Discussion Forums - Historical Fiction

Topic: American Historical Fiction

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
Page:   Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: American Historical Fiction
Date Posted: 9/25/2008 9:26 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

How many of you enjoy reading Historical Fiction set in America? If so, what are your favorite times to read about?

I especially enjoy reading about the American Revolution, but really, I love reading anything about Colonial times. I also like books about the Civil War, and books written about early New York. Recently, I've been interested in Lewis & Clarke, but I'm having a hard time finding H/F about them and their explorations that sound good to me. I really, really wish I could find something written pretty recently.

If you have any favorite American H/F books, tell us about them! I'd also love to hear about any non-fiction American history books that you enjoyed reading. I just bought a book about Paul Rever that looks very promising.

I know most of the H/F'ers prefer reading about Europe, but I'm hoping I'm not the only one here who reads American H/F. Am I all alone? Say it isn't so! :-D

Date Posted: 9/25/2008 11:17 AM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2005
Posts: 714
Back To Top

I love James Alexander Thom for American H/F. His book From Sea to Shining Sea about the Lewis and Clark expedition was wonderful. If you like that one, I suggest you try more of his. I loved them all. Also, Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo was excellent.

Date Posted: 9/25/2008 12:47 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 1,976
Back To Top

Valli, I'm totally with you on this. I love American HF!  Right now I'm reading The Heretic's Daughter.  Four of the books in my top 10 list are American HF:  The Winthrop Woman, Gone With the Wind, Roots, and To Kill a Mockingbird (I'm not sure if this is HF).  I also liked To Follow the River by James Alexander Thom.  I just got another one by him  - The Red Heart.  Years ago I read a trilogy about a family in Kentucky or Tennesse.  I loved it, but I can't remember the name of any of them - something like The Leaves or The Grass.  The author is famous, but long deceased. It was a mini series with Hal Holbrook and Elizabeth Montgomery.  Does this sound familar to anyone?

There's an interesting thread on this topic at historicalfictiononline.   I'm always looking for new sugestions.  I am facinated with how other people lived their lives and how historical events affected them.

Date Posted: 9/25/2008 2:01 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,400
Back To Top

Valli - have you read any of Beverly Swerling's books?  I especially enjoyed City of Dreams, and plan to read City of Glory in the near future.  I enjoyed Shadowbrook also, but not as much as City of Dreams, but many others liked it better. 

Another book which I would highly recommend is The Good Journey by Micaela Gilchrist.  It's a biographical novel about the wife of Gen. Henry Atkinson, commander of Jefferson Barracks at St. Louis during the Black Hawk Wars - a wonderful, yet tragic love story. Like Scarlet and Rhett, these two real people, in love with each other, yet  were so often at cross purposes.

A Civil War novel I read recently and enjoyed: Jacob's Ladder, a Novel of Virginia during the Civil War, by Donald McCaig.

Date Posted: 9/25/2008 3:21 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
Back To Top

Have you read Jimmy Carter's A Hornet's Nest? It was fascinating.

Date Posted: 9/25/2008 4:05 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,474
Back To Top

I remember that miniseries with Hal Holbrook and Elizabeth Montgomery it was wonderful!  I think it was called something like the Big Trees and maybe it was placed in Ohio but could have been Kentucky as well.  Jane Seymour played a younger sister.  The Anna Lee Waldo book was really good but I'll bet Valli read that one!

Date Posted: 9/25/2008 5:37 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 1,976
Back To Top

OK, it was really bugging me about the name of books that spawned the mini series.  The trilogy is called The Awakening Land and the book titles are: 1. The Trees, 2. The Town and 3. The Fields; the author is Conrad Richter.  I read them 30 years ago.  I saw the mini series and went to the bookstore the next day for the books.  I really enjoyed them. Cheryl, you were right; it was Ohio.

Date Posted: 9/25/2008 6:40 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
Posts: 576
Back To Top
I really like American Historical Fiction! I prefer reading about WWII era but also I like the early 1900's or the late 1800's as well. Books about San Francisco are particularly interesting to me. I can't think of any authors off the top of my head though...
Date Posted: 9/25/2008 7:54 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

Tangie, I'm so glad to hear that From Sea to Shining Sea is good because I ordered it about two days ago. That was really the only H/F I could find about Lewis & Clarke. I also requested another one by Thom, Sign Walker: The Adventure of George Drouillard on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, but I'm not sure if these books go together or not. I don't know how I missed reading James Alexander Thom before now. He's been around a while, but I've never read any of his books.

