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Best Historical Fiction you've read recently


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Posted on Jul 30, 2009 10:39:34 AM PDT
Hi M. Simpson,
If you love James Michener then give Edward Rutherford a try! When I read his first book, I immediately thought of my girlhood summers spent reading Michener.

Happy Reading!

Posted on Jul 30, 2009 10:42:07 AM PDT
To gilly8 - I envy you, I remember my reaction after reading Under the Eagles - it was a big WOW! Definitely read the next 4 books, you won't be disappointed. There are more, however the ones set in Roman Britain were my favorites.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 31, 2009 5:38:32 AM PDT
LL McKenna says:
Hi all-
I have to agree with Mary E. Borden, re: Edward Rutherfurd. My favorite of his books so far is "Sarum". My heart gives a happy leap if I'm browsing a bookstore, and happen to come across a surprise new book by him.
I miss Michener....James Michener and Herman Wouk are authors who have the rare capacity to let me escape - via my imagination- when I desperately need to, but am unable to take a physical vacation at the moment.
Another author, whom I've never come across yet in these postings, is Susan Howard. I'm talking older Susan Howard, say 1970's Howard's writings. Those were my lean days (in money, and as a result, food and apartments...), but if a new Susan Howard came out, I would gladly sacrifice eating that day to buy the book. The books I'm thinking of: "Cashelmara", "The Wheel of Fortune" (a personal favorite), "The Sins of the Fathers" and the second book that continued that story- forgive me if I mixed up the order, but I can't seem to remember the other books title, except that it and "The Sins-" were fantastic, and you never wanted them to end.
Unfortunately, as we got into the '80's, Howard's novels became more and more obsessed with the Anglican Church, and IMHO totally different (and such a disappointment, to me) than her earlier work.
However, the earlier books are timeless, and I've read them over and over so many times.
I just had to get Susan Howard into this discussion...her books all take place in either England or Ireland. There are more than the ones I mentioned....if you can find those earlier Howard novels, you are really in for a treat! Good luck!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 31, 2009 6:32:41 AM PDT
Jody says:
Are you talking about Susan Howatch?

I agree with you, her early books were wonderful. The Anglican ones, not so much, though interesting. There wasn't much else new in the library at that time, so they were a default read for me. It was hard to believe they were written by the same author!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 31, 2009 6:49:28 AM PDT
Misfit says:
It was Susan Howatch who wrote Cashelmara, Penmarric and Wheel of Fortune. All three parallel the lives of the Plantagenets, although each book is a completely different story and setting. I've read the first two and intend to read Wheel sometime soon.

I'm not too interested in her Anglican books, but I hear she's written a few romantic suspense books I'd like to try.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 31, 2009 8:20:54 AM PDT
You must read Flashman in the Great Game and Flashman and the Mountain of Light if you want a real taste of India...and anything else George MacDonald Fraser wrote - outstanding research and damn fun!

Posted on Jul 31, 2009 8:22:02 AM PDT
Read the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser...hilarious and well-researched...Flashman and the Great Game / Flashman and the Mountain of Light take place primarily in India

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 31, 2009 7:29:02 PM PDT
Selene says:
Have to add a word for the latest novel to make a big impression on me- Adam Thorpe's "Hodd", an interpretation of the Robin Hood legend, going back to the early ballads for inspiration.
http://www.historicalnovels.info/Hodd.html

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2009 7:31:47 AM PDT
LL McKenna says:
Hi Misfit!
"Penmarric"!!! That's the one I couldn't recall the title of, but I think it was her first....? GREAT book!!!!!! You'll LOVE "Wheel" too, if you loved the others.
The Anglican books were a terrible disappointment, after the Plantagenet books- and "The Sins of the Fathers" is one of the romantic suspense books, I'm pretty sure it's the first one of a double set. I can't remember the name of the second book, but BOTH of them are WONDERFUL, can't-put-down, prayed for a third after #2, but instead came the start of the seemingly never-ending Anglican series. BOO!!! (BOO-HOO was my reaction to that-)
Okay! Got the titles of the romantic suspense books that you will NOT be able to put down!
1.) "The Rich Are Different"
2.) "The Sins of the Fathers"

-because you will want to read them in order, otherwise you'll be confused, since they're the same characters, book #2 "Sins" picks up where #1 "The Rich" leaves off.

I envy you, getting to read "Wheel of Fortune", and then "The Rich Are Different" and "Sins of the Fathers" all for the first time!
I'm sure there's a large number of people who love the Anglican novels, that come after all that great stuff, but it just bored me quickly. Too bad.
linda

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2009 7:40:38 AM PDT
LL McKenna says:
Hi Jody!
YES!!!!!
Definitely AM talking about Susan Howatch (I'm sorry- did I write 'Howard'????) Stupid of me, to mess up the name of an author I thouroughly ADORED, until the Anglican series started, and then never stopped. I would have to agree with you on the default reads.
I ADORED every single one of her books, right up until I think "Glittering Images", and then rather than having sex, it was constant agonizing about even thinking about it! Mehhh....a damn shame....
linda

