Forum: Arts / Books

Historical Fiction Recommendations? (karma: 1)
By PinUpGirlmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Nov 07, 2011 02:31 PM

I think (hope, pray, wish) that I'm finally getting back into reading in a serious way. Historical fiction is easily one of my favorite genres. Some of my favorites are:

The Alienist-Caleb Carr
The Girl With A Pearl Earring-Tracy Chevalier
The Girl In Hyacinth Blue-Susan Vreeland
The Historian-Elizabeth Kostova (not 100% historical, but definitely a great read)

Any other recommendations you might have are also welcome. I've been on a memoir/biography kick as well. I'm halfway through Butch Walker's memoirs and I got a good chunk of Abigail Adams' biography read, but I'll probably need to start that one over again. Since I'm laid up, I have a lot of free time and I'm looking to do something a little more mentally stimulating than just watching TV.

23 Replies to Historical Fiction Recommendations?

re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By toroandbruinmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Nov 08, 2011 07:56 AM
Anything by Norah Lofts or Mary Renault. There's a similar, contemporary author who is very popular but I can't remember her name at the moment. If you go to Amazon.com, choose a book from an era you like by either Lofts or Renault, the Website will suggest similar books and the customer reviews will give you a clue as to whether you would like it or not.
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By kandykanePremium member
On Tue Nov 08, 2011 08:04 AM
To Dance With Kings by Rosalind Laker, set in the century before the French Revolution. And if you've never read Gone With The Wind, as a southern girl you really ought to give it a try. :)

kk~
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By ChristinePremium member
On Tue Nov 08, 2011 08:35 AM
Edited by Christine (207347) on 2011-11-08 08:42:36 punctuation
The Killer Angels, is a historical novel by Michael Shaara that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975. It recounts the Battle of Gettysburg.

He has other excellent books as well.

If you haven't read it, A Tale of Two Cities,by Charles Dickens,is a must. It is set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. Originally it was written as a serial, so the writing has a "cliff hanger" tone at the end of each chapter, and some of the literary devices are somewhat dated, but it is a must.

Any of Toni Morrison's books. I just finished, A Mercy, which is set in the early 1700's, long before the American Revolution. It is wonderful. I also loved, Beloved, and The Bluest Eye.

Earnest Gaines is another must read author. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman (not a biography...it is a novel)cover emancipation through Jackie Robinson. A Lesson Before Dying, a later novel, is pure gold.

The Help,by Kathryn Stockett is a current best seller and does a great job of portraying the South in the very early '60's.

Happy reading.

Keep On Dancing*
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 08, 2011 08:45 AM
Philippa Gregory if you like the Tudor period. Some of them are a bit romancey but that's by no means 'it' in terms of the content. I've read most of them more than once.
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By Laurannemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 08, 2011 08:52 AM
I really like Ken Follett's historial novels (not so much the thrillers):

- The Pillars of the Earth
The Pillars of the Earth is a historical novel by Ken Follett published in 1989 about the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England. It is set in the middle of the 12th century, primarily during the Anarchy, between the time of the sinking of the White Ship and the murder of Thomas Becket. The book traces the development of Gothic architecture out of the preceding Romanesque architecture and the fortunes of the Kingsbridge priory against the backdrop of actual historical events of the time.

- World Without End
World Without End takes place in the same fictional town as Pillars of the Earth — Kingsbridge — and features the descendants of some Pillars characters two centuries later.[1] The plot incorporates two major historical events, the start of the Hundred Years' War and the Black Death

- Fall of giants
Fall of Giants is a historical novel by Welsh born author Ken Follett. It is the first in the Century Trilogy, and follows five interrelated families throughout the course of the Twentieth Century between 1911 and 1924. The first book covers notable events such as World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women’s suffrage. [1] According to Follett the next two sequels will cover World War II and the Cold War.
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By hummingbird
On Tue Nov 08, 2011 09:08 AM
Colleen McCulloughs Masters of Rome series, it covers the last years of the old Roman Republic and starts with, The First Man in Rome.
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By Rinamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 08, 2011 09:13 AM
I was also going to suggest Phillipa Gregory. Her books are The Other Boylen Girl and such, but the previous poster was right, she is a bit romance.

