Most Brilliant Historical Novels in the past 45 yrs

Historical fiction doesn't have to be historical romance, does it?
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1,104 books · 1,169 voters · list created October 19th, 2012 by Trina (votes) .
218 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Trina 1684 books
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Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 3291 books
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Rebecca 5821 books
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Sarrah 4613 books
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Jemidar 2594 books
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Leslie 708 books
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Donna 3888 books
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Ellinor 6547 books
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More voters…


Comments Showing 1-34 of 34 (34 new)

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Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Didn't Lonesome Dove first come out in 1985?


message 2: by Trina (new)

Trina Susanna wrote: "Didn't Lonesome Dove first come out in 1985?"

Oops, I probably read the pbk. after it came out... I should've made that in the last 25 yrs! Good catch, Susanna:-)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads You want me to change the title to "25 years"?


message 4: by Trina (new)

Trina Done.


message 5: by Susan (new)

Susan May I suggest changing the title to Most Brilliant Since 1985? Because otherwise Lonesome Dove still doesn't qualify (it came out 27 years ago - lol).


message 6: by Trina (new)

Trina I know, you can tell numbers aren't my thing. There's just something nice in the phrasing of "in the past xx years". I'll change it again to be more accurate. Thanks!


message 7: by Bettie (new)

Bettie The Frank McCourt entries are non-fiction (page 2, #194)
:O)


message 8: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Mar 05, 2013 09:46AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads John Adams (#137) is non-fiction as well. Ron Kovak's Born on the Fourth of July (#176) is both older than 30 and a memoir. Savage Beauty (#180) is a biography. The Greatest Generation (#185) is history.

You want me to remove the non-fiction, Trina?

ETA: Also, Dorothy Dunnett is a lot older than 30 years ago. (Her Game of Kings, at #155, was first published in 1961.)


message 9: by Trina (new)

Trina Susanna wrote: "John Adams (#137) is non-fiction as well. Ron Kovak's Born on the Fourth of July (#176) is both older than 30 and a memoir. Savage Beauty (#180) is a biography. The Greatest Generation (#185) is..."

Sure, Susanna, go ahead and remove the misfits. I didn't know you (we) could do that. I also didn't realize Game of Kings came out in the 1960s (must've read a later edition when it was re-issued in pbk here)... my bad. Thanks for letting me know:-) It's still one of my favorite historical fiction reads.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads GR librarians can prune lists; not sure exactly what editing ability list starters who are not already librarians have.


message 11: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Mar 19, 2013 12:40PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Removed:

To Kill a Mockingbird (published 1960)
Angela's Ashes (non-fiction)
John Adams (non-fiction)
'Tis (non-fiction)
The Game of Kings (published 1961)
Born on the Fourth of July (non-fiction)
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay (non-fiction)
The Greatest Generation (non-fiction)
Address Unknown (published 1939)
A Town Like Alice (published 1950)
Wedlock: The True Story of the Disastrous Marriage and Remarkable Divorce of Mary Eleanor Bowles, Countess of Strathmore (non-fiction)
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight (non-fiction)
I Married the Klondike (non-fiction and published 1961)

What about Going After Cacciato (#180, published 1978), which I left? Too early?


message 12: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Mar 19, 2013 12:42PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I see our current #1 (ETA: 2) has only 9 ratings, but 33 voters.

Do the authors really think they are fooling anyone?


message 13: by Trina (new)

Trina Susanna wrote: "Removed:

To Kill a Mockingbird (published 1960)
Angela's Ashes (non-fiction)
John Adams (non-fiction)
'Tis (non-fiction)
The Game of Kings (published 1961)
Born on the Fourth of July (non-fiction)..."


Thanks, Susanna. I don't think of Going After Cacciato as historical fiction. It was written shortly after the Vietnam War about that war.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads You want me to remove it?


message 15: by Trina (new)

Trina Yup. It's contemporary, not historical fiction, right?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Alrighty, I shall remove it.


message 17: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Too many of these aren't even historical fiction - but are memoirs - Under the Tuscan Sun & Eat, Pray, Love....


message 18: by Trina (new)

Trina I agree, Melanie. May be time to weed out the imposters...


message 19: by Meri (new)

Meri #109, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is contemporary fiction, she was writing about her own time, it's only historical to us. Definitely older than 30 years by a long way!

Love the list though!


message 20: by Trina (new)

Trina Meri, I agree. Not sure how these titles keep creeping onto this list! Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club isn't 'historical fiction', either, since it takes place around the time it was written (1989) despite the characters' dipping into their pasts to relate how they came to the United States...

