What's the Name of That Book??? discussion

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Suggest books for me > Historical fiction books that cover little known/ not mainstream events or people

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message 1: by Courtney (new)

Courtney (conservio) | 97 comments I'm looking for historical fiction books that cover little known/ not mainstream events or people.

Examples: Roman person relocating to England during 300 CE, Florence Nightengale, Cambodian history, Aboriginals, prehistory, etc.

Thanks in advance


message 2: by Samantha (new)

Samantha | 70 comments I like Private Captain by Marty Crisp, it's about the battle of Gettysburg. I also liked The Forestwife.


message 4: by Tytti (last edited Mar 04, 2016 11:48AM) (new)

Tytti | 190 comments I don't know how "mainstream" it is but Under the North Star trilogy is about the Finnish Civil War and WWII from the Finnish perspective, so at least it's not well known. Also Purge is about the Soviet occupation of Estonia. And books by Jaan Kross.


message 5: by Teri-K (new)

Teri-K | 302 comments Perhaps the My Lady Judge series by Cora Harrison about a female judge and lawyer in early 16th century Ireland would interest you.

Also, Fatal Decision: Edith Cavell WWI Nurse is non-fiction, but since you mentioned Florence Nightengale...


message 6: by Samantha (new)

Samantha | 70 comments Courtney wrote: "this book?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1..."


Yeah, but I've only read the first one....plan on reading the rest though.


message 7: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 37567 comments Mod
You might like Sarum: The Novel of England which tells the story of England starting very, very early - 20,000 B.C. - and then jumps to 7500 B.C. with a couple named Hwll and Akun.


Steph (loves water) | 110 comments THIS!!! Flow Down Like Silver: Hypatia of Alexandria

About Hypatia of Alexander, a Greek philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer in 400 A.D. AWESOME book!!!


message 9: by Teri-K (new)

Teri-K | 302 comments I thought Genghis: Birth of an Empire was fascinating. The audio-book is great, too.


message 10: by Ann aka Iftcan (new)

Ann aka Iftcan (iftcan) | 6980 comments Mod
Fighting Prince of Donegal more YA, so not sure if you'd like it or not, but thought I'd toss it out there.

If you don't mind alternate history, you might try the Temeraire series. His Majesty's Dragon is the first book in the series. Think the battles of the War between England and Napoleon for the time frame. Then add dragons. But, except for the dragons, the time period and battles are fairly "true to life" as it were.


message 11: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 596 comments Some book that are fiction that cover less-mainstream events:

Vienna Waltz is a mystery series that covers that Vienna Congress; it is pretty well researched and has a good mix of historical people that really existed and fictional characters (that solve the mystery that is happening)

These two books are a mystery set in The Dutchman (and sequel The Dutchman's Dilemma) New Amsterdam, among the Dutch, Native Americans, British, and small Jewish community.

Also, this mystery series is set in Napoleonic-occupied Prussia (Critique of Criminal Reason is book 1), which seems like a less-written about era. (Be forewarned, there is quite a bit of anti-semitism in the book, which seems like it probably really existed in the era, but still might be disturbing.)


message 12: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 596 comments Also The Investigation is about a Korean poet (real person) who is a prisoner in 1944-1945 in a Japanese (?) camp.


message 13: by Ari (new)

Ari | 39 comments Snowflower and the Secret Fan is about 2 girls and their changing relationship with each other and tradition in China in the 1800s. The Great Stink is set in London in the 1850s and focuses on the construction of the sewers, the underworld around the Thames and PTSD faced from the Crimean War. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is about a clerk for the Dutch East India Company in Japan in 1799.


message 14: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 37567 comments Mod
The Queen of the Night features an opera singer.


message 15: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 37567 comments Mod
High Dive, an IRA assassination attempt on Margaret Thatcher.


message 16: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 37567 comments Mod
The Last Matriarch

