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Bar none the very best historical novels . . . .


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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2008 12:39:25 PM PST
Riverrat says:
Hey Fan of the past: I love HF and read Gabaldon's first book in the Scottish series. I kept hoping for some history, but all I found was a pulpy "bodice ripper". I grew up near Wms'burg and have lived in NC for years, but based on what I've seen so far, I believe I'll skip her books set in NC.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2008 12:43:15 PM PST
K. Schwindt says:
Can anyone recommend a great historical novel about Catherine the Great?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2008 3:11:51 PM PST
Bookworm says:
I must say I am enjoying this thread so much and am getting a lot of great book ideas from you all!

I am a huge fan of Victorian England (and, to a slightly lesser degree, Edwardian England) historical fiction. I have read all these authors and their various series:
Anne Perry, Bruce Alexander, Lee Jackson, Robin Paige, Charles Finch, Deanna Raybourne, Tasha Alexander, and Emily Brightwell.

Can anyone recommend any other good authors for this time period?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2008 3:52:14 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Apr 18, 2008 9:02:09 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2008 5:51:29 PM PST
J. SEWELL says:
Try R.F. Delderfield who wrote two series of 3 novels each; God is an Englishman and A Horseman Riding By. You will probably have to go to a library or a used book store as I think they are out of print. Each set covers about 3 - 4 generations of a family and each book runs 800 - 1000 pages. They will keep you engrossed and busy for a while. Although I have considerably downsized because I live with my military grandchildren, I keep these yellowing treasures for those 'bad weather doldrums' and 'family saga days'. Although they were not fiction (although they sure read like fiction), there is a 2 or 3 volume biography about the beautiful Jenny Jerome, Winston Churchill's Mother. That was a lady I would have loved to have known; what a intellectual, challenging and fairly bawdy life she led.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2008 6:45:37 PM PST
Jack Dixon says:
Thanks, Linda, very much! I hope you enjoy The Pict whenever you get to it.

Jack Dixon
www.jdixon.net

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2008 7:05:57 PM PST
M. A. George says:
Sewell--it is a two-volume biography of Jennie Jerome by Ralph Martin--a great work which I read several times. But you seem to have liked her more than I did. She was excessively self-absorbed and vain. Interesting though, though hardly an intellectual.

Margaret

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2008 7:46:57 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Apr 18, 2008 9:01:38 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2008 7:50:34 PM PST
Mary S. says:
French Revolution: A Place of Greater Safety. There are no good guys in this one.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2008 8:28:54 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 21, 2008 10:30:48 PM PST
Selene says:
Jack, I noticed your post about "The Pict" on the Celtic/Roman Britain thread, did buy a copy, and would recommend it.
My comments when someone else asked me about it.

<Read Jack Dixon's THE PICT (mentioned earlier on this thread) and enjoyed it - only complaint, maybe a bit short. It's about Calach, a Pictish leader, and his encounters with and eventual destruction of the lost 9th legion. Blends likely history of the Pictish people with guerilla warfare v Romans, and also manages some thoughtful, but not intrusive, meditation on the nature of man, freedom and war. Worth a read, and interesting to see the fight between Rome and "barbarians" from the other side for a change.>

All the best.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2008 9:14:17 PM PST
Jerrie Brock says:
Well that is a loaded question on this website isn't it? Killer Angels, one of the best on the civil war. I Cladius by Shipway, Imperial Governor, by Graves for the Roman interests. In a Dark Wood Wandering by Hasse for the 100 year war. King Forever by Dunnett, and Bruce Triology by Tranter for Scots, 1913 by Morgan and A Long Way Home by Barry for WWI Irish slant, anything by Chatwick, Penman or Ellis Peters for Medieval English history, each with a different style, Lone Voyager by Garland and Moby Dick for American fishing history, To serve Them All My Days by Delderfield, more modern English history, Rise to Rebllion series by Shara, Royal Survivor by Coote. The Pullman Porter Story for a great Civil Rights read. Probably one of my all time favorites for American history early 20th Century, And Ladies of the Club by Helen H. Satameyer. Absolutely one of the best books ever written. And of course never neglect the classics, they became that for a reason, Dickens, Twain, Tolstoy, Dumas, all of them worth a second read as adults. Well I could go on and on since I make it through at least a couple of books a week. Most recents that were very good, Brethern and Crusade by Robyn Young, Excellent new writer. A warning, even if you like Pillars of the Earth you might at least want to wait for World Without End in paper back so you do not waste your money. Some like it. I thought it was horribly ridiculous and way too long to be quite so bad. I could go on, but this might help some. Many more I liked have already been cited.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2008 10:39:11 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 21, 2008 10:41:45 PM PST
Selene says:
Books, a novel I enjoyed, set in the Victorian England of the 1860s, is
"Kept: a Victorian mystery", by D.J. Taylor
I've put in a link so you can read more about it if you're interested:
Kept: A Victorian Mystery

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2008 4:40:39 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 22, 2008 4:43:22 AM PST
Jack Dixon says:
Thank you, Selene. I'm glad you enjoyed The Pict. It is indeed too short - I'd read in several places that it's best for a new novelist to keep the debut novel short. Most readers would hesitate to shell out too much for a lengthy book by an unknown author. The length of the book is the single consistent criticism I've received, and I agree with it. I'm working on an expanded version (400+ pages, as I would have liked it to have been in the first place).

