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Bar none the very best historical novels . . . .

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In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2007 11:57:07 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 25, 2007 12:07:09 PM PDT
Misfit says:
W.M., & Bruce. Great suggestions. As good as Amazon is at picking up on my reading habits and suggesting other books, there are still a few out there I would never have found without discussions like these. I'll put these on my TBR list (always growing). Thank you.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2007 1:29:05 PM PDT
Eunice Boeve's "Summer of the Crow" is an excellent period piece set in 1935 Kansas. It's truly a masterpiece of a book.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2007 7:46:29 PM PDT
Amy Sorter says:
Anne, if you liked "The Red Tent" and "I Judas" (which I also liked, BTW), I'm going to self-promote my "Servant of the Gods," which is a fictional tale of Deborah, from the Bible's Book of Judges.

It was "The Red Tent" that actually inspired me to write "Servant" -- as a rabbi told me, if Anita Diamant can write about the six-line rape of Dina, why couldn't I give the same treatment to Judges, chapters 4 and 5 :-).

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2007 10:46:57 PM PDT
The size of W & P has always managed to intimidate me but your post has got me thinking of taking it on especially since I have just finished reading the magnificently researched "1812 - Napoleon's defeat in Russia" the horror of which Hitler was also to experience in the 1940s. Anyone out there read the superb "Aztec" by Garry Jennings? Wonderful stuff !

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 26, 2007 3:07:37 AM PDT
JaneConsumer says:
It was more years ago than I care to count, but I read AZTEC. I second your recommendation. I happened to be in Chapultepec when I read it, so it was doubly magnificent.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 26, 2007 4:50:07 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 26, 2007 4:54:04 AM PDT
Here are a couple of historical novels which provide a variety of perspectives on life and combat during the Second World War not often highlighted in novels of this genre...

1) BLACK OUT - John Lawton
"Spy thriller set in London during 1944"

2) MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA - James McBride
"vividly follows four Black soldiers of the U.S. Army's 92nd (Buffalo) Infantry Division as they become trapped between forces beyond their control in a remote Italian village in December 1944 - fighting the Germans and Jim Crow"

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 26, 2007 10:51:13 AM PDT
Replay to Amy

You got that right, I had to go back to the Bible to see what the fuss was about--six lines indeed.

And isn't that the beauty of historical fiction. Sometimes I think people forget that oxymoron: Historical FICTION. You can't have both. We are making up stuff about people based on our research.

And thank you very much for the recommendation. I'm a firm believer in a capitalism. Word of mouth has to start somewhere. If not with the author, where else?

Are you a member of the Historical Novel Society? A great group I highly recommend it.

thanx again.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 1, 2007 6:41:51 PM PDT
Edwin Ortiz says:
hi i just picked up the book a rage aaginst heaven and i totally agree it is the best historical novel i have ever read....

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2007 4:30:10 AM PDT
Hamstead says:
Dorothy Dunnett is in a league of her own and one of my favourites. Roberta Gellis' Roselynde Chronicles are wonderful for bringing intelligence to the Medieval romance genre. Her characters are of their time.
Red Adam's Lady - Grace Ingram. Long out of print, but second hand copies still around.
Hanta Yo by Ruth Beebee Hill. That scotched any fond notions I might have had about writing an Native American novel. This one is the definitive.
Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman - although I'm scared to re-read it because a lot of what I read when I was younger hasn't stood the test of time.
Vainglory by Geraldine McCaughrean. Thing Dorothy Dunnett again. A fabulous book set in Medieval France. As rich and bright as an illuminated page from Jean Duc de Berry.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2007 4:49:49 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 2, 2007 4:50:51 PM PDT
Bev Davis says:

I have to say the Sharon Kay Penman must certainly stand the test of time. I'm in my 50s & I just started reading her books a few yrs ago & absolutely love them.
I also love Edith Pargeter(a.k.a. Ellis Peters) The Brothers of Gwynnedd Quartet. (Or you can read them separately as Sunrise in the West, The Dragon at Noonday, The Hounds of Sunset, and Afterglow & Nightfall.) She was earlier than Penman, but very similar. These books are about the struggle of the 2nd Llewelyn of Wales & the English monarchy. In fact, these books start where Here Be Dragons leaves off.
Also: Edward Rutherfurd has several huge books that follow several families (rich & poor) from prehistoric times to the near present. The only one I've read so far is Sarum: A Novel of England. He also has one about London that I've just started.
Anne Somerset - Elizabeth I - 1991 is great too.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2007 10:52:34 PM PDT
Edwin, thanks for the feedback. Why "A Rage Against Heaven" never became the "Gone with the Wind" of its time I will never understand. Also read the same author's "Century", it is also an embracing read.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 3, 2007 9:44:53 AM PDT
I'd put in a nod towards Pynchon, especially regarding "Mason and Dixon" and "Against the Day." They're his histories but they exists -- and in the former's case written -- in the old time periods.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 3, 2007 2:37:11 PM PDT
shbooks says:

Are you so certain of the absolute difference between History and Fiction? Do you really want to pose them as paradox? Even non-fiction histories are highly plotted, narrative in nature, and certainly make use of all the tropes of our languages? Try the old books on historiography by Hayden White for reference. The point: if Official Histories are difficult to distinguish from fictional narratives, aren't Historical Fictions also?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 4, 2007 10:08:02 AM PDT
M. A. George says:
Flashman! Absolutely. Laughing-out-loud romps through the whole of 19th century British history, from India to the Crimea to China and Borneo. Love the footnotes. Reading the whole Flashman series will give you a complete education!

