2021 ~ Your Historical Fiction Adventures!

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2021 ~ Your Historical Fiction Adventures!

Redigerat: jan 5, 10:45pm

We welcome 2021 and more historical fiction adventures into our lives!

Redigerat: jan 5, 10:25pm

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell It's been a bit slow going at first, but it seems to be picking up. It's about the children of Shakespeare.

jan 5, 11:40pm

Silver Wings, Iron Cross - a WWII historical novel by one of my favorite thriller writers (his first historical novel). So far, weaker than his other books but readable.

jan 6, 9:22pm

>2 Tess_W: You will find that it is not about Shakespeare's children. It's about his wife, and their marriage. A really wonderful book, press on.

jan 9, 3:07pm

I finished Joseph Conrad's last novel (or at least the last published during his lifetime), The Rover, which is also one of the few that can accurately count as an historical novel by whatever criteria one uses. Published in 1922, The Rover is an adventure of the French coast set during Napoleonic times. On it's surface this is a more straightforward narrative than the better known Conrad novels, but there is still a lot going on, observations on human nature-wise. Regardless, this is also a very enjoyable tale.

jan 13, 7:52pm

>4 dajashby: I did find that out before I saw you post! I did finish, but maybe I was expecting more because of all the hype, but I found the read average.

jan 27, 2:45pm

I finished Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell. This book is admirably written, with a stunning sense of time and place (Stratford, England, during Shakespeare's time) and a wonderfully effective sense of invention (Shakespeare's family life, essentially, through the two perspectives of Shakespeare himself and, more emphatically, his wife, Agnes). All of this orbits around the pull of the short life of their son, Hamnet.

For all the writing skill and acute observation, however, I have to admit that I frequently became impatient during the book's first half. The characters and situations struck me too often as too familiar set pieces, and more than once I thought to myself, "Can we move along?"

The second half of the book, however, I found very effective, indeed, as the characters came much alive to me as individuals, and their situations, experiences, relationships and emotions moved for me from the general to the unique. By the end (which I found terrific), I was wholly invested. So, yes, all in all, I found Hamnet to be a very, very good book.

feb 4, 7:52pm

The Darling Dahlias and the Unlucky Clover fun cozy series set in Alabama during the Great Depression.

feb 5, 11:12am

>8 nx74defiant: I haven't read any Susan Wittig Albert in years. I did like the ones written as Robin Paige. This series sounds like fun...do they need to be tackled in order?

Redigerat: feb 6, 12:12am

I wasn't as impressed by Hamnet as I thought I would've/should've been. Perhaps is was because I listened to it instead of read it.

I did really like The Personal History of Rachel Dupree--one of the only African-American homesteaders in the Black Hills.

feb 7, 8:11am

I just read "The girl you left behind" and it was awesome. Seems under-rated based on the reviews on this site.

Redigerat: feb 7, 11:02am

>9 gmathis: I have read all the books in this series and just love them. I would definitely recommend reading them in order. Depression-era recipes and other tidbits follow the story. Such fun.

feb 7, 11:13am

I have finished War Lord, the final book in the Saxon/Last Kingdom series by Bernard Cornwell. If you like Viking adventures and English history, or in this case, the making of the country of England, this series fits the bill. They are violent, so a heads up.

If you are watching the Netflix series, the story seems to get farther from the books as it goes along. Why they do these things, I don’t know.

feb 16, 1:09pm

Morality Play by Barry Unsworth was excellent. The setting is Medieval England in the late 1300's. At the 50,000 foot level, it involves a traveling troupe of actors and a murder mystery. It was nominated for the Man Booker Prize.

feb 16, 2:21pm

>14 laruebk: I think Morality Play may have been the source for the Paul Bettany movie The Reckoning, which I enjoyed a great deal (the cinematography is gorgeous).

feb 16, 2:54pm

>14 laruebk: I’ll keep that one in mind since I’m reading Barbara Tuchman’s non-fiction work A Distant Mirror about the 14th century.

feb 16, 4:20pm

>15 Caramellunacy: Yes, the movie The Reckoning is based on the novel Morality Play.

feb 17, 8:27am

Just finished Follett's The Evening and The Morning. It lives up to the hype!

feb 17, 3:53pm

So far this year I have read the following historical fiction novels:

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn ★★★★
Recommended to readers interested in Bletchley Park and the often overlooked role women played there.

