You'll love this one...!! A book club & more discussion

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Chit Chat About Books > Any fans of historycal or hystorical-romamce novels??

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message 1: by Barb (new)

Barb (bubasbookshelf) | 17 comments So, next to fantasy, hystorical books are my favourite. The latest book of this genre is 'Confessions of Catherine de Medici' and I absolutely loved it. On my to-read list are also Kate Quinn books: Daughters of Rome and Lover of Rome(I believe those are the titles?)
Amd there are few books of writers from my country, but just thought that would sound like kinda promoting and stuff...
Anyway, what is your favourite hystorical or hystorical-romance book and why? Same goes for least favourite :)
P.S. I apologise for bad grammar and spelling, English is not mg first language and writing on phone doesn't really help...


message 2: by jaxnsmom (new)

jaxnsmom | 8286 comments I have found myself reading more historical fiction, and loving it! A lot of it is a fascinating way to learn more history, and there are a lot of good writers. I just finished The Glass Palace gave it 4 stars. Sometimes I think my favorite is the last one I read, because it's freshest in my mind :) I'll have to look at my shelves.

Please let us know of writers from your country that you would recommend. We always enjoy finding new ones, and some of us participate in different around the world challenges.


message 3: by Marnie (last edited Feb 12, 2014 04:04PM) (new)

Marnie (marnie19) | 2033 comments Hi Luna - glad to meet another fan of historical fiction. Please don't worry about spelling/ grammar. I'm sure your English is way better than my ...fill in any other language.
Some of my favorite historical books are
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society-
Moloka'i-
And Frenchman's Creek- which has a romantic side to it.

What are some authors from your country that you like?


message 4: by Lisa (last edited Feb 12, 2014 04:28PM) (new)

Lisa (lisathebooklover) | 9244 comments Hi Luna.

My favourite historical romance is The Bronze Horseman which is set in Russia during World War 2. It is beautifully written, the central love story is incredibly real and it is just an amazing book.

Other historical fiction books that I love are:

Birdsong- this also has some romance in it.
Wolf Hall
The Song of Achilles
Burial Rites
Cross Stitch- also has plenty of romance
Company of Liars
Comanche Moon- lots of romance in this too
Any of the 'Shardlake' series by C.J. Sansom

I read a lot of historical fiction books (it's my favourite genre) and I can't actually think of any so far that I really disliked :)

I would also be interested in hearing about the authors from your country that you recommend.


message 5: by Janice, Moderator (last edited Feb 12, 2014 10:00PM) (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 51046 comments Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres. Quite a few of my 5 stars are in that genre. Here are 5 of the best:

Burial Rites
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Book Thief
Someone Knows My Name (also titled The Book of Negroes)
Memoirs of a Geisha

The first book, Burial Rites is a fictionalized account of the last woman to be executed in Iceland. That may sound brutal, but the writing was magical, lyrical, and breathtaking. It had me contemplating what life was like in Iceland during the 1800's. To me, this book epitomizes what HF is.

Afterlands is another retelling of a historical event - the stranding of the crew of the Polaris expedition in the Arctic in 1871.

These 2 examples are what I consider to be pure "Historical Fiction". Sorry, I'm a bit of a purist, apparently!

The other four books retell history a bit differently. The main characters are fictional, but the events during the time period are real. To Kill a Mockingbird examines racial discrimination in the south when a black man is accused of the rape of a white woman. The Book Thief is set during World War II when a child tries to understand her place in a world at war. The Book of Negroes is a story of slavery. And The Memoirs of a Geisha examines the world of the geisha.

I don't know what historical romance is - a romance set in the past? Unless it's something like Désirée which tells the love story between Napoleon and Desiree. I don't know.


message 6: by Janice, Moderator (last edited Feb 12, 2014 10:05PM) (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 51046 comments Lisa wrote: "Hi Luna.

My favourite historical romance is The Bronze Horseman which is set in Russia during World War 2. It is beautifully written, the central love story is incredibly real and i..."


I would disagree that Song of Achilles is Historical Fiction. It's a retelling of a myth, so would be classified as fantasy or mythology. I know lots of people have shelved it as HF, but the characters are fictional, as is the Greek/Trojan war. (Sorry, the purist strikes again.)

I absolutely loved this book! If I could qualify a special category of 5 stars as "best of the best", this one would be right up there.


message 7: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 1741 comments Historical Fiction is such a great genre. I'll go with the top 5 like Janice:


Gallows Thief
Niccolò Rising
Hild
Eagle in the Snow
Under Enemy Colors

All my choices are fictional characters in real history.

