Historical Fictionistas discussion

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Allison (The Allure of Books) (inconceivably) | 304 comments What are your favorite books set in more recent history? There is so much great WWI & WWII fiction to choose from!


message 2: by April (new)

April (booksandwine) | 39 comments Can anyone recommend some good WWI books? I feel like I haven't read enough WWI books in comparison to WWII books and want to branch out a little.


message 4: by April (new)

April (booksandwine) | 39 comments I read All Quiet on the Western Front in high school. It's good, but gruesome, and f-ing depressing.


JG (Introverted Reader) The only book I have that has anything to do with WWI, other than All Quiet, is Rilla of Ingleside (Anne of Green Gables No. 8). Probably not exactly what you're looking for! :-)


message 6: by Dorie (new)

Dorie (dorieann) I highly recommend Losing Julia, a historical romance/WWI novel. It remains my second favorite historical romance (next to the Outlander series, of course).


JG (Introverted Reader) A Northern Light just barely fits into this group. I know a lot of us have read it, but it's so good I had to throw it in here.

The same goes for Water for Elephants.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Gone to Soldiers
Skeletons at the Feast


Allison (The Allure of Books) (inconceivably) | 304 comments I love Rilla JG!!

Dog Monday <3

(isn't it Monday? hehe)


JG (Introverted Reader) I think I woke my entire family up when I started laughing during that scene. I think it's Monday, but it's been years...


Allison (The Allure of Books) (inconceivably) | 304 comments aww I cried at the end with him though :P well, teared up anyway. Sad!


message 11: by Donna (new)

Donna | 49 comments Hi April, Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear is set during and following WW I. The rest of the series is post WW I. They are actually mysteries but the historical setting and the thoughtful discussion of conditions in post WW I London make them much more.


Allison (The Allure of Books) (inconceivably) | 304 comments Dorie that DOES look good. I, of course, also added it to my TBR :)


message 13: by April (new)

April (booksandwine) | 39 comments Yeah, I just bookmooched Losing Julia today! Thanks for the rec!

Also, I'm getting pretty addicted to mysteries lately, so one more to the TBR doesn't seem so bad. :-)

I feel like 1900s includes victorian era, and I'm suprised a certain doggy hasn't been pushing a certain book which involves some gables, I think they are green....


Allison (The Allure of Books) (inconceivably) | 304 comments I would of course assume that the intelligent people of this group would have already read that magnificent series April...but since you bring it up...

If everyone doesn't immediately read Anne of Green Gables (and LIKE it), you will be banned from the group forthwith.


message 15: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (JenJen1221) | 54 comments Dorie wrote: "I highly recommend Losing Julia, a historical romance/WWI novel. It remains my second favorite historical romance (next to the Outlander series, of course)."

added it to my list.


message 16: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (JenJen1221) | 54 comments I agree with Allison...kick 'em out.


message 17: by Dorie (new)

Dorie (dorieann) Wow, hope you all like Losing Julia when you read it.


Allison (The Allure of Books) (inconceivably) | 304 comments yeah, lots of pressure Dorie ;) hehe.


message 19: by Felina (new)

Felina | 500 comments Allison wrote: "I would of course assume that the intelligent people of this group would have already read that magnificent series April...but since you bring it up...

If everyone doesn't immediately read [book..."



I've read the first three and liked them very much. I can stay. Phew! :)



message 20: by Andra (new)

Andra (aezadnik) | 9 comments So I think the present of the novel is in the early 1900s, but the breadth reaches back to the civil war:

East of Eden. I adore Steinbeck and this is by far his most epic, most beautiful book. Read it. Please.


message 21: by Misty (new)

Misty | 32 comments JG wrote: "The only book I have that has anything to do with WWI, other than All Quiet, is Rilla of Ingleside (Anne of Green Gables No. 8). Probably not exactly what you're looking for! :-)"

That's probably about the extent of my WWI reading too...Oh well.

