Niche Genre Recs: Sapphic Historical Fiction

This is a post I have been meaning to write for a long time. I have had the idea for it almost as long as I have had this blog, I have just never gotten around to actually writing it. However, now that I am doing themed posts for women’s history month, it was the perfect push to get me to write this. Albeit, this is a looser interpretation since these are all historical fiction.

Personally, this is a niche book type that I really enjoy, and something I have been seeking out for a while now. Below, I have shared books I enjoyed, as well as a few bonus books on my tbr. You can find all the books mentioned in this post on my list on

The War Outside by Monica Hesse

The War Outside was one of the first sapphic historical fiction books I ever read. Haruko is Japanese-American. Margot is German-American. Because of their ancestral backgrounds, they and their families are forced into internment camps at the height of World War II. They have both had their worlds turned upside down, and are living as best they can when an undue burden has been placed on them. Most of the sapphic-ness is relegated to the undertones, but that is because it is largely a book about two young women discovering themselves and their place in the world in a variety of different ways.

The Boy in the Red Dress by Kristin Lambert

The Boy in the Red Dress is a swinging 1920s mystery features a bisexual protagonist with a whole lot of shenanigans. Millie’s aunt runs a New Orleans speakeasy that is Millie’s home; but when a socialite turns up dead at the speakeasy and Millie’s friend Marion is accused of murdering them, Millie is determined to clear his name. The main focus of the story is the mystery, but Millie is a great disaster bisexual protagonist with her own love triangle, and there is a large cast of queer side characters.

The Secrets we Kept by Lara Prescott

The Secrets We Kept is a book where as I was reading it, I thought, “this would be better if it was gay” – and then it was! This is the first adult book on the list, and it is definitely more complicated as it has multiple different plots that thread together. I actually thought there were a few too many points of view, but it generally focuses on three different women. The general description is they are working to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR, but it really focuses on how all of these women deal with the many challenges life has thrown their way.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Last Night at the Telegraph Club literally won the national book award, so I am not sure what else I can say that would convince you to read it. Lily has grown up in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and has her life neatly planned. But when she discovers a lesbian bar called the telegraph club and meets Kath, whom Lily can’t help but feel a connection to. But between her father under threat of deportation for being a suspected communist and sneaking out to the telegraph club every night, her life is becoming more precarious and she has to make some incredibly serious decisions. It is a beautiful book that explores coming of age and the intersection of identity.

The Killing Code by Ellie Marney

I already wrote an entire review of The Killing Code, which I certainly recommend you read if you are interested in the book. This is another young adult mystery novel, this time set during World War II. Kit is a codebreaker at Arlington hall, but when government girls start being murdered, Kit and her friends have to investigate. This is a fun read, and I really appreciated especially how the friendships and relationships were written.

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

The Confessions of Frannie Langton is the most serious book I have included on this list by far. Enslaved since birth, Frannie has experienced a multitude of horrors, and has been accused of killing her master and mistress. Set to die, Frannie has confessions to make about the terrible things she was forced to do, the truth about her former masters, and her love for her mistress. It is a relatively unusual book, but certainly interesting and worth the read.

An image of blue flowers on a white background.

These are only a small selection of the books that I have read and the books I am hoping to read. If you are still looking for more sapphic historical fiction, you could try The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, The Pearl Thief, Fortune Favors the Dead, or The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics; all of which I have read and enjoyed. Other books I haven’t read yet, so I can’t offer an opinion on, but which may be of interest include Even Though I Knew the End, Nothing Sung and Nothing Spoken, and Passing Strange. Again, you can check out the list I have curated on if you are interested in any of these books!

I really hope you enjoyed this post, and by all means, if you have any sapphic historical fiction book recs, please let me know! What niche genre should I recommend next?

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