Gallows Thief is set in 1817 London, the main character is a veteran of Waterloo. I like the era and the author writes a good adventures story.

Niccolo Rising is the first of an 8 book series set in 15th century Bruges. Detailed, complicated and wonderful.

Hild is a beautiful, meandering story of the imagined childhood of Saint Hild of Whitby. Slow but so good at immersing you in the time and era.

Eagle in the Snow is classic roman history set during the end of the empire. Great story of war and battle.

Under Enemy Colors is naval fiction set during the French Revolution. Thought it was one of the best of the sub-genre.

I don't read historical romance anymore but my favorite author of the genre is Julia Quinn


message 8: by Rusalka, Moderator (new)

Rusalka (rusalkii) | 17693 comments Janice wrote: "but the characters are fictional, as is the Greek/Trojan war. "

The war is a contentious issue. Not a war like Homer tells us, but there was probably a small expedition and then war by the Greeks to the area that they fictionally placed Troy in.

But no, Paris didn't do the stupidest thing ever and get himself into a position to annoy 2 out of 3 of the most powerful goddess and rain death and destruction on his brother's kingdom nor on the Greeks.


message 9: by CatWrangler (last edited Feb 13, 2014 12:26AM) (new)

CatWrangler | 34 comments Rusalka wrote: "Janice wrote: "but the characters are fictional, as is the Greek/Trojan war. "

The war is a contentious issue. Not a war like Homer tells us, but there was probably a small expedition and then war..."



According to a documentary I watched on TV, there is no proof neither that the war happened nor that one or more wars didn't happen. This article analyses evidence:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/ne...

Anyway, the way Homer describes it, with all the goddesses and gods intervening, the story sounds like a myth but archaeological evidence might prove it has some true elements.

After all, isn't Herodotus' THe Histories full of myths explaining the world, yet it is considered the founding work of history because the books offer facts, too.Myths mixed with facts is just the way ancient people viewed the world.
Which is not so different from today's views, he, he.

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

I feel my love for historical fiction is rekindling. I see here many interesting suggestions.


message 10: by Barb (new)

Barb (bubasbookshelf) | 17 comments Authors from my country are 16 year-old Andrea Tomić and our beloved Marija Jurić Zagorka
Andrea has published only one boom so far and it can only be found in Croatian, Zagorka's books kinda became classics and can be found in few other Slavic languages and in German :)

Wow, there are so many great suggestions. Looking forward to reading some of them in the future :)


message 11: by Peggy, Moderator (new)

Peggy (pebbles84) | 15486 comments I'm at work now so just scanning this thread, but I can't wait to go home and click on all the links.

Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres too, but I am kind of picky about the time periods/topics.


message 12: by Lisa (last edited Feb 13, 2014 06:52AM) (new)

Lisa (lisathebooklover) | 9244 comments The Song of Achilles can definitely be classified as mythology seeing as it is a retelling of 'The Illiad'. However, there is evidence that Homer's Troy really did exist. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of several cities (all from different time periods) in a very small area in Turkey and all of these cities are known as Troy. In 1868, a German archaeologist found the remains of Troy II and it is this city which he believed to be the Troy which featured in Homer's 'The Illiad' due to the fact that the evidence suggested it had been destroyed by a huge fire. However, later archaeologists think that Troy VII is most likely to have been the city which Homer used in 'The Illiad'. There was evidence that a war had taken place as well as evidence of slaughter. So it would appear that there could be some historical truth in Homer's work. I studied this at university (I did an Ancient History degree) and found it fascinating. I guess it's something that we may never know for sure what actually happened.


message 13: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 51046 comments Hehehe... I opened a can of worms. :) This discussion is great. I, too, saw a documentary about the discovery of ruins that could be the remains of Troy. Ancient history is indeed fascinating.

There is much discussion about what constitutes historical fiction. I never really thought about it when I was a teenager and reading books about Anne Boleyn, Mary (Queen of Scots), Marie Antoinette, etc. I didn't know that there was a term "historical fiction". I just knew that I really loved reading about history in a fictionalized format.

Then gradually, the term Historical Fiction made its way into my vocabulary. But people bandied the definition around with a very broad brush. Some people consider historical fiction to be any novel set in the past. What got my dander up was when I learned people were classifying The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie as HF. It is a mystery set in the 1950's. It doesn't have any feel for the time period let alone be based on historical events. If we hadn't been told that the book was set in the 50's, we would never have deduced that.

