Discussion Forums - Historical Fiction

Topic: It is entirely too quiet in here.

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Subject: It is entirely too quiet in here.
Date Posted: 4/23/2011 11:54 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,175
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I know it is a holiday weekend, and two of our more verbal members  MIA for very serious reasons, and we miss them.  I miss also coming in here and seeing what everyone is doing.  So lets get a conversation started.

1. So what drew you all  to Historical Fiction?

2. Do you remember the book that turned on theenlightened for you?

3. What is the  scene in a book you love most ? (anybook)

1.  I loved T.V. Robin Hood, from the 60's.  I also loved Disney's Sleeping Beauty, and so I read things about knights and ladies.  My first books I love where by LLoyd Alexander.  The Black Calderon, The Book of Three and that whole series, which lead me into fantasy.  What we call historical fantasy.  Kathrine Kurtz's  Deryni Chronicles, Terry Brook's  Sword of Shannara.  I have never read Tolkien.

2.  Roberta Gellis Bond of Blood turned on the light for me.  I read voraciously for years.  Mostly Historical Romance and Fantasy.  Before I realized the difference.

3.My favorite scene?   I am going with two, are both from SKP novels from the Welsh Trilogy,  The bed burning scene in Here Be Dragon's and in the Reckoning when Ellen and Llewelyn finally meet it the tower that Christmas.


I hope that Valli and Deb will be back soon, we miss you guys.

Last Edited on: 4/23/11 12:05 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 4/23/2011 1:40 PM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
Posts: 42,409
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I know very clearly how I got hooked on Historical fiction. My 11th grade American History teacher had us read James Michner's Centenial and Taylor Cauldwell's Captains and Kings. I have loved Historical fiction ever since and Captain and Kings is still one of my favorite books. I love it when a book makes you so interested in a time period you look up more information or read more books on it.

I love historical fiction on TV. Right now my family is watching with me The Borgias (Showtime), Camelot (forgot which cable station), Game of Thrones on HBO, Boardwalk on HBO. The mini series Pillar's of the Earth was excellent too.  Gone with Wind is still one of my favorite movies.

I don't think I have a favorite scene.  But one read last year that stays with me is in Cleopatra's Daughter were the woman have to leave their new born daughters in the slums because they did not produce a male heir. The thought of it still horrifies me.

I guess I should say Thank you to Ms. Dunelis for opening the world of Historical fiction to me at such a young age.


Date Posted: 4/23/2011 1:43 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
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  1. I'd been reading true crime for years and I was moving away from that and working my way through an old stack in my nighstand. Came across Born of the Sun by Joan Wolf. Never looked back.
  2. I'd go SKP as well, along with EC. They've spoiled me for medievals.
  3. Ditto. Amazing what chemistry an author can burn up between and pair with NO SEX.
Date Posted: 4/23/2011 2:26 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
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I read a lot of Taylor Caldwell in my younger days. Have a couple sitting around languishing on the pile. Answer as a Man being one of them.

Date Posted: 4/23/2011 2:32 PM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2008
Posts: 772
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1. So what drew you all  to Historical Fiction? After I started reading historical romances in 8th grade, I wanted to learn more about the real people of the time who were always peripheral figures. Probably freshman year of high school I started reading Jean Plaidy and haven't left the genre for any meaningful amount of time since.

2. Do you remember the book that turned on theenlightened for you?  Oooh, I dunno which Plaidy it was. Murder Most Royal (Anne Boleyn) or Myself My Enemy (Charles I's wife), most likely. For awhile I read nothing but Plaidy since the local library had tons of them.

3. What is the scene in a book you love most? In The Grass Crown by Colleen McCullough when Lucius Cornelius Sulla is given the grass crown on the battlefield. Still gives me shivers in a totally good way.

Subject: Consumed by the past
Date Posted: 4/23/2011 3:23 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 3,461
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1. So what drew you all  to Historical Fiction?