Now that I know readers can stomach my writing, I'm encouraged to expand my work. My second novel is about 80% complete, and it's quite a bit longer (and somewhat more eventful) than The Pict.
Thanks for your kind words!

Jack
www.jdixon.net

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2008 6:38:52 AM PST
Lulu says:
Ash, no you are not the only American woman to dislike Gabaldon, I am the other American woman! Having said that I could have written your list myself. Lots of favs on it. My first loves are Tudor England and the Restoration era.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2008 7:27:57 AM PST
J. SEWELL says:
Margaret (my middle name, by the way), thanks so much for the info on the author. I knew it was a man with two first names, but my senior moment was permanent on this one. I looked at Amazon, Alibris, and BookFinder and couldn't track it down.
Annie Joyce, you and I will have to gang up on Margaret about the intellectual bit. Also, Jennie was an accomplished musician if I remember correctly.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2008 8:04:28 AM PST
M. A. George says:
Sewell--his names I know remember ws Ralph G. Martin. Jennie was intelligent, well-read, and more interested in culture (a fine pianist) than most of her class. None of this makes her an intellectual, even rthoguh she did edit a minor magazine for a few years (how much is debatable--she was given the job for her name not her brain.) At least, not as I understand the word. Her letter certainly show little intellectualism--and she never said or worte anythimg memorable. Unless you can correct me? Gang up if can can!

Margaret

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2008 8:14:11 AM PST
M. A. George says:
nniee--Oh, boy! Must disagree. "The Souls" were generally a bunch of poseurs. "Gifted" may apply to some of the politicians (Curzon I believe was a member, or at least associated with them) but the women! Name one distinguished woman--distinguished for more than being a social butterfly or impossible flirt. They floated around in their Grecian style dresses, talking about love and beauty and how bloody sensitive they were! Correct me if you can, of course. But I read several books about "The Souls" and remain unimpressed. Nothing of real cultural value or lasting intellectual interest came out of them--except for some of their children--Rupert Brooks' mother was one.

Bernard Shaw was a contemporary. There you have an intellectual.

Margaret

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2008 9:58:34 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 22, 2008 3:11:27 PM PST
Bookworm says:
Selene - thank you very much. I'll check it out.

By the way, I'm another American woman who didn't like Gabaldon's Outlander series. She's a very talented writer, but that series just isn't my thing.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2008 7:30:01 PM PST
ash says:
>of course never neglect the classics, they became that for a reason, Dickens, Twain, Tolstoy, Dumas, all of them worth a second read as adults.

Oh, no question. I read many of those classics in HS and college, and found myself intrigued by the history within them and the first person look at the society of the time.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2008 8:12:35 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Apr 18, 2008 9:00:53 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2008 9:31:13 PM PST
Selene says:
bookworm0, have just thought of another author you might like to try,
Jennifer Donnelly . Her "Rose" books are set in late Victorian/early Edwardian England.

The Tea Rose (2002)
The Winter Rose (2006)
The Wild Rose (2007)

Cheers.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2008 5:17:47 AM PST
M. A. George says:
Annie--I am willing to accept your description of Jennie Churchill in its context. For her time and class, one could label her "intellectual". Though she shines most brightly in comparison with the general dullness of the rest of her class.

She never had the opportunity to hold her own--or even participate--in a man's world. She held her own--triumphed--in "Society"--which is a woman's world and in which she was one of its brightest ornaments and who accomplished far more than the typical social buttterfly--but in that same arena.

So--expert on society, music, clothes and theaters. What a prodigy! She seems to have been smarter by far than the average aristocrat. One could say "smarter than the average bear" as easily. She would have been laughed out of the Fabian Society (a group of real intellectuals.)

Do not think I am trying to put her down or belittle her--I read the Martin books several times--they are wonderful evocations of a era and culture. And Jennie Churchill is an fascinating part of all that and completely admirable in her way--but I repeat. Is there anything she ever wrote, said, or accomplished that is memorable? I remember nothing like that. Just describing her genius at social activities does not convince!

Margaret (still friends?)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2008 5:53:03 AM PST
M. A. George says:
Bookword0--the absolutely best books of historical fiction of the Victorian are are the series Flashman books by George McDonald Fraser--who just died about 1 week ago. A great sorrow for his millions of fans. Start with "Flashman". Great, great historical fiction that is so historically accurate, beautifully written, witty, wise and lucid. Remember: FLASHMAN.

Margaret

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2008 9:49:25 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Apr 18, 2008 9:00:30 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2008 2:34:08 PM PST
Iridium says:
Bookworm:
You might try The Edwardians by Vita Sackville-West, assuming that you like reading about the Marlborough House Set.
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