So for me, the term itself defines the genre - history and fiction. I ask myself, what is the history in this novel? In Song of Achilles, what is the history? Granted, it is possible that there was a city named Troy. But at this point, there is nothing to substantiate it as historical fact. Maybe it falls more under speculative fiction than historical fiction.

I don't know why this bugs me. It just does. I had to chuckle when jaxnsmom was giving us the gears about definitions of genres in the Bingo Toppler. I empathize with the sentiment.


message 14: by Lisa (last edited Feb 13, 2014 08:39AM) (new)

Lisa (lisathebooklover) | 9244 comments I love discussions like this too :)

For me, The Song of Achilles falls under historical fiction because you can tell from the descriptions of the clothes they wore, how they fought, what weapons they used, the gods they believed in, what the buildings were like, that this is taking place in a time that is not our own. If I didn't know beforehand that this was set in Ancient Greece, I reckon I could work it out (or at least have a good guess) because of the aforementioned details which are things that have come to be associated with times gone by. Also, the mythology actually helps to define it as historical fiction for me because mythology was a very important part of Ancient Greek culture and is something that isn't really associated with modern Greek culture. So that is why I personally define it as historical fiction :)


message 15: by Marnie (new)

Marnie (marnie19) | 2033 comments When Dawn mentioned Julia Quinn it reminded me that I use to read lots of romances.
Julie Garwood
Johanna Lindsey
I've read almost everything they have written up until 5 years ago.
Bertrice Small- I have read a lot of her too.

Gosh I wonder if I would still enjoy them as much?


message 16: by Marnie (new)

Marnie (marnie19) | 2033 comments As for having a " thing " about classifying historical fiction correctly...I'm glad someone can. I have such a hard time with genres because I find they overlap a lot. I wish goodreads listed which genre the author thinks their books fit...would help me.


message 17: by Lisa (last edited Feb 13, 2014 10:45AM) (new)

Lisa (lisathebooklover) | 9244 comments Marnie wrote: "As for having a " thing " about classifying historical fiction correctly...I'm glad someone can. I have such a hard time with genres because I find they overlap a lot. I wish goodreads listed which..."

I agree Marnie, I think that would help a lot. I struggle with the sub genres of science fiction because a lot of them are very similar. But then again, it must be really difficult to place a book into just one genre because they often deal with many different themes and subject matters.


message 18: by Cherie (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20547 comments Two HF books that come to mind, that I read areThe Dressmaker and Winston's War. I liked them both. They are both based on real people or events but have a made up story or thread and people in them. I thought both of them were well done and easy reads.


message 19: by Barb (new)

Barb (bubasbookshelf) | 17 comments Marnie wrote: "As for having a " thing " about classifying historical fiction correctly...I'm glad someone can. I have such a hard time with genres because I find they overlap a lot. I wish goodreads listed which..."

Yup, completly agree about this one.
And it's not just historical fiction.


message 20: by Rusalka, Moderator (new)

Rusalka (rusalkii) | 17693 comments Lol Janice. I understand your point entirely. But I also agree that they think they have found evidence of Troy-like cities in parts of Turkey that the myth could is some ways be based on truth. I agree with Ema about the point of myth blurring facts, and making them easier to remember. And then personally I agree with Lisa.

But genres as we all know are so personal and fluctuating that I completely understand having hard and fast rules for yourself.

I'm just so agreeable this morning I agree with you all :P

So sticking with "proper" HF (ie I won't count WWII books, which to me are but only as I didn't live through it), my top 5 at the moment are:
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Luminaries
The Secret River
Tipping the Velvet
Year of Wonders

4 of those 5 have been read in the last year, and 3 in the last 6 weeks though. I was just going through my 5 star list. And they are very UK-centric...

Special mentions therefore to The Red Tent, The Secrets of Jin-shei andGirl With a Pearl Earring


message 21: by Cherie (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20547 comments Oh, yes, I forgot about Girl With a Pearl Earring. I think this one was my favorite.
I really enjoyed The Red Tent too, but I had a hard time classifying this as HF. I remember we had a huge discussion about this one too, when we were doing the group read.


message 22: by Cherie (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20547 comments I do not want to get into another can of worms, but is there really a catagory for Historical Romance or is it just something that someone made up and added as a shelf and GR picks it up? I have a really hard time believing genre clasifications because of this.


message 23: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 2668 comments I've always thought of Regency Romance as its own category, but now historical romances seem to cover many periods.


message 24: by Cherie (new)

Cherie (crobins0) | 20547 comments Casceil wrote: "I've always thought of Regency Romance as its own category, but now historical romances seem to cover many periods."