I did just read a book titled Sarah's Key. Its a heartwrenching story about the round up of Jews in France and how the French police sent them on trains to Germany.I cried a lot but there was so much historical information. Heartbreaking.
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By Chaconnemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 08, 2011 09:15 AM
For a sweeping WW II era story. The "Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance" one is a successor to the other, by Herman Wouk (both made into TV miniseries in the 80's are a good mix of fiction against the backdrop of the factual war. Almost anything by John Hersey and Leon Uris falls into this category as do works by James Michener "South Pacific", Hawaii, Mexico etc.

Jon
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By PinUpGirlmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 08, 2011 12:03 PM
Christine-I had to read A Tale of Two Cities in high school. I HATED it. Won't touch Dickens to this day. The same with Toni Morrison. Oy.

kk-I didn't like Gone With The Wind either. I tried. I couldn't get into it. I'm a bad Southerner. ;)

In general-I also don't really like war books. I figure we have enough of that in real life and I'm looking for something a bit more escapist, if you will. Thanks for the tip about Amazon, though. I might see what it suggests when I put in some of my favorites.
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By Gioiamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 08, 2011 02:55 PM
PinUpGirl wrote:

Christine-I had to read A Tale of Two Cities in high school. I HATED it. Won't touch Dickens to this day.

Agreed, AP Brit Lit in High School was torturous for me, I hated it all. Except maybe Canterbury Tales.

Anyway check out this page www.goodreads.com . . .
and here www.goodreads.com . . .
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By Tiggerpants
On Tue Nov 08, 2011 03:09 PM
I second the Philippa Gregory books, I don't find her writing too heavy and I can easily get myself lost in some of her stuff. From there I've moved on to Alison Weir which is a little more stiff than Philippa Gregory but a lot more historically accurate, I find them a little hard going sometimes but fun at the same time. I've also read some of her non-fiction books for background. (I love history so this might just be my nerdy little habit).

I've heard great things about Hilary Mantel's book Wolf Hall, I only managed the first chapter but it sounds like it might be right up your street because the writing seemed kind of similarly in-depth as other books I've read like the Historian. Jury's still out on that one because I haven't actually got round to reading the whole thing yet.

xXx
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By Meganmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Nov 11, 2011 01:03 AM
Edited by Megan (87282) on 2011-11-11 01:05:40
Please read the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon. They're huge, have an incredibly rich backdrop, and are all well-written to boot. And Jamie Fraser is pretty much the world's most perfect fictional character, just saying.

I also liked Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund (about Marie Antoinette), The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (a re-imagining of the Dinah story in the Old Testament), and all that trashy Phillipa Gregory (I'm not going to lie, I love the stuff, but it's kinda pulpy.) Oooh, and DAughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende, which is set in colonial Chile and gold-rush era California.
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By Odessamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Nov 11, 2011 01:32 AM
I came here to recommend Outlander, but Megan already did, so I'm just gonna go, then :P

Erin.
::righteous babe::
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By schuhplattlerPremium member
On Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:41 PM
I could be much more helpful if I knew where you live.
Also, most of the prominent historical fiction was required reading in school: The Red Badge of Courage, Gone With the Wind, Les Miserables, Gone With the Wind, etc.


But what about historical fact that is written in fiction form? Example: "A More Goodly Country: A Personal History of America" John B. Sanford: Books. Every bit of it true, and most of it hilarious.

Or more locally, "Timberline", Eugene Fowler (Colorado - "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" is just one chapter.