In the tradition of Jean Auel, this well-researched novel authentically recreates the world of the Clovis people, hunters and gatherers who lived on the Southwestern plains of North America more than 11,000 years ago. Willow, one of the clan elders, tells the story of her youth, a time when abundant bison, camels, mammoths and lions roamed. After her husband, Jak, is killed by a mammoth during a hunt, the strong-willed Willow is obliged to become the second wife of Etol, Jak's brother, who can provide for her children, Ali and Chi. Each spring, the group travels to perform tribal rites and meet with healers, shamans and storytellers.......


message 17: by Rafi (new)

Rafi Snowden | 101 comments Green Darkness, set in 16th century England
also Avalon by Anya Seton, set in 10th century England and Iceland. (couldn't find a link for it)

Hanta Yo: An American Saga about native americans


message 18: by Tess (new)

Tess | 439 comments What age range are you hoping for? I seem to read a lot of MG / YA historical fiction.

A good author of this age range is Frances Mary Hendry - my favorite is 'Quest for a Maid. She writes mostly about Scotland, but she does have some other works.

Also YA, set in Pakistan, Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind and its sequels.

Not YA books - check out Dorothy Dunnett


message 19: by Rafi (new)

Rafi Snowden | 101 comments Here are a few more:
Glory and the Lightning also Captains and the Kings

and Michener's The Source

this is YA, Lyddie

there are lots of YA books in fact. Are they something you would be interested in?


message 20: by Courtney (new)

Courtney (conservio) | 97 comments Thanks everyone for the recommendations. I've added many to my too read list.

Rafi, yes as long as there isn't a love triangle or instant love.


message 21: by Rafi (new)

Rafi Snowden | 101 comments Sarah Bishop
Calico Captive
Calico Bush
The authors of the above also wrote other YA historical fiction.


message 22: by Rafi (new)

Rafi Snowden | 101 comments The Pillars of the Earth
World Without End
both excellent.

Are there particular times/places you're interested in?


message 23: by Courtney (last edited Oct 10, 2016 08:57AM) (new)

Courtney (conservio) | 97 comments I'm interested in pretty much everything except United States American history (excluding natives and social reform in the 1900's) and anything after* the 1700s. It's not I won't read it, but they normally don't interest me.

I enjoy historical fiction, but I find that many of the books are usually about the same thing. Tudors, the Renaissance, various English or French princesses, Holocaust, etc. They are usually told from what seems like the same viewpoint. Either royalty or peasants that make something out of themselves. Rarely is it tradesmen, merchants, etc.

However, time periods that always catch my eye are pre history, Irish (I can't ever seem to find a book that actually sounds interesting though), Russian, Mongolian (not necessarily Ghengis Khan), Central America pre-conquistadors, Roman inhabitation of Britain, goths, Pacific Islander, etc.


The list goes on. It's really not even particular times or events, rather large spans of history in nations.

I don't particularly mind if it's about real life people or fictional people.

Historical fiction books that are good examples are: Sister Fidelma series by Peter Tremayne, The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer, The Secret History by Stephanie Thorton, A Break with Charity by Ann Rinaldi, and The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman.


message 24: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 37567 comments Mod
Alias Grace is set in mid 19th century Canada.


message 27: by Brittany (last edited Sep 23, 2016 09:25PM) (new)

Brittany | 325 comments I know you mentioned you weren't a fan of pre 1700s stories, but The Queen's Lady, although set during the time of Henry VIII, is a story of the life of a woman who is the ward of Sir Thomas More and the hand maiden to Catherine of Aragon, but it isn't the usual glitzy royal love story. She becomes some sort of secret helper, not really a spy, and helps people escape being burned at the stake because the king changed the religious laws. It's dark and gritty at times, but I think that's what I liked about it - it was an accurate portrayal of the struggles and peril of that time (though it is fiction) and not a romanticized version of that era.
Also The Viking was good in my opinion. Follows the life of a Viking boy that gets stranded in Scotland on his first Viking raid and has to 'fit in' so the clan won't kill him with the help of a girl who sees him and helps him escape capture. But again, it is pre 1700s. Why is my brain stuck there?


message 28: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 37567 comments Mod
The Siege of Krishnapur is set during the Indian Mutiny of 1857.


message 29: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey | 28 comments Meet Kaya is a kid's book, but it counts. It's just the story of a Nez Perce girl and her life.


message 30: by Miss Mara (new)

Miss Mara | 156 comments I used to love the Dear America and Dear Canada (I'm Canadian) series as a child but that's children's fiction so it might be too juvenile for you


message 31: by Nente (new)

Nente | 68 comments Courtney, how would you feel about Peter the First? One of the well-trodden topics in Russian history, but this is really the classic take on it.

