The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2020: Some Contenders?

WalterScottPrizeThe deadline for publishers to submit books published in 2019 for The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2020 passed on 20th December 2019 (a little earlier than in previous years).

Like other historical fiction fans, I shall be eagerly awaiting the announcement of the longlist and the ‘Academy Recommends’ list in March. Last year, I only managed to read five of the twelve longlisted novels but those five represented all but one of the six shortlisted novels.  You can find links to my reviews hereThis year I’ll try to read as many as possible of the longlisted novels that I haven’t read already and all those that make it on to the shortlist.

There were some fantastic historical fiction novels published in 2019 and listed below are some I’ve read that I’d love to see make the longlist (subject to them meeting all the eligibility criteria).  (Links from the titles will take you to my reviews.)

In addition, there are some books in my TBR pile I haven’t got around to reading yet but which, judging from reviews, may well deserve a place.  Finally, there are a few others that I’m yet to acquire but which also look like possible contenders for inclusion. (Links from the titles will take you to the book description on Goodreads.)

Check back when the longlist is announced to see how my picks match the judges’ choices – if at all!


Books I read and loved in 2019 

Once Upon A River  by Diane Setterfield

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton

Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

The Phoenix of Florence by Philip Kazan

Nemesis (Tom Wilde #3) by Rory Clements

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

The Photographer of the Lost by Carolyn Scott

The Mathematical Bridge by Jim Kelly

The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

The Road to Grantchesterby James Runcie

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

Fled by Meg Keneally

The Mermaid’s Call by Katherine Stansfield

This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman

Books in my TBR pile

The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

The Binding by Bridget Collins

Books ‘on my RADAR’

The Offing by Benjamin Myers

Are any of your favourites on my list?  What other historical fiction novels published in 2019 do you think deserve to be nominated?

12 thoughts on “The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2020: Some Contenders?

  1. Great choices, Cathy. I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few of those and have some of the others on my TBR. I find that the Walter Scott Prize longlist usually includes a lot of titles I’ve never even heard of, so I find it difficult to predict what will be on it. I think To Calais, In Ordinary Time by James Meek is a possibility, but otherwise I can’t think of anything you haven’t already mentioned.

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    1. Same here, the longlist always throws up surprises, titles I wasn’t even aware of, let alone read. Looking back at my post this time last year, only two of my picks made the longlist so the only way is up!

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      1. Sure, but… the only one I think they’d look at is Daisy Jones & The Six, and I’m not sure that is set long enough ago for the Walter Scott Prize to consider it. Aside from that, most of the rest of my best of 2019 books are from smaller presses and indie publishers, which NEVER get onto these prize lists – which pisses me off NO END!

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      2. You’re right but I think the WSP is better than some others because there have been shortlisted/winners from small publishers. The Gallows Pole which won in 2018 for instance, published by Bluemoose. The criteria is the majority of the book takes place more than 60 years ago.

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  2. Great suggestions! I think definitely The Confessions of Frannie Langton and perhaps The Doll Factory by Elizabeth MacNeal and Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield. The rest I’m not sure about, haven’t read quite a few of these titles either. And the prize longlist always throws up some surprises wuth books I’ve never heard about.

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