Reader, I can’t get enough of the Victorian era.
Before bidding farewell to #Victober, I wanted to talk about some of my favorite books set (i.e. not written) during this fascinating period of history. I love Victorian novels, but I also love contemporary works with Victorian settings.
So without further ado, here are 15 Books Set in the Victorian Era:
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
I loved being swept up in Michel Faber’s richly detailed and slowly unfurling story. His prose is so vivid and sensuous that I felt like I could see, hear, and smell various aspects of nineteenth-century London. The Crimson Petal and the White is beautiful and grotesque, hopeful and enraging, and dark as well as luminous.
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
I recently finished this stunning novel and was so sad to turn the last page. Sarah Perry has crafted a spell-binding story with complex characters and vivid descriptions of Victorian life. The Essex Serpent shines a light on the changing and tumultuous nature of this period in history.
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
To Say Nothing of the Dog is such a fun take on the Victorian era. This time-travel novel is engaging, entertaining, and well-written. Willis brilliantly weaves historical details, lovable characters, and comedy of errors to create an immersive and unforgettable reading experience.
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
If I had to choose a favorite book, Jane Eyre would be it. So of course I had to read Lyndsay Faye’s homage Jane Steele, but I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. Faye cleverly references Charlotte Bronte’s novel while introducing her own unique twists and vibrant characters. I couldn’t help but love and root for her Jane-even if she is a murderess.
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
One of my most recent reads with a Victorian setting, The Silent Companions was perfectly spooky and atmospheric. It’s a creepy and gothic tale with an ending that I’m still thinking about. The only thing better than a haunted country house story, is a Victorian era haunted country house story.
Gillespie and I by Jane Harris
Set in Glasgow during the International Exhibition, this is a novel full of art, innovation, atmosphere, and mystery. Harris vividly brings to life the Victorian era in all its details. Hers is a bright and shiny world with something sinister lurking just beneath the surface. And I, for one, couldn’t get enough.
And Only to Deceive (Lady Emily #1) by Tasha Alexander
This is the first book in the entertaining Lady Emily mystery series. Lady Emily is a young Victorian widow who becomes swept up in a mystery involving stolen antiquities. Tasha Alexander includes great historical details, dynamic characters, a bit of romance, and enough suspense to keep the pages turning.
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
Set in nineteenth-century Ireland, The Wonder explores the mysterious phenomenon of a young girl who seems to have been surviving without any food for months. It’s a powerful psychological novel that highlights the clash of science and superstition, as well as reason and religion during the Victorian era.
This House is Haunted by John Boyne
I love a good Victorian ghost story, and John Boyne’s This House is Haunted ticks all the boxes. There’s a grand estate, a governess, two creepy children, and plenty of foggy weather. It’s a perfect blend of Jane Eyre and The Turn of the Screw with references to Dickens thrown in for good measure.
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
As is the case with all of Morton’s novels, The Forgotten Garden features dual timelines-one of which is set in the Victorian period. I thoroughly enjoyed escaping into nineteenth-century Cornwall with its hidden gardens and buried secrets.
On My TBR:
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
There are several Sarah Waters novels that could’ve made this list, but I’m most looking forward to reading Fingersmith. This rich and evocative novel is apparently full of many unforgettable twists and turns. I’m so excited to experience Sarah Waters’ take on the Victorian era.
Possession by A. S. Byatt
I can’t believe I still haven’t read Possession. It’s an academic, dual timeline novel with a literary mystery and sweeping romance. I think I’m going to love this one and am glad to have a copy waiting on my shelf.
The Observations by Jane Harris
I really loved all the Victorian era details Harris included in Gillespie and I, and am excited to read another of her novels set in this time period. The Observations sounds like a dark and mysterious story of a female Victorian servant’s experiences.
The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt
Another A. S. Byatt novel set partly in the Victorian era, The Children’s Book is an epic saga that centers around a famous children’s book author. This seems like a breathtaking drama with a large cast of characters that I can’t wait to get lost in.
Bodies of Light (and Signs For Lost Children) by Sarah Moss
I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about Sarah Moss’s writing. This novel explores motherhood, medicine, Pre-Raphaelite painting, and women’s suffrage. I just need to read Night Waking-the first book in this loosely connected trilogy-before diving into Bodies of Light.
Do you have a favorite book set in the Victorian era?
Painting: Tissot, James. Holyday. 1876. Oil on canvas. Tate Britain, London, UK.