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OK, I'm going to copy the detail from the old Hidden Gems thread that had hundreds of posts and oodles of great HF suggestions. I'm going to paste the data direct from that thread, in order.....Let's see how the first one looks...
Please remember that these are old posts, and references to "books on my shelf" may not be valid anymore. I will continue to do these sporadically, as my time allows. Ideally, I'll be able to finish them Thursday nite, Aug 30, from 11p to 7a.
And if we add new recommendation/links/comments to this one, it will live forever !!!!! Hopefully people will wait till I get them all copied to begin adding new posts.....
I was browsing and noticed that there are some really good novels of historical fiction just sitting there begging to be requested. Thought I'd give you guys a heads up! These books are not listed on my shelf.
1. A Catch of Consequence by: Diana Norman ISBN 0007105444 This book is set in early America.
2. City of Darkness, City of Light by Marge Piercy ISBN 0449912752 Set during the French Revolution; focuses on some of the women who played prominent roles during this time.
3. The Linnet Bird by Linds Holeman This book was listed without an ISBN. It was printed in 2004 so it isn't too old to have been issued an ISBN number. It might have been printed in another country. There isn't a very good description but if you'd like to read one look at this ISBN 1400097401. The book is set in Colonial India.
4.The Brothers of Gwynedd by Edith Pargeter ISBN 0747232679 Set in medieval times. This one was a bit slow to start for me, but I ended up really enjoying it.
5. The Heaven Tree Trilogy by Edith Pargeter ISBN 0751504734 Another medieval novel.
6. I am Mary Tudor by Hilda Lewis ISBN 0446780170 I haven't actually read this one yet, but I already have a copy that I bought because I've heard good things about it.
It seemed a shame for all these good books to be homeless!
Last Edited on: 8/29/07 4:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Some more great historical fiction that is often overlooked:
"Look Away" & its sequel "Until the End" by Harold Coyle.
The two books must be read in order, as Until the End picks up right where Look Away left off. Together, they are the story of 2 brothers who fought in the Civil War. In some ways, the story is similar to Jakes' North & South Trilogy, but by no means is Coyle a Jakes-knockoff. Its been several years since I've read them, but I remember those books very vivedly.
I'd love to say that I have them available on my bookshelf, but the copies that I recently picked up are soon to be read by my wife, so they're off the table for now. I just figured I'd put a plug in for Mr. Coyle - I'm sure you folks could probably find these books on this site - If not, they are worth paying for at your local bookseller :)
You are all very welcome! I've come across a couple more.
The Players: A Novel of Young Shakespeare by Stephanie Cowell ISBN 0393040607
Shield of Three Lions by Pamela Kaufman ISBN 0446324191 This one is set during the Crusades. It's a very light, fun read. It's the first book in a trilogy.
I do have one book of historical fiction on my shelf that I wanted to mention because I don't think anyone would notice it if I didn't. This book was published in Canada so the ISBN wasn't recognized by the system and I had to use the no ISBN option. It's a fairly new book though, published in 2003. It's a read once, trade paperback-
Vancouver by David Cruise and Alison Griffiths If you enjoy Edward Rutherfurd's sagas, you will enjoy this book too. I haven't read much about this area so it was interesting for me.
If you guys have any good historical fiction listed or have seen any available for request, tell us! I'm always looking for historical fiction and good history books. They are both hard to find here without being on a wishlist. Of course, I've gotten great books from my wishlist too so it all works out! I do get a bit excited when I find some that are available though!
Here's another one:
Virgin: Prelude to the Throne by Robin Maxwell (about Elizabeth I as a girl)
Rosalind Miles is an author I enjoy. Looks like 2 of the books of her Guenvere series are posted; if you ever get the chance be sure to check out her Isolde trilogy and "I, Elizabeth." "The Crystal Cave" by Mary Stewart is posted and it's one of my favorites! Another book that I really enjoyed but that isn't posted is "The Illuminator" by Brenda Rickman Vantrease.
I have read "Virgin" by Robin Maxwell and it was pretty good; I have a couple other books of hers that I haven't had the chance to read yet but am looking forward to.
In lieu of today, I have to add "Ireland" by Frank Delaney. I think it was the best book I read last year.
Also, I posted this in another thread somewhere but thought I'd post it here too. There's a forum called historicalfiction.org that I frequent. When Philippa Gregory was having problems with her boards, another member started this forum so we could keep in touch with each other. At the time I was pretty new to the historical fiction genre but I've learned of so many new authors and books it's just crazy. Lots of nice folks to chit chat with, member book reviews, books of the month, etc.
