Novels Based on the Lives of Real Women

Read a fictional book based on the life of a real women.! All-Year Reading Challenge • 2024

February 16, 2024

Embark on a literary exploration celebrating the strength, resilience, and brilliance of remarkable women. Each novel weaves a fictional narrative around the life of a real woman who left an indelible mark on history. From physicists to politicians, noblewomen, businesswomen, authors, poets, suffragettes and rebels, these fictional tales breathe life into the untold stories of extraordinary women.

Use this booklist to fulfill a reading challenge prompt in our All-Year Reading Challenge!


Sisters In Arms by Kaia Alderson

Sisters In Arms
A Novel Of The Daring Black Women Who Served During World War II

Kaia Alderson

The first Black women allowed to serve in the army, Grace Steele and Eliza Jones, helping form the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, navigate their way through the segregated ranks, finally making it overseas where they do their parts for the country they love.

The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

The Other Einstein

Marie Benedict

A tale inspired by the extraordinary first wife of Albert Einstein follows the experiences of a solitary female physics student at an elite late-19th-century school in Zurich, where she falls in love with a charismatic fellow student who eclipses her contributions to his theory of relativity.

White Houses by Amy Bloom

White Houses

Amy Bloom

A New York Times best-selling author presents a novel inspired by the life of Lorena Hickok, and by her love affair and enduring friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd

The Indigo Girl

Natasha Boyd

This book is set between 1739 and 1744, with romance, intrigue, forbidden friendships, and political and financial threats weaving together to form the story of a remarkable young woman whose actions were before their time: the story of the indigo girl.

The Great Mrs. Elias by Barbara Chase-Riboud

The Great Mrs. Elias

Barbara Chase-Riboud

The author of the award-winning Sally Hemings now brings to life Hannah Elias, one of the richest black women in America in the early 1900s, in a novel swirling with atmosphere and steeped in history.

The Women's March by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Women’s March
A Novel Of The 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession

Jennifer Chiaverini

Inspired by actual events, this novel offers a fascinating account of a crucial but little-remembered moment in American history that follows three courageous women who bravely risked their lives and liberty in the fight to win the vote.

The Most Beautiful Girl In Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

The Most Beautiful Girl In Cuba

Chanel Cleeton

At the end of the 19th century, reporter Grace Harrington and a courier secretly working for Cuban revolutionaries in Havana free ‘The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba’ who has been unjustly imprisoned — a mission that forces them all to fight for their freedom as war looms on the horizon.

Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig

Miss Burma

Charmaine Craig

A prominent family navigates the traumas of war and political oppression in mid-20th-century Burma while trying to build a meaningful life in the face of forbidden love, colonialism and the Japanese Occupation.

Song Of A Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik

Song Of A Captive Bird

Jasmin Darznik

A first novel by the best-selling author of The Good Daughter reimagines the life of rebel poet Forugh Farrokzhad, who is depicted as a passionate young writer in search of freedom and independence from the restrictions imposed on women in mid-20th-century Iran.

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis

The Magnolia Palace

Fiona Davis

When mod English model Veronica Weber, while at the Frick museum, chances upon a series of hidden messages, she is led on a hunt that could not only solve her financial woes but could finally reveal the truth behind a decades-old murder in the infamous Frick family.

The Women Of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray

The Women Of Chateau Lafayette

Stephanie Dray

A multi-generational saga based on true events is set in an extraordinary castle in the heart of France, where a schoolteacher, a socialite and a noblewoman question their roles and identities in the face of three major wars.

Varina by Charles Frazier


Charles Frazier

Forced by limited prospects to marry much-older widower Jefferson Davis, teenaged Varina Howell finds her expectations as the wife of a Mississippi landowner upended by his appointment as the leader of the Confederacy, a situation that renders her and her children fugitives in a divided and increasingly hostile nation.

Diva by Daisy Goodwin


Daisy Goodwin

Describes the scandalous love affaire between the legendary opera singer, Maria Callas, and the fabulously rich Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, whose relationship ended suddenly with the shocking news that he was to marry Jacqueline Kennedy.

The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

The Christie Affair

Nina de Gramont

Brilliantly reimagining the unexpected 11-day disappearance of Agatha Christie that captivated the world, this novel is told from the point of Miss Nan O’Dea, who infiltrated the Christies’ wealthy, rarified world to destroy their marriage.

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge


Kaitlyn Greenidge

Coming of age as a free-born Black woman in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson struggles against her mother’s medical aspirations for her when she finds herself more drawn to a musical career that could compromise her autonomy.

By Her Own Design by Piper Huguley

By Her Own Design
A Novel Of Ann Lowe, Fashion Designer To The Social Register

Piper Huguley

The incredible untold story of how Ann Lowe, a Black woman and granddaughter of slaves, rose above personal struggles and racial prejudice to design and create one of America’s most famous wedding dresses of all time for Jackie Kennedy.

