In this post you’ll find fascinating Books Set in Portugal because it is one of Europe’s oldest countries, Portugal is the country of fado music, historical cities, port wine, excellent seafood, beautiful beaches, azulejos (tiles) and many more. So books set in Portugal are always fun to read. I had the chance to visit Lisbon and fell in love with the city. Remembering my memoirs with books set in Portugal has been a great experience, and it made me want to visit many other cities in this magical country.
In this list of books set in Portugal, you’ll find literary & contemporary fiction, thrillers, modern classics and exciting stories. I tried to choose various writers, both from Portuguese and other countries. There are only fiction books on books set in Portugal list simply because I love learning about a country or a city through novels. And I hope you’ll find a book to your liking. Enjoy!
Books Set in Portugal
The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis – José Saramago
The world’s threats are universal like the sun but Ricardo Reis takes shelter under his own shadow.
Back in Lisbon after sixteen years practising medicine in Brazil, Ricardo Reis wanders the rain-sodden streets. He longs for the unattainably aristocratic Marcenda, but it is Lydia, the hotel chamber maid who makes and shares his bed. His old friend, the poet Fernando Pessoa, returns to see him, still wearing the suit he was buried in six weeks earlier. It is 1936, the clouds of Fascism are gathering ominously above them, so they talk; a wonderful, rambling discourse on art, truth, poetry, philosophy, destiny and love. One of the most famous books set in Portugal.
The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon – Richard Zimler
A historical fiction among books set in Portugal. The year is 1506, and the streets of Lisbon are seething with fear and suspicion when Abraham Zarco is found dead, a naked girl at his side. Abraham was a renowned kabbalist, a practitioner of the arcane mysteries of the Jewish tradition at a time when the Jews of Portugal were forced to convert to Christianity.
Berekiah, a talented young manuscript illuminator, investigates his uncle’s murder, and discovers in the kabbalah clues that lead him into the labyrinth of secrets in which the Jews sought to hide from their persecutors. A challenging mystery and a powerful indictment of the evils of intolerance, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon is an extraordinary and spellbinding historical thriller among books set in Portugal.
Two Nights in Lisbon – Chris Pavone
An exciting one among books set in Portugal. Ariel Pryce wakes up in Lisbon, alone. Her husband is gone – no warning, no note, not answering his phone. Something is wrong.
She starts with hotel security, then the police, then the US embassy, at each confronting questions she can’t fully answer: What exactly is John doing in Lisbon? Why would he drag her along on his business trip? Who would want to harm him? And why does Ariel know so little about her new husband?
The clock is ticking. Ariel is running out of time. But the one person in the world who can help her is the one person she doesn’t want to ask…
A complex, intelligent, multi-layered thriller among books set in Portugal, Two Nights in Lisbon is filled with twists, turns, husbands, wives, secrets and lies – and it will linger long after you turn the surprising final page.
The Guilt Trip – Sandie Jones
An exciting thriller among books set in Portugal. Jack and Rachel. Noah and Paige. Will and Ali. Five friends who’ve known each other for years. And Ali, Will’s new fiancée.
To celebrate the forthcoming wedding, all three couples are having a weekend get-away together in Portugal.
It’s a chance to relax and get to know Ali a little better perhaps. A newcomer to their group, she seems perfectly nice and Will seems happy after years of bad choices. But Ali is hiding more than one secret . . .
By the end of the weekend, there’ll be one dead body and five people with guilty consciences wondering if they really know each other so well after all. Because one of them has to be the killer . . . A perfect summer thriller among books set in Portugal.
The High Mountains of Portugal – Yann Martel,
Lost in Portugal.
Lost to grief.
With nothing but a chimpanzee.
A man thrown backwards by heartbreak goes in search of an artefact that could unsettle history. A woman carries her husband to a doctor in a suitcase. A Canadian senator begins a new life, in a new country, in the company of a chimp called Odo. From these stories of journeying, of loss and faith, Yann Martel makes a novel unlike any other: moving, profound and magical. A popular one among books set in Portugal.
Tango in Madeira – by Jim Williams
For the fans of whodunit among books set in Portugal. A disillusioned soldier looks for love. An exiled Emperor fears assassination. Agatha Christie takes a holiday. And George Bernard Shaw learns to tango.
A stranger, Robinson, is found murdered and Michael finds himself manipulated into investigating the crime by his sinister best friend, Johnny Cardozo, the local police chief, with whose wife he is pursuing an arid love affair; manipulated, too, by Father Flaherty, a priest with dubious political interests, and by his own eccentric parent, who claims to have been part of a comedy duo that once entertained the Kaiser with Jewish jokes. Will Michael find love? Will the Emperor escape his would-be killers? Will any of the characters learn the true meaning of the tango? A fun historical fiction among books set in Portugal.
