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Topic: HF Classics - Let's Make A List!

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Subject: HF Classics - Let's Make A List!
Date Posted: 3/20/2009 11:01 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Compared to many of you here, I'm pretty new to HF.  I was wondering this morning (as I was brushing my teeth - who knows why I thought of such a thing while brushing my teeth), "What are the classics in this genre?"  Could we compile a list of maybe 10 books or so that would be considered "HF Classics?"  What are some of the thousands of  HF books that really define the genre, that are just a wee bit better than all the other books in this class, that are "must reads" for any true historical fiction lover? 

Please throw some thoughts out, and I'll eventually compile a list.  Some rules or guidelines -

*  Don't just list books you've read and really liked.  We're not compiling a list of "HF Favorites" I think it's entirely possible that "classic" books are not necessarily universally loved. 

*  Don't be afraid to mention a book you maybe haven't read, but know enough about to believe it could be considered a classic.

*  I don't think we need to be concerned that every single time period and location is covered.  It's entirely possible that there has never been a book written about BC India or Russia in the 1500s that is worthy of being called a classic.  We could have multilples on the list from Tudor England or ancient Rome. 

So, is anyone up for helping me compile a list of HF Classics? 

Date Posted: 3/20/2009 11:40 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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War and Peace by Tolstoy (Napoleonic Wars)

 The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane (American Civil War)

 The Grapes of Wrath - Steinbeck (American Depression)

 



Last Edited on: 3/20/09 11:48 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/20/2009 2:38 PM ET
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Gone with the Wind- Margaret Mitchell

Date Posted: 3/20/2009 2:41 PM ET
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Anna Karennina

Date Posted: 3/20/2009 2:56 PM ET
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Katherine by Anya Seton.

Date Posted: 3/20/2009 3:22 PM ET
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I would have to second  Katherine by Anya Seton.  It was a watershed book for its time.

Date Posted: 3/20/2009 4:19 PM ET
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What a great thread, Shelley! Finding the books will be fun, but, I think paring the list down to 10 or so will be very difficult!

In addition to the other books already mentioned, I would include:

  • Exodus, Leon Uris - post WW II Israel. (Actually any of the old Uris novels would qualify in my mind, i.e., Mila 18, Armageddon, QB VII, etc.
  • Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett - 11th century England
  • The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara - Battle of Gettysburg
  • Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas - 17th century France (sigh!)
  • Dr. Zhivago, Boris Pasternak - Revolution-era Russia

There are others just at the edges of my brain; but I can't bring them into focus enough to read the titles!

Kelly

 

Date Posted: 3/20/2009 7:36 PM ET
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Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson (19th century California)

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (takes place during the Seven Years' War)



Last Edited on: 3/20/09 7:40 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/20/2009 10:02 PM ET
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Thanks, guys!  Keep 'em coming.  Yeah, it might be hard to narrow it down to 10.  LOL!  We'll see how the thread plays out.  Either I'll compile a list of the 10 most frequently mentioned or I'll just list them all!  Might be a good reference for the future - or the basis of a challenge sometime!

Date Posted: 3/20/2009 10:26 PM ET
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" O Pioneers"  by Willa Cather.   About a turn of the century immigrant family settling in Nebraska.

Date Posted: 3/21/2009 9:21 AM ET
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... Yeah, it might be hard to narrow it down to 10.  LOL!  We'll see how the thread plays out.  Either I'll compile a list of the 10 most frequently mentioned or I'll just list them all! ...

Shelley, One thought we had was to break the master list down into some broad categories depending on how the ultimate list shakes out. For example, American / non-American; adult / young adult; etc., etc. Maybe a list that deals only with war-time years, i.e., Revolutionary War, Civil War, WW I, WW II, etc.

From the young adult perspective, one should consider

  • Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare
  • Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain

And back to the "master" list, we would like to offer up for consideration:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

Linda & Kelly

Date Posted: 3/21/2009 2:51 PM ET
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The Good Earth by Pearl Buck - rural China at the turn of the twentieth century, won the Pulitzer Prize

Date Posted: 3/21/2009 5:01 PM ET
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Good "memember" on The Good Earth, Michelle. That definitely needs to be on the list!

Date Posted: 3/21/2009 11:20 PM ET
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Forever Amber by Katherine Winsor

Date Posted: 3/23/2009 6:51 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
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Can we get a quick clarification on what HF actually is?  Should the author be writing about a time xx years before his time, etc.  Some books that we think of as HF to us now, actually were not HF at the time they were written.  For example, anything written by Mark Twain or Charles Dickens comes to mind.  I'm not trying to be a brat, just asking for clarification.

Date Posted: 3/23/2009 9:55 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
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I think that early historical fiction is Sir Walter Scott and The Three Musketeers. But, contemporary stories that are now historical aren't historical fiction. At least to me.

 

Date Posted: 3/24/2009 9:41 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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For purposes of this thread & discussion, I was using the guidelines in Shelley's original post - "HF books that really define the genre, that are just a wee bit better than all the other books in this class, that are "must reads" for any true historical fiction lover."

But that said, I respectfully disagree with Mimi's position. To me, historical fiction, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I'm in 2009 this year & reading about books with a setting of pre-1950 (or so), I consider to be historical fiction.. Is it of a historical nature (to me, the reader)? Is it fiction? ergo ... historical fiction.

Too many books would be excluded from our genre otherwise. Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is a perfect example. It's quite difficult for me to think of this as non-historical fiction; regardless of when Dickens wrote it. Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe would be another example.

I guess a case could be made that these two books are not historical fiction, but rather historical literature. ... ??? ...

Kelly

 

Date Posted: 3/24/2009 10:10 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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I had a different take on what Shelley was looking for :-)

By Historical Fiction Classics I thought she was looking for books we tend to think of as classics that are also historical fiction. I have to say that I find it a little humorous that we all interpreted her request a bit differently. 

Date Posted: 3/24/2009 11:58 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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I suppose someone is looking to me to actually define what HF is in regards to this list since I started it!  LOL!  I don't know!!!!!  Like I say, I'm new to the genre.  Donna made a point that what we now consider HF, wasn't HF at the time.  Those books, I'm thinking, should not be included. (As Kelly stated, maybe they are more practically considered historical literature - good term, Kelly!).  I'm thinking books that were actually written as HF are what we're looking for. 

Dang!  Where's Valli when you need her?  I look to her to make rulings on everything, even those things she's not actually the Empress of, like this thread!  LOL! 

Anyway, more thoughts on the matter are welcome!

Date Posted: 3/24/2009 1:20 PM ET
Member Since: 9/23/2006
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I think it's a good question too.  I've been somewhat confused by whatever-the-heck is consider historical fiction myself :)

Sometimes something's listed as biography where it's obvious the author had to make up a lot of the details and I wonder where it starts and stops.  Or so little is really known about someone or an event that I wonder why it's not just fiction fiction.

ETA:  I think I had it sufficiently sorted out for my personal reading but now this question has been asked!



Last Edited on: 3/24/09 1:24 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/25/2009 1:26 AM ET
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Where is Vali when we need her?

Date Posted: 3/25/2009 10:59 PM ET
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Sacajawea by Anna Waldo

Date Posted: 3/25/2009 11:12 PM ET
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Irving Stone - The Agony and the Ecstasy

Sir Walter Scott - Ivanhoe

Date Posted: 4/24/2009 12:41 AM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
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I ran across a site today that made me think of this thread:

http://www.bookmarksmagazine.com/historical-fiction-masters-past/sarah-l-johnson

Date Posted: 4/24/2009 4:20 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
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Les Miserables by Victor Hugo was written about 40 years after the events in the book.

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