Any good historical fiction recommendations?
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I am new to this, so you will have to forgive me. I am a big fan of King Henry VIII and his court. I was wondering if any of you could recommend any good historical fictions books? They don't have to be about King Henry VIII, but hopefully someone as interesting would be nice. Some of my favorite authors include Philippa Gregory, Karen Harper, Diane Haegar.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I hear the sequel, which just came out, Bring up the Bodies is also very good. The first covers the rise of Thomas Cromwell in Henry's court with his arrangement of the divorce from Katherine and marriage to Anne Boleyn. The second covers the fall and execution of Anne Boleyn.
Thank you so much! I am already looking into it. I can't believe I never thought about Thomas Cromwell, he was definitely an interesting character! Thanks again!!
I love Hilary Mantel's books. They have a bit more literary feel than some historical fiction.
This isn't the era you requested, but Sharon Kay Penman writes great English, Welsh, etc. historical fiction that you might enjoy.
You might want to check out the Crispin Guest series ("medieval noir" ) by Jeri Westerson. Her main character, Crispin Guest, is a "disgraced knight" turned "tracker" (i.e. detective). I read the first in the series Veil of Lies a few years ago and liked it. The author doesn't live far from where I live and she came and spoke to our local book club soon after the book was published. She's very knowledgeable about that time period.
Thank you all! I am looking forward to peeking in the past with your book suggestions! I love all kinds of books, literary ones included so thanks for those too.
If you like mysteries you could do a LOT worse than C.J. Sansom's Shardlake series, it's set during Henry's reign and tangentially involves him and his court. Start with Dissolution. They're great.
I love a good mystery too, thanks! I have heard that that series is great before. I will definitely check it out.
I absolutely love the historical fiction novels of David Liss. He provides a wonderful and realistic look at 18th century London, A Conspiracy of Paper, 18th century America, The Whiskey Rebels, and 17th century Amsterdam, The Coffee Trader. I especially love his Benjamin Weaver novels. I recommend any of his books.
I'm also a big fan of Deanna Raybourn. Her Victorian-era "Silent in the ..." series are a lot of fun to read.
One more suggestion: S.J. Parris (aka Stephanie Merritt). Her three Giordano Bruno books are excellent and provide a fascinating look at Oxford University in the 16th century.
I love reading both historical fiction and non-fiction and have tagged them all in my library. Take a look there, if you'd like, for more books!
I agree with TheFlamingo - David Liss is a tremendous story-teller although I wasn't tempted at all by his latest book.
I really liked his latest, but SO different than his other stuff.
Edward Rutherfurd's historical fiction are quite good, and long, and cover very long time periods. Henry VIII's time period would likely appear in his Sarum (my favorite), London, and The Forest. However, I don't recall how much of Henry VIII's reign is actually covered in these. Quite wonderful works, though, which start with pre-history and end near the present time.
Thank you all so much for the recommendations. I have looked into all of the books mentioned, and they all look very interesting.
So, go spend a bunch of money at the bookstore, and then quit your job so you'll have time to read them all.
Check out P.F. Chisholm's mystery stories featuring Sir Robert Carey (a real courtier who was Queen Elizabeth's nephew). They are extremely entertaining and humorous, while remaining down to earth about the nitty-gritty aspects of life in the sixteenth century. P.F. Chisholm also writes excellent historical novels under the name Patricia Finney.
Thanks for the recommendation. I think I have a couple of her books on my wish list...which I can't figure out how to get to!!
"A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith. Pre-World War I slice-of-life story of a young girl growing up in poverty. Wonderful characterizations and fascinating detail of life at that time in that locale. This is a book that should be read leisurely and savored.
To HaroldTitus: I absolutely loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
To everyone else: I didn't realized it when I wrote it, but my coming of age novel, 1964: Chasing A Dream is classified as historical fiction. I guess when I knew for sure was when Stephen King's latest novel set in the 60s was classified under that genre.
Anyway, if anyone is interested in a series (the Dream Series) this is book one, followed by Facing Reality. There will be three more books in the series.
You can find book one at http://www.librarything.com/work/12491022/details/84889498
Thanks all! I will be checking into all of them eventually. Thank you deniro for the above link. It appears that they don't like the authors I am used to reading, so I am excited to look into the books that they are recommending. I am open to all kinds of historical fiction. Thanks again!
Do you know about the Historical Novel Society. They list the latest in historical fiction and its trends online and their magazine. It's a great place to get ideas about the latest reads.