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie

My Dear Hamilton
A Novel Of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton

Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie

General’s daughter Elizabeth Schuyler, during the fight for independence, meets and marries Alexander Hamilton, but finds their union far from perfect as they deal with the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal. By the New York Times best-selling authors of America’s First Daughter.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls

Martha Hall Kelly

The lives of three women converge at the Ravensbruck concentration camp as one resolves to help from her post at the French consulate, one becomes a courier in the Polish resistance, and one takes a German government medical position.

Something Worth Doing by Jane Kirkpatrick

Something Worth Doing
A Novel Of An Early Suffragist

Jane Kirkpatrick

A historical tale based on true events follows the experiences of a mid-19th-century pioneer and mother of six who denies herself the joys of a simpler life to run a newspaper about women’s rights and lead suffrage efforts.

The Healing Of Natalie Curtis by Jane Kirkpatrick

The Healing Of Natalie Curtis

Jane Kirkpatrick

In 1902, classically trained pianist and singer Natalie Curtis journeys to the West where she finds the haunting melodies, rhythms and stories of Native Americans and makes it her mission to save these ancient songs which are being silenced by the government.

The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon

The Frozen River

Ariel Lawhon

In 1789 Maine, midwife and healer Martha Ballard, who is good at keeping secrets, investigates a shocking murder linked to an alleged rape that has shaken her small town, especially when her diary lands at the center of the scandal, threatening to tear both her family and her community apart.

Code Name H�l�ne by Ariel Lawhon

Code Name Helene

Ariel Lawhon

A novel based on the life of spy Nancy Wake follows a woman who kills a Nazi and becomes one of the most decorated women in World War II.

When The Men Were Gone by Marjorie Herrera Lewis

When The Men Were Gone

Marjorie Herrera Lewis

When most of the men in her community depart to serve in World War II, Tylene Wilson navigates opposition from the press, her neighbors, rivals, referees and players to become Texas’s first woman high school coach.

Betty by Tiffany McDaniel


Tiffany McDaniel

Born to a Cherokee father and white mother in the Appalachians of 1954, Betty endures poverty and violence in a wild natural refuge before she is forced to reckon with the historical influences that shaped dark family secrets.

Empress Orchid by Anchee Min

Empress Orchid

Anchee Min

A fictional portrait of the infamous last empress of China follows the life of Orchid, a beautiful teenager from an aristocratic but impoverished family, who is chosen to become a low-ranking concubine of the emperor and who uses her seductive talents and intelligence to rise to a position of power in the Chinese court.

The Paper Daughters Of Chinatown by Heather B Moore

The Paper Daughters Of Chinatown

Heather B Moore

Based on true events, follows the story of one of many young, Chinese women who traveled to 19th century San Francisco for an arranged marriage, but were sold into prostitution, and the pioneering advocate who helped them.

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray

The Personal Librarian

Marie Benedict, Victoria Christopher Murray

Hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library, Belle de Costa Greene becomes one of the most powerful women in New York despite the dangerous secret she keeps.

The Magnificent Lives Of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki

The Magnificent Lives Of Marjorie Post

Allison Pataki

The epic reimagining of the extraordinary life of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the American heiress who lived and loved on a grand scale, reveals the heartbreak she endured as a wife four times over in vastly different, dramatic marriages.

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Take My Hand

Dolen Perkins-Valdez

In 1973 Montgomery, Alabama, Civil Townsend, a young black nurse working for the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, grapples with her role when she takes two young girls into her heart and the unthinkable happens, and nothing will ever be the same for any of them.

The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

The Diamond Eye

Kate Quinn

Known as Lady Death—a lethal hunter of Nazis—Mila Pavlichenko, sent to America on a goodwill tour, forms an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and a connection with a silent fellow sniper, offering her a chance at happiness until her past returns with a vengeance.

The Book Woman Of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

The Book Woman Of Troublesome Creek

Kim Michele Richardson

During Kentucky’s Great Depression, Pack Horse Library Project member Cussy Mary Carter, a young outcast, delivers books to the hillfolk of Troublesome Creek, hoping to spread learning in these desperate times, but not everyone is keen on her or the Library Project.

Sister Mother Warrior by Vanessa Riley

Sister Mother Warrior

Vanessa Riley

Queen of diverse historicals Vanessa Riley brings readers a vivid, sweeping novel of the Haitian Revolution based on the true-life stories of two extraordinary women: the first Empress of Haiti, Marie-Claire Bonheur, and Gran Toya, a West African-born warrior who helped lead the rebellion that drove out the French and freed the enslaved people of Haiti

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld


Curtis Sittenfeld

A novel of what-might-have-been follows Hillary Rodham as she takes a different path, blazing her own trail— one that unfolds in public as well as in private— and one that crosses paths again and again with Bill Clinton.

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

Girl Waits With Gun

Amy Stewart

Living in virtual isolation years after the revelation of a painful family secret, Constance is terrorized by a belligerent silk factory owner and fights back in ways outside the confines of early-20th-century women.