5 Immersive WWI Fiction Novels for Fans of “1917”

June 3 2020

There are so many World War II movies that we know and love, but there are fewer films that capture the truly perilous aspects of World War I. “1917” is a sweeping and heart-pounding movie that had me gripping the edge of my seat from start to finish. The film follows Lance Corporals Schofield and Blake as they attempt to bring a message to Colonel Mackenzie that could save thousands of lives. If you loved this film as much as I did, then you’re sure to love these five novels. 

Red Winter
by Dan Smith

There is just as much action and adventure packed into Dan Smith’s RED WINTER as there is in "1917." RED WINTER is set in central Russia in the 1920s as the Red Terror takes hold. The novel follows Kolya, a Red Army deserter who begins a perilous trek through the dense Russian forest in the middle of winterdesperate to find his wife and two boys and keep them alive. However, as Koyla journeys deeper and deeper into the wild, he begins to believe there is someoneor somethingfollowing him. 

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Red Winter
Dan Smith

Red Winter; action; adventure; historical; crime; 1920; 20th century; Russia; The Red Terror; Red Army; deserter; massacre; rural community; folktales; Koschei; the Deathless One; journey; quest; Dan Smith; The Child Thief; Russian folktales; search for family

1920, central Russia. The Red Terror tightens its hold. Kolya has deserted his Red Army unit and returns home to bury his brother and reunite with his wife and sons. But he finds the village silent and empty. The men have been massacred in the forest. The women and children have disappeared.In this remote, rural Russian community the folk tales that mothers tell their children by candlelight take on powerful significance, and the terrifying legend of Koschei, The Deathless One, begins to feel very real. Kolya sets out on a journey through dense, haunting forests and across vast plains against the bitter winter, in the desperate hope he will find his wife and two boys—and find them alive. But there are very dark things in Kolya's past. And, as he strives to find his family, there's someone—or something—following his trail . . .

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Tides of Honour
by Genevieve Graham

This recommendation is much more a love story than one of riveting action, but if you love this time period, then you’re sure to appreciate TIDES OF HONOUR. The story begins in 1916 when Private Daniel Baker marches into battle with Nova Scotia’s 25th Battalion and ends up meeting the love of his life. Months later, Danny is wounded in the Battle of the Somme and finds himself attempting to build a new life back home in Halifax as the winter of 1917 approaches. 

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Tides of Honour
Genevieve Graham

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The First of July
by Elizabeth Speller

This historical novel follows four very different men who find themselves forever changed by the historic and horrific Battle of the Somme. Frank, Benedict, Jean-Batiste, and Harry face their day of reckoning in this astonishing and dangerous novel. Speller expertly captures the atmosphere of Europe and England during this battle that produced almost one hundred thousand Allied casualties. 

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The First of July
Elizabeth Speller

On July 1st, 1913, four very different men are leading four very different lives.Exactly three years later, it is just after seven in the morning, and there are a few seconds of peace as the guns on the Somme fall silent and larks soar across the battlefield, singing as they fly over the trenches. What follows is a day of catastrophe in which Allied casualties number almost one hundred thousand. A horror that would have been unimaginable in pre-war Europe and England becomes a day of reckoning, where their lives will change forever, for Frank, Benedict, Jean-Batiste, and Harry.Elizabeth Speller once again sublimely captures the dangerously romantic atmosphere of war-torn Europe in her latest novel that will leave critics and readers astounded.

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A Long Long Way
by Sebastian Barry

This is a haunting and truly gripping novel that follows a determined young Irish boy, Willie Dunne, as he plunges into the terror of war. Willie faces the Germans on the Western Front and is sustained by letters from home and the camaraderie among the mud-covered Irish boys fighting in his unit. This is a deeply moving story about life in the trenches during World War I and the complex individuals who found themselves trapped there. 

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A Long Long Way
Sebastian Barry

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A Farewell to Arms
by Ernest Hemingway

Often referred to as one of the best American novels to emerge from World War I, A FAREWELL TO ARMS is the incomparable story of love and pain in the face of war. For those who haven’t read this time-honored novel, it’s the story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front who falls in love with Catherine Barkley, a beautiful English nurse. Hemingway brings his stark sensibilities to bear on a war-torn love story that is unrivaled in modern literature. Truly, a perfect novel for fans of First World War fiction and "1917." 

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A Farewell to Arms
Ernest Hemingway

Written when Ernest Hemingway was thirty years old and lauded as the best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Set against the looming horrors of the battlefield—weary, demoralized men marching in the rain during the German attack on Caporetto; the profound struggle between loyalty and desertion—this gripping, semiautobiographical work captures the harsh realities of war and the pain of lovers caught in its inexorable sweep. Ernest Hemingway famously said that he rewrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times to get the words right. This edition collects all of the alternative endings together for the first time, along with early drafts of other essential passages, offering new insight into Hemingway’s craft and creative process and the evolution of one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century. Featuring Hemingway’s own 1948 introduction to an illustrated reissue of the novel, a personal foreword by the author’s son Patrick Hemingway, and a new introduction by the author’s grandson Seán Hemingway, this edition of A Farewell to Arms is truly a celebration.

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