Thank you so much!! I did not know about it and really appreciate the information. I will be looking into it right now!!
You've all listed some great recommendation here. I have just popped in to post up my review of another great Tudor read - Virgin and the Crab. Loved it!
Check out the Stop You're Killing Me web site. One of the many things they do is collect information on mysteries and where they take place as well as when. It is certainly worth looking at.
Journey of the North Star by Douglas J. Penick gives a feel for life during the reign of the Yong Le Emperor during the Ming Dynasty as told by a fictional Korean eunuch. Learned and informative as all good historical fiction should be.
Life and Death in Shanghai is another great read in this genre.
Cathedral of the Sea (Spanish novel) translated. Medieval setting - Site: Barcelona politics, inquisition, society, building of the cathedral. International Best Seller.
Diana Gabledon's 7 volume adventure beginning with "Outlander". Unfortunately it's usually shelved with "Romance" books, but don't be fooled. This is not one of those trashy "potboilers" although a little too much sex in my opinion it's well done. Starts with a woman in Scotland looking into local witches group who is pulled through standing stones back into the 18th century. What follows is a galloping adventure story through Scotland, France, the british colonies. Wars, political intrigues, past lives tangled with the present. Lucky you! You don't have to wait for each one to come out. Just go ahead and buy the first 3-4. You're gonna get hooked
ugh. Outlander to me was exactly that: a bosom grasping trashy potboiler. So I guess it's all in what you like.
Add me to the list who love Wolf Hall. Checked it out from the library but am now looking for a good used copy from our local resellers. From my experience, anything by Edward Rutherford is an excellent choice. His Princes of Ireland is wonderful.
If Princes of Ireland gets your interest shifting to the Emerald Isle, Morgan Llewelyn has written some truly wonderful books about late 19th century and 20th century Ireland. 1916 had me in tears.
Anything by Jude Morgan, but I particularly like his novels based on literary figures. I just read and reviewed The Secret Life of William Shakespeare, which was, despite the chessy and inappropriate title, really good. He has also written about the Romantic poets (Passion) and the Brontes (Emily and Charlotte, published in the UK as Taste of Sorrow).
I like everything I have read from Sir Walter Scott. It is good to make sure there is a glossary along with his novels, but it has always been worth the effort. Right now I am reading Quentin Durwood and enjoying the book.
I agree (but it's "Quentin Durward", not "Clinton Durwood").
If you are into historical mysteries I highly recommend two authors CJ Sansom with Dissolution being the book to start with. Also read Peter Tremayne (an alias to Peter B. Ellis) and his series on Ancient Ireland in his Sister Fidelma Mystery series starting with Absolution by murder which I have yet to read.
Both authors are excellent
I've greatly enjoyed the Outlander series and can't wait for #8 to come out.
Looking for something (other than the Three Musketeers) that features George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. Any ideas?
51> Well, he's an important character in Earthly Joys by Philippa Gregory--but although I liked reading about the John Travescants, some very unrealistic liberties taken with the depiction of Buckingham rather put me off the book. I'm not a huge Gregory fan, in any case.
Not sure I recall him as a character in anything else I've read.
52> Thank you! Alas, the only thing I know that has even a remote connection to Philippa Gregory is a spork of a movie that has some connection to one of her books, so I think I'll pass...
Could anyone give me some tips on historical novels set in Canada, especially Quebec - mOntreal?
54 > Here are several, but be advised that I have not read any of these. So I can't say anything about quality.
Black Robe by Brian Moore - 17th century Quebec
The Heart Specialist by Claire Holden Rothman - late 19th century, early 20th century Quebec
Sister to the Wolf by Maxine Trottier - 17th century Quebec
Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather - 17th century Quebec
This Widowed Land by Kathleen O'Neal Gear - 17th century Quebec
I second Edward Rutherfurd. I've read a few of his and they're always very well written.
I'll add Charlton Daines to my recommendations. Just started reading Jack Dawkins today and really enjoying it.
Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae by Steven Pressfield
David Gemmell's Troy trilogy:
Lord of the Silver Bow
Shield of Thunder
Fall of Kings
#58, I've also read Jack Dawkins and would highly recommend it for those who enjoy Dickensian London.
The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald is a very well written novel set in early 1960s Ontario. It is ostensibly a story about a horrendous crime, set within the confined environment of a small and quiet Royal Canadian Air Force base, although given the time of its setting, at the height of the Cold War, it takes on a much wider impression of a world in flux.
I read it last year after some good recommendations. I've not read anything else by MacDonald but I was very impressed.