I have an all consuming passion for the past. It is impossible for me to read too much history. I have no idea why the past is so important to me.  One of my favorite quotes is something that Civil War reenactors (of which I am one) often use: "In the future, my present will be in the past."

2. Do you remember the book that turned on theenlightened for you?

While they may not have been my first, the earliest historical fiction books I really loved were the books  Kenneth Roberts wrote on the French and Indian War, American Revolution, War of 1812, etc., beginning with Arundel, Northwest Passage, Rabble in Arms and more. These led me to read all of his others.



Last Edited on: 4/23/11 3:24 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/23/2011 5:51 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
Posts: 6,035
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1. So what drew you all  to Historical Fiction?  I think I've always liked Historical Fiction, I just didn't know it until I stumbled across this forum.   I knew that I liked Historical more than Contemporary.  Historical romance had too much sex in it for me. But sometimes I wanted something a little juicier than historical Christian Fiction. So this fit the bill perfectly.

2. Do you remember the book that turned on theenlightened for you?  Probably Pope Joan.  My dad had given it to me to read a while before I found PBS. When I came across this forum, several of you had just finished it and were discussing it.  That's when the  enlightened went off and I realized I finally knew what to call the books that I liked! 

3. What is the  scene in a book you love most ? (anybook)  I'm funny about that.  Scenes will affect me when I'm reading them, but then I forget them. Not much sticks...I guess because I'm reading so much, I have to clear out the old to make room for the new. Some of SKP and EC's scenes stick with me...the family reunion at the end of Falls the Shadow, the burning bed scene, Brunin and Hawithe's wedding night in Shadows and Strongholds.  There is also a scene in a recent CF book, Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist.  I was really not liking the book and the hero did an incredibly selfless and humbling act for the heroine and it totally changed the way I felt about the book. That scene has stuck with me.

I'll add another question to Letty's list, especially for those like me who are newer to the genre...

4.  What has surprised you about HF?  I am surprised that I enjoy the action/adventure/battles as much as I do.  I thought I was all about the romance, but I love a a good decapitation too!  LOL!  Maybe that;s a holdover from reading the John Jakes' Kent Family Chronicles as a teenager.

Last Edited on: 4/23/11 5:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 4/23/2011 6:13 PM ET
Member Since: 8/29/2008
Posts: 267
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1. So what drew you all  to Historical Fiction?

I was very interested in the Civil War in Jr/Sr High. I read every YA Civil War romance I could get my hands on. I was obsessed with Yankee-Rebel romances. I guess it's because my mom is from MA and my dad is from FL.

2. Do you remember the book that turned on theenlightened for you?

Susannah by Candice Ransom. The Yankee soldier on the front cover was hot. I was able to find a copy on PBS.

3. What is the  scene in a book you love most ? (anybook) 

The train scene at the end of A Proper Pursuit When Silas tells Violet who he really is and they get together and love happily ever after.

4. What has surprised you about historical fiction?

What these people had to endure just to survive. It is really heartbreaking sometimes. It makes me thankful I live in the here and now.

Last Edited on: 4/23/11 6:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Bonnie (LoveNE) - ,
Date Posted: 4/23/2011 7:18 PM ET
Member Since: 2/17/2007
Posts: 5,982
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Apparently Jerelyn can't stop interviewing now! Good for you, good for us.

I stumbled upon Auels books years ago and also read Gabaldons series but didn't know the term hf till I met Jerelyn here on PBS. She wanted me to try hf and sent me Pope Joan and then I fell in love with Eleanor of Aquitaine and wanted her "back story" Jerelyn so generously has now set me up for the next millenium...

I have now jumped into the hf challenge and am finding lots of interesting books and knowledge.

When Jerelyn first made me come to this forum everyone was so NICE, there's no pettiness here, it makes it so easy to really hear what everyone is saying. I've learned of many new authors and am  working on getting all the lingo down (you guys are HUGE on initials!).