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow ★★★
Jane Austen fans might like this, as it is mix of fan fiction and historical fiction.

Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles ★★★
This had an interesting premise but I would have preferred the story focused more on Doris, who was an Irish immigrant and Simon's love interest. Unfortunately, I didn't find Simon or his traveling group of band members particularly likeable.

feb 18, 11:33am

As an author of historical fiction, I'm perplexed. Reviewers of my books say they love the historical descriptions and details that are actually apart from the main arc of the story to add interest. Writers say to avoid those and concentrate on the action and solely the story's arc so as not to be "preachy" or "showing off your historical period knowledge". What do readers prefer?

feb 18, 11:39am

>5 rocketjk: Conrad wrote far more deeply than most assume. His stories are not just nautically themed tales. Every story is filled with subtle references to psychological characteristics and plot circumstances. One must be always on their toes when reading his work for these hidden "Easter eggs".

Redigerat: feb 18, 1:55pm

>20 David_E._Stockman: Since I enjoy learning about historical periods within the context of a fictional novel, I prefer a middle ground between the story and use of historical details. It seems there are appropriate times to insert those historical details into the plot, versus just adding gratuitous facts that interrupt the flow of the story.

Since this topic is generally devoted to historical novels we have read, you could also consider adding a new topic to discuss "what readers prefer" in historical fiction. Perhaps some other group members might have a more insightful answer than I do.

feb 18, 6:46pm

>20 David_E._Stockman: I prefer both context and culture within my historical fiction reads. However, I like them to be blended/melded within the plot and not separate entities.

mar 7, 4:38am

I just finished Penman's Devil's Brood, the 3rd book in the Henry II trilogy--very good stuff!

Redigerat: mar 7, 12:42pm

>9 gmathis: There are some mentions of things from prior books. Things that the Dahlias have experienced. But they work we as stand alone books.

mar 17, 7:54pm

I finished The Miller's Dance by Winston Graham. It is book 9/12 of the Poldark series. I highly recommend this series. It really does need to be read in order. This particular book takes place in 1812-1813 in Cornwall, but also with news of the attack of the British on Washington DC and Napoleon's defeat in Russia.

mar 18, 12:29pm

I recently finished The Underground Railway by Colson Whitehead and Meet Me in Bombay, Jenny Ashcroft. Set in India, WWI era.

mar 28, 6:01am

A bit disappointed with my latest historical fiction read--The Narrow Road to the North by Richard Flanagan. It was about the building of the Burma Railroad during WWII. I was expecting more as it's a Booker Prize Winner. Very impressionistic.

mar 28, 10:22am

Slowly working my way through a re-read of Ivanhoe. Written in 1819 and set during the time of Richard Lionheart. I picked this up after a re-read of The Adventures of Robin Hood.

mar 30, 10:34am

Finished The Huntress by Kate Quinn. About catching nazi war criminals after WWII. Very enjoyable, I recommend it, I think someone else on this list suggested it. Am now reading Hornet Flight by Ken Follett. About a Nazi radar installation in occupied Denmark and the spies that uncovered it. I haven't gotten far yet, but am enjoying it. And it is shorter than than Pillars of the Earth. :)

mar 30, 2:12pm

>30 al.vick: I enjoyed Hornet Flight. That's a fun read. He has a lot of good info about that plane, bringing to mind Night Over Water, which is the first book I read by him. You might like that one, too.

There are still several Ken Follett books I will recommend to people, but if there were ever an author who found a formula and refuses to deviate from it, it's him. I was aghast at the last one I read, A Column of Fire, because I found it so transparent. I was barely 50 pages in when I knew who would die in the end, who was going to end up with whom despite how it started, etc. I finished it just to see if he would surprise me, but unfortunately, he didn't. It was bad enough that it's on a short stack of books I'm donating to the library.

mar 30, 3:54pm

>31 terriks: Pillars of the Earth is the only other book I have read by him.

apr 1, 8:10am

Currently reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, which I received from my LibraryThing Secret Santa last year. I said I loved character driven historical fiction and this definitely fits the bill. Published in 2016, I can't believe I missed this!

apr 4, 8:58am

I just finished for the second time, Dorothy Dunnett's magnificent novel about Macbeth, King Hereafter. I have never been able to get into her two well-known series, but I highly recommend King Hereafter.

apr 4, 2:46pm

I'm around the twelfth century BCE with the Trojan War about to start in Daughters of Sparta.