Donna, I didn't even realize that The Heretic's Daughter was set in America. For some reason, I thought it was set in Spain, lol. I don't know where I got that.

I loved the Beverly Swerling books! I've read them all except for the newest one that is coming out, City of God. I'll check out all of the other books that have been mentioned. I'm always on the look out for another good book!

One of the best that I've read recently was Mary by Janis Cooke Newman. Has anyone else read it?

 

Date Posted: 9/25/2008 7:56 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

Oh, Cheryl, are you talking about Anna Lee Waldo's book Sacajawea? I haven't read it, but I do have a copy. It's a HUGE book! Now, that we are talking about American H/F, I want to read some!

Date Posted: 9/25/2008 8:29 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
Back To Top

I enjoy American historical fiction, but I have to be in the right mood. I have an undergraduate degree in American history, so I get bored with the pace and inaccuracies of some of the novels.

Here's some on Lewis & Clark not mentioned above:

I should be extremely happy in your company : a novel of Lewis and Clark by Brian Hall (mediocre reviews)

Sign-talker : the adventure of George Drouillard on the Lewis and Clark Expedition : a novel by James Alexander Thom

The true account : concerning a Vermont gentleman's race to the Pacific against and exploration of the western American continent coincident to the expedition of Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark by Howard Frank Mosher (despite the title, this is fiction)

The tumbler by Peter Bowen (a mystery about the lost journals of Lewis & Clark)

To the ends of the earth : the last journey of Lewis & Clark by Frances Hunter

Eclipse by Richard S Wheeler (alternate history surrounding Lewis' death at age 35)

Meriwether : a novel of Meriwether Lewis and the Lewis & Clark Expedition by David Nevin

Charbonneau's gold : a Lewis & Clark story by Rita Cleary

Calling the wind : a Lewis & Clark story by Rita Cleary (there are others by this author)

The melancholy fate of Capt. Lewis : a novel of Lewis & Clark by Michael Pritchett

Tale of valor; a novel of the Lewis and Clark Expedition by Vardis Fisher (originally published in 1958; this author has an interesting bio; he was a devout atheist, having written a 12-volume non-fiction set titled Testament of Man)

This should keep you busy for awhile! ;-)

Date Posted: 9/25/2008 9:29 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 1,976
Back To Top

I've been thinking about this topic all day and I realized that my intro into novels and the love of reading was American HF.  I started reading the Little House on the Prairie books when I was in the 3rd grade.

Date Posted: 9/25/2008 9:45 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,502
Back To Top

I also enjoy HF set in America.  My mind is blank right now, but a recent book I enjoyed was the Persian Pickle club set in the depression.

I also like the Deerslayer by James Fennimore Cooper (set in the 1700s)--part of the Leatherstocking Series, which includes Last of the Mohicans.

The Oxbow Incident by Walter Van Tilberg Clark was excellent.  It's set in the 1880s and involves a murder.  The towns people decided to go the vigilante route and the book takes some turns that really make you think.



Last Edited on: 9/25/08 9:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 9/25/2008 9:50 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,474
Back To Top

Yes, that's the one.  You would really like Sacajawea I think.  It would keep you busy reading for a couple of days at least!  Seriously, the story was a very good one.

Date Posted: 9/25/2008 9:55 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,502
Back To Top

I remembered...Gone with the Wind.  One of the best books I've ever read!

Date Posted: 9/25/2008 11:18 PM ET
Member Since: 9/10/2008
Posts: 111
Back To Top

I just started reading Historical Fiction... sad I know. I would have to say that my favorite time period is the Civil War. I recently read Robert Hicks's Widow of the South.  It was slow at times but as a whole i enjoyed it.

At times i dont like wondering if something mentioned really happened, but I have found that I enjoy reading the novels as the authors write them and then researching what really happened

Date Posted: 9/26/2008 12:39 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

Genie, I'm the same way, I have to be in the right mood for different time periods. Lately,  I've been pretty burned out on European fiction, so I read a lot of non-fiction back to back, and now I'm in need of something else. Then, I caught a bit of a show about Lewis & Clark and became intrigued with them again.  You posted an impressive list of books about them! I've only read two, I Should Be Extremely Happy in Your Company and The True Account by Mosher. I'd really like to read To the Ends of the Earth by Frances Hunter and I had it on my wishlist for a long while, but removed it after the line never seemed to move. )If anyone has this book, let me know!)  I really appreciate the list! I'm going to enjoy hunting for these books!

