San Antonio Public Library discussion

Historical Fiction

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message 1: by Mark (new)

Mark Hall (libraryogre) | 105 comments Mod
So, I totally have neither time nor mental energy to read these days (children, as it is well documented, consume large amounts of both), but I have had a hankering to reread Colleen McCullough's "Masters of Rome" series. Absolutely ginormous, it was Game of Thrones before Game of Thrones... covering the very late Roman Republic, from just after the deaths of the Brother's Gracchi through the rise of Julius Caesar and Augustus, it connects Sulla, Gaius Marius, and Julius Caesar so thoroughly that McCullough got a doctorate for her work.

Starting with First Man in Rome (before the marriage of Caesar's parents), it covers the Jugurthine War, invasions by Germans, and the various civil wars. It is violent and sexy and political and will consume a lot of time to read. My brother's sister-in-law, now a professor of history, is the one who got me started reading it.

On the somewhat less rigorous front, I had a long-time fascination with the historical fiction of Morgan Llywelyn. She covered a lot of Celtic history and pre-history; Druids was about Gaul during the wars with Rome, Bard was about the migration from northern Iberia to Ireland, and Lion of Ireland was about Brian Boru. A lot more speculative and romanticized, they were nonetheless fun for me... gods, almost thirty years ago.

What are your historical fiction favorites? Do you go by eras of history, authors, or recommendations? How "crunchy" do you like your historical fiction... do you want them to be sketchy stories holding together someone's history thesis, or do you want them to barely cling to the "historical" part?

message 2: by Cris (last edited May 21, 2020 03:45PM) (new)

Cris (crism) | 78 comments Mod
I'm not generally a fan of Historical Fiction because I generally like a faster pace. But when I do read them, I want to feel immersed in the place/time. I usually end up with Historical Mysteries as a compromise. My favorite is probably the series that starts with My Lady Judge by Cora Harrison. Or Death at Rainy Mountain by Mardi Oakley Medawar. In both series characters act a certain way because of the the culture and the time period.

message 3: by Terry (new)

Terry Verner | 36 comments I just read Isabel Allende' s "A Long Petal of the Sea". Though fiction there was a lot of history pertaining to the Spanish Civil War, Chile and other South American countries. Very interesting read! Will definitely read more of her works!

message 4: by Mark (new)

Mark Hall (libraryogre) | 105 comments Mod
Terry wrote: "I just read Isabel Allende' s "A Long Petal of the Sea". Though fiction there was a lot of history pertaining to the Spanish Civil War, Chile and other South American countries. Very interesting re..."

Two by her that I have loved are "House of the Spirits", which is about Chile, and Zorro, which is about Alta California. They have... differing... levels of historical accuracy. ;-)

message 5: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cmoreno) The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak was such a great historical fiction book. I love that Death is the narrator. Liesel, the main character, is fostered during the time of World War II in Nazi Germany. Her foster parents conceal a Jewish man during this time. I love Liesel's friendship with Rudy, a fan of Jesse Owens, who later shows his appreciation and gets in trouble for this act.
This book opened my eyes to the horror of World War II and led me to lead a tour to the Holocaust Memorial Museum with a senior center.

message 6: by Shannan (new)

Shannan (shannan_prukop) | 97 comments Mod
Historical fiction isn't my go-to genre, but every once in a while there's an author or book that really stands out. Hild by Nicola Griffith is just one of the best books I've ever read, historical or not. It gives a fictional account of the young life of the famous women saints of early Christianity, and the prose alone is worth reading the book. I've been meaning to re-read it, actually.