Redigerat: apr 4, 10:55pm

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

apr 4, 10:59pm

>14 laruebk: touchstone is wrong. Lemme see if I can find it

apr 4, 11:01pm

>19 This-n-That: really really disappointed in this book, DNF, Loved her first book News of the World its like they came from totally different writers

apr 4, 11:05pm

>14Here is the link to the touchstone for Morality Play; why Im not able to find it the usual way is odd but this should help


apr 4, 11:10pm

>33 Marlane: Loved that book too. He has a new one out The Lincoln Highway which Im eager to read.

apr 23, 3:01pm

I finished Rashomon Gate by I.J. Parker, the second novel in Parker's Sugawara Akitada Mysteries series, set in 11th Century Japan. Our man Akitada is a relatively low-level nobleman who holds down a boring government administrative job but who in the series' first book acquired a reputation for being able to solve mysteries. These books are fun. The plotting is good and the historical information, assuming it's anywhere near accurate, is interesting. The writing itself, on a sentence level, I give a B or B-. I have the first four books of this 18-book series on hand. I'll probably read books 3 & 4 over the next little while, though I doubt I'll go much further.

apr 24, 12:43pm

Currently about 15% of the way into a 1200 page Covenant by James Michener. Beginning to bog down with details of the trade between the Cape tribes and the Arabs.

apr 28, 8:59pm

come back to me

Received from Library Thing Early Reviewers.

The miraculous cures of the past are real. It requires a suspension of disbelief to accept the premise. But a nice historical time travel romance. I didn't know a lot about the Peasants' Revolt, so it was interesting to see the characters get caught up in it. It is the start of a series. So in this book we have Marion and Williams story. The next we will find out what happens to Ellen.

maj 12, 12:46pm

I finished A Long Petal of the Sea, Isabel Allende's most recent novel. I expected to like it better than I did, alas. It is the story of two families, and in particular one member of each (one man and one woman who end up together; no shock, there), living through the Spanish Civil War. The protagonists end up in Chile (again not a spoiler, as the book's title refers to that country). The story takes the two through their entire lives.

The storyline, the times described and the characters are certainly interesting, so why was the book ultimately unsatisfying to me? One element was the flat nature of the narrative. We are in third person omniscient. And while we often touch down inside the mind of one or another character, particularly our two main players, I felt that too much of the book was spent in above-the-fray exposition and explanation, and way too much time in historical overview mode. Everything from the history of the Spanish Civil War through the Chilean coup that brought Pinochet to power, with long lessons on Chilean history in between, are doled out paragraphs, sometimes pages, at a time before we finally get back to our characters and their stories.

maj 17, 12:52pm

I just finished The French Baker's War by Michael Whatling.

There’s some great imagery and excellent dialogue here, and brilliant sections where we experience everything the characters do. You can almost smell the pastries baking. I especially liked the realistic dialogue, and there are some great lines in this book that caused me to stop and think about. Few books do that any more.

maj 24, 3:30am

I just finished Bess Aldrich's The Rim of the Prairie . It is HF set in Nebraska during the 1920's. Excellent read!

maj 24, 12:08pm

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi was gripping but grim. I learned about some events I hadn't known about.

maj 24, 12:15pm

I read Emma Donoghue's The Pull of the Stars earlier this month. It was a gripping account of life in a quarantined Dublin maternity ward during the 1918 influenza pandemic.

maj 24, 1:40pm

I recently finished The Snake Pit, the second volume of Sigrid Undset's Master of Hestviken quartet set in medieval Norway. It's a fascinating saga, though I don't think it quite achieves the level of mastery her Kristen Lavransdatter saga does. (As a bit of trivia, Kristen's father Lavran makes a brief appearance in this tale as a young man.)

maj 29, 9:11pm

Finished The Twisted Sword book 11/12 of the Poldark series. This book saw the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo.

maj 30, 8:49pm

Chris Cleave's (Little Bee) latest, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, set primarily in London during the worst of the blitz and on the island of Malta during the Nazi blockade that nearly starved the tiny British garrison to death down to a man.