Susanna, maybe you can prune the list again? I'll try to form a list of misfits:)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Make a list and I'll do my best.


message 22: by Trina (new)

Trina Yikes, Susanna, I'm amazed how long this list has gotten (638 books?)! Would it help to add dates to the header? For instance, the cut-off for 30 yrs. is now 1985, but it was 1982 in 2012 when I made this list. We've also adjusted the time frame to "the past 30 years" from the original "20 years". Should we edit the header to include something like "Most Brilliant Historical Novels in the past 30 years (1985-2015)"? And then adjust it each year? Too much effort? Maybe easier than removing all these wanna-be's, though...

For now, here are the culprits - see if you agree, and, if so, please delete (they're only from #1 to #281; I'll do a second list for you to delete later):

#19 Joy Luck Club (it isn't 'historical' fiction since it takes place around the time it was written (1989))
#38 Outlander (it's 'fantasy' despite great historical detail)
#110 Pride and Prejudice (it is 'contemporary' fiction since she was writing about her own time)
#128 The Secret Keeper (it appears to be 'contemporary' fiction that reminisces about a past incident)
#129 Voyager (see #38 above)
#135 Aztec (pub. 1980, so too old for this list, alas)
#146 Penmaric (pub. 1971)
#154 Dragonfly in Amber (see #38 above)
#158 From Hell (it was a comic book...)
#162 Drums of Autumn (see #38 above)
#165 The Name of the Rose (pub. 1980)
#167 The Cater St. Hangman (pub. 1979)
#204 The Crossing (pub. 1951)
#228 The Crocodile on the Sandbank (pub. 1975)
#229 The Kitchen God's Wife (see #19 above)
#238 The Clan of the Cave Bear (pub. 1980)
#247 Empire of the Sun (pub. 1984)
#251 White Oleander (pub. 1999, but is it 'historical'? seems like 'contemporary fiction to me...)
#258 Far Pavillions (pub. 1978)
#263 Follow the River (pub. 1981)
#278 Cryptomicon (same issue w/ Amy Tan's books, set in present (1990s) but makes use of past ancestry)
#280 Game of Kings (pub. 1961)
#281 The Firebird (same issue w/ Diana Gabaldon's books, 'fantasy' fiction that follows character into the past)

Note: I actually think the Outlander series is brilliant, so it qualifies in that way...


message 23: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Feb 10, 2015 01:33PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Have deleted those with "too old" publication dates, or with then-contemporary settings.

Left Outlander series for now. Also possibly a few I just couldn't find.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Might be easiest to reword the title "since 1985"?


message 25: by MomToKippy (last edited Jan 06, 2016 12:49PM) (new)

MomToKippy I noticed that too Ms M! Kearsley, Morton, Gabaldon? The listmaker could perhaps define the qualifications a bit more. Fun list though and actually a lot of really good stuff too.


message 26: by Tessa (new)

Tessa in Mid-Michigan Oops--I forgot about the 30 years! Some of my postings are too old...


message 27: by MomToKippy (new)

MomToKippy I deleted Les Miserables. Much too old!


message 28: by BookLovingLady (last edited Mar 01, 2017 11:13PM) (new)

BookLovingLady The Book of Ebenezer Le Page (#346) isn't one of the "Most Brilliant Historical Novels in the past 30 yrs"... (It was first published in 1981, so close but not quite).


message 29: by BookLovingLady (last edited Mar 01, 2017 11:08PM) (new)

BookLovingLady MomToKippy wrote: "I deleted Les Miserables. Much too old!"

I've deleted The Mystery of a Hansom Cab for the same reason.

I've also removed The Lost Steps, as it was first published in 1953.


message 30: by Fiona (last edited Feb 25, 2021 01:46AM) (new)

Fiona Hurley #108 "I Claudius" was published in 1934
#119 "Katherine" was published in 1954
#362 "Forever Amber" was published in 1944


message 31: by BookLovingLady (new)

BookLovingLady Fiona wrote: "#108 "I Claudius" was published in 1934
#119 "Katherine" was published in 1954
#362 "Forever Amber" was published in 1944"


Removed.


message 32: by Kat (new)

Kat Bird Stewart For those of you who tend this list, THANK YOU for your time! The comments here are useful too. I never thought about contemporary fiction vs. historical fiction.


message 33: by BookLovingLady (new)

BookLovingLady @Trina
You might want to put a year in this list, as "in the past 45 yrs" changes each and every year...


message 34: by Elyse (new)

Elyse Burr by Gore Vidal is an excellent book but I removed it. It was published in 1973.


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