And I loved Water for Elephants.


message 22: by Donna (new)

Donna | 49 comments A book I particularly enjoyed is The Air We Breathe A Novel by Andrea Barrett. Set in a sanatorium in the Adirondacks in the Fall of 1916 just as Americans debate whether to enter the European war, it is a story of the rapidly changing times - political, economic, and scientific, and the anti-immigrant prejudice and vigilante sentiment that developed in this small rural community.


message 23: by Donna (new)

Donna | 49 comments While I have not read these, No Graves As Yet A Novel of World War I by Anne Perry and The Murder Stone by Charles Todd are mysteries set in and around WW I.

To the Last Man A Novel of the First World War by Jeff Shaara is also a good possibility. Shaara has a good series of well researched historical fiction


message 24: by JG (Introverted Reader) (last edited Aug 10, 2009 03:21AM) (new)

JG (Introverted Reader) Sarah's Key was mostly good. It's about the French police rounding up the Jews in Paris and a modern-day journalist researching it.

Charlotte Gray was good from what I remember. It's about a British female spy in France in WWII.

The Chestnut Tree is about what life was like in Britain for the women left behind in WWII. There's a sequel too, about everyone readjusting after the "boys" came home.


Allison (The Allure of Books) (inconceivably) | 304 comments oh...I read Skeletons at the Feast this week, it is a WWII novel. One of my favorite parts about it was the portrayal of the German family fleeing from the Russians. It was cool to see them from a point of view other then just the normal "all Germans are Nazis! DIE!!!"...because this family was just totally ignorant of what was going on.

Also portrayed was a young Jewish woman in a work camp, and her story was fabulous and heart wrenching.

Anyway...it was fantastic!


message 26: by Becky, Moddess (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) | 3686 comments Mod
Hi MJ... I'd appreciate it if you would not advertise your book here. We're here to discuss HF, not provide a billboard for advertisement of upcoming books, even if said books are genre appropriate.

This is a private group, and while we're not trying to pick and choose our members, we do want to avoid being marketed to, which is why I have not made the group public.

You've mentioned your book already in the appropriate area, which I don't mind even though that is your only post other than this one, but simply because it is listed in the GR Giveaway - but please participate in discussions regarding other books as well as your own.

Thank you!


message 27: by Donna (new)

Donna | 49 comments I just finished The Commoner A Novel by John Burnham Schwartz. This fictionalized account of the life of the current Empress of Japan was a very moving story of her struggles and sacrifices as she left her life as a "commoner" in 1959 to become a member of the Imperial Family and eventually Empress in 1989. My only criticism is the ending which I found slightly unrealistic but otherwise it was a very interesting book and I recommend it highly.


Lyn (Readinghearts) (lsmeadows) To the Last Man A Novel of the First World War by Jeff Shaara should be good. I have not read this one, but his books on WWII and the Civil War are really good.


message 29: by Erin (new)

Erin (erinlouise429) | 5 comments Donna wrote: "I just finished The Commoner A Novel by John Burnham Schwartz. This fictionalized account of the life of the current Empress of Japan was a very moving story of her struggles and sa..."

Donna! I really like that book. but I think I enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha more. have you read that one?


message 30: by Donna (new)

Donna | 49 comments Erin wrote: "Donna wrote: "I just finished The Commoner A Novel by John Burnham Schwartz. This fictionalized account of the life of the current Empress of Japan was a very moving story of her st..."

Hi Erin, Yes I've read Memoirs of a Geisha and it is really tough choice which I like better but I think it would be Memoirs of a Geisha too.


message 31: by Lindz (new)

Lindz (miss_bovary00) Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simons would definitely have to be a good chocolate read. Bird Song by Faulks is really really amazing. Though if you want something really quirky and amazing, I would also recommend the Amazing Adventures of Kaviler and Clay by Michael Chabon. It is set in the 40's and 50's in New York about two cousins who create a comic book hero called the Escapist.

