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Looking For Recommendations > Historical Fiction

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message 1: by Liz (new)

Liz Durham | 58 comments I have recently discovered just how much I like historical fiction. I am currently reading Lydia Bailey, which takes place after the Revolutionary War. Has anyone else read it?

What are some of your favorite historical fiction books?


message 2: by Serri (new)

Serri I, too, really enjoy historical fiction. Have not read Lydia Bailey but will add that to my list. Some of my favorites have been Roots by Alex Haley, Cleopatra by Margaret George, Abundance (Marie Antoinette) by Sena Jeter Naslund, and The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory.


message 3: by Jackie (last edited Jan 31, 2009 03:53PM) (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) I haven't read anything by Lydia Bailey, but I do like Margaret George and Phillipa Gregory, which Serri mentioned. Gregory takes liberty with history, so if you're a stickler for accuracy I wouldn't suggest her. The only one I read of Margaret George was Helen of Troy which I really liked. I attempted Cleopatra, but for some reason I got bored of it a quarter of the way in.

If you don't mind religious reads Marek Halter's Canaan Trilogy, which includes: Sarah, Zipporah, and Lilah are pretty good. The books are more based on the lives of the women than on religion.


message 4: by Beth (new)

Beth | 342 comments Sharon Kay Penman is one of my favorite authors of historical fiction. She used to be a lawyer so all of her books are very well-researched and she's also an engaging storyteller. Everything of hers I've read was set in medieval Europe. Apparently her medieval mysteries are also quite good, although I haven't read any yet.


JG (The Introverted Reader) Is there a specific time period you like to read about?


message 6: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Ooh.. I love historical fiction! Here are some of the ones I really enjoyed:

The Thirteenth Tale A Novel by Diane Setterfield. Beautifully written, and a must read for any lover of H/F and books!

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. A beautifully written, moving story.

Push Not the River by James Conroyd Martin. I loved this book. It's based on the real diary of a Polish Countess, and is set during the late 18th century and early 19th century. There's also a sequel, Against a Crimson Sky A Novel, which I enjoyed as well.

A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray. Wonderfully magical YA books set in Victorian England. Don't let the fact that they are YA stop you from reading these. They are great!

The Wakefields of Sweet Valley by Francine Pascal. This is my guilty pleasure. I have loved this book since childhood! Even if you didn't like the Sweet Valley series, you should give this one a chance.

The following books I haven't read, but have heard good things about:

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
Atonement by Ian McEwan
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation By Lauren Willig. (This is the first in a series of historical fiction spy novels.)


message 7: by Liz (new)

Liz Durham | 58 comments JG wrote: "Is there a specific time period you like to read about?"

I really like a lot of medieval historical fiction, as well as historical fiction involving the American West (pioneers, settlers, etc.).



message 8: by Robin (new)

Robin (RobinSullivan) | 1002 comments I haven't read it but from what hubby and other's say - "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Folliett is a good historical read.


JG (The Introverted Reader) People of the Book A Novel starts in about 1996 and works its way backwards to the medieval era, which sounds confusing, but it wasn't. It was really good.

Becky mentioned The Secret History of the Pink Carnation--I love these books, but I would tend to call them historical fiction/romance. Don't think harlequin bodice rippers, but they are fluffy books that are a lot of fun.


message 10: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Now that you mention it, JG, ALL of the books I listed have some romantic aspect to them! :)


message 11: by Jeane (new)

Jeane | 4891 comments I always find out I like this genre after I finish the book and someone calls it like that, then I everytime realize that I really like historical fiction. Otherwise I am just seeing it as a fiction book...


message 12: by Kandice (last edited Jan 31, 2009 11:50PM) (new)

Kandice My favorite writer of Historical fiction is Colleen McCullough. She writes a series about the fall of Rome. The First Man in Rome The Grass Crown Caesar's Women Caesar A Novel Fortune's Favorites The October Horse A Novel of Caesar and Cleopatra I devoured these books!

Alex Haley's Roots Queen The Story of an American Family were both excellent and I have read them many times.




message 13: by Jeane (new)

Jeane | 4891 comments Kndice, just noticed those on your shelves and was wondering why they weren't on mine yet!!!! Fixed the problem.


message 14: by Hayes (last edited Feb 01, 2009 12:09AM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) JG, this looks really interesting, thanks!
People of the Book A Novel starts in about 1996 and works its way backwards to the medieval era...


JG (The Introverted Reader) Becky wrote: "Now that you mention it, JG, ALL of the books I listed have some romantic aspect to them! :)"

I've read a lot of the books you listed and they're really good. I just meant that the Pink Carnation is more of a straight-up romance that happens to be set in a different period. And I really hope that didn't come out as critical of you. Like I said, I love those books, I just wasn't sure how a fan of more conventional historical fiction would view them.