Does anybody know, has anybody heard when Fraser will provide us with the long-awaited (in America, at least) Flashman book on the American Civil War? Hints and allusions about Flashman's experiences with Robert E. Lee, Jeb Stuart, Lincoln and Grant are threaded throughout the other books. When, when, when?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 4, 2007 12:24:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 4, 2007 12:28:11 PM PDT
Jack Dixon says:
Silver Whistle, I cringed a little at your post about Scotland as a historical fiction theme park...having just published a historical fiction about the Picts. I sincerely hope that The Pict doesn't invoke that kind of reception among the Scots. If it does, however, I'd most certainly want to know.
We non-Scots of Scottish descent tend to romanticize and lionize what we view as inherently Scottish traits. I hope that my book doesn't come across as anything other than interesting, enjoyable human and historical drama.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 4, 2007 5:16:10 PM PDT
Misfit says:
Margaret, stop this!! You are constantly messing with my TBR pile. How am I ever going to get started on the Lymond Chronicles if you keep this up!

What is the proper order on the flashman books, anyway?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2007 10:20:32 AM PDT
I am in the middle of reading Aztec right now. So far it is great. The main character you follow since childhood is about 22 years old so far and has done scribing, been a warrior in a army, and is just about to embark to become a traveling merchant. Some wacky stuff has already happen to him up to this point, but wow there is still a lot to go in this book, I feel like I already know so much about him. Looking forward to it.

this is my first historical fiction by the way.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2007 5:15:24 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 7, 2007 10:13:47 AM PDT
shbooks says:
For "non-genre" historical fiction, try Pynchon's Mason and Dixon, Delillo's Underworld (recent history) or Libra (Oswald), Mailer's Castle in the Forest (Hitler's youth), or Ancient Evenings. As for historical war novels, don't forget Irwin Shaw's The Young Lions, Erich Maria Remarque's All's Quiet on the Western Front, A Time To Love, A Time To Die.

someone please tell me: was the classic film Twelve O'Clock High (Gregory Peck) and the later TV series (Robert Lansing in the Peck role) based on a novel, or is it a non-fiction account like Speer's Inside the Third Reich or Bill Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 7, 2007 8:14:51 AM PDT
And who can forget the wonderfully engrossing Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk...must reads for WWII buffs...the video series is not bad either, but a bit poorly acted in parts.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 7, 2007 3:19:57 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 7, 2007 3:20:34 PM PDT
ellen says:
I don't know if you folks have read Jeanne Kalogrides' books - she was known at 1st for her Family Dracul trilogy and got quite a cult following but now writes historical fction - I Mona Lisa, Burning Times, The Borgia Bride, and so forth -
Also one of my very very favorite books of all time is The Sidewalk Artist
that has got to be the most romantic book ever - I have given more copies of this book to friends who have come back to me that they did the same for their friends and everyone loved it too.
Daphne Dumaurier (sp?) is also wonderful in this genre - as is the book Desiree - that deals with the fiance of Napoleon who goes on to be queen of Sweden - It was the 1st book of its kind I ever read and it is still a wonderful description of that time -
Also the Angelique novels are a bawdy form of this genre but really good -

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2007 7:54:56 PM PDT
"Pillars of the Earth" is my alltime favorite book. I'm a fantasy man at heart, so any George RR Martin novel is an obsession for me, but my alltime favorites will always be historical, just because the real contexts always trump fictional settings. I just finished "No Foreign Sky" by John Farquhar, and I can't say enough good things about it. He's a 1st-class writer. Lots of specific battle scenes on the WWII Russian front, and the best caught-in-the-middle war story I've ever read. You'll remember it forever.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2007 8:09:45 PM PDT
M. A. George says:
Misfit--where did you pop up from? Anyway, the first Flashman book (these books proport to be the "memiors" General Sir Harry Flashman and laid out with notes and footnotes, just like a real edited set of Victorian memoirs--only these are by no Victorian we would recognize--a lusty, bawdy hard-drinking, womanizing cheat, coward and blowhard who finds himself deep in the middle of violent history, from the India Mutiny, the Crimean War, the Opium Wars, Madagascar and Little Big Horn (to mention a few). Hilariously funny and historically accurate.

Anyway, first book is "Flahsman"--our introduction to our anti-hero. Then "Royal Flash", "Flashman and the Great Game" (watching Flashman flirt with Queen 'Vicky' as he calls her, and spar with Lord Palmerston, is priceless.) What next? I lose track of the order, but after the first one, they can be read in almost any order. Off-hand I remember "Flash for Freedom!" (the slave trade in Africa and the South), "Flashman and the Indians", "Flashman and the Mountain of Light", "Flashman's Lady" (Borneo), "Flashman and the Tiger" (China)--4 or 5 more. A marvelous series to be read at least 3 times. Sorry about your list. Tear it up and make a new one!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2007 9:29:00 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 12, 2007 8:55:35 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2007 11:36:45 PM PDT
Pillars of the Earth, indeed what magic ! Txs for your comments / recommendation (confirmed by Amazon reviewers) on "No Foreign Sky" - with its Eastern Front background it certainly will light my fire.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2007 6:38:47 AM PDT
Misfit says:
Thanks Margaret, I will look into those, always enjoy some humor with my HF. BTW, Misfit is the cat and a well deserved name it is.
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Discussion in:  Historical Fiction forum
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Initial post:  Jun 7, 2007
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