Circe by Madeline Miller, about the most imaginative riff on Greek mythology ever. Strictly speaking, not historical fiction, though. Wonder why I waited so long to read it?

jun 1, 9:08pm

Finished Qinchan Cece's epic murder mystery set in Tang Dynasty, The Golden Hairpin. WoW! Be sure to read e- or tree version. Don't make mistake that I did, to listen to an audio recording. The names are confusing and there are dozens of characters. Some with the same last name, which is always given first in Chinese.

Don't peek ahead of time at the highly dramatic ending -- a real tour de force!

jun 4, 1:11pm

Finished book 12/12 of the Poldark series, Bella Poldark. One of the best series that I've read.

jun 4, 2:32pm

>53 Tess_W:

I love Poldark. I think I have 3 left to go in the saga.
My other favorite is Outlander.

Redigerat: jun 5, 10:02am

>54 nrmay: Oh, I love Outlander too and her final book in the series is out I believe in November of which I have preordered it.

Other series on par with Outlander and Poldark

Sharon Penman--The Plantagenet Series

Maurice Duron-The Accursed Kings Series (intersects only occasionally with the Penman series, but mostly a different approach and not much repetition

Into the Wilderness Series - by Sara Donati--most like Outlander

Redigerat: jun 5, 4:54pm

>55 Tess_W:
Thanks! I'll try them all.

Reminded me of the classic Awakening Land Trilogy by Conrad Richter. Includes The Trees, The Fields and The Town.
Early American - historical fiction

Redigerat: jun 9, 11:12am

>55 Tess_W: I read and own the complete reissued The Accursed King series. The #7 and finale The King Without Kingdom was released in English translation (by Andrew Simpkin) for the 1st time in 2016. Druon wrote that novel some years later and the writing style is different than the previous installments.

jun 10, 11:08pm

>57 princessgarnet: Yes, it was noticeable and not good. I chalked it up to different translators.

jun 10, 11:09pm

>56 nrmay: I will definitely look up the Richter series.

jun 14, 5:56am

Just finished The Pilot: A Tale of the Sea by James Fenimore Cooper. This historical fiction takes place during the American Revolutionary War off the coast of England, where a whaleboat is put ashore from the schooner Ariel. The goal of the boat is pick up a pilot known only as Mr. Gray. Mr. Gray is not the real identity of this pilot. There are many plot twists and turns before the pilot is deposited on the shores of Holland. There was a bit too much of naval life and strategies for me and as all of Fenimore's works that I have read, he is even more wordier than Charles Dickens. Reason for reading: to clear my shelf! No idea why I would have purchased this book. Oh yeah, probably because it was 99 cents on Amazon! 281 pages 3 stars

jun 15, 7:14am

Read Peder Victorious a coming of age immigrant narrative. When I began reading, I had no idea that this is book two of a trilogy. Now that I've read book two, I can just about guess the story in book one and book three, which I'm not going to read--not because this book was bad, but it was also not stellar. This particular book focuses its attention on Peder, the son of a Norwegian immigrant, who is straddling the line (forced by his mother, a first generation immigrant) between retaining the "old ways" and becoming assimilated. There are many conflicts, of which the largest one in this book is that of religion. This story is set in South Dakota, where there was/is a large settlement of Norwegian immigrants, in the 1920's. In the end it seems that author has tied up everything with a nice ribbon! 325 pages 3 stars

jun 18, 10:39pm

Finished Lionheart by Sharon Penman. My least favorite of the Angevin/Plantagenet series as most of the book focused on battle strategies/leaders of the Third Crusade.

jun 23, 1:08pm

The Twentieth Wife The first in a trilogy. It is about Mehrunnisa's childhood and first marriage. At this point she has no power or influance. There is a lot about Jahangir's rebellions, trying to usurp his father. Than once Jahangir becomes emperor he has to deal with his son Khusrua doing the same thing. The book is full of political intrigue.