LOL! Well, I just got a lesson and found out more than I really wanted to know when I looked at the Listopia definitions and looked at some of the books.
I understand what Regency Romance and Historical Romance is now, but I don't really go out of my way read "Romance", so it was meh to me. I had to check out what classified as Romance for the Toppler though, and I was lucky to have a few Nicholas Sparks novels on hand that I had picked up at a library sale. :)


message 25: by Rusalka, Moderator (new)

Rusalka (rusalkii) | 17693 comments Cherie wrote: "Oh, yes, I forgot about Girl With a Pearl Earring. I think this one was my favorite.
I really enjoyed The Red Tent too, but I had a hard time classifying this as HF. I re..."


I need to go read that thread again. I fall into the it gave me a good insight into a time's culture and traditions and practices. Did the character's actually exist? Probably not, but you can say that about a lot of historical fiction really. But again, this all falls into this mythology box.


message 26: by Esther (new)

Esther (nyctale) | 4544 comments My definition of historical is that it must sit on real events and, while it's fiction, it is plausible.

If I see magic or time travel. This is not HF in my book.
I am currently listening to The Aviator's Wife, which is a fictional memoir of Anne Lindbergh. And I am reading Rouge de Paris which is a family saga series that is set around the transition from soft-paste to hard-paste porcelain in Europe. I consider both HF.

My favorite? I have to go with: les rois maudits ( the accursed kings) series which starts with The Iron King.


message 27: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 51046 comments Lisa wrote: "I love discussions like this too :)

For me, The Song of Achilles falls under historical fiction because you can tell from the descriptions of the clothes they wore, how they fought..."


I definitely see your point of view.

I sometimes ask myself what intention the author may have had in writing the book. In this case, did Miller intend to delve into what life was like for the ancient Greeks? Or did she intend to rewrite a myth from a different point of view? Perhaps it was both.

Like Marnie, I have often wished that Goodreads would state what genre the author assigned to his/her work.


message 28: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 51046 comments Rusalka wrote: "Lol Janice. I understand your point entirely."

Yeah, I know... I'm so anal at times, I drive myself crazy. LOL!

You make a good point about myths and legends being based on some element of truth.


message 29: by Janice, Moderator (new)

Janice (jamasc) | 51046 comments Cherie wrote: "Oh, yes, I forgot about Girl With a Pearl Earring. I think this one was my favorite.
I really enjoyed The Red Tent too, but I had a hard time classifying this as HF. I re..."


Now that you mention it, I do recall a bit about that discussion. It was all about whether or not the stories in the Bible were real events or myths/legends.


message 30: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 1741 comments Janice wrote: "Now that you mention it, I do recall a bit about that discussion. It was all about whether or not the stories in the Bible were real events or myths/legends...."

That must have been quite the conversation. :)


message 31: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 1741 comments Esther wrote: "My definition of historical is that it must sit on real events and, while it's fiction, it is plausible.

If I see magic or time travel. This is not HF in my book...."


This is actually another sub-genre called historical fantasy. Though I personally don't use the designation, preferring to just stick to the standard fantasy genre.


message 32: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 18213 comments I really enjoyed The Red Tent too. My favourites have already been mentioned (Burial Rites,To Kill a Mockingbird and The Book Thief) most of my others would also fit in "historical fantasy" as they are split time periods or time travel but when they are telling the tale in the past they do give a very good sense of the time period. A good example of this would be The Firebird.

Added Girl With a Pearl Earring to my list! I also REALLY need to read my copy of Memoirs of a Geisha given it appears on a couple peoples top 5 on here!

When I first joined goodreads I applied HF to many different books but through conversations like this and reading more of the genre, I have become stricter with what I shelf as HF!


message 33: by Peggy, Moderator (last edited Feb 14, 2014 02:36AM) (new)

Peggy (pebbles84) | 15486 comments I've become stricter too, but I think I'm still much more liberal (is that the word?) than some others. That's partly because I shelve read books by genre(s), but I don't want a million different genres or use many subgenres, so I often use the overarching genre (for example for historical fiction and fantasy). Most important for me to label a book historical fiction is that it should give me a real sense of the time period it's set in. But I agree, it's often hard to decide how to shelve exactly, and the line between genres is vague.

