AMERICAN HISTORICAL NOVELS discussion

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My Favorite Historical Novels!

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message 1: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Hello, all!

Since today is my last full post (Tomorrow is all about the giveaways! Remember, sign up for my newsletter: http://michellecoxauthor.com/contact/ and comment on each day’s post to be in the running for that day’s drawing. I’ll be picking a winner from each day’s participants!), I thought it would be fun to discuss our favorite historical fiction novels and/or authors. Perfect group of people, perfect topic!

I’ll start!

I think I’ve always been drawn to historical fiction because I spent roughly from age ten to age forty (when I had my third kid and my brain gave out) reading only the classics. I was a huge reader even as a kid (I taught myself at age four) and was recognized as such by my school librarian, Sr. Madeline, whom I’ll never forget. She encouraged me to start reading the classics, guided me towards the Newberry’s, and even let me take home stacks of books over the summer with the promise that I would return them all when school began in the fall. I didn’t have to check them out; I was allowed to just take them, and that trust and little bit of extra attention meant the world to me.

So fast forward several decades to the birth of my third child, after which I felt I needed to find something not quite so taxing to read and something with a little bit more escapism to it. Historical fiction proved a nice fit! Contemporary writing in the same settings as the classics. Perfect!

So without further ado, here are some that I’ve discovered and loved:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake, #1) by C.J. Sansom The Harper's Quine (Gil Cunningham, #1) by Pat McIntosh The Archer's Tale (The Grail Quest, #1) by Bernard Cornwell The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories, #1) by Bernard Cornwell The Sanctuary Seeker (Crowner John Mystery #1) by Bernard Knight The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge, #1) by Ken Follett The Passing Bells (Passing Bells, #1) by Phillip Rock The Golem and the Jinni (The Golem and the Jinni, #1) by Helene Wecker Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody, #1) by Elizabeth Peters And Only to Deceive (Lady Emily, #1) by Tasha Alexander The House at Riverton by Kate Morton Murphy's Law (Molly Murphy Mysteries, #1) by Rhys Bowen Her Royal Spyness (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #1) by Rhys Bowen Still Life with Murder (Nell Sweeney Mysteries, #1) by P.B. Ryan Overseas by Beatriz Williams The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Pink Carnation, #1) by Lauren Willig

Of course I could name many more, but I thought I should stop and give all of you a chance. I realize, too, that many of these "genre bend" a bit, but I still consider them historical in a way.

Please comment below about some of your favorites - I'm always looking for recommendations!!!


message 2: by Clay (new)

Clay Kallam | 1 comments Cecelia Holland (pick any of them) and Dorothy Dunnett are at the top of my charts ...


message 3: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Clay wrote: "Cecelia Holland (pick any of them) and Dorothy Dunnett are at the top of my charts ..."

Fantastic, Clay! Thanks for this. I really am looking for new authors!


message 4: by Audrey (new)

Audrey Denecke | 3 comments Thanks for your list Michelle, I found several new books to add to my reading list. I think I may start first with Overseas and then Her Spyness.


message 5: by Audrey (new)

Audrey Denecke | 3 comments I also so enjoyed learning about your reading mentor and story about you literary journey!


message 6: by Debbie (new)

Debbie | 78 comments All the Light We Cannot See is one of my favorites too.
I like Philippa Gregory, Diana Gabaldon and Margaret George. I loved The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. There is a medieval mystery series I was reading by Ariana Franklin, The Mistress of the Art of Death. It was a great series but sadly she passed away and it stops with four books. In YA, Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (sorry I may have her last name misspelled) is incredible.


message 7: by Carla (new)

Carla Suto | 3 comments ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr, THE ALICE NETWORK by Kate Quinn, THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah, THE DOVEKEEPERS by Alice Hoffman, THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND by JoJo Moyes, THE ROOM ON RUE AMELIE by Kristin Harmel, LILAC GIRLS by Martha Hall Kelly and many more.


message 8: by Beverly (new)

Beverly Wow! So many new books to read and I love seeing authors I like on the list as well.