Even if you have no interest in comic books or graphic novels, I would recommend this novel to everyone. It's brilliant!!!


Allison (The Allure of Books) (inconceivably) | 304 comments ooo yeah, I enjoyed Bronze Horseman.


message 33: by Carol (new)

Carol Kerry-Green Can recommend the Anne Perry 1st world war books, the mystery is sustained right through all five novels, which is quite a feat in itself.

Agree with the recommendation of Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear, this book is set partially during WW1, but all her series deal with the horrors and aftermath of the war.

And really can't recommend this one highly enough - non fiction - Vera Britain's Testament of Youth; being autobiography, it really hooks you through to the end.

Hmm, Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy.




Allison (The Allure of Books) (inconceivably) | 304 comments no I really did like Bronze Horseman, I'm just frustrated she didn't keep it as one book instead of dragging it out, I might re-read it and read the second someday, but probably not someday soon.


message 35: by Caroline (new)

Caroline Wilson (oldhousejunkie) | 10 comments Has anyone read "No Angel" by Penny Vincenzi? It starts a great trilogy about a publishing family in England, starting in the early 1900s and going through the 1960s. I've read the series twice through! The other books are "Something Dangerous" and "Into Temptation." Cheesy names, but good stories!


message 36: by Caroline (new)

Caroline Wilson (oldhousejunkie) | 10 comments Heather wrote: "I just looked at the description for No Angel and it looks really good!! I'll have to see if my library has it and the others that follow.

I love this cover:

No Angel by Penny Vincenzi"



Its a great cover, and so representative of the lead character, Celia. She's a real piece of work! :-)




message 37: by Tanya (new)

Tanya Mac (YOYOCHKMEOUTHOTMAILCOM) | 51 comments I liked What I Saw And How I Lied by Judy Blundell. It's set in the 1940's and adds a little mystery to the mix. I thought it good. :)


message 38: by Ellie (new)

Ellie M (elliemcc11) I'm currently reading lots of between the wars books. If you want to read about quintessential upper class England and you want it light try anything by Nancy Mitford.


message 39: by Cheryl A (new)

Cheryl A | 972 comments Ellie wrote: "I'm currently reading lots of between the wars books. If you want to read about quintessential upper class England and you want it light try anything by Nancy Mitford."

I also really like the "between" books. I've been reading the Josephine Tey mystery series by Nicola Upson as well as the Montmaray series by Michelle Cooper.


message 40: by Ellie (new)

Ellie M (elliemcc11) Cheryl wrote: "Ellie wrote: "I'm currently reading lots of between the wars books. If you want to read about quintessential upper class England and you want it light try anything by Nancy Mitford."..."

I've got a Josephine Tey / Nicola Upson on order from Amazon so am looking forward to that. I haven't heard of the Montmaray series so shall investigate those. Thanks :-)


message 41: by Nancy from NJ (new)

Katz Nancy from NJ (nancyk18) I just picked up The Montmaray series although I only found one book at the library. I found the first title intriguing.

I also enjoy the periods between the war especially in England. If you like historical mysteries I suggest the Maisie Dobbs series.


message 42: by Russell (new)

Russell Phillips (russellphillips) I highly recommend A Sailor of Austria: In Which, Without Really Intending to, Otto Prohaska Becomes Official War Hero No. 27 of the Habsburg Empire. It's the first of a series of four. I've read the first two, and will be reading the others when I get to them.

I can't recommend them enough.


message 43: by Ellie (new)

Ellie M (elliemcc11) Nancy wrote: "I just picked up The Montmaray series although I only found one book at the library. I found the first title intriguing.

I also enjoy the periods between the war especially in England. If you ..."