Many books have been mentioned, but one I liked was actually my introduction to historical fiction. I got it as a birthday present and it was not something I would have bought for myself, but I read it because it was a gift, and really enjoyed it! It was The Island by Victoria Hislop. I also read another of her books, The Return, which I also enjoyed. Both are dual-timeline stories, but only a little bit in the beginning and at the end, not during the story itself.

edit: and other ones I loved were Mudbound and The Kitchen House, both southern historical fiction. And Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, although some might argue whether this is really HF ;-) I'm not sure either, because it's such a feel-good book and in my experience most HF books have some tougher topics in them or are more serious. However, it did transport me back to the 1930s so I shelved it as HF, among others.


message 34: by Rusalka, Moderator (new)

Rusalka (rusalkii) | 17693 comments Peggy wrote: "I've become stricter too, but I think I'm still much more liberal (is that the word?) than some others. That's partly because I shelve read books by genre(s), but I don't want a million different g..."

Totes the word. Unlike "totes", which I promise never to use ever again.


message 35: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sarahlou29) | 1302 comments Ooh, I love HF. It's my favourite genre besides Fantasy.

I just finished reading The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman and I have to say anything by her is amazing. The Sunne in Splendour is a novel about Richard III and Sharon's book are as factual as they can be. She does include some fiction to bulk it out but most of the time everything is based on her research of real history. Check out my review here

I've read her Welsh Princes series and loved that. All my reviews are there too, so you can see how much I loved them.

I can be pretty strict with my HF. Sometimes I don't like classing Sharon Penman's book as HF as they are so factual that to be they shouldn't be considered fiction, but I guess I see the need to, as she is telling a story from the factual events hoping to make it seem more real and adding in one or two make-believe characters in here and there.

I'm a big fan of the Tudors, so anything to do with them I'll read, my favourites being: Bring Up the Bodies and The Constant Princess

I quite liked Runaway Heart for a Regency book, and am quite keen to read some more, if anyone can suggest some for me =]


message 36: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisathebooklover) | 9244 comments Peggy, I have been debating whether to read The Island for quite some time now. Having heard how much you enjoyed it, I think I may bump it up my TBR list now :)


message 37: by Peggy, Moderator (new)

Peggy (pebbles84) | 15486 comments Lisa, the present-time story is a bit flimsy and might just as well have been left out for the biggest part (luckily there's not that much of it), but I thought the historical part was great :)


message 38: by Peggy, Moderator (last edited Feb 14, 2014 04:10AM) (new)

Peggy (pebbles84) | 15486 comments Rusalka wrote: "Peggy wrote: "I've become stricter too, but I think I'm still much more liberal (is that the word?) than some others. That's partly because I shelve read books by genre(s), but I don't want a milli..."

Haha, I had to go look that up. I used Google Translate and it translated it as either 'baking' or 'containers' which confused me even more. Then I found the urban slang meaning, but I'm glad you'll never use it again ;-)


message 39: by Rusalka, Moderator (new)

Rusalka (rusalkii) | 17693 comments Lol you and me both.

On that note, I used to work with people that actually said "lol" instead of laughing.


message 40: by Peggy, Moderator (new)

Peggy (pebbles84) | 15486 comments That's a definite sign of spending too much time online.


message 41: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 18213 comments When I saw your use of totes Rusalka I thought you were saying the word Peggy was looking for (instead of liberal) was totes! My only excuse was that I hadn't long got up and my brain wasn't working!


message 42: by Dorottya (new)

Dorottya (dorottya_b) | 35 comments I have a really interesting relationship with these kinds of books. On the one hand, they seem mysterious and I love romance, but sometimes I feel how the existing storyline can be restrictive and how some authors try way too hard to be authentic than to make the characters real persons and having real emotions. There only have been a few that I actually loved. Mozart's Wives was a pretty good one. But I never actually got the hype around the books by Philippa Gregory or Tracy Chevalier for some reason... it's not that their books are bad, they just didn't speak to me.


message 43: by Rusalka, Moderator (new)

Rusalka (rusalkii) | 17693 comments Can you link us Mozart's Wives please Dorottya? I've tried to search for it and it doesn't appear. You may have more luck seeing you know it.


message 44: by Lilisa (new)

Lilisa | 2489 comments Maybe it's Mozart's Wife?


message 45: by Rusalka, Moderator (new)

Rusalka (rusalkii) | 17693 comments /facepalm

Thanks Lilisa! I'm only half way through the first coffee...


message 46: by Lilisa (new)

Lilisa | 2489 comments :-) ha, and I'm losing steam at this end but I have to keep going as I have an appointment :-(


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