jun 26, 1:14am

Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell. Billed as a YA, but a good read for any age. The story of the forced migration of the Navajos from their tribal lands to Ft. Sumner in Arizona. 124 pages

jun 27, 5:01pm

Finished The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson A superb work of fiction based on 3 real events: 1) "Blue" people in Kentucky 2) pack mule traveling libraries 3) the Great Depression/WPA of FDR. This book told the trials and tribulations faced by Cussy Mary as she just tries to survive being a "Blue." I can not recommend this book enough! 320 pages

jun 27, 6:37pm

>65 Tess_W:

I loved that one too.
Now you might like Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky by Kathi Appelt, a non-fiction account.

jun 27, 10:20pm

>66 nrmay: I will definitely look for that one!

jul 8, 3:45am

Finished Tom Cringle's Log by Michael Scott. This was a "novel" originally serialized for newspapers and then reconstructed chronologically for the book. Perhaps this is why this book felt disjointed to me. Besides being disjointed, it was tedious in many places, especially the conversations with the "natives" in Jamaica. These are the "logs" of Midshipman Tom Cringle from about 1811-1834. This midshipman spent a lot of time on land! The section on yellow fever and the incident where Tom is imprisoned in Germany were the best part(s) of this book. This ebook has languished on my tablet for about 10 years and after 2-3 starts I finally finished. If I had it to do over again, I would not have read it! As far as detail goes, think Dickens on steroids! 576 pages 2.75 stars (it gives a "fair" picture of Jamaica/Caribbean during the early 19th century).

jul 8, 3:26pm

Read book 5/5 in the Angevin (Plantagenet) series by Penman, A King's Ransom. This series was top notch all the way!

jul 10, 6:58am

Read Waverley by Sir Walter Scott. This is my first Scott, and while I did not particularly care for the book/writing, I did like the story. I think my reading was somewhat enhanced by knowing the history of the Jacobite Rebellion and the Battle of Culloden. Had I not known something about the Highlanders and their rebellion(s), I would have been lost. I was not a fan of the romance part of the novel, it seemed obligatory or contrived. I started to read the introduction, but after 9 pages of self-absorbed drivel, I skipped it. 484 pages, just barely 3 stars. 3 stars for me is your average read--can be mediocre or enjoyable, this was not necessarily enjoyable and yet not mediocre.

jul 11, 7:41pm

Finished Toward the Midnight Sun by Eion Dempsey a less than stellar book about a young woman's trek to the Yukon during the Gold Rush.

Redigerat: jul 12, 2:51pm

Reading The Source, after not having read Michener for about two decades. This one has a nice framing story that he didn't use in Alaska, Hawaii or Chesapeake (my previous reads of his). But I am just about choking on the 1960s romance, where the lead male accosts a woman with a surprise kiss, insists she'll marry him someday despite her clearly explaining she's already in a relationship, and then he challenges her fiance as to which of them is the 'real man', getting nothing worse than a friendly handshake in return. Good lord.

Also gotta love the bit about the men on the archeology dig complaining about the women walking around in shorts, grumbling that they ought to put more clothes on!

jul 12, 11:04pm

>72 Cecrow: That was my 5th Michener read, and the only one I did not award 5 stars!

jul 13, 5:07am

>72 Cecrow: I ran into some of this when I recently read The Bourne Identity - a romance apparently bloomed after Bourne manhandles and threatens to kill Marie for the entirety of Part 1...but 8 days later their swapping I love you's...

And HA! to grumbling about shorts on an archaeological dig - good for those women. (I got cranky at "not enough comeuppance" for jerk archaeologists in certain scenes in Netflix's The Dig...)

jul 18, 8:22am

Read Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran, an excellent read about the French Revolution and the beginning of the famed wax museum. 465 pages 4.5 stars

jul 29, 9:52pm

>75 Tess_W:, thats really interesting, I'd never paused to wonder who she was before.

jul 30, 9:02am

>76 Cecrow: A very interesting woman and family! They played both sides of the fence entertaining those such as Marat, Robespierre and Danton (perhaps out of fear), but also had Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette visit the gallery.

Igår, 8:41am

>75 Tess_W: I have this out from the library now!