Thanks Nancy. Will have a look at Maisie Dobbs.


message 44: by Joe (new)

Joe Whitney | 10 comments I just finished readingAll Our Worldly Goods byIrène Némirovsky. It spans both world wars. It was very good, and I love Irene Nemerovsky, a great writer who perished during the Holocaust.


message 45: by Nancy from NJ (new)

Katz Nancy from NJ (nancyk18) At our book group today we discussed reading the following novels:

All Our Worldly Goods
To the End of the Land
The Dovekeepers
Second Hand Smoke
Skeletons at the Feast
A Thread of Grace
A Pigeon and a Boy

The majority chose Second Hand Smoke by Thane Rosenbaum and Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian.


message 46: by Joe (new)

Joe Whitney | 10 comments Nancy,A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell is a really great book--one of the best I have read in the past year.


message 47: by Nancy from NJ (new)

Katz Nancy from NJ (nancyk18) I am really looking forward to reading A Thread of Grace.


message 48: by Jane (last edited Dec 21, 2011 07:48PM) (new)

Jane Carver (janecc) | 12 comments Since I'm a relative newby to this list, I'm still a little unclear about what constitutes historical fiction in terms of this list. For instance one of my favorite writers is Connie Willis. She has won numerous Hugo and Nebula awards for her books, so clearly she is a Science Fiction writer. At the same time,some of her books (that have won the above awards) are also very much historical novels in my opinion. She has a series called the Oxford Time Traveler series, where the Oxford History Department of the not too distant future, sends historians back in time to find out how events really unfoldered. My favorite is The Doomsday Book, which sends people back to 14th century England, just before the Black Plague hits (...it was an accident of timing). More recently, Blackout and All Clear have appeared (understand that All Clear is a continuation of Blackout, otherwise it will be very frustrating when the first book ends). These take place during early and later WWII, and basically show you what it was like for everyday people in a variety of wartime occupations. The main characters instead of being there until shortly before the Blitz starts in earnest, get stuck in England for the duration. People often seem to temporarily get stuck in whatever time period they are in, so it isn't really a spoiler. Anyway, they are definitely SciFi books, but clearly to me they are historical fiction. I was also wondering about mysteries...might they count. For instance, this year I discovered Hannah Vogel mysteries by Rebecca Cantrell, which definitely show how the Nazi's slowly, but surely took over Germany. Hopefully that counts too. Two books I'm sure count, would be Ken Follett's Fall of Giants (part of what will become the Century Trilogy). It covers the lead up to WWI through the eyes of characters from the US, England and Wales, Russia and Germany. It covers Welsh mining strikes, women's suffrage, the origins and beginning of the Russian Revolution, and before, during and after WWI. Great book. Also out this year was Susan Vreeland's Clara and Mr. Tiffany, about the Tiffany Glass company and Clara who designed many of the glass patterns. It also covers women's suffrage and Labor strikes, and of course the art & culture of the late 18 and early 1900's in America. Please let me know if mystery and SciFi books are okay as long as they have a lot of history built in. Thank you.


message 49: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 248 comments Jane wrote: "Since I'm a relative newby to this list, I'm still a little unclear about what constitutes historical fiction in terms of this list. For instance one of my favorite writers is Connie Willis. She ..."

I don't speak for the group,but I'd definitely categorize historical mysteries as HF. I really like Rebecca Cantrell's central character, Hannah Vogel. She has an unusual perspective on her period. As for science fiction, I would say that it depends. I see HF as portraying events as they happened. Time travel can bend the past. At the very least they are bringing observers into time periods where they don't belong. Even if the original intention was to observe, this can change history. It then becomes an alternate universe, and I don't consider that HF.


message 50: by Jane (last edited Dec 23, 2011 09:08AM) (new)

Jane Carver (janecc) | 12 comments Joe wrote: "Nancy,A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell is a really great book--one of the best I have read in the past year."

I'm half -way through her latest, and very different book,called Doc. Doc is about Doc Holliday of 'Wyatt Earp and the Gunfight at the OK Corral' fame. Very different from her scientists and the Roman Catholic Church exploring other planets. I can't quite put it in words, but it puts a different spin on the people she talks about. It's Deadwood (TV show) but very different.


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