Sarah, I loved The Widow of the South! Loved it!

Gone with the Wind is my all-time favorite book! I have an entire shelf full of different hardcover editions of this book and some are very pricey editions that my Grandmother bought me over the years. I think my Gone with the Wind collection is the possession I love most.

Date Posted: 9/26/2008 12:58 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

Has anyone read Kevin Baker's City of Fire series that begins with Dreamland? The second book is Paradise Alley, third is Striver's Row. I always recommend this series to anyone who enjoys American H/F. Baker covers a huge amount of time in the three books, it's filled with compelling characters, and all three books are exciting to read. I wish he'd get something else published for me to read!

I just requested Herman Wouks GIANT books about WWII - The Winds of War and War and Rememberance. I'm embarrassed to admit that I decided to read these books because I found a copy of the second book in a lovely trade paperback edition that I had to buy. I added the first book to my wishlist and a copy has already been posted and mailed to me. Has anyone read these books? Did you love them? I think both books sound wonderful!

Cheryl, I've pulled Sacajawea from the shelves and I'm going to begin it just as soon as I finish Anne Perry's book, The Face of A Stranger.

I have two more that I want to read soon - Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony by Lee Miller and Canaan by Donald McCaig. Does anyone know if Canaan is part of a series? I was wondering if there is another book I should read first.

Date Posted: 9/26/2008 1:42 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 1,976
Back To Top

Valli, Canaan  is a sequel to Jacob's Ladder.

Date Posted: 9/26/2008 1:52 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
Back To Top

I'd really like to read To the Ends of the Earth by Frances Hunter and I had it on my wishlist for a long while, but removed it after the line never seemed to move.

Valli, Maybe try interlibrary loan at your public library. There is at least one copy in Alabama - at the Decatur Public Library. Search Worldcat.org and enter your zip code when the results come up. Worldcat doesn't show every library, but you can get a sense of how commonly available it is.

 

Date Posted: 9/26/2008 2:06 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

Thanks, Donna! I almost started reading it yesterday after Kelly mentioned that she enjoyed Jacob's Ladder, but then I thought that it might be part of a series. I'll add Jacob's Ladder to my WL now.

Genie, I checked my library, but, when they didn't have it, I gave up and didn't even ask about an ILL, probably because I wasn't as worried about reading it back then as I am now. I'll definitely be checking into an ILL. Thanks for reminding me of that!

Has anyone read Martha Peake by Patrick McGrath?  http://www.paperbackswap.com/book/details/9780375701313-Martha+Peake+A+Novel+of+the+Revolution+Vintage+Contemporaries   I was just looking at it and it sounds awfully interesting. One of the reviewers here described it as gothic, I like the sound of that!



Last Edited on: 9/26/08 2:07 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/26/2008 3:21 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
Back To Top

Oooh... I just found that David Nevin has also written a book about another great American explorer, John Fremont. Thanks for recommending David Nevin! I've already requested his book about Meriwether and the one about John Fremont. I'm going to have some fun with these. :-D

Date Posted: 9/26/2008 7:13 PM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2006
Posts: 860
Back To Top

I have read Kevin Baker's books excpet for Striver's Row.  ( I have the CD version on my TBR) and I loved Swirlings books too.  Don't forget Sara Donati's series that begins with Into the Wilderness, Dawn on a Distant Shore, Lake in the Clouds, Fire in the Sky and the last one escapes me.

Pam

Date Posted: 9/26/2008 7:53 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
Posts: 576
Back To Top
Has anyone read Tracie Peterson's Yukon Quest books? I'm nearly done with Treasures of the North and am not sure if I want to read the other two. I'm also a little unclear as to whether or not the other two involve the same characters? Does anyone know? I wasn't thrilled with this book and the writing style and the actual story itself. Are the other two very similar or are they worth reading in your opinion (why or why not?) this is the first Tracie Peterson book I've read, but I noticed she has a lot of others that I would ordinarily find interesting. Are all her books relatively the same writing style and stuff?
Date Posted: 9/27/2008 5:47 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,400
Back To Top

Valli:

I read Winds of War and War and Remembrance several years ago, and I would still consider them among my favorite historical novels.  The TV mini series with Robert Mitchum was pretty good, particularly Winds of War, pretty true to the novel as I remember it.

Page: