Discussion Forums - Historical Fiction

Topic: HF 'Expansion' Opportunity

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: HF 'Expansion' Opportunity
Date Posted: 7/7/2012 7:57 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
Back To Top

So my friends, my IRL book group is planning its 2013 reading list, and we are encouraging members to volunteer to lead a month and select a book, with the idea that since we all read in different genres, this is a way to introduce the others to our favorite genres. Natch, I'll volunteer and choose an HF title---no one else in the group has the 'HF bug'.  Which begs the question, with all these HF virgins, what should my book selection be??????  To give you an idea of the group, we are all women, ages range from 35 to 70, and seem to be happiest reading currently popular titles with occasional 'brain food' titles thrown in..so something like Outlander would be waay too long for their tolerance, and some of our most fave's might be too historical/not enough fiction for their liking.

Date Posted: 7/7/2012 9:26 AM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
Back To Top

My book clubs have unwritten rules that include length (I.e., no longer than 400 pp which rules out some excellent HF) and availability (I.e., should be accessible at library and be out in paperback) -- so my suggestions are based on those criteria. (And none of these are "too historical" -- a criterion that I completely understand.)

First, there are the obvious book club favorites:

  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer and Barrows (one of my favorites)
  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by See
  • One Thousand White Women by Fergus (I know some in this forum didn't like this but I loved it as did my book clubs)
  • Loving Frank by Horan
  • Year of Wonder, March, People of the Book, or Caleb's Crossing -- all by Geraldine Brooks (I particularly liked the first two)

Then there are the less traditional or more recent releases:

  • Doc by Russell (I loved this!)
  • City of Thieves by Benioff (I loved this, too!)
  • Mudbound by Jordan (another excellent book)
  • The Missing by Gautreaux (a little dark but beautifully written -- it's a gem)
  • The Kitchen House by Grissom (a good discussion book)
  • Shadow of the Wind (it may be a little long but my book club loved it)

You might also consider Gortner's The Confessions of Catherine de Medici or The Last Queen or Loupas' The Second Duchess, all of which I think are accessible, enjoyable, and engaging HF books. Seems like Loupas' The Flower Reader would also be a good choice but I have not read it yet.

(Edited to fix formatting issues)



Last Edited on: 7/9/12 11:25 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
Date Posted: 7/7/2012 10:23 AM ET
Member Since: 9/21/2009
Posts: 1,170
Back To Top

Agree that anything by Gortner should be engaging for all. 

I asked a similar question to a neighbor who is in a book club.  When it was her turn, she chose Penman's "Here by Dragons".  Initially members whined 'cause of the length but everyone got really into it and loved, loved it. 

Also, is there anything that is written in your area-meaning location?  We have alot(CO) and that tends to engage everyone at least initially. 

Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 7/7/2012 10:28 AM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
Posts: 41,104
Back To Top

We did the Kitchen House in my book group lots of good discussion.

Perhaps PHillipa Gregory she is an easy read for folks we are not familar with HF and her books are very accessible

We also read the Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander for my book group. Not very long

Honolulu

Love Knot by Elizabeth Chadwick

Cleopatra's Daughter's by Michelle Moron

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moron

 

Just a few thought

 

 

Date Posted: 7/7/2012 10:32 AM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
Back To Top

Kitchen House would definitely stir up plenty of discussion. I second the rec on Elizabeth Loupas and/or CW Gortner. From what Deb described as unspoken requirements for book clubs, those should fit well.

Date Posted: 7/7/2012 5:02 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,503
Back To Top

What about Moloka'i by Alan Brennert?  Totally engrossing and it's more "modern" h/f and not too terribly long.

Date Posted: 7/7/2012 10:46 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
Back To Top

What genre(s) does your book group normally read?

I second these particularly:

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society  -- not only is the story good, but the epistolary style can be an interesting approach too

Moloka'i -- because it covers something that is familar yet unfamiliar to many Americans -- Hawaii



Last Edited on: 7/7/12 10:47 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/9/2012 4:21 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
Back To Top

These are great suggestions, especially The Kitchen House--you guys are hitting just the right pitch. They would freak out at Outlander's length or Penman's--I know they'd love it in the end but I'd just rather start with something 'light' to get them thinking about reading more in HF....

 

We're outside of Charlotte, NC, so there are a few written in the NC area--Widow of the South comes to mind, Serena, and of course the later novels in the Outlander series.....we read Loving Frank, Sarah's Key and Guernsey Literary, etc in years past as current choices rather than HF choices, and most loved those--so that is the right feel.  I was thinking about one that was out a few years ago called Broken for You, about a young woman and an older woman who discovers her family's Nazi history through her love of an inherited china collection...

@Deb--we also try to stick to those rules almost to the letter; we will break the 'widely available' one for one or two books each year.

Date Posted: 7/9/2012 8:22 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
Back To Top

Well there's Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow. Set in Charleston, so that might be of interest. I don't recall it being overly long. It was republished a couple of years ago, so there should be plentiful copies around, new and old.

Date Posted: 7/9/2012 11:36 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
Back To Top

Ooh -- I would love to be in on a discussion of Serena -- a good choice for a book club, especially in N. Carolina, because I suspect folks will have a range of opinions and so the discussion should be interesting. And I agree with Cathy -- Celia Garth is another good choice.

Date Posted: 7/10/2012 7:52 AM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
Back To Top

I loathed Serena. Gave up around 100 pages, but should make for lively discussion.

Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 7/10/2012 9:43 AM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
Posts: 41,104
Back To Top

I finished Celia Garth recently and loved it. you could great lots of good questions around the story.

 

Alice

Date Posted: 7/10/2012 9:48 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
Back To Top

Of the books mentioned, People of the Book and Celia Garth get my most enthusiastic recommendation.  Or "Here be Dragons".  It's not that long.

Date Posted: 7/11/2012 10:47 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
Back To Top

I'm not familiar with Celia Garth....off to Google it now. I adored Serena---loved the phsychological aspects plus I learned a ton about western NC's logging history.