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Topic: Best Historical Fiction Books

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Subject: Best Historical Fiction Books
Date Posted: 1/20/2014 10:07 AM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2010
Posts: 12
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Can anyone recommend really good historical fiction books. I like british and french history and I would also like to read some historical fiction books about saints.

I have read most of Phillippa Gregory's books. I just started reading the Bastard King by Jean Plaidy. 

Thanks!

Date Posted: 1/20/2014 10:48 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 2,664
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The Scarlet Pimpernell has a little of both. English and French.

There are 4 books in the Arthurian Saga series by Mary Stewart

Bruce -
Date Posted: 1/20/2014 11:17 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2008
Posts: 3,412
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There are quite a few historical fiction book lists on PBS including my own. You might enjoy the series by C. S. Harris that is set in early 19th century England. It has a good blend of history and mystery.

Date Posted: 1/20/2014 11:44 AM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2006
Posts: 1,366
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THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH by Ken Follett is one of my favorites.

Date Posted: 1/20/2014 12:22 PM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2010
Posts: 1,206
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Great list Bruce! There are a lot of list on this site to get you started.

Anna - I agree about "Pillars", "Fall of Giants" was good too

I enjoyed all the books in the "Mistress of the Art of Death" series, they are "page turning historical fiction"

Date Posted: 1/21/2014 6:44 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 2,664
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Rashi's Daughters by Maggie Anton

The engrossing historical series of three sisters living in eleventh-century Troyes, France. With Rashi's Daughters, author Maggie Anton brings the Talmud and eleventh-century France to vivid life and poignantly captures the struggles and triumphs of strong Jewish women.

Date Posted: 1/21/2014 10:43 AM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
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Bruce's list is very good. Another list is the Essential Historical Fiction list, originally started by the PBS Historical Fiction Forum, a friendly, chatty group which you might want to visit. Unfortunately, the list is rather unwieldy and contains some questionable recommendations as well as a number of books that might be good but are not HF (e.g., Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Uncle Tom's Cabin), but it also contains many HF gems. Happy reading!

Date Posted: 1/21/2014 8:27 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2011
Posts: 2,958
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If you like American history, City of Dreams by Beverly Swerling is very good. There are several other books in this series but that is the first one. There's a lot of stuff in there about the early medical procedures they used to do, which I thought were facinating.

Date Posted: 1/24/2014 1:43 PM ET
Member Since: 10/20/2012
Posts: 756
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Back in the day, I really enjoyed all the Victoria Holt/JeanPlaidy/Phillipa Carr books.  They tend to be a bit formulaic, but I like the real touches of British history that she inserts into the plots.  BTW, they are all the same person, Victoria Holt (deceased).  She was British, so her books have a special authenticity.

 

Judye / maysied

Date Posted: 1/24/2014 5:58 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
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You could post this question in the Historical Fiction forum.  The ladies there are very knowledgeable and more than willing to help you add to your TBR list.

Date Posted: 1/25/2014 8:19 AM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
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Scaramouche by rafael Sabatini

Date Posted: 1/31/2014 4:44 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2011
Posts: 286
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Sinful Folk   by Ned Hayes is a new novel set in medieval England.  It looks really good and am waiting to get my hands on a copy.

Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharratt is really popular, I thought it was good, not great.

Confessions of a Pagan Nun by Kate Horsley is one of my favorites, it's about an early Irish nun.

I think you'd like The King's Nun: A Novel of King Charlemagne by Catherine Monroe

Here's a great list of saintly fiction on amazon.  Some gems on this list:  http://www.amazon.com/Novels-About-Catholic-Saints/lm/RDAG895X0R73J

Date Posted: 5/29/2014 4:38 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2006
Posts: 14
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Any and all of Georgette Heyer.  Regency-era romances but filled with great history of the period.

Date Posted: 6/3/2014 1:27 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,536
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My Name is Mary Sutter is one of the best fiction about the Civil War I have read.

 

Date Posted: 6/19/2014 10:02 AM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2009
Posts: 79
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Bruce has an excellent list......I'd vote for Bernard Cornwell as I've read every one, and most of Bruce's others, as Historical Fiction is my favorite novel subject.  For a British Royal Navy perspective, I suggest Patrick O'Brians  Aubrey-Maturin series.  No, you don't need to know a hawser from a jib, which I don't.  The development and aging of the characters is excellent, and each book is true to world naval history.  It's an addictive read.

Date Posted: 6/22/2014 6:12 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,188
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I have one that is a little bit British and a little bit Jamaican - which, back then I guess could be considered the same thing since Jamaica was still under British rule in the 1940s.

Small Island by Andrea Levy

I first saw the movie from the BBC and was absolutely enchanted by it. It's about Jamaicans, after fighting for the RAF in WWII, attempting to find a home in Britain with their families. 

I found the book available on PBS and ordered a copy. It just came last week so I'm looking forward to reading - I am thinking it must be spectacular since the book is usually better than the movie!! I'm sure it'll go on my keep shelf -- too bad the copy I was sent was unpostable though. lol surprise

Date Posted: 6/22/2014 8:07 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,536
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Susan, they had an episode like that on the Call the Midwives show.  Very touching.

Date Posted: 6/24/2014 2:22 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2006
Posts: 5,066
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Anything by Edward Rutherfurd. I've read all of his books and absolutely love them.

Date Posted: 7/15/2014 9:34 AM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2011
Posts: 286
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"I suggest Patrick O'Brians  Aubrey-Maturin series. "

Always! One of the greatest historical fiction series ever written, though they get a little bit weaker towards the end for me. 

I always recommend this series to Jane Austen, who was a great influence in his writing, fans for the humor and social observations. Just wonderful.

Date Posted: 7/17/2014 8:52 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,536
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Although his books are mainly about WWII, now I would guess that qualifies for historical fiction.  I love the books by Nevil Shute.  The Legacy/ A Town Like Alice is unforgettable and frankly, all his books are that way for me.  

Date Posted: 7/28/2014 12:14 AM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2009
Posts: 3,789
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I've enjoyed Phillippa Gregory's books, too.  

I would recommend Pope Joan -- very good book.  And I'm currently reading The Memoirs of Cleopatra, which I'm enjoying very much (though with over 900 pages, is taking me a long time to finish, especially since I'm also reading a 'lighter' book to break it up a bit).  

Date Posted: 8/25/2014 10:30 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2007
Posts: 1,572
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I just read Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin and have to agree, it's one of the very best historical fiction books I've ever read.  Also Tracy Chevalier's very good: The Girl With the Pearl Earring, Falling Angels, The Virgin Blue.

Date Posted: 8/25/2014 10:30 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2007
Posts: 1,572
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I just read Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin and have to agree, it's one of the very best historical fiction books I've ever read.  Also Tracy Chevalier's very good: The Girl With the Pearl Earring, Falling Angels, The Virgin Blue.

Date Posted: 11/3/2014 1:16 AM ET
Member Since: 9/26/2014
Posts: 1
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Hallelujah by Featherstone is about the composer Handel. Many of the events are real, but there are several fictional characters that start separate but intertwine wonderfully! Baroness Orzcy wrote the Scarlet Pimpernel and a lot of others based off of the Pimpernel. There are a few lower-grade reads like The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (about the gold rush) the Golden Goblet (Ancient Egypt) and some others like that! have fun!

Date Posted: 11/4/2014 12:41 AM ET
Member Since: 6/7/2008
Posts: 323
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highly recommend Zoe Oldenbourg's The World is Not Enough (that's the English title--originally written in French) and The Cornerstone, if you're interested in the Middle Ages.

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