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Historical Fiction

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#16 liebs


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Posted 06 July 2004 - 03:57 PM

My DD (15) adores Jane Austen and they are shorter. Or how about Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre? Or Three Museketeers or the Count of Monte Cristo? Camile by Dumas fils.

I loved Les Miserable but it is at least 1,000 pages. I also love Balzac's novels, mayeb Cousin Bette?

This summer, DD is reading In the Name of the Rose byt Umberto Ecco, set in the middle ages but written in the 80s.

#17 vagansmom


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Posted 07 July 2004 - 08:00 PM

Liebs, My daughter just finished that Eco book this past spring and loved it. Sounds like your kiddo and mine have similar tastes in books.

My own vote, Jacqueline, is probably for TOTC as well although if she were just a tad older, I'd likely recommend "Good King Harry" by Denise Giardina. It's about King Henry V. It's pretty graphic, in warfare descriptions and sexuality so I'm not so sure about a 15 year old reading it. My kiddo's 19 and just finished the book last week. So far everyone I know who's ever read it (I've given it to them all) has loved GKH. It's my 24 year old son's favorite book, one of my favorite's as well as my husband's, and now that daughter and her boyfriend have both read it, they feel the same way. My book club group also felt the same way.

This book is a great one for launching discussions about ethics, with many parallels to today's present world. It's also a darn good love story (had my gruff son with tears in his eyes).

Methinks "Les Miserable" is miserable to wade through. I did it once and have to say that I like the movie very much!

Another great historical novel that's also fairly short is "Darkness at Noon" by Arthur Koestler. I read it in high school and it set me off on a quest to read all the great Russian writers. Come to think of it, "Dr. Zhivago" by Pasternak is yet another one that's worth the read by a high school kid. As is so often the case, the book is so much more multi-faceted than the film.

#18 Herman Stevens

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Posted 08 July 2004 - 01:51 AM

Does Historical Fiction have to be about Europe in ages past?

Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove is a gorgeous book. Just because it's about the Big Trail doesn't make it any less respectable IMO.

I'm hoping to reread it later this summer, and write a piece about it, since there's a Dutch translation coming.

Balzac's Cousine Bette is a wonderful book; I wouldn't call it a historical novel, thoug. In that case Portnoy's Complaint would be one, too, since Roth wasn't living with his parents anymore when he wrote the book.

#19 Alexandra


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Posted 08 July 2004 - 07:55 AM

American historical fiction -- interesting topic. Would you count "Gone with the Wind?" "The Last of the Mohigans" and "The Red Badge of Courage". Scads of World War II novels, many of which made the careers of the writers. (But Herman's point is a good one -- novels which were contemporary when they were written may seem like historical novels 100 years later, but I'm not sure they go in that category.)

#20 sandik


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Posted 08 July 2004 - 08:18 AM

American historical fiction: When I was in high school I ran across Elswyth Thane's series of "Williamsburg novels," set between the Revolutionary War and WWII -- the emphasis is more on the personal relationships rather than historical events, but the characters are involved enough in their world to make those times clear. The one set in the Civil War was particularly good at that (although it is in the "we were always good to our Negro servants" tradition).

A caveat -- if someone looks for these you need to find early editions (1950's) -- I found a reprint from the 1960's that had excised all mention of drinking and alcohol. The edits were very clumsily done, and there is no mention on the title page that the work was expurgated. Very curious.

#21 sandik


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Posted 08 July 2004 - 08:19 AM

Another suggestion for American "historical" fiction -- John Steinbeck.

#22 Guest_Lady Fairy_*

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Posted 17 September 2004 - 08:02 AM

I absolutely adored Diana Gabaldon's series "Outlander" and have read all 5 books so far---anxiously awaiting the next! For the person who was wondering about Diana's other historical book (which is also excellent btw) I believe you are referring to the one called "Lord John Grey and the Private Matter". Very well, written, and depending on how far you went on the series, you will have encountered Lord John Grey in his dealings with Jamie Fraser. Lord John Grey now has his own story to tell in this one. There will also be other books in this series about Lord John Grey---yippee! :wub:

I have not read "The Other Boleyn Girl" as of yet, although it has been on my list for some time--I am most pleased to hear so many have enjoyed it! I have just finished reading Six Wives-the Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey--which I loved. I highly reccommend it.

Lady Fairy

#23 coffee



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Posted 28 September 2004 - 08:34 PM

I don't know if this would be interesting to you, but I love them. I am right in the middle of the Horatio Hornblower series by CS Forrester. They are the story of a young naval officer for the British Navy during the Napoleanic wars. It shows him moving up the ranks from Midshipman to Admiral. They are all about the battles, but there is a little romance in there too. They are really fast reads, too.

#24 dirac


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Posted 29 September 2004 - 10:52 AM

I think it has to be historical from the author’s perspective. I like Mary Renault, who’s just as good as Mashinka says, and Gore Vidal – Burr and Julian are two of my favorite books, and 1876 is very good, too. I also enjoyed Susan Sontag’s The Volcano Lover, about the Hamilton-Nelson affair.

Forever Amber is a very bad book, but I enjoyed it anyway. There’s a certain basic credibility in the story – the heroine has great beauty, great ambition, a sort of low animal cunning, and absolute ruthlessness – she doesn’t shirk from murder – and as it happens those qualities are just what she needs to get ahead in that time and place (the Restoration -- Charles II has just come back, and Amber spends most of the book plotting her way into his bed). Kathleen Winsor is not much of a writer, and she lards her dialogue with expressions that might be from the 17th century (“Odsfish!”) and others that are definitely not. The sex scenes were a big deal in its day, but no longer.

#25 dirac


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Posted 17 February 2005 - 06:34 PM

Joan Acocella on the novelist Marguerite Yourcenar, in The New Yorker, in which she discusses Yourcenar's handling of historical themes, among many other things:


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