The Two Hotel Francforts – David Leavitt
An exciting one among books set in Portugal. It is the summer of 1940, and Lisbon is one of the only neutral ports left in Europe – a city filled with spies, crowned heads and refugees of every nationality, tipping back absinthe to while away the time until their escape.
Awaiting safe passage to New York on the S. S. Manhattan, two couples meet: Pete and Julia Winters, expatriate Americans fleeing their sedate life in Paris; and Edward and Iris Freleng, elegant, independently wealthy, bohemian, and beset by the social and sexual anxieties of their class.
Swept up in the tumult, the hidden currents of the lives of these four characters – Julia’s status as a Jew, Pete and Edward’s affair, Iris’s increasingly desperate efforts to save her tenuous marriage – begin to come loose. This journey will change the four of them irrevocably, as Europe sinks into war. A historical fiction among books set in Portugal.
Alentejo Blue – Monica Ali
Set in a small Portuguese village, Alentejo Blue is a story of displacement and modernization told through the lives of the locals and of people who are just passing through. The residents of Mamarrosa whose ancestors occupy the graveyards are restless and struggle to make a living. They watch as tourists and expats move in.
Monica Ali’s characters are profoundly sympathetic. Her understanding of their dreams, desires, and disappointments is rare and moving. Alentejo Blue is evidence that Monica Ali is one of the most gifted voices of her generation. A literary fiction among books set in Portugal.
300 Days of Sun – Deborah Lawrenson
Combining the atmosphere of Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins with the intriguing historical backstory of Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train, Deborah Lawrenson’s mesmerizing novel transports readers to a sunny Portuguese town with a shadowy past—where two women, decades apart, are drawn into a dark game of truth and lies that still haunts the shifting sea marshes. A beautiful historical fiction among books set in Portugal
City of Spies – Mara Timon
LISBON, 1943: When her cover is blown, SOE agent Elisabeth de Mornay flees Paris. Pursued by the Gestapo, she makes her way to neutral Lisbon, where Europe’s elite rub shoulders with diplomats, businessmen, smugglers, and spies. There she receives new orders – and a new identity.
Posing as wealthy French widow Solange Verin, Elisabeth must infiltrate a German espionage ring targeting Allied ships, before more British servicemen are killed. But, the closer Elisabeth comes to discovering the truth, the greater the risk grows. With a German officer watching her every step, it will take all of Elisabeth’s resourcefulness and determination to complete her mission. A spy thriller among books set in Portugal.
The Implacable Order of Things – Jose Luis Peixoto
In an unnamed Portuguese village, against a backdrop of severe rural poverty, two generations of men and women struggle with love, violence, death, and–perhaps worst of all–the inescapability of fate.
A pair of twins conjoined at the pinky, a 120-year-old wise man, a shepherd turned cuckold by a giant, and even the Devil himself make up the unforgettably oddball cast of The Implacable Order of Things. As these lost souls come together and drift apart, José Luís Peixoto masterfully reveals the absurd, heartbreaking, and ultimately bewitching aspects of human nature in a literary performance that heralds the arrival of an astoundingly gifted and poetic writer. A romance among books set in Portugal.
The Colours of Death – Patricia Marques
In an alternative present-day Lisbon, a small percentage of the population have been diagnosed as Gifted – having telepathic or telekinetic powers. Along with the power comes a stigma and suspicion that Gifted Inspector Isabel Reis with the Lisbon Police Force knows only too well.
When Isabel is called to investigate a mysterious and violent death which hints at Gifted involvement, she knows it’s more than just her personal reputation on the line. In a society where Gifted individuals are already viewed with mistrust, Isabel is hiding her own secret and knows she has to tread carefully as a conspiracy emerges and the body count rises. A science-fiction mystery among books set in Portugal.
Night Train To Lisbon – Pascal Mercier
Night Train to Lisbon follows Raimund Gregorius, a 57-year-old Classics scholar, on a journey that takes him across Europe. Abandoning his job and his life and travelling with a dusty old book as his talisman, he heads for Lisbon in search of clues to the life of the book’s Portuguese author, Amadeu de Prado. As he gets swept up in his quest, he finds that the journey is also one of self-discovery, as he reencounters all the decisions he has made – and not made – in his life, and faces the roads not travelled. A popular one among books set in Portugal.
The Return – Dulce Maria Cardoso
A historical fiction among books set in Portugal. Luanda, 1975. The Angolan War of Independence has been raging for at least a decade, but with the collapse of the Salazar dictatorship, defeat for the Portuguese is now in sight. Thousands of settlers are fleeing back to Portugal to escape the brutality of the Angolan rebels.
Rui is fifteen years old. He has lived in Luanda all his life and has never even visited the far-away homeland – although he has heard many stories. But now his family are finally accepting that they too must return, and Rui is filled with a mixture of excitement and dread at the prospect. But just as they are leaving for the airport, his father is taken away by the rebels, and the family must leave without him.
