It feels like historical fiction is such a flabby term that's better for booksellers than readers. Really all novels are historical because even ones set in the future are an author imaginatively writing about the world as they've seen and know it. But mostly it feels like historical fiction means books set in the distant past and I especially like ones about periods of time I don't know much about. How would you define historical fiction? And what's the best historical novel you've read this year?

Here are my picks of eight great historical novels from 2017. There's fiction about suffragettes, a female viceroy of Sicily, a WWII naval shipyard worker, the fate of a much-desired man, a dysfunctional ancient Greek family, Nazis in the Ukraine, an axe murder and a president’s grief. Click on the titles to see my full posts about them or you can also watch me discuss these in this video (where a fox makes a surprise appearance):

The Night Brother by Rosie Garland

The Revolution of the Moon by Andrea Camilleri (translated by Stephen Sartarelli)

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst

House of Names by Colm Toibin

A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert

See What I have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders