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The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling by Henry Fielding

Roman Britain: Life in an Imperial Province by Keith Branigan

Hungary (Simple Guides S.) by Laszlo Jotischky

The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle

Varanger by Cecelia Holland

The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean

The Bride of Newgate by John Dickson Carr

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Member: margad

CollectionsYour library (1,432)

Reviews121 reviews

TagsHistory (426), Fiction (391), historical (120), German (98), Britain (97), Celts (93), Texas (93), Germany (91), Historical (86), Reference (79) — see all tags

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About meMy ancestors migrated from Germany to Texas around the 1850s, so I am especially interested in German and Texas history, but history in general attracts me. I write fiction and nonfiction.

My Historical Novels website at includes over 5,000 listings of novels set in periods from the prehistoric to the mid-20th century. Currently, it includes more than 500 reviews, with more added on a regular basis.

Here are links to a couple of articles I have written:

The Scholar's Supernova, about a young man who saw a supernova in Cairo in AD 1006

Boudica: Celtic War Queen Who Challenged Rome, about Boudica, who led the British rebellion in AD 61

About my libraryMy fiction collection is heavy on history and historical fiction. Since I'd be broke if I bought all the novels I wanted to read, many favorites are not in my home library. In nonfiction, I collect history books, especially about medieval and Reformation-era Germany, the Celts, ancient Rome, Hungary, medieval Europe generally, Texas and the U.S. Civil War.

GroupsAncient History, Art is Life, Astrology, Books Compared, Bug Collectors, Club Read 2009, Happy Heathens, Herbal, Historical Fiction, Historical Mysteriesshow all groups

Favorite authorsStephen Arroyo, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Allan Gurganus, Cecelia Holland, Jean Markale, Larry McMurtry, Steven Ozment, Ellis Peters, Mary Renault, Steven Saylor, Anya Seton, Anne Tyler (Shared favorites)


Membership LibraryThing Early Reviewers/Member Giveaway

Real nameMargaret Donsbach

LocationIndependence, Oregon, USA

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/margad (profile)
/catalog/margad (library)

Member sinceJun 30, 2006

Leave a comment


Happy new year and great reading for 2012! - Karen
hello margad,
We are talking about historical fiction on my reading thread here:

I referred people to your remarkable site.

All the best for 2011.
Hopkins is indeed an interesting character. There are so many in the Civil War that could not exist in our current culture; they were truly people of that era. The egotism of generals on both sides, the political machinations---one would not see such things to such an extent in today's more professionalized military.

Hopkins's campaign was built on such a shaky foundation: if they could get popular support in New Mexico; if they could capture Union supplies and other things. One wonders how things would have gone if Chivington hadn't destroyed the Confederate supply train at Apache Pass.

My interest in the Civil War is fairly recent. My forebears immigrated here from Holland in the 1880s, so I cannot claim any ancestors who served in the war.
I have uploaded a cover for Henry Hopkins Sibley: Confederate General of the West by Jerry Thompson. This is from the 1987 Northwestern State University Press edition.
I clicked on your name here at LT because you wrote about reading A Thread Of Grace...Italy in WW II. I read lots of fiction with this as a backdrop.
But I just last night DVR'd a movie on Boudicia and there you have it mentioned on your profile!!
I Sought on Earth a Garden of Delight

I sought on earth a garden of delight,
Or island altar to the Sea and Air,
Where gentle music were accounted prayer,
And reason, veiled, performed the happy rite.
My sad youth worshipped at the piteous height
Where God vouchsafed the death of man to share;
His love made mortal sorrow light to bear,
But his deep wounds put joy to shamed flight.
And though his arms, outstretched upon the tree,
Were beautiful, and pleaded my embrace,
My sins were loath to look upon his face.
So came I down from Golgotha to thee,
Eternal Mother; let the sun and sea
Heal me, and keep me in thy dwelling-place.

-- George Santayana

Hello - one of mt favourite poems too!
I didn;t know that about Stonehenge, although it doesn't surprise me. I love the place, but my husband hates it - it does that to people. I see from the previous comment that you like Edith Pargeter - me too. Also, I love Mary Renualt. She came to speak at my school when I was about 12, and I've never forgotten her. I just wish I'd read some her books then - I remember feeling that I'd like to ask her all sorts of things, but didn't know what...
Do you know Peter Ackroyd's work - I think he's a great historical writer.
best wishes,

I just now realized who you were. Didn't realize that before I sent my message. I think your website, is great. I direct people there oftentimes when they ask me about an historical fiction novel. It's also linked off of my web site. Thanks for all the effort you've put into compiling those lists. An invaluable resource.

I'll have to look into Edith Pargeter's The Heaven Tree. I enjoyed Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, and I've heard good things about Edith, just haven't read any of her stuff before.

I'm a subscriber to Elizabeth's blog and we comment back and forth every now and then. I'll have to take a closer look at her resources. Thanks!

Glad to have found you on LibraryThing as well!