Not knowing if the father is alive or dead – or if they will ever find out what has become of him, Rui, his mother and sister try to rebuild their lives in their new home. This turns out to be a five star hotel in a quiet, seaside suburb of Lisbon, where returnee families are crammed into luxurious rooms by the dozen.
These palatial surroundings are a cruel contrast with the reality of returnee life. The hotel becomes a curious form of purgatory as the families wait to discover what will become of them – ever conscious of the fact that they are hardly welcome back in their homeland. Rui has his own personal struggle with his new life: growing up, dropping out of school, facing discrimination, and the ever-present worry over his mother’s deteriorating health and his father’s fate.
And then one night Rui’s father returns from the dead. For the fans of historical romance among books set in Portugal.
The Land at the End of the World – António Lobo Antunes
A great war novel among books set in Portugal. In The Land at the End of the World, one of the twentieth century’s most original literary voices delivers a haunting and heartrending meditation on the absurdities of love and war. Considered to be Antonio Lobo Antunes’s masterpiece, The Land at the End of the World – now in a new and fully restored translation by Margaret Jull Costa – recounts the anguished tale of a Portuguese medic haunted by memories of war, who, like the Ancient Mariner, will tell his tale to anyone who listens.
The narrator, recently returned to Lisbon after his hellish tour of duty in Angola, confesses the traumas of his memory to a nameless lover. Their evening unfolds like a fever dream, as Lobo Antunes leaps deftly back and forth from descriptions of post-dictatorship Portugal to the bizarre and brutal world of life on the front line. The result, both tragic and absurd, belongs among the great war novels of the modern age among books set in Portugal.
Pereira Maintains – Antonio Tabucchi
A modern classic among books set in Portugal. In the sweltering summer of 1938, with Lisbon in the grip of Portugal’s dictatorship of António Salazar, a journalist is coming to terms with the rise of fascism around him and its insidious impact on his work. Consumed by the passing of his wife and the child he never had, Pereira lives a quiet and lonely existence. One day, the young and charismatic Monteiro Rossi enters his life, changing everything. A man who once shied away from criticizing Portugal’s authoritarian regime finds himself unable to stay quiet any longer, resulting in his political awakening and a devastating act of rebellion.
A Small Death in Lisbon – Robert Wilson
A Portuguese bank is founded on the back of Nazi wartime deals.
Over half a century later a young girl is murdered in Lisbon.
1941. Klaus Felsen, SS, arrives in Lisbon and the strangest party in history where Nazis and Allies, refugees and entrepreneurs dance to the strains of opportunism and despair. Felsen’s war takes him to the bleak mountains of the north where a brutal battle is being fought for an element vital to Hitler’s blitzkrieg.
Late 1990s, Lisbon. Inspector Ze Coelho is investigating the murder of a young girl with a disturbing sexual past. As Ze digs deeper he overturns the dark soil of history and unearths old bones. The 1974 revolution has left injustices of the old fascist regime unresolved. But there’s an older, greater injustice for which this small death in Lisbon is horrific compensation, and in his final push for the truth, Ze must face the most chilling opposition. An atmospheric thriller among books set in Lisbon.
The Scent of a Lie – Paulo da Costa
An award winner among books set in Portugal. he Scent of a Lie is a book of fourteen inter-connected stories set in two charismatic towns in Portugal where characters weave in and out of the narrative. The book can be read as a novel in fragments. This is a remarkable debut collection of tales told by a true storyteller.
The Tragedy Of The Street Of Flowers – Eça de Queiroz
A literary romance among books set in Portugal. Considered to be Portugal’s finest novelist, Eca de Queiroz was a master of satire who set out to expose the hypocrisy of his day. He accomplishes this magnificently in The Tragedy of the Street of Flowers”.
One night at the theatre, Vitor da Silva, a young law graduate, sees a strikingly beautiful woman. Her name is Genoveva. Originally from Madeira, she has lived for many years in Paris. Her rich French husband has died and she is in Lisbon with a view possibly to settling there. Genoveva, however, is not what she seems. Behind the mutual attraction between her and Vitor lies a terrible secret. A classic among books set in Portugal.
The Translator’s Bride – Joao Reiss
At the start of “The Translator’s Bride”, the Translator’s bride has left him. But if he can only find a way to buy a small house, maybe he can win her back . . . These are the obsessive thoughts that pervade the Translator’s mind as he walks around an unnamed city in 1920, trying to figure out how to put his life back together.
His employers aren’t paying him, he’s trying to survive a woman’s unwanted advances, and he’s trying to make the best of his desperate living conditions. All while he struggles with his own mind and angry and psychotic ideas, filled with longing and melancholy. Darkly funny, filled with acidic observations and told with a frenetic pace, “The Translator’s Bride” is an incredible ride – whether you’re a translator or not! A literary fiction among books set in Portugal.
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Are there any books set in Portugal you’d like to add to this list? Would you please share in the comments section below?