The Captain's Daughter is set during Pugachev's uprising, though it more or less relies on you already knowing the history and concentrates on the fates of several characters.

I was also going to recommend some Vasily Yan, but unfortunately cannot find any edition in English on Goodreads, and no way to tell if one exists... If you can find something by him though, it's almost all historical fiction, more or less ancient: Spartacus, Alexander the Great, Genghiz Khan and Mongols after him.


message 32: by Rosa (new)

Rosa (rosaiglarsh) | 4974 comments Catherine, Called Birdy
The Ballad of Lucy Whipple
The Golden Goblet
By the Great Horn Spoon!
Rodzina
Dave At Night
Blue Willow
Bud, Not Buddy
Love from Your Friend, Hannah
Medieval England (the year of the expulsion of the Jews), the Gold Rush, Ancient Egypt, the Orphan Train, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Great Depression may be topics too mainstream for you, but these are the best historical novels for younger people I've ever read, and everyone should read them.
For a more obscure period in history: The Mistletoe And The Sword: A Story Of Roman Britain.


message 33: by Rosa (new)

Rosa (rosaiglarsh) | 4974 comments Also, Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison is more historically accurate than Calico Captive, IMHO.


message 34: by Patricia (last edited Apr 03, 2017 12:30PM) (new)

Patricia Robinson | 38 comments The Queen's Soprano is about a girl in 17th century Rome who becomes the soprano of Christina, the Swedish queen who abdicated her throne. It's a little earlier than what you're looking for but it deals with an obscure topic so maybe you'd like it.

Burke - Now and Then is a factually accurate retelling of the Burke and Hare murders (in 1828 Edinburgh, they killed at least sixteen people to sell their bodies to surgeons for dissection) from the perspective of William Burke, whose spirit is looking back on what he did after his execution.


message 35: by Christina (last edited Apr 03, 2017 01:46PM) (new)

Christina | 24 comments The Secret River by Kate Grenville. The story of William Thornhill, a 19th-century Englishman sentenced to the penal colony in New South Wales (Australia). The book deals with his plight to attain freedom, and create a new life for his family, as well as the struggle between the old inhabitants and the new.

The Last Town On Earth by Thomas Mullen. The story of the town of Commonwealth during WWI, and the Spanish Flu epidemic. Deals with morality and patriotism, and the struggle between social responsibility and individual survival.

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat). A book with two alternating time lines, set in France. One during the German Occupation, the other with the return of Framboise Dartigen to the house and village of her childhood. Framboise conceals her identity for fear of rejection, and opens a cafe. She cooks her mother's recipes from the scrapbook she inherited, and in doing so, unravels her family's tragic past.

Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson. Set in the Ice Age in pre-Europe. The story of Loon, a young shaman trainee, and his path to becoming a man. The first half of the book slowly details the daily life of a tribe of early modern humans, while the second half is quite intense with the challenge Loon faces in a harsh and dangerous world.

The Secret River by Kate Grenville The Last Town On Earth by Thomas Mullen Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson


message 37: by Rosa (new)


message 38: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 37567 comments Mod
An Ice-Cream War is set during WWI but not the usual places; in German East Africa. (Also in England at the homefront.)


message 39: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 37567 comments Mod
The Bridal Wreath. Medieval Norway. The families involved are relatively well-off, not peasants, some are farmers, some are knights.


message 40: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Love | 1056 comments Tess wrote: "What age range are you hoping for? I seem to read a lot of MG / YA historical fiction.

A good author of this age range is Frances Mary Hendry - my favorite is '[book:Quest for a Mai..."