Always nice to find others interested in medieval history. I found your profile through the Medieval Europe group. Any particular book you would recommend? What's your favorite non-fiction book on medieval history? I'm always looking for new books to add to my library. Thanks.

Hi, Margaret,

I bought Pop Void #1 at a long-gone bookstore on Polk Street in San Francisco. They always had a great selection of independent publications. Long live Funny Face Drink Mix!

Margaret -- hope you had a good journey home. I managed to miss a turn-off, and it took me 8 hours instead of 6. Oh well, it was a good day for driving. I'm so glad we had a chance to meet in Key West and that it was such a good experience. Keep me posted on how the Texas and Faust books are progressing!
Hi, Margaret ~ I just checked out your reviews and wanted to thank you for your reviews. I'm putting all of them EXCEPT "The Sunne in Splendour," "Gargoyle," and "Mistress of the Art of Death" on my list of books to read in 2009. Why not those? Well, I've already read them and agree wholeheartedly with all you said about them.

Happy holidays!

That's fantastic (that you're coming to the Seminar) -- which workshop are you taking? I'm actually on the board and served on the program committee -- our major problem was having far too many wished-for writers than we could fit but I think we wound up with a great group. Have you been to the seminar or Key West before? It's a really amazing time ... and I think with the timing this year, it will be especially great to hear all these writers talking about the past/how we got here ... I'm taking a workshop, too, with Patricia O'Toole.
Wow! I took a list at your website! It must be one of the most thorough lists of historicals anywhere! Thanks for having Shades of Gray listed. That is quite a resource.
I will add a link from my jessicajamesbooks website if you don't mind.
Thanks so much for your kind words about my reviews. I have to admit, some of my reviews aren't great; I don't put the effort into them that I should. I wanted to be very careful about how I reviewed Never Let Me Go, though, because I think it is good to be uninformed. I'm so sorry you've had the secret spoiled, but I hope you enjoy the book all the same.

In addition to bookmarking your website at home, I've also bookmarked it at work. I'm a library assistant at a public library, and I can see it coming in handy. It will be nice to have the website right there, ready to be pulled up at a moment's notice. Do you intend to add to it as new novels are released?
I'm going to the second session. Key West is really gorgeous in January -- it'd be fun to connect if we happen to be there at the same time -- Jane
Margaret -- while reading the book review in the local paper today I thought about you. There was a big featured review of STEALING ATHENA, an historical novel by Karen Essex about Aspasia, Pericles' mistress. Here's the link to her website if you're interested: I can't seem to pull up the article, probably because it was reprinted from the LA Times.

Also -- do you know about the Key West Literary Seminar? The topic this year is historical fiction. I actually got some conference money from my college to go. They do a really lovely job:

I know it's way far away from you, but they do have some interesting stuff on their website. Happy August -- Jane
Hello Margad,

I love your Web site! I'm a frequent user. I was so glad to find you here on LT.

I enjoyed Lady Macbeth enough to re-read, and I don't say that about too many books. I haven't read Dunnett's Macbeth, but it's on my TBR list. I hope to get to it this Summer. I've heard lots of good things about it.

I hope to chat with you again soon.

Dear Margaret: I was browsing through the Historical Fiction group and came across your post about the Historical Novels website. I am going to direct my students to use it as a tool to help them find books to read for my class this year (I teach U.S. history and government to 11th and 12th graders. What I like most about your site, so far, is the brief description of each book and the fantastic effort you've made to categorize the novels. I'm new to LibraryThing, but I'm enjoying the literary chats which were sadly missing in the other book groups I joined. Thanks again for the site!
Margad -- your historical novels site is amazing-- it's going to take me a while to browse all through it, but I'm looking for some good (literary) novels to assign to my humanities students, and this is a treasure trove! Thanks for all your hard work there. -- Jane
"I finished reading The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows the other day and had to let you know how very much I enjoyed it. The opening is brilliant - so unexpected, and yet it perfectly foreshadows her harrowing experience in prison during the Revolution. This makes me want to read a good biography of Josephine, but I think I will gobble up your two sequels first!"

Did I ever thank you for this, Margaret? (I'm just now catching up on LibraryThing.) If not: THANK YOU!
Thank you for your note, Margaret, re MISTRESS OF THE SUN. Yes, "dangerously seductive" is as good as it gets!
Thanks for inviting me to Books Compared! It looks like a really interesting group.
Hi Margaret - Glad you're enjoying the new posts. Sorry it's all HP related, but I guess with a book that popular it's bound to draw comparisons. And the spin-off post was a pretty unique occurrence! You'll be glad to know too that with every new book I'm reading, I'm mentally writing comparison reviews in my head. I'm mentally working on one right now that might pan into an interesting discussion. Thanks again for the invite to a really neat group!
-el :)
Hi Margaret,

Thank you for your welcome to Books Compared, and your invitation to contribute a comparison. I probably will do that, at some point soon.