JG (The Introverted Reader) Hayes wrote: "JG, this looks really interesting, thanks!"

I recommend it, Hayes! If you pick it up, I hope you enjoy!




message 17: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 193 comments I've been reading Historical fiction since I started reading. Let's say 60+ years. The best writer in my opinion is Patrick O'Brian with the Aubrey/Maturin series of about 20 volumes. Takes place during the Napoleonic wars at sea. Accurate and gripping.

Second is Collen McCullough's novels covering the last years of the Roman Republic starting with Marius through Sulla and Caesar ending with Augustus. Incredibly well researched and imaginative at the same time.

Thirdly, most of Bernard Cornwell's stuff. He's all over the map from pre-historic Britain to World War I and all in between. I particularly like the "Richard Sharpe" series that takes place during the Napoleonic Wars but his latest efforts covering 10th Century England are fantastic.

Lastly for this posting, anyway, I would recommend James Clavell's novels of Asian Historical Fiction like Shogun, Taipan, Whirlwind, Noble House, etc.

A lot of people like Conn Igullden, He's not on my list of favorites but I do read his stuff.

Enjoy!




message 18: by Donna (last edited Feb 01, 2009 05:45AM) (new)

Donna | 137 comments Hi Liz, Jim Fergus writes about the American West and a few of Isable Allende's books take place on the Pacific coasts of Chile/Peru and California.

The Shaaras (father and son) have written a number of
books beginning with the The Killer Angels set during the Civil War which my husband says are very good.

For a change of pace I have enjoyed Susan Vreeland's books. She focuses on the lives of various artists.


message 19: by Jeane (new)

Jeane | 4891 comments Ed wrote: "I've been reading Historical fiction since I started reading. Let's say 60+ years. The best writer in my opinion is Patrick O'Brian with the Aubrey/Maturin series of about 20 volumes. Takes plac..."

i ahve for more than five years a james Clavell book on my TBR list and didn't have a clue t was this genre! It might help me finally read it.


i read one Bernard Cornwell and liked it a lot. The reson is funny for me. I adore Patricia Cornwell books and everytime I would see a book with Cornwell on it I would pick it up. A lot of times it was a Bernard Cornwell book and not Patricia Cornwell. That started to annoy me so much that when at work then one day staff could take books they didn't sell anymore, there was one between and I took it. I wanted to know who was teasing me so much with his last name!!!! It was a good discovery and I mind less now.





message 20: by Helen (new)

Helen | 14 comments Kandice wrote: "My favorite writer of Historical fiction is Colleen McCullough. She writes a series about the fall of Rome. [b:The First Man in Rome|480570|The First Man in Rome|Colleen McCullough|http://photo.goo..."

Hi Kandice,
Have you heard of her newest? The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett. She writes about what she thinks happened next after Pride and Prejudice - kind of a neat idea. Haven't finished it yet.


message 21: by Helen (new)

Helen | 14 comments Liz wrote: "I have recently discovered just how much I like historical fiction. I am currently reading Lydia Bailey, which takes place after the Revolutionary War. Has anyone else read it?

What are some of ..."


me too! it's like a painless history lesson,


message 22: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) JG, I did not take your comment as critical in any way! It just made me take another look at what I'd posted and gave me a little laugh about the fact that I posted nothing but historical fiction/romances!

Ah well, I'm a sucker for a good love story, what can I say? ;)


message 23: by Kandice (new)

Kandice Helen-No, I have not!!!! I try tog et everything she writes as soon as it's out, but sometimes it's not available here as soon as other places. I will definitely be looking.

I can't believe I didn't mention Clavell! I love all hsi books and have read Shogun 13 imes!!!


message 24: by Fiona (new)

Fiona (bookcoop) I don't really like books set on real historical events, but I do like books set in the past... but what counts as Historical fiction?

I really enjoyed The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland which is part of the Arthur trilogy and set in the medieval era... it is the story of a boy named Arthur whose story runs parallel to the boy in the legend of Arthur.

I don't know too much about the times, but I think they are pretty historically accurate - as they can be. The later books take you into the Crusades. It's very well written.

The American Boy b Andrew Taylor is a historical crime fiction set in the 19th Century with Edgar Allen Poe as one of the characters. It's quite Dickensian in style and atmosphere.

The Welsh Girl - Peter Ho Davies - it's a ww2 drama about a German POW and a welsh girl. I love stories from that era, but I prefer a more human aspect then war.