Thanks for mentioning this book. I've been trying to remember "Quest for a Maid"'s title, and was just about to ask on this thread!


message 41: by Tess (new)

Tess | 439 comments Pamela wrote: "Thanks for mentioning this book. I've been trying to remember "Quest for a Maid"'s title, and was just about to ask on this thread! "

I ADORE Quest for a Maid. I'm so glad you found the title again!


message 42: by Cummingc (new)

Cummingc | 27 comments Edward Rutherfurd's "New York" spans hundreds of eyrs from the arrival of the first settlers. Interesting detail and characters, well-written, plot moves along at a decent pace.

The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles, set in Texas in the 1800s. Again, good characterization and plot structure.

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber set in 19th century London. Class struggle, passionate affair, prostitute making her way in the cold, dirty city. 900 pages.


message 43: by Cummingc (new)

Cummingc | 27 comments For historical novels based on Ireland or Irish issues:
A Star Called Henry - Roddy Doyle. First in a trilogy, but certainly stands alone. Set in the time of the 1916 Easter uprising. (I read Oh Play that Thing---2nd book in the trilogy--but did not like it nearly as well; partly because I don' t like modern authors using real characters of the modern age and putting words/attitudes on them; in this case, it was band leader Louis Armstrong.)

Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor was wonderful. Set on board an America-bound ship, Irish people of various social classes fleeing poverty and famine. Loved it.

Back in England:
The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman is a 19th century London story of a young woman's poverty and struggle.

Jack Maggs by Peter Carey is a terrific novel; some have said a retelling of Dickens' Great Expectations, but well worth reading for its own merits.

Sweet Thames by Matthew Kneale set in the time of the building of the underground sewers of London. But about much more than engineering (which would have not interested me).


message 44: by Lobstergirl, au gratin (new)

Lobstergirl | 37567 comments Mod
The Dante Club is American historical fiction but it's more about literature and poets. It's 1865 and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is translating Dante's Divine Comedy for an American readership. Someone begins to murder people in ways that come right out of Dante, so the Dante Club (which really existed, to try to help Longfellow with his work) tries to solve the murders.


message 45: by Cummingc (new)

Cummingc | 27 comments Re-reading your original post, the words "tradesmen or merchants" caught my eye. "The Miniaturist" by Jessie Burton is set in Amsterdam in the late 1700s. Novel is about a young bride who moves into her new husband's home which is run by his domineering sister. Mysteries, both physical and psychological, ensue. It's not action-packed in the standard sense, but the plot does move along at enough of a pace to keep the reader engaged. And the writing is strikingly elegant; this is not a novel written in the same 500 words rearranged, pitching to the lowest common denominator. I've loaned my copy to several friends, all of whom enjoyed it.


message 46: by Ann aka Iftcan (new)

Ann aka Iftcan (iftcan) | 6980 comments Mod
Mara, Daughter of the Nile this is a YA set in ancient Egypt. It was interesting, even if not totally historically accurate.


message 47: by Tess (new)

Tess | 439 comments I loved Mara! great suggestion, though, yes, it isn't very accurate.


message 48: by Ann aka Iftcan (new)

Ann aka Iftcan (iftcan) | 6980 comments Mod
I know, I kind of cringed when I read some of the things in it when I was a kid. But I still loved the story, and STILL love the story to this day. (And I have grown grandkids now, so it's been a few years since I read it the first time.) While I didn't read it quite when it was first published (hey, even I am not THAT old, since it was before I was born) I remember finding it in the school library and loving it. My Dad was Navy, and we lived in various countries in the Western world (Greece, England, France), so I was always interested in history, and probably, even at 10 or 11, knew more world history than many adults did. But the story telling was great, and I loved the characters.


message 49: by Erin (new)

Erin Hodgson | 45 comments The Thief Taker byJanet Gleeson is set in 1700's England. The main character is a cook for a silversmith's family.


message 50: by Erin (new)

Erin Cunningham  (historicalfic123) | 41 comments The Wages of Sin
The Wages of Sin is a mystery/historical fiction about the cadaver usage in victorian England medical schools. It was really good and a surprisingly good mystery (I usually hate them)


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