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Looking for historical fiction about New York City


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Showing 1-25 of 57 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 22, 2009 7:53:15 AM PST
Fast Reader says:
I am looking for something like a James Mitchener novel about New York City from as early as possible to the present. Any suggestions?

Posted on Nov 23, 2009 5:40:00 AM PST
Sam says:
Try Pete Hamill's "Forever: A Novel".

Posted on Nov 23, 2009 8:55:34 AM PST
M. Crill says:
New York: The Novel, by Edward Rutherfurd.

Posted on Nov 23, 2009 9:23:53 AM PST
CoKatie says:
The best ever, IMHO, was The Alienst by Caleb Carr. You will learn so much about turn of the century NY from a professor who knows his stuff. The story is fantastic. The introduction of characters who are actual, live historical figures are wonderful and add a new dimension to them. Enjoy!

Posted on Nov 23, 2009 10:05:59 AM PST
Fast Reader says:
I did indeed read The Alienist several years ago and I agree that it was a good book. However, I do think that Rutherford was the writer I was trying to recall.

When I read all the James Mitchener books (and reread several) I was delighted with the historical detail and minutia plus the luxury of making the book as long as it has to be to get in everything the author wants.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 23, 2009 10:07:44 AM PST
CoKatie says:
That book is actually next on my "to read" list as it is sitting on my bedside table. I hope it is as good as its reviews!

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 2:44:54 PM PST
Try Gore Vidal's books as well. They only encompass a short period of time each, but are great for capturing the spirit of the times.

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 3:33:46 PM PST
Arbor Took says:
LOVED the Alienist. I highly recommend.

Posted on Nov 24, 2009 4:16:25 PM PST
Jack Finney's pair of novels, "Time and Again" and "From Time to Time" paint detailed portraits of the New York City of 1882 and the New York City of 1911. Both are illustrated with achival photos from those periods. These books are great fun and tell a complex story which required multiple readings for full appreciation.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2009 7:31:52 PM PST
Yes, I absolutely agree with the Caleb Carr suggestion --- also his The Angel of Darkness. You might also like Ragtime: A Novel.

Thanks,
Kathleen
The Old Mermaid's Tale
Each Angel Burns

Posted on Nov 28, 2009 8:06:58 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2009 8:31:35 PM PST
Try Kevin Baker's 'Dreamland,' 'Paradise Alley' & 'Striver's Row,' three historical novels about NY.

Also maybe Millhauser's 'Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer,' Doctorow's 'The Waterworks,' 'Billy Bathgate,' & 'Ragtime.'

Edith Wharton's 'The Age of Innocence'.

Also even though you're asking for historical novel recommendations, you're also asking for James Michener-like work, so you might like some non-fiction by David McCullough, like 'The Great Bridge'.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2009 11:04:47 PM PST
If you like historical fiction, I would recommend the Beverly Swerling series that takes place in NYC starting in the 1700s and involving characters from all walks of life, with a family of surgeons (dealing with some interesting history of medical innovations) and a family of ship-owners/merchants. Filled with lots of little NY facts and fun to read!

Also, I would agree with all of the other suggestions. Especially Martin Dressler and the Ken Baker series (Dreamland being my personal favorite).
I would also suggest the Winter Rose and the Tea Rose. I believe that in one of the books the leading characters moves to New York.
On the more grusome side, the book, The Interpretation of Murder, is a murder mystery that involving Sigmund Freud as a main character and takes place in turn of the century New York (1909).
Happy Reading!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2009 1:45:52 PM PST
I am reading City of Dreams right now. It is historical fiction of NY starting around 1660.
The author is Barbara Swerling. Hope this helps. I am enjoying this book!!!

Posted on Mar 23, 2010 4:42:02 PM PDT
P. L. Lozano says:
I am insatiable for New York City historical fiction. I'd have to say the best are the Kevin Baker books (listed above): Dreamland (my favorite), Paradise Alley and Striver's Row. The Beverly Swerling books are great: City of Dreams, City of Glory, City of God. Edward Rutherfurd's new "New York" is all encompassing, but lacks the pathos of the Baker books. You can also try "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (a classic). I need more! Kevin Baker and Beverly Swerling -don't leave the house 'til you've published another book - please!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 24, 2010 9:34:54 AM PDT
You beat me to the suggestion. I love Rutherfurd's work. However, I wish he would write a book about Scotland or Wales.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 24, 2010 9:39:40 AM PDT
murphy jr says:
I loved Robert McCammon's Queen of Bedlam and Mister Slaughter, set in 1699-early 1700's.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 24, 2010 9:40:32 AM PDT
murphy jr says:
Wow, Loved these books!