I have enjoyed exploring your library this morning, and noted the books books on Texas history and Indian fighters. W. K. Stubblefield (known as Billy) was my husband's gr-gr-gr-grandfather. Billy Stubblefield lived in Palo Pinto County Texas in the 1860's and was a cattle rancher and Indian fighter. A book in my library, "Charley Newell Shot!" is the biography of his son-in-law, and includes chapters on Billy and Texas. I was nearly drooling over your collection of books from that region and time.

Currently I'm working my way through a book from the Portland library: "Bring Your Family History to Life through social history", by Katherine Scott Sturdevant. It's a five star at Amazon, but out of print and used copies are $$$.

I love visiting Powell's (any of them) but the flagship store downtown has an aura all its own. (I wonder what it will feel like with the remodel finished?)


Margaret, I just read what you wrote on Life after Death, in the discussion group. I thought it was wonderful! And I share the hope that after our existance here ends, the journey continues. I also think after a while heaven seen by the Christian view would be very boring. Thanks for sharing
Hi margad - Glad to see the discussion I posted took off - I linked to the thread from the Early Reviewers group so that brought in James Dashner as well as some other readers. It's neat to get such a variety of comments and input. Thanks for starting the Books Compared group - I think it's really fun and I love the idea of a review that includes more than one work! I really like reading the threads on there and seeing the different connections people make with various books.
"See" you around! - el :)
Hi Margaret,

Thank you for you wonderful note re. Josephine B.

I also love your website. I posted a link to it on my Facebook page, here. I'll soon be setting up a blog on my website: I'll be sure to mention it there, as well.

My next novel, just coming out, is set in the court of the Sun King: Mistress of the Sun. If you'd like to review it, I could have my publisher send you an Advance Reading Copy. Let me know through my email: sgulland AT

Again, thank you!


Sandra Gulland
Hi Margaret (Margad),

Thank you for your note: "Welcome to Books Compared. I love historical fiction, and your Josephine trilogy is on my TBR list. So I'd like to especially encourage you to join the Books Compared discussion. Perhaps if we're lucky, you'll find time to post a comparison!"

I'm impressed by your thoughtful posts on Books Compared. I'm looking forward to spending more time on LibraryThing in general—and checking out your library specifically. Right now I'm in pre-liftoff for a novel about to come out, set in the Court of the Sun King, so busy indeed!


Sandra Gulland
Pam's book is TERRIFIC!
Hi Margaret
I stand in awe of Hildegard of Bingen & how she was able to compose & conduct her music. Hardly anything was written down, to teach her nuns the music she had only her hands. Hold your hand in front of your face, spread your fingers & realiz that was the first music staff. 5 fingers became the lines (e,g,b,d,f) & the 4 spaces between the fingers were spaces (f,a,c,e) That just amazes me the way she was able to teach - completely illerate with no musical back-ground women to sing those beautiful chants. I have done some singing in choirs, but mostly I have played in the orchestra or concert band. I am so glad I was able to do that & several of my children also. Do you have many "Chant" CD's? I have a Cd of Benedictine nuns chanting the "Virgin martyrs "& "Our Lady of Sorrows." Knowing something of the background helps to appreciate the music.
hi Margad, thanks for your postings on Themes in Literature. I knew I could count on you for some beautiful excerpts from books I have never even heard of, let alone read!
Keep em comng!
Hi Margaret. I've been in Texas so long now that most people consider me a native. Even my friends in the New Mexico Historical Society look at as if I was an interloper (I grew up in Albuquerque). I'm probably more Texan than my wife, a native born Houstonian. Good luck with the book on Kingsbury. Rural Texas can be a problem to work on. I wrote my Master's Thesis about Rockdale, and I am currently working a project about Milam County. Lot of research work still to be done.


Hi Margaret, I was reading the posts on Art is Life Group and noticed that you said you lived in Portland. Since I live in that great city too, I wanted to say hello. I also share your interest in the Civil War and ancient history. I have a love for the Greeks. My interest in the Civil War came about from a roomate I had when I lived in Ashland. I do miss Ashland, I grew up in Southern Oregon. So anyway hello
Hello Margaret,

thanks a lot for your kind comment, I think your german is far better than my english!

Concerning your question about Yourcenar, it's been quite a while since I read that book so I had to have another look into it before I could answer your question. Well, I think his "inside" view presented by these letters is quite fascinating, but on the other hand he sometimes seems too emotionless about his own life, everything seems to be too predetermined to make this text really fascinating. This also results in some "Weitschweifigkeit" (don't know the english word, sorry), though I must admit that I don't know enough about this special epoch to successfully distinguish fiction from facts.

Nevertheless, overall I think this book is a classic of historical fiction and a pleasurable read for everybody interested in roman history.

Best regards!
My blog has an archive on the left-hand side if you scroll down. One of the headings will be "poems." Just click on that and all the poems I have on the blog will come up. Thanks for your interest! Art is Life has been a lot of fun.
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