ETA - Although not set in Quebec, the wife/mother of the main family at the heart of the drama is from an Acadien background and there are numerous references to this throughout the novel, as well as various smatterings of her Acadien-French.
> 63....early 1960's is considered historical :)...I was entering Junior High then...what does that make me!!!!??? Don't feel like Methuselah yet :)
Sorry Lynxear - didn't mean to suggest anyone was Methuselah!
But the Cuban Missile Crisis, for example, was (modern) history right?
#54 - Quebec - what period of history are you looking for?
I hear the Bride of New France is supposed to be a decent read--it's set in the 17th century. I also hear the already mentioned The Heart Specialist is very good and was nominated for the Giller Prize. The Tin Flute, by Gabrielle Roy is a Canlit classic, and other stuff I've read by her was very good. Other noted novels are Two Solitudes, by Hugh MacLennan; Shadows on the Rock, by Willa Cather; St Urbain's Horseman, Mordecai Richler (and other stuff by him); The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant, Michel Tremblay . . . that's all I can think of right now. I haven't read these, so I can't personally vouch for them.
My favourite novel set in Montreal is Lullabies for Little Criminals, but I don't think you'd call it historical fiction (set in the 80s??)
>68 There are not many who dislike Sharpe's character especially when combined with his Irish comrade Harris...I see by the reviews in LT he gets marks for research but loses marks for making his characters "likeable"...but seeing the Napoleonic wars from a dragoon's point of view would be interesting so I will look for a book by Mallinson to try out.
@69 That does sound interesting! Do the books have a lot of flashbacks and go back into Napoleonic times a lot? I've only read Galloping at Everything, so a 'novel' version would be great!
Shadows on the Rock is not bad. Not much happens, so you have to read it for the place, time period, and the high quality of Cather's prose.
I read one of Bernard Cornwell's novels, The Last King. I wasn't impressed. Pretty dull stuff.
For a really intricate yet intense read of a more literary nature one should try Porius by John Cowper Powys. It's set in Wales nearly immediately after the Romans lost control of Britain in the 4th or 5th century. It's pretty thick.
Someone previously mentioned Sir Walter Scott. His stories are excellent and while not specifically about historical events, such events do play a tangential role in most of them. He is excellent at painting a picture of life as it was lived by various strata of society in the time he sets his work. Much of it is set around the various attempts to return the Stuarts to the throne of the United Kingdom. A glossary would be helpful, at least for his novels set in Scotland, after a reading a few you ken muckle more tha' lang syne.
@70 Is Mr. Ian Fletcher's historical fiction or is it a history book? May be you should review it. I did not know this author. I am also most impressed with Bernard Cornwell's work but it is often with the help of LT that you find different viewpoints of this time period.
> 71 I would tend to agree with you on Cornwell's newer stuff...I don't have the same appreciation for those books than I do for the Sharpe series or the Grail series or Azincourt. You must read them in order to understand the Sharpe series properly as there are flashbacks and his Dick Sharpe character develops as the novel's progress. Read Sharpe's Tiger which is the first of the series...and try to tell me you were bored in the reading...I'll bet you finish the book in 2-3 days at most!
> 70 If you are referring to Bernard Cornwell...take my advice that I gave above and read Sharpe's Tiger or The Archer's Tale (first of the Grail series) or a standalone book Azincourt
If you have never read any of these novels...you will be hooked into reading about 20 odd books just in these series alone....then you can advance to the Starbuck series he wrote about the American Civil war and read a few more.
Having said that, I don't like some of his work on ancient Britain leading to the Arthur legend, The Fort was historically accurate but BORING and a disappointment.
I like some of Bernard Cornwell's work, particularly his trilogy about King Arthur that starts with The Winter King.
If you like ancient history, check out Robert Harris' Pompeii. The entire novel is set over just two days: the day before Mt. Vesuvius erupted and the day of the disaster. It is told much like a mystery novel. The main character is an engineer sent out by Rome to investigate why the aqueduct at Pompeii has stopped working. While he is conducting his investigation you learn quite a bit about daily life in ancient Roman times. His descripton of what happens during the volcano is fascinating.
There's a new star on the historical fiction firmament and his name is Robert Wilton; check out his two novels Traitor's Field, set during the English Civil War, and Treason's Tide, previously published as The Emperor's Gold, set during the Napoleonic Wars. Both novels are very well written and utterly engrossing, the characters entirely believable; both use a mix of authentic documents from the period and fiction to transport the reader to a different time. This is intelligent historical fiction at its best.
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