Date Posted: 4/23/2011 7:32 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2009
Posts: 9,499
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1. So what drew you all  to Historical Fiction?  My grandma introduced me to Historical Romance when I was 13 years old.  I, of course, loved reading them because they were naughty and my mom would've killed me had she known.  From there I started to realize History was kinda cool and really fell in love with it in 11th grade history when we studied the Vietnam War.  I read any non-fictional book I could get my hands on at the library.  Now days, I find that Historical Non-Fiction is too cumbersome for me, but I still love to read about a different time that the one I'm in now.

2. Do you remember the book that turned on theenlightened for you?  You know, I have no clue. lol  If anything it would have been The Girl From Junchow by Kate Furnivall.  That re-ignited what I felt years ago learning about people and places I know very little about.

3. What is the  scene in a book you love most ? (anybook)  For the life of me, I cannot remember what book this comes from.  I want to say it was City of Thieves, but they are running and hiding in the woods and soldiers are basically on top of them.  It was just a very intense, emotional part where I could feel the fear coming off of those hiding. I wish I could remember.

Date Posted: 4/23/2011 9:06 PM ET
Member Since: 9/28/2005
Posts: 226
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My answers to 1 and 2 are about the same: the Little House books when I was in about 3rd grade.  I left historicals for awhile for fantasy in high school, but then returned with the Kent family chronicles.  The scene in a book that I remember most also comes from childhood.   It is from "The Velvet Room" by Zilpah Keatley Snyder.  Robin, the protagonist is reading a diary she found in her "velvet room", a library with velvet curtains.  It seemed like the ultimate hideaway at the time. 

Date Posted: 4/23/2011 9:08 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,135
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1.  I guess I've always read historical fiction, without having a name for it or even thinking of it as a separate type of fiction.  When I started reading the PBS forums, I would occasionally read posts here and think that I didn't like HF, because almost all you guys ever talked about were books about royalty or fiction about actual (known) historical figures.  Reading about royalty holds zero interest for me (and I consider myself an Anglophile!).  But as I read more posts here, I would occasionally see other types of books mentioned, and as I started thinking about it, I have always read historical mysteries, and some other HFas well.  And lately I'm realizing I do like some books about actual people, but they are artists, writers, scientists, etc.--not political/ruler/warrior type people.

2.  The very first HF book I read was a children's book (or maybe YA) about ancient Egypt.  (Mara, Daughter of the Nile).  It started a lifelong interest in ancient Egyptian history, and I was obsessed with that book.  I took it out of the library probably 10 different times and desperately wanted to own it (this was before Amazon & the Internet and the ease of finding obscure books).  My mom tried to find me a copy to buy but couldn't, so she actually let me "lose it" from the library and then pay for it!  In the last 10 years or so I've found a few other copies (reprints) at book sales.


Date Posted: 4/23/2011 10:05 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,175
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I'll answer Christa's question.  What has surprised you about HF?   That thousands of stories can be written about the same people with the same known facts and be so different.

That's so nice of you to say Bonnie.  We are a civilized group.

Last Edited on: 4/23/11 10:11 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/23/2011 10:45 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
Posts: 1,898
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1. So what drew you all  to Historical Fiction?

I have always loved history.  I read voraciously in middle and high school and then except for the occasional book I stopped reading altogether for about 5 years.  I picked up The Other Boleyn Girl and The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory for the beautiful covers and those were the first HF books I ever read.

2. Do you remember the book that turned on theenlightened for you?  As I said, I had read a few PG books prior to finding PBS but I think I stumbled into this forum early in 2008 and someone recommended I read Margaret George so I got Mary Queen of Scots and the Isles and was pretty much hooked after that. 

3. What is the  scene in a book you love most ? (anybook)

The scene in Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls where Old Dan and Little Ann die. Bawled like a baby.

Also the scene in Pride and Prejudice where Mr. Darcy states his true feelings for Elizabeth and asks her to marry him.