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2009 10:13:19 AM PDT
Judy H. says:
The Sins of the Fathers, and The Rich Are Different aren't romantic fiction. Howatch used the a different era (like she did with the Plantagent books) to write about Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Marc Anthony, et. al.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2009 1:36:35 PM PDT
Just finished three books recommended here and loved them all: Forever Amber - great main character but I would have never taken that much from a man! Molokai - just a wonderful story and I couldn't put the book down. Night - short but so moving. I would like to make a comment about Game of Kings - I know it is much loved but have tried to start it 6 times and can't get past the first chapter. Please don't hate me Dunnett lovers!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2009 6:11:37 AM PDT
LL McKenna says:
~Just to add- I keep my VERYVERY favorite books on the top of one of my bookcases, held together by my favorite bookends (a pair of serious-looking bunnies, just like I take my favorite books- SERIOUSLY!!!)
And "Forever Amber" is right up there (and, galena, I'm with you! Was there ANYTHING at all that she wouldn't do for that guy??!!?? And anything at all that he couldn't find it in himself to walk away from her- even after she saved his life, while risking her own, from the plague????!!)
One of the others up there next to Amber is- and guys out there, you probably wouldn't be as interested in this book- BUT it's "...And Ladies of the Club", by Helen Hooven Santmyer. The novel begins in 1868, and goesup to around 1930 or so. I've read this book over and over and over, by now it feels like an old, trusted, beloved friend. The people in it feel so real! Of course, some of them are real, historical figures, who just happened to be a part of the storyline- political figures whose lives affected a characters life somehow. This author did write other books also, but NOTHING could even come close to "...And Ladies of the Club". NOTHING!!!!!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2009 8:32:55 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 2, 2009 8:36:55 AM PDT
JW says:
galenahillbilly, I agree, there have been such good recommends on these posts. The Shardlake series is wonderful...I am now into the third book (Sovereign).

For a change in venue to Asia, I highly recommend James Clavell's Shogun. It was a literary feast about Japan during the time that the navigators were begining to chart the oceans. Also Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. This was a beautifully moving book about womens' friendships that helped them through difficult lives as slaves to husbands and husbands' families in a foot-bound culture. Lisa See has aso written several very good mysteries that tell stories with the politics and culture of modern day China as the backdrop. These stories all have political intrigue, a murder mystery and a western connection. One of the books was about the rush to save antiquities before the Three Gorges Dam was built. Good, good stories and very educational.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2009 8:44:22 AM PDT
Anne Slovin says:
The Cazalet Chronicle (four books) by Elizabeth Jane Howard. The first book starts before World War II, and the series follows the Cazalet family through the war into the late 1940s. Wonderful, and there's a great miniseries adaptation of it too.

Posted on Aug 3, 2009 8:20:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 3, 2009 8:21:34 AM PDT
There is a fictional book surrounding the people involved in the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in WW2 which was followed by a blood bath reprisals (eg. the total annihilation of Lidice) Can anyone recall the title and tell me what they thought about it ?

Dudley Ristow
Johannesburg. South Africa

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2009 11:12:17 AM PDT
Dekko says:
I have not read any of them but these are possibles from a list at Wiki:

The plan to kill Heydrich is central to the plot of the 1998 novel As Time Goes By, a sequel to the movie Casablanca, written by Michael Walsh. (ISBN 0-446-51900-6).

Heydrich, as the "Reich's Crown Prince of Terror", plays a leading role in March Violets and The Pale Criminal, the first two novels in Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir trilogy (ISBN 0-14-023170-6), in which Bernie Gunther, a Berlin private eye in the tradition of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe who left the Berlin police when the Nazis came to power, finds his investigations embroiling him in the internal feuding of the Nazi High Command.

Jiří Weil's 1960 novel, Mendelssohn is On the Roof, is set in Prague in 1942, and features Heydrich as a character and his assassination as a major plot point.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2009 11:42:29 AM PDT
Ive read Philip Kerrs Berlin Triology. It is of the highest quality and he is generally a very fine writer,,,james

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2009 12:59:30 PM PDT
if you like that one try Two Twisted Trails by Bo Wilkerson, it is a great account of what happened right after the Civil War and the story is great.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2009 2:41:05 PM PDT
Tamburlaine says:
.. I second (Or third) the Philip Kerr Berlin trilogy

...................

I will add that if your open to watching a movie centering around the Heydrich assassination, buy a copy of "Hangmen Also Die" directed by Fritz lang and with a story by Bertolt Brecht. It is in Black and White and came out in 1943 ......... Not the greatest movie ever .... but for one familiar with the history it is still quite stirring.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2009 10:30:21 AM PDT
Lindymc says:
I just finished an older book (c1970) that I really enjoyed: Of the Ring of Earls by Juliet Dymoke, about Waltheof of Huntingdon, an English earl loyal to Harold, who must agree to serve William the Conqueror following the Battle of Hastings. From what I can figure out, it is fairly accurate; certainly Waltheof was a most interesting hero.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2009 1:45:46 PM PDT
Guy LaCrosse says:
The Source by James A Michener, a fictional/non-fictional history of Judaism based around an archeological dig site.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2009 4:41:08 PM PDT
"The Source" is one of my all time favorite books. I don't think, though, that I would call it "a history of Judaism' but, rather, a history of religion itself. There were many Pagan, Christian and Muslim aspects to the story though it took place, of course, in Israel. The book, in my opinion, is the best thing ever written by Michener.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2009 5:31:48 PM PDT
Sawyer says:
A late reply to the Susan Howatch posts: 2 of her early novels I remember reading, The Waiting Sands and The Devil on Lammas Night(?). Anyway, both were gothic romances, set in a brooding house inhabited (of course) by an equally brooding handsome man. If you're familiar with Victoria Holt, she wrote several gothics also, quite similiar. Wheel of Fortune is one of my all-time favorites, can't be read too often!

Posted on Aug 5, 2009 4:13:26 PM PDT
S. McEwen says:
Trilogy in Blue: From the Ashes
A new northwest author, T.A. Perry, (retired SPD) has written a riviting historically based family saga set in Seattle during the late 1800s/early 1900s. It is action-packed and would appeal to crime novel readers as well as historians.
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Initial post:  Jul 16, 2008
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