Saying that, I did also enjoy a lot
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque which is set in ww1 in a German trench. I think that it is from a German POV is more interesting considering usually of what I have read and seen it's one sided - Germans are the bad guys and that's it.

The Seventh Gate by Richard Zimler - another ww2 novel set in Berlin during the thirties and the run up to war with the Nazi's coming to power. It is about what happened to the people who were disabled - not just the Jewish people.

The Glass Palace A Novel - Amitav Ghosh - looks back into the history of the colonisation of Burma and India. I love how Ghosh writes. It's like receiving a history lesson sometimes.

Ice Road - Gillian Slovo - I really enjoyed this one surprisingly. It is set in Russia and follows the interlinked story of several people as they navigate through love, politics and the second world war.




message 25: by Helen (new)

Helen | 14 comments Fiona wrote: "I don't really like books set on real historical events, but I do like books set in the past... but what counts as Historical fiction?

I really enjoyed [b:The Seeing Stone|1128670|The Seeing Stone..."


Hi Fiona,
I know what you mean re: real historical events; I meant that the history lessons are incidental (learning about the settings and what was happening in the world at the time of the story vs. the actual historical events)


message 26: by Liz (new)

Liz (hissheep) I see much variety here in suggestions for "historical fiction" and was wondering is there an appropriate definition that would narrow the field?


message 27: by Liz (new)

Liz Durham | 58 comments Liz wrote: "I see much variety here in suggestions for "historical fiction" and was wondering is there an appropriate definition that would narrow the field?"

I got this off Wikipedia. ^_^ They mention a lot of examples as well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historic...


message 28: by Liz (last edited Feb 01, 2009 06:03PM) (new)

Liz (hissheep) Liz wrote: "Liz wrote: "I see much variety here in suggestions for "historical fiction" and was wondering is there an appropriate definition that would narrow the field?"

I got this off Wikipedia. ^_^ They m..."


Thanks, Liz!

LIZ ;o) who never met another "Liz" until she was over 30!


message 29: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 193 comments Oops. I forgot Alan Furst who writes the best WWII spy stories ever.


message 30: by Bernie (new)

Bernie | 4 comments Liz mentioned variety in historical fiction--good question. Would Sharon Kay Penman's books be more "historical" than Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael series? And what about those Harlequinesque bodice rippers? I've learned some history from them, to.


message 31: by Shana (new)

Shana (Shanac55) Pillars of the Earth is great. I liked it very much. I'm reading World Without End now, which is the sequel. So far I don't like it as much, but I'm not too far into it yet.


message 32: by Megan (new)

Megan Lyons | 36 comments Liz wrote: "JG wrote: "Is there a specific time period you like to read about?"

I really like a lot of medieval historical fiction, as well as historical fiction involving the American West (pioneers, settler..."


Mistress of the Art of Death is a good medieval thriller, and I love The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman; it is a very short novel for kids that won the Newbery in 1996. Year of Wonders was also good, though it did miss something in my opinion. I felt like I could have been great and fell short. I also recommend The Red Tent.

I love historical fiction taht takes place during the twentieth century. There are some fantastic Family Dramas that take place during that time period such as "Fall on Your Knees," and A Fine Balance is good.




message 33: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cyndil62) | 253 comments Ed wrote: "I've been reading Historical fiction since I started reading. Let's say 60+ years. The best writer in my opinion is Patrick O'Brian with the Aubrey/Maturin series of about 20 volumes. Takes plac..."

Thanks Ed for the great recommendations! I read Shogun several years ago and remember really enjoying it, I will have to try some of Clavell's other books.


message 34: by Terri (new)

Terri (terrilovescrows) | 218 comments I love the North and South books by John Jakes



Allison (The Allure of Books) (inconceivably) Terri wrote: "I love the North and South books by John Jakes
"


I love those books too (actually I love everything by John Jakes), and I REALLY love the mini series based on the books...its from like the 80s I think, it really rocks.


message 36: by Maria (new)

Maria (minks05) | 481 comments Edward Rutherford is a good historical fiction writer. the ones i've read of his are lengthy, and are based on a city or country, and span the length of time from BC to current times. highly recommend him.

i just finish The Heretic's Daughter, and although I would consider it more fiction than historical, it could fall under that category.

i also just started The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss. it also probably falls more under the fiction rather than history category, but it could fit the category.


message 37: by Nikki (new)

Nikki Boisture | 121 comments Someone already mentioned People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. I'd also highly recommend two of her other books, Year of Wonders (set in England during the plague) and March (civil war)

In the Fall by Jeffrey Lent is really good as well!


message 38: by Terri (new)

Terri (terrilovescrows) | 218 comments Speaking of Civil War - Gods and Generals - authors last name is Sharra.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1736 comments Jeff Shaara's father, Michael Shaara, also wrote historical fiction about the American Civil War. The Killer Angels is about the battle of Gettysburg and is wonderful.


message 40: by JuliAnna (last edited Feb 05, 2009 10:33AM) (new)

JuliAnna | 85 comments Jeane wrote: "i read one Bernard Cornwell and liked it a lot. The reson is funny for me. I adore Patricia Cornwell books and everytime I would see a book with Cornwell on it I would pick it up. A lot of times it was a Bernard Cornwell book and not Patricia Cornwell."