The other for me is Amy Tan. I went through a pretty serious phase of reading her books when I was in high school. Though I haven't re-read any of her older works or picked up one of her newer books, I still have a strong attachment to The Bonesetter's Daughter.

message 7: by Nancy (new)

Nancy West (nancygwest) | 35 comments I loved The Book Thief, Cindy. In addition to being historical fiction, I loved the story of a boy desperate to read books that would take him outside his scary world and the adults who would risk their lives to help him do it. It’s a reminder of how important books are to our lives and our well-being.

message 8: by Beverly (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 67 comments I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but I have read a few. Decades ago, I liked reading books set during the days of the Roman Empire, close in time to the days of Jesus. During that time I read and loved The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas and The Big Fisherman also by Lloyd C. Douglas. Douglas used events from the Bible in The Big Fisherman. The Robe, which takes place after the Ascension of Jesus described the Roman Empire very well.
I read a couple of books by Francine Rivers who writes Christian historical fiction. The The Last Sin Eater focuses on a clan of people in the Appalachian Mountains living in the 1800s, who believe that a human person, known as the Sin Eater must eat the sins of the dead, so that they can move on in the afterlife. A preacher comes into their village and preaches the truth of Jesus Christ to them. The other book is Redeeming Love, set in the Old West, which Rivers loosely based on the book of Hosea.
I recently listened to 2018 INSPY award-winner for Debut Fiction, Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano. This fascinating story concerned a young woman, Aurelie, who grew up in London’s debtor’s prison with her father. After his death, she goes to live with her wealthy relatives, who resent her. Despite their attitudes, she keeps her faith, and makes it her mission to visit the people she left behind in the debtor’s prison to bring them what relief she can. Set in a Dickensian England.
Finally, I listened to 2019 Christy Award Book of the Year, Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan, a fictionalized memoir of Joy Davidman, the divorcee who eventually married C.S. Lewis. This was very well written, the characterization was top notch, and post-war Oxford, England was brought to life.

message 9: by manatee (new)

manatee  (manateetwin) | 10 comments Beverly: Thanks for your recommendations. I'm always eager to learn about new authors and genres. I do recommend things to my patrons based on reviews and descriptions in Goodreads. I will definitely suggest Becoming Mrs. Lewis to the next person who puts Shadowlands on hold.

Thanks again

message 10: by Beverly (new)

Beverly (bjbixlerhotmailcom) | 67 comments You're quite welcome. Do you work at one of the San Antonio Public Library branches?

message 11: by Leigh (new)

Leigh (leighb) | 3 comments Classic historical fiction would include C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower series. Set in Napoleonic Wars, it's the story of a British Navel Officer adventures fighting the French. Good stuff.

message 12: by manatee (new)

manatee  (manateetwin) | 10 comments Beverly wrote: "You're quite welcome. Do you work at one of the San Antonio Public Library branches?"

yes. I work at Central.

message 13: by manatee (new)

manatee  (manateetwin) | 10 comments I really loved the novels of Sarah Waters. The ones I've read are set in Victorian society and feature lesbian protagonists. The historical settings and the plots are believable and her characters are well drawn also. The dialogue is masterfully done. Tipping The Velvet is still my favorite.

The author has a Phd and studied literary history and I think it is this background that makes her novels so well researched. And she is great at writing suspense.
Affinity , Fingersmith, The Paying Guests are also very good.

message 14: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Avina | 24 comments My favorite historical fiction author is Paulette Jiles. I have read a few of her books. I recently read Enemy Women. It was the best book based on the Civil War I have read. News of the World and Simon the Fiddler have settings in San Antonio, both very good. I will read anything she writes.

message 15: by Shannan (new)

Shannan (shannan_prukop) | 97 comments Mod
I just realized that technically Deborah Harkness' All Souls Trilogy is historical fiction! She's a PhD and professor of history, and the series was her first foray into fiction. The first book really feels like a first novel, but it really grew on me.

message 16: by Cindy (new)

Cindy (cmoreno) I am just finishing up The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. It is such a wonderful historical fiction. I found this article on the Horse Riding Librarians in Kentucky
Kentucky was a state hit hardest by the Great Depression. One way to combat this was to have librarians distribute reading materials to Kentucky folks living in the rural areas.
In The Giver of Stars, Margery the lead librarian is in her late 30s, independent and single. She leads three other young women and many in the town are shocked and disturbed by their unwomanly ways and free thinking. Although this book is set in the early 1900s, it doesn't feel that much different than now on what is expected of women.

message 17: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Avina | 24 comments I particularly like books about books, bookstores, and libraries. Giver of Stars was one of the best.

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