message 9: by Emily (new)

Emily Thanks for sharing your list! I'm so happy to see that you're a fellow Bernard Cornwell fan. After devouring all his books, I went to one of his inspirations - C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower series - and loved those as well. Another historical adventure I've enjoyed is The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff - in some ways it's paced more like a classic (no complaints here!) and her descriptions of Roman Britain are some of the best I've read.


message 10: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Macaire | 1 comments I love the list - lots of new books to discover! My favorites are Diana Norman (aka Ariana Franklin), Sylvian Hamilton, Dorothy Dunnet, Lindsey Davis, Ellis Peters...(I could go on and on!)


message 11: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Audrey wrote: "Thanks for your list Michelle, I found several new books to add to my reading list. I think I may start first with Overseas and then Her Spyness."

Loved them both! I'm anxious to read more Beatrice Williams, and I love Rhys Bowen's ability to write 2 different mystery series (Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness) in such different voices and settings. Let me know what you think!


message 12: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Audrey wrote: "I also so enjoyed learning about your reading mentor and story about you literary journey!"

Thanks for commenting on that part of the post, Audrey. That's sort of the condensed version. There's much more I could say on the subject, but didn't want to post to be too long.


message 13: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Debbie wrote: "All the Light We Cannot See is one of my favorites too.
I like Philippa Gregory, Diana Gabaldon and Margaret George. I loved The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. There is a medieval mystery series I ..."


Thanks, Debbie! I will bookmark these! Have always wanted to try Philippa Gregory and Alice Hoffman. But Margaret George, Ariana Franklin, and Ruta Sepetys are new to me! Thanks!


message 14: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Carla wrote: "ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr, THE ALICE NETWORK by Kate Quinn, THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah, THE DOVEKEEPERS by Alice Hoffman, THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND by JoJo Moyes, THE ROOM ..."

Thanks for sharing, Carla! Have really been wanting to start "The Alice Network" and "The Room on Rue Amelie" and "Lilac Girls."
So many great books, so little time!


message 15: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Beverly wrote: "Wow! So many new books to read and I love seeing authors I like on the list as well."

Yes! I'm loving this!


message 16: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Emily wrote: "Thanks for sharing your list! I'm so happy to see that you're a fellow Bernard Cornwell fan. After devouring all his books, I went to one of his inspirations - C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower se..."

Yes, isn't Bernard Cornwell amazing? So many different series and stand alones! Thanks for the recommend about CS Forester and Rosemary Sutcliff. Love getting new authors to try!


message 17: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Jennifer wrote: "I love the list - lots of new books to discover! My favorites are Diana Norman (aka Ariana Franklin), Sylvian Hamilton, Dorothy Dunnet, Lindsey Davis, Ellis Peters...(I could go on and on!)"

Thanks for sharing, Jennifer! You're the second one to mention Ariana Franklin and Dorothy Dunnet! Have always wanted to try Lindsey Davis, and Sylvian Hamilton is new to me. Thanks so much!


message 18: by Carol (new)

Carol (caroldoscher) | 3 comments My TBR list is growing! I just started reading historical fiction a year ago so I am really new to the genre. I loved The Way of Beauty, The Memory of Us, and Before the Rain Falls by Camille DiMaio, The Orphans Tale by Pam Jenoff, Coal River, The Plum Tree and The Life She was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman.


message 19: by Ana (new)

Ana Brazil (panab) | 2 comments Really love P.B. Ryan's Nell Sweeney's stories! Great to see her--& Lauren Willig...long-time favorite--mentioned!


message 20: by Kari (new)

Kari (karibovee) | 98 comments Mod
I've read many of these, but you've given me even more to read! Thanks so much for this post. I love the Molly Murphy mysteries by Rhys Bowen, and I thought All the Light we Cannot See was brilliant. C.W. Gortner is also a favorite!


message 21: by Linda (new)

Linda Bridges (lindajoyb) | 68 comments Too many books and not enough time!


message 22: by Angela (new)

Angela Sanford | 82 comments Some of my favorite Authors are Phillipa Gregory, Alison Weir, Ken Follett, Diana Gabaldon, and Amy Belding Brown. So many great authors out there..


message 23: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Carol wrote: "My TBR list is growing! I just started reading historical fiction a year ago so I am really new to the genre. I loved The Way of Beauty, The Memory of Us, and Before the Rain Falls by Camille DiMai..."