Posted on Mar 24, 2010 3:07:41 PM PDT
The Stories of John Cheever
Bloodbrothers & The Wanderers -- Richard Price
A Winter's Tale & Ellis Island & Other Stories -- Mark Helprin
Away -- Amy Bloom
Body & Soul -- Frank Conroy
Edgar Allan Poe's The Mystery of Marie Roget -- (and this study -- The Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers: Sex and Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York (Studies in the History of Sexuality) (Paperback)
~ Amy Gilman Srebnick )

better than historical fiction -- Joseph Mitchell's Up in the Old Hotel

Call It Sleep -- Henry Roth
The Collected Stories of Grace Paley
Sleeping Arrangements -- Laura Shaine Cunningham

Posted on Mar 25, 2010 5:56:22 AM PDT
I used to be a big Rutherfurd fan, but I was very disappointed in New York. I couldn't finish it.

Highly recommend Carr's The Alienist and its successor Angel of Darkness. Also, Jack Finney, although I recently re-read one of his, and it seemed a bit dated.

Posted on Nov 30, 2010 5:53:18 PM PST
P. L. Lozano says:
I've uncovered and read more excellent ones: "Downtown; My Manhattan" by Pete Hamill (history and a memoir by an author who truly loves his city; "Heyday" by Kurt Andersen (a long book that takes you from NYC in 1848 to the Gold Rush in California);"Sex Wars; the Gilded Age in New York" by Marge Piercy (you really get to know characters like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Susan Anthony, Victoria Woodcull); "Let the Great World Spin" by Colum McCann (1970-era New Yorkers from all levels of the socio-economic strata connected briefly by one event).
BTY, I appreciated everyone's recommendations; I've bought and read some of your suggestions now. I was disappointed when I went to the flagship Barnes & Noble at Union Square to ask their advice, and all they could suggest were Jack Finney's books. They're good... but I knew that there had to be more... lots more.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 30, 2010 8:26:59 PM PST
That's why you need an indie bookseller in NYC (like Shakespeare & Co. or McNally Jackson http://www.mcnallyjackson.com).

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2010 6:37:26 AM PST
P. L. Lozano says:
Well, the funny thing is... I live in Houston, Texas. My passion is NYC, and I spend as much time there as possible, wandering and experiencing the streets and neighborhoods that I read about. So I'm constantly culling the internet for NY historical and cultural sites and blogs where I might uncover more NYC gems. B&N and Amazon seem to only come up withthe same ten or so suggestions. Can you recommend some good indie book stores in Manhattan? (I plan to spend part of March there.)

Posted on Dec 1, 2010 8:29:42 AM PST
Bank Street Books (for children) (Broadway & 112th) http://www.bankstreetbooks.com

Book Culture http://www.bookculture.com/ near Columbia University 536 W 112 between Broadway & Amsterdam

East Village Books & Records 99 St Marks Place

Rizzoli http://www.rizzoliusa.com/bookstore/ midtown West 57th between 5th & 6th Avenues Still gorgeous.

Shakespeare & Co has stores in the West Village (716 Broadway), the Upper East Side (939 Lexington between 68th & 69th) & in Grammercy (East 23rd at Lexington), & elsewhere. I used to work at their flagship store, now closed.

Westsider Rare & Used Books 2246 Broadway on the Upper West Side between 80th & 81st...wonderful place to browse. All kinds of good used books & less crowded than the Strand.
http://www.westsiderbooks.com/rarebookroom.html

The Strand http://www.strandbooks.com/
12th & Broadway (West Village)

McNally's Jackson 52 Prince Street (between Lafyette & Mulberry) http://www.mcnallyjackson.com/

And if you wander around that area & the East & West Village you can find other small indie stores.

Some of my favorite stores are now gone but happily these are still around.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2010 2:27:53 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 2, 2010 2:47:37 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2010 2:41:56 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 2, 2010 2:51:40 PM PST
M. Newman says:
"Forever" was a terrific book like most of Hamill's stuff; imaginative, rich and informative. I also agree with those who recommended "The Alienist," "Time and Again," and "Ragtime." You can't go wrong with any of those. I'll add to the list, Abraham Cohan's classic, "The Rise of David Levinsky," a great novel about the turn of the century Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side.
You may be interested in my own new novel, "Sophie Paraskova," which tells the story of a beautiful young Jewish woman who emigrates to the Lower East Side from Russia in the 1880's and becomes an anarchist. It is available on Amazon.
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Discussion in:  Historical Fiction forum
Participants:  41
Total posts:  57
Initial post:  Nov 22, 2009
Latest post:  Jul 27, 2014

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