise’s old letters which force her to make a decision about her future.
Popular World War II Novels
We Were the Lucky Ones
One of the best World War 2 novels released in 2017, We Were the Lucky Ones is based on the epic true story of the Kurc family. Separated during the war, they are determined to not only survive the atrocities but reunite together and be a family again. To make the story even more compelling – it’s a tale of the author’s own ancestors. If you love WWII historical fiction based on true stories, this is the one for you.
The Book of Lost Names
As a graduate student in 1942, Eva fled Paris after her father, a Polish Jew, was arrested. Settling in a mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identities for Jewish children with the help of a Catholic priest and a handsome forger named Rémy. Falling in love with Rémy, she finds a way to record the children’s real names, and decades later, must come to terms with the betrayal of her resistance cell.
Martha Hall Kelly
Part of the fun of starting a blog has been connecting with other bloggers. One thing I love about Twitter is how easy it is to get book recommendations. Martha Hall Kelly’s debut novel follows three different women: Caroline, an American socialite working at the consulate in France; Kasia, a Polish teenager; and Herta, a German doctor. I’m particularly intrigued since Carolina and Kasia are both based on real people.
Jodi Picoult is not really my favorite author, though she also made my list of books that will make you cry. While not as great as My Sister’s Keeper, this book won its place on my list for its thought-provoking ending. Set in the modern day, Sage Singer, a baker, meets Josef Weber, an old German gentleman, in her grief support group. As she learns his history and his connection to her Jewish grandmother, she has to figure out the line between punishment and forgiveness. While the storytelling is interesting if not entirely believable, the moral questions raised are what sets this book apart.
Must Read World War II Novels
The Tattooist of Auschwitz
I can’t help but notice new WWII historical fiction, and this one, in particular, has been getting great reviews. In April 1942, Slovakian Jew Lale Sokolov is imprisoned in Auschwitz. Instead of being forced into manual labor, he is given the task of tattooing the numbers onto his fellow prisoners. Not only is this haunting tale based on a true story, but Heather Morris actually interviewed Lale Sokolov for the book. If you love reading about World War II like, be sure to check out this stunning novel and its equally well-written sequel, Cilka’s Journey.
Salt to the Sea
I always enjoy a new perspective in World War II novels, and Ruta Sepetys delivered with this young adult book. The story follows a group of Prussian refugees fleeing from the advance of Stalin’s Red Army. I like it when a historical fiction novel teaches me about history through its natural storytelling. To be honest, the writing is probably the weakest of the World War II novels on my list. I debated whether I should add it, but its fascinating setting won me over. I learned quite a bit about Prussia and about the Wilhelm Gustloff, which are both terribly interesting. So for a fun, informative read, this is a good choice.
The Good Left Undone
When Italy becomes unsafe at the start of World War II, Domenica Cabrelli leaves her small village, traveling to Marseilles, Scotland, and finally Liverpool where Italians are imprisoned without cause. Along the way, Domenica experiences love, loss and grief. A hundred years later, Domenica’s daughter is ready to tell her mother’s story, hoping to inspire her own daughter to understand what’s worth fighting for in this multigenerational epic tale.
The Paris Library
Janet Skeslien Charles
Life is good for Odile Souchet, a young woman with a handsome beau working at the American Library in Paris. When the Germans invade Paris, Odile and her fellow librarians join the Resistance to fight the Nazis with what they have – books. Based on a true story, The Paris Library is the perfect new release for any historical fiction book lover’s reading list.
What World War II Novels Are Your Favorites?
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my list of World War II Novels? What recent WWII historical fiction would you add to the list? As always, let me know in the comments!
More WWII Historical Fiction Reading Lists:
Rhonda Johnson says
All my favorites as well, although I could not get into Code Name Verity! I might have to go back and give it another try, it has such high ratings!
I absolutley adored Code Name Verity, but sometimes a book just isn’t for you. Maybe you’ll like it better on the second go, but if not, then shrug it off as one of those times where you agree to disagree!
Tammie Clifford says
I actually read a book by Danielle steel called Wanderlust which she wrote in the ’80s and it speaks of World war II in it. It brings up that Northern Africa was involved, also London was bombed, also a lot of other countries were involved. I didn’t know Africa was targeted by the Germans. And then also it brought up the bombing by the Japanese in Hawaii in 1942. I didn’t know all these places were connected and had to do with World war II. So I’m looking for a book that explains who all was involved and kind of why, and and are those places all free and clear of the Germans now? Is there a book that explains all of that?