Great recommends, Carol! I've been wanting to read something by Camille DiMaio for a long time now. Love Pam Jenoff, too. And Ellen Wiseman is new to me, so I'll check her out!

Thanks so much for joining the discusssion - and happy reading!


message 24: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Ana wrote: "Really love P.B. Ryan's Nell Sweeney's stories! Great to see her--& Lauren Willig...long-time favorite--mentioned!"

Hi, Ana! Thanks for joining in. I really like the Nell Sweeney series, too, but not many people mention it these days...maybe because it's older? And yes - I'm a huge fan of Lauren Willig! She had me hooked from Book 1 - Lord Richard is so sexy! hee hee!

Thanks for your comment!


message 25: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Kari wrote: "I've read many of these, but you've given me even more to read! Thanks so much for this post. I love the Molly Murphy mysteries by Rhys Bowen, and I thought All the Light we Cannot See was brillian..."\

Yes! I love both of the Rhys Bowen series (though I think they're might be a third?) - but I think I slightly prefer Her Royal Spyness!


message 26: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Linda wrote: "Too many books and not enough time!"

For sure! I have such huge stacks of books to be read that I'm afraid they're going to fall over in the night and kill me!


message 27: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Angela wrote: "Some of my favorite Authors are Phillipa Gregory, Alison Weir, Ken Follett, Diana Gabaldon, and Amy Belding Brown. So many great authors out there.."

Ooo! Great recommends, Angela. Have always wanted to try Phillipa Gregory. And Alison Weir and Amy Belding Brown are new to me - so thanks for the recommend!


message 28: by Chelsie (new)

Chelsie (chelzlou) | 83 comments I loved Yellow Crocus and Mustard Seed, Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything, Lilac Girls, The Orphan Train, The Midnight Watch, The Nightingale, Mrs. Poe, Mrs. Houdini, The Ringmaster’s Wife, My Name is Mary Sutter, The Shiloh Sisters, The Runaway Slave, The Color Purple, The Tasters, Between Shades of Grey, Salt of the Sea, Isabel & Harriet- these are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. I’ve really fallen in love with historical fiction the least year or so. It’s very intriguing to read about these people and the lives they loved.


message 29: by Sue (new)

Sue Finan | 1 comments Add the wonderful books by Geraldine Brooks; "Year of Wonders" got me hooked on historical fiction!


message 30: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Chelsie wrote: "I loved Yellow Crocus and Mustard Seed, Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything, Lilac Girls, The Orphan Train, The Midnight Watch, The Nightingale, Mrs. Poe, Mrs. Houdini, The Ringmaster’s Wife, M..."

Wow, Chelsie! This is great - so many new titles to try. I really appreciate the recommends!


message 31: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments Sue wrote: "Add the wonderful books by Geraldine Brooks; "Year of Wonders" got me hooked on historical fiction!"

Ah, yes!! I love Geraldine Brooks!


message 32: by Beverly (new)

Beverly I do too! Especially liked People of the Book


message 33: by Martha (new)

Martha Conway | 255 comments Mod
This is a wonderful list and discussion; thanks, Michelle! A lot of my favorites have shown up, including Geraldine Brooks, Amy Belding Brown, Pam Jenoff, Ken Follett ...

Another favorite of mine is Sarah Waters. Her novel Night Watch is fantastic.

Have we mentioned Hilary Mantel?


message 34: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Cox | 122 comments I haven't read any Sarah Waters or Hilary Mantel, Martha! Thanks for the recommend!


message 35: by Martha (new)

Martha Conway | 255 comments Mod
They are wonderful. Both unique in different ways.


message 36: by Angela (new)

Angela Sanford | 82 comments This is the best group. I have added to my TBR list and received some good tips on new authors.


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