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Topic: British/French/Saints - Historical Fiction

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Subject: British/French/Saints - Historical Fiction
Date Posted: 2/5/2014 10:38 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.


Date Posted: 2/5/2014 3:17 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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Oh, my have you come to the right place. You may be sorry you asked. Have you read Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series? It's fabulous and will keep you engaged for a while....

Date Posted: 2/5/2014 3:29 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,508
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There's a new one that has just been published about St. Hilda Hild  - I haven't read it yet, but it is on my list.

I read many years ago, and remember liking but not lovong, The Barefoot Girl  - about St. Margaret

There are manyof books about St.Joan of Arc, but I've only read non-fiction ones about her, other than children's books. This one may be of interest: http://www.amazon.com/The-Maid-Novel-Joan-Arc/dp/B00C023DDC

There's Patrick by Stephen Lawhead.

Oh, also Brendan by Morgan Llewelyn which was very good.


Date Posted: 2/5/2014 3:45 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
Posts: 5,201
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i second the recommendation of Outlander!  And watch for the Starz series based on it coming this sumer.

Also I'd recommend anything by Elizabeth Chadwick.  But choose your books carefully.  There are TWO authors by that name, one American, one English.  The American EC writes romances set int he U.S.  I'm referring the the English EC who writes histrical fiction set in medieval England and France.

Date Posted: 2/5/2014 5:41 PM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2009
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Not quite about a saint, but I really enjoyed Pope Joan. 






Date Posted: 2/6/2014 10:13 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
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I haven't read this one yet but it gets great reviews: Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen

Date Posted: 2/7/2014 12:18 PM ET
Member Since: 3/2/2010
Posts: 80
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Please try Sharan Newman's Catherine LeVendeur mystery series.  It's set in Medieval Paris and concerns the conflicts between Christans and Jews taking place at the time, as well as the conflicts within the Catholic church, the veneration of saints and the struggles with heresy and non-complient clergy.  Catherine is a devout Christian but pragmatic and well-educated and solves the museteries through observation and logic.  The historical perspective of daily life among the merchant class is well-done.

Date Posted: 2/7/2014 4:18 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,508
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Oh, JoAnne reminded me that, if you like mysteries, there is the Sister Fidelma series by Peter Tremayne as well as the Brother Cadafel mysteries by Ellis Peters.

Date Posted: 2/7/2014 6:51 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Saint Jamie Fraser! Y'all are shameless.wink

Welcome to the group, Anne.

Date Posted: 2/8/2014 1:28 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
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LOL @ Genie.

Yes, Ann -- welcome. Well, if you're looking for historical fiction related to British history, there is no dearth of good books. Most of us in this forum love Sharon Kay Penman -- her books are excellent:

The Sunne In Splendour  -- about Richard III

The Welsh Trilogy -- set in 13th c.

Here Be Dragons
Falls The Shadow
The Reckoning

The Henry II Series

 When Christ And His Saints Slept (which has nothing to do with saints)
Time And Chance
Devil's Brood
A King's Ransom

Peman also has written a thoroughtly enjoyable historical mystery series set in the 12-13th centuries featuring Justin de Quincy (sigh) if you are inclined toward mysteries.

Many of us also like Bernard Cornwell, who has a few different series. The series related to British (and often French) history are the Grail Quest  series, the Arthur books, and the Saxon Stories (featuring one of our favorite characters, Uhtred). He also has written some stand-alones, including Stonehenge and Agincourt. If you like battle scenes, you'll like Cornwell -- he also excels at well-developed, often snarky, characters and excellent history.

As mentioned above, most of us also read Elizabeth Chadwick's historical novels -- all based in British history. You might want to start with the Marshal books (The Greatest Knight and Scarlet Lion) and go from there. She has a number of books -- the ones that most appeal to me are the ones with actual historical figures. See her website for titles (elizabethchadwick.com).

ETA: Oops -- I wasn't finished with this post when my iPad inexplicably shut down and am incredibly relieved to find that the post didn't get lost in cyberspace. But, since I don't want to take chances, I'm going to stop for now and will resume at some point in the future when I log onto my desktop. But, I'm hoping that others will chime in.

Last Edited on: 2/8/14 1:34 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 2/8/2014 3:10 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2010
Posts: 12
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Terrific - keep the recommendations coming.

I just bought Pillars of the Earth - Ken Folliet, I have Pope Joan. I will definitely check out your recommendations. I just found out about Penman while searching yesterday. Her books have great reviews.

I'm reading Jean Plaidy's "The Passionate Enemies" now. 

Date Posted: 2/8/2014 4:25 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
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I second Deb on Penman and Chadwick for the medieval period. I think you'll find their take on it very different from Follett, but I'll behave myself and shut up cheeky

Date Posted: 2/8/2014 7:07 PM ET
Member Since: 4/13/2008
Posts: 247
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I agree with the suggestions of Outlander and the Marshall books by Elizabeth Chadwick.  I also really enjoyed the Outlaw series by Angus Donald. Alison Weir writes some good stories about the Tudor era if you like those types of books. She has a lot of historical information.

Date Posted: 2/9/2014 10:22 AM ET
Member Since: 9/21/2009
Posts: 1,173
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See, what you learn when you read these threads?  Didn't even know the book I'm reading now is part of a series....Here Be Dragons by Penman.  Off to look at the other two....

Don't be put off by the size Penman's books.  I know I was at first-almost 700 pages for my copy of Dragons-in lil itty bitty print I might add-it moves fast.

Some of my favorites have already been mentioned-Cornwell, Chadwick, Donald.  Not quite on that plane for me-a bit slower paced-but richly detailed-Anne Easter Smith.

Date Posted: 2/9/2014 10:47 AM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
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How about Alexandre Dumas? Those that I have read are all soundly based in history (although I hear he does take some liberties here and there), but they can give you a good flavor for periods of French history. 

The Musketeer series covers a wide swath of Louis XVI's reign and includes a side trip to England to help out Charles II in book #2, Twenty years after. He's also got a six book series on the French Revolution that's worth hunting down. Let me know if you're interested and I'll help you hunt them down. You want to be careful because not all publishers broke his books down the same way, so you want to stay with the same publisher (i.e. Oxford World's Classics) to avoid missing story. There are also sloppy translations being sold, and you don't want that. I think you can find most of his work on Project Gutenberg (sp?). 

There's his Valois trilogy starting with Queen Margot, and The Two Dianas set during Henri II's reign (I think this is on PG). And of course, The Count of Monte Cristo - don't let the page count scare you - lots of dialog so it reads fast. A lot of versions of Count have been heavily abridged. The Robin Buss translation from Penguin Classics is the go-to version to get.

Chadwick's Daughters of the Grail is one of her earlier books and is set in France, Albegensian (sp?) crusade.

If India, Russia and/or the English Civil Wars and Restoration era are of interest, I have got some suggestions for you cheeky

Date Posted: 2/10/2014 7:15 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2010
Posts: 458
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hey new to this forum, hope I can comment? I also would like recs but for a different time frame-any of-Borgias, Catherine de medici, Tudors,war of the roses,cleopatra, Marie Antoinette. I also saw someone recommend pillars of the earth, did you guys see the mini series? I was underwhelmed.