For me it was the reverse. I finally read Patricia Cornwell because I kept running into her when looking for Bernard Cornwell.

Dorothy Dunnett has two excellent series. I would start with the Lymmond Chronicles, which starts with Game of Kings. The Italian series is incredibly complex and convoluted in it's plotting.

If you don't mind an element of fantasy/SF, you might want to try Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. It is one of my favorite novels set in medieval times. It is told from a the perspective of a contemporary women who finds herself in the middle of the plague.



message 41: by Jeane (new)

Jeane | 4891 comments JuliAnna wrote: "Jeane wrote: "i read one Bernard Cornwell and liked it a lot. The reson is funny for me. I adore Patricia Cornwell books and everytime I would see a book with Cornwell on it I would pick it up. A l..."

Really, that is funny1 And did you like her books/ From him I only read one but I wouldn't mind reading others.


message 42: by JuliAnna (last edited Feb 05, 2009 12:21PM) (new)

JuliAnna | 85 comments Jeane wrote: "Really, that is funny1 And did you like her books/ From him I only read one but I wouldn't mind reading others. "

I definitely enjoyed the early books in the Scarpetta series, but I have mixed feelings about the more recent ones. I tend to read this kind of book for an entertaining escape from reality, and there is something more disturbing in her books than say those Reichs or even Burke. But, I should also add that I don't do well with thrillers. I'm not sure what category to put her books in.

I was into Bernard Cornwell for a while and read almost every book he wrote (a few were impossible for me). But, it has been a few years since I read one.



message 43: by JuliAnna (new)

JuliAnna | 85 comments
I want to second Ed's recommendation of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series. I enjoyed it tremendously.

Folks who like Cornwell's Sharpe series, might want to try George MacDonald Fraser's Flashmen series. It is a light and amusing series of historical fiction about a soldier in the 19th century.


message 44: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Darby (nikdef) i love the great and terrible beauty series...i'm currently reading atonement and its pretty good so far. i would recommend reading the historian (really good vampire book)Becky wrote: "Ooh.. I love historical fiction! Here are some of the ones I really enjoyed:

[b:The Thirteenth Tale A Novel|40440|The Thirteenth Tale A Novel|Diane Setterfield|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1..."





message 45: by Rebbie (new)

Rebbie | 140 comments My favorite historical fiction are the old ones by Anya Seton, I think that's the spelling, but my favorite was the HEARTH AND ANVIL--again I think have it right. But has anyone read the one about the woman named Katherine, matter of fact that may have been the name of the book--set in London during the plague? I really want to re-read it. If someone can help me out here I'd appreciate it.


message 46: by Rebbie (new)

Rebbie | 140 comments If you like more of a literary feel combined with historical, try STORMY WEATHER or ENEMY WOMEN by Paulette Jiles. They're both set in the US. STORMY WEATHER is during the Depression and ENEMY WOMEN is the Civil War.


message 47: by Rebbie (new)

Rebbie | 140 comments Allison wrote: "Terri wrote: "I love the North and South books by John Jakes
"

I love those books too (actually I love everything by John Jakes), and I REALLY love the mini series based on the books...its from..."


Me too! I read that whole series. Did you read the series about the White House?


message 48: by Rebbie (new)

Rebbie | 140 comments Nikki wrote: "Someone already mentioned People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. I'd also highly recommend two of her other books, Year of Wonders (set in England during the plague) and March (civil war)

In..."


She's one of my favorite writers. I love her books, too!


message 49: by Rebbie (new)

Rebbie | 140 comments Okay, as you can see I'm going post crazy here! I had not seen this section until now. I love historical fiction so I'll be here a lot!


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1736 comments Rebbie wrote: "My favorite historical fiction are the old ones by Anya Seton, I think that's the spelling, but my favorite was the HEARTH AND ANVIL--again I think have it right. But has anyone read the one about ..."

You probably do mean Katherine, which I agree is excellent. It is going to be one of our monthly reads over at the European Royalty group here at GoodReads.


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