Date Posted: 4/23/2011 10:58 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,175
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Holly Wilson Rawls lived down the street from me when I was little.   My eldest brother and sister have signed 1st editions of that book.  I loved that too.  The Library in my home town has this sculpture of Billy,  Ol' Dan and Little Anne




Last Edited on: 4/24/11 10:59 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 4/24/2011 8:57 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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Oh, fun questions. Long answers :)

1. So what drew you all to Historical Fiction? My love of all things history, beginning in first grade, reading Little House in the Big Woods. My favorite books as pre-teen and early teen were the We Were There books that put a pair of kids in the same age group as that into historically significant times, places, and events. That was the first historical fiction I ever read, although I didnt know it was a separate genre until much later. All through school and undergrad, I read non-fiction history. And almost exclusively American history. Heavily focused on the colonial period, the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. A bit on WWII, but what I consistently sought out was Revolutionary and Civil War. From my love for history grew an interest in political theory and law, and I double majored in History and Political Science, and then went on to law school.

2. Do you remember the book that turned on the for you? It wasn't a book. It was one moment in time, fall of 1993, when I suddenly became interested in BRITISH history. It was the first month of law school, and we were required to take two, 3-hour individual classes taught on late Friday afternoon (horrible time for it) by the school's ancient dean (he was in his 80s). Topic: the history of common law. It was a total of only 6 hours, so obviously it just skimmed the surface, but he started with Henry I. The light bulb went on when I realized that Americans simply adopted British common law wholesale. That the law our courts used for years was BRITISH cases, unless and until legislation forced a departure. Suddenly I wanted to learn about the country and culture and law from which we Americans sprung. Particularly how monarchy developed into constitutional monarchy. And I wanted to start at the beginning, as much as one can identify a beginning: 1066, William the Conqueror.

At that point in time, most of my reading was studying law school textbooks, but every few weeks I'd go into major withdrawal for lack of pleasure reading, and I'd find a few books to sink into on a weekend. And I wanted medieval, due to my new interest in British history. And I NEEDED non-fiction. I had enough heavy reading in the textbooks. And I was broke, of course. So I combed the aisles of a local UBS for anything medieval, and I found HR. I didn't have much time to read for pleasure over the next five years (three years of law school, first two years out, trying to figure out how to practice law) but when I did, I turned to medieval romance. It didn't take long for me to realize that in terms of real history, HR was pretty limited. Diminishing returns kicked in pretty rapidly and by about 2000, I began searching for HF, non-romance. The internet made finding it SOOO much easier. I still turn to HR when I get stressed out and want a bubble gum read, but since finding this board in 2009, Ive read HF almost exclusively. And I've branched out into sub-genres and settings in times and places that I wouldnt have ever considered but for the discussions here.

3. What is the scene in a book you love most? (anybook) I don't think love is the right word, but it stuck with me above any other individual scene. It was gut-wrenching. I've never gone back to re-read it. Killer Angels, Pickett's Charge. 3AM, tears rolled down my face for the rest of the book and I couldn't sleep, eat, or think about anything else for about the next 9 hours, until it finally started to let go of me.

Last Edited on: 4/24/11 1:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 5
Date Posted: 4/24/2011 9:06 AM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2009
Posts: 9,499
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When I was in kindergarten, Wilson Rawls came to my elementary school and talked.  All I remember about it is my brother was slow in getting us there so I had to stand in the back, against the wall.  But he bought me signed copies of Where The Red Fern Grows and Summer of the Monkees!  I wonder where those books are....I'm thinking my parents have them. 

Date Posted: 4/24/2011 2:25 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,639
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In my teens I started reading Michener and loved those books. Then I moved on to the Russians: Brothers Karamasov, War and Peace, etc. The only British books I read were the mysteries. Then as I got a little older it was Name of the Rose etc. by Ecco. I actually never paid much attention to the "genre" - if a book intrigued me, I wanted to read it and, quite frankly, I don't think I've changed my reading habits much at all!