Unsurprisingly, some of the best period dramas of the past decade have made their way to the screen by way of books. And while we love all the films, TV shows, and miniseries on this list, books add a certain element the screen can never touch. If you find yourself hankering for a little more depth and detail once you’ve finished binging these period dramas, you’d be well advised to check out the books they’re based on.
1. If You Liked The Duchess, You’ll Love…
Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman
Like the movie, which stars Keira Knightley in the titular role, Foreman’s biography chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of Lady Georgiana Spencer (later the Duchess of Devonshire), the great-great-great-great-aunt of Princess Diana. As with Diana, Georgiana was the undisputed height of sophistication in her day, counting Marie-Antoinette as a dear friend. And given the Duchess’s gambling addiction and extramarital affairs, Foreman’s biography never wants for drama.
Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire, $11.60, Amazon
2. If You Liked Outlander, You’ll Love…
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
If you thought the Starz show was hot and steamy just wait until you read Gabaldon’s 8-book series. Though it’s set mostly in 18th century Scotland, Outlander is a love story first, and a work of historical fiction second. Both the book and television series follows Claire Randall, an English nurse from 1946, who mysteriously time-travels to Scotland circa 1743, and quickly forms an undeniable connection with Highland warrior (and all around babe), Jamie Fraser. Only problem? Claire is already a married woman. As for her devoted husband? Still firmly planted in 1946.
Outlander boxed set, $27.92, Amazon.
3. If You Liked Poldark, You’ll Love…
Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall by Winston Graham
Much like Outlander, Poldark is a steamy love story with a historical bent. The BBC One television show is based on a 12-book series, written by Winston Graham between 1945 and 2002. The series follows British Army officer Ross Poldark, who returns home from the American Revolution only to find his fiancée Elizabeth Chynoweth betrothed to his cousin. Don’t you just hate when that happens?
Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, $11.55, Amazon
4. If You Liked Downton Abbey, You’ll Love…
The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
Okay, technically speaking Downton Abbey is not “based on” The American Heiress. If anything, Goodwin capitalized on the success of Downton Abbey when crafting her novel about Cora Cash, a wealthy young American who, in the late 19th century, travels to England to bag herself an aristocrat. Sound familiar? No doubt Goodwin was at least partly inspired by Downton Abbey‘s matriarch Cora Crawley – also an affluent American who became a Countess after marrying Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham.
The American Heiress, $9.58, Amazon
5. If You Liked Victoria, You’ll Love…
Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
Speaking of Daisy Goodwin… The author-turned-television creator wrote a novel to accompany her PBS series. Like the show, the novel Victoria chronicles the early life of England’s long-reigning Queen, who ascended the throne at just 18 years old. Honing in Queen Victoria’s personal and political life, both the novel and the series depict the monarch as a surprisingly lively and passionate young woman. Between Victoria’s complicated relationship with Prime Minister Lord Melbourne, and her storied romance with Prince Albert, Goodwin proves Victoria was so much more than a dowdy old Queen in black.
Victoria, $11.02, Amazon
6. If You Liked Belle, You’ll Love…
Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice by Paula Byrne
If you’ve ever heard of Dido Elizabeth Belle it’s likely due to the 2013 film, Belle. Technically speaking, Byrne’s biography did not inspire this movie – it’s more the other way around. However, that doesn’t mean the biography isn’t worth reading. Both the book and film are inspired by an 18th-century portrait of Belle, who was the illegitimate daughter of a Royal Navy captain and an enslaved African woman. Raised within the English aristocracy by her great-uncle the Earl of Mansfield, Belle’s story is a rare one, and worth seeking out.
Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice, $8.37, Amazon
7. If You Liked Marie Antoinette, You’ll Love…
Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser
Over the years, Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film starring Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette has amassed somewhat of a cult following. The movie is based on Antonia Fraser’s sympathetic biography of the infamous queen, who, at just 14-years-old, left her native country to marry the Dauphin of France. Alienated from her home and saddled with an uninterested husband, Marie quickly began spending and gambling in excess. She would later be blamed for sparking the French Revolution, a rather unfair accusation, according to Fraser’s biography.
Marie Antoinette: The Journey, $11.55, Amazon
8. If You Liked The Other Boleyn Girl, You’ll Love…
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
One of the most recognizable names in historical fiction, Philippa Gregory is probably best known for her novel The Other Boleyn Girl. The book made its big-screen debut in ’08, starring Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn and Scarlett Johansson as, well, the other Boleyn girl. While not steeped in historical accuracy, the novel reimagines the court of King Henry VIII with flair. We all know Anne Boleyn as the infamous second wife of Henry VIII. Lesser known is her sister Mary, who as Gregory imagines, was a consort to the King well before Anne became his wife.
The Other Boleyn Girl, $7.12, Amazon
9. If You Liked The White Queen, You’ll Love…
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
Already seen and/or read The Other Boleyn Girl? Not to worry, Philippa Gregory has more scandalous monarchy up her sleeve – Hey, she wasn’t crowned “the queen of British historical fiction” for nothing! In 2013, Starz adapted Gregory’s novel about Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort of King Edward IV of England, into a 10-part miniseries. The novel is part love story, part all-out battle for the English throne.
The White Queen, $9.65, Amazon
10. If You Liked A Royal Affair, You’ll Love…
The Royal Physician’s Visit by Per Olov Enquist
Officially speaking, the Danish film A Royal Affair is based on Prinsesse af blodet by Bodil Steensen-Leth, but since that has yet to be translated to English (at least as far as we’ve found), you’ll have to settle for the film’s unofficial inspiration, The Royal Physician’s Visit (translated from Swedish). If you’ve yet to see the film, it’s worth seeking out. Alicia Vikander stars as Caroline Matilda of Great Britain who becomes the Queen Consort of Denmark and Norway after marrying her mentally unstable first cousin, King Christian VII. If that wasn’t enough, Caroline forms an intense romantic relationship with her husband’s doctor and confidant, Johann Friedrich Struensee.
The Royal Physician’s Visit, $17.40, Amazon
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