"Sons of the Profits", William C. Speidel (Seattle)
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By AinetheDragonPremium member
On Fri Nov 11, 2011 02:14 PM
I guess I'm third in line to reccomend Outlander.... :) Theres a bit of fantasy, and a bit of romance thrown in, but very good historical settings and just plain good books!
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By GingerPremium member
On Fri Nov 11, 2011 04:05 PM
I guess I am the lone dissenter- I HATED the Outlander books so much!

I love historical fiction with a war backdrop, but some of my favourites that aren't war-heavy include:
Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue- about an 18th century prositute in England. I was so absorbed by it that I stayed awake during a 3-hour 6am flight that I had planned on sleeping through.
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (although I'm pretty sure it's published under a different title in the US). A young girl is abducted from her village in Africa and brought to the US. There's a bit of American Revolution but mostly in the background.
The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey About the famous Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, told from 'his' point of view.

I also second Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. In the same vein as Philippa Gregory there's Jean Plaidy, who wrote a crap ton about various kings and queens of England (mostly). The ones that I read I remember being a bit more historically accurate than Philippa Gregory's.
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By Shortgirl75member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Fri Nov 11, 2011 04:07 PM
4th for the Outlander!!! Fun, fun fun!

Also "Forever Amber" is pure smutty historical fun. (This was a banned book so I was totally jacked to read it. Came out in the 40's and well before its time)

The Kings Favorite is a novel about actress Nell Gwynn and King Charles 2 by Susan Holloway Scott- lots of fun!

The Eight by Katherine Neville is REALLY REALLY good- one of my all-time favorites. Not pure historical fiction but just great fun.
Karleen Koen is a good romance historical fiction writer without all the bodice ripping.
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks is an amazing read about the Sarajevo Haggadah...I did not want it to end.
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By Jennamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Nov 11, 2011 07:35 PM
Also "Forever Amber" is pure smutty historical fun.


I came to suggest this one. Its an easy read, fictitious but based around real events and characters. And yes, banned when it came out in the 40's due to references about abortion, premarital sex, nudity, illegitimate children.

"smutty historical fun" sums it up well - its actually my favorite book.

No great work of art but plenty entertaining! You really get this love/hate thing for the main character.
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By Fayetmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon Nov 14, 2011 08:17 AM
If you're into the Middle Ages I highly recommend "The Name of the Rose" by Umberto Ecco. He's an italian writer and historian, and it's one of the few historical novels that I, being a historian myself, can read without crying. It's smart, witty and stuffed with suprising twists - a very entertaining and fascinating read.

I couldn't read the "Outlander" books. My brain almost tied trying.
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By PinUpGirlmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 15, 2011 08:00 AM
Megan-I LOVED The Red Tent. How could I forget that one? It's one I need to reread.

I'll look into the Outlander books. I always thought they were more fantasy, but I'll give them a go. A little bird told me I'd be getting a Kindle for Christmas, so I'm looking for books to fill it up.
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By Naivohwmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 15, 2011 11:37 PM
If you like The Alienist, have you checked out The Angel of Darkness? (also by Caleb Carr, with the same characters) My absolutely FAVORITE historical fiction books right now are the Liberty Lane novels by Caro Peacock (aka Gillian Linscott) They're set in Victorian England, and follow a young woman in her 20's who is basically a detective. They're very well written and girl power-y, and have "cameos" by real people of the era (like Benjamin Disraeli) She's doing this weird thing where the same books have two different names, but I love the novels. The ones that are out now are A Foreign Affair (Death at Dawn), A Dangerous Affair (Death of a Dancer) and A Family Affair (A Corpse in Shining Armor) A fourth novel called When the Devil Drives was also just published.
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By PinUpGirlmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Nov 16, 2011 09:15 AM
^I have read Angel of Darkness. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't as good. I really wish he'd kept going with that series and we got one from Sara's point of view.
re: Historical Fiction Recommendations?
By Naivohwmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:56 PM
That's what I thought too! I would much rather have read a book from Sara's point of view than from Stevie's.

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