"Ireland" by Frank Delaney. I think it was the best book I read last year.
I heartily agree with that. After I read it I debated long & hard about posting that book. Then I glanced at the towers of books to be read and with a pang posted it.
Delaney has written several other non-fiction books about the Celts as well.
There is a copy of Jane Stevenson's book, The Winter Queen, listed. There is also a large print copy, if anyone could use that.
She has another book called The Shadow King, but I'm not sure if it part of a series or not. I don't think it is, but I could be wrong.
I want to second, or third, Ireland. GREAT book!
I really enjoyed The Linnett Bird. I'm glad you found a copy. I'm eagerly awaiting her newest book to be released now!
I loved Pillars os the Earth. Do you have your name on the wishlist for his next novel of historical fiction? It's about the black death and takes place in the same location as Pillars. I'm probably going to have to go buy this one. I was interested in the plague already so this is right up my alley. The name of it is World Without End ISBN 0525950079, in case anyone didn't know it. Another book I can't wait to read
On my bookshelf are some good historical novels that most of you may not have read:
Victim of the Aurora, by Thomas Kenneally
La Tour Dreams of the Wolf Girl, by David Huddle
Dream of Scipio, by Iain Pears
Embers, by Sandor Marai
The Beginning of Spring, by Penelope Fitzgerald
The Soul Thief, by Cecelia Holland
Wow! You're all awesome! Replies galore!
Charlie M. - Thanks for telling me how to find historical fiction on PBS.
Valli A. - I'm putting World Without End on my wish list!
L: Thanks for the heads up on Year of Wonders
Jan W.: Am checking out Victim of the Aurora
I heard Ireland on CD - many CD's! It was excellent! If anyone's interested, there is a non-fiction book about Ireland called "The Great Hunger" by Woodham-Smith. It's very interesting, and I've been working on it off and on for awhile.
Thanks again for all the recommendations!
Well, if anyone's interested in the historical fiction I've got on my shelf, here's a few: (I'll have a copy of Year of Wonders available in the next week or so - just have to get it from a friend.)
Marci: I just got The Floating Book in the mail a few days ago. It sounds like a good one. I enjoyed In the Heart of the Sea, very good. His books are always good though.
LG: Interest in the plague is rather contagious, isn't it? Hee-Hee, Baaaad joke!
Anne: Yep, I'm number 1. I've been the one lonely wishlister since Dec 19, 2006.
Off to see what was posted last night. I'll let ya'll know if I see something good!
Anne, I really enjoyed the descriptions of the medical treatments used in City of Dreams. Some of them sounded like the person would have been killed by the treatment before the disease even had a chance to kill them! Thank God for modern medicine! Swerling also wrote a book titled, Shadowbrook: A Novel of Love, War, and the Birth of America. It was great! Definitely worth wishlisting!
Found another good one...
Sally Hemmings by Barbara Chase-Riboud ISBN 0380486865
This is about Sally Hemmings who was the slave mistress of Thomas Jefferson. The story is told by Sally and is fascinating. It's a great book!
I've been browsing...
The Last Jew by Noah Gordon ISBN 0312300530 Set in 1492 during the Spanish Inquisition, great book! There were two copies listed, but I requested one for a friend. Still one available for one of you though!
Mary, Called Magdalene by Margaret George ISBN 0142002798 All of her books are good. If you enjoy Biblical fiction, Orson Scott Card has a series of books called The Women of Genesis which are very good. There are two listed, Sarah and Rebekah. I enjoyed the entire series.
Rosalind Miles has several books listed: I, Elizabeth ISBN 0609809105 There are also a couple of books in her Guinevere series listed.
Philippa Gregory has two books listed, The Other Boleyn Girl and Wideacre.
King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett ISBN 0375704035 She writes long complicated books that require all of your concentration. This is a good one to start with, much easier to read. It's a fictionalized story of Macbeth, LOVED it. This is one I'm planning on re-reading soon. A friend and I are planning on reading it together as soon as her copy makes it to her mailbox.
There are two of Kevin Baker's Dreamland trilogy listed. I loved this series about immigrants in the early 20th century, set in New York. First book in the trilogy, Paradise Alley ISBN 006095521X, Second book - Dreamland ISBN 0060934808, the third book is Striver's Row which is not listed at the moment. It's worthy of a precious wishlist spot though!
For anyone who has just started reading historical fiction, this next book is one of my favorite's. It's a big fat whopper of a book, but it is wonderful! It's about a prostitute named Sugar who lives in London during Victorian times. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber ISBN 0156028778
I even found one for me! Douglass's Women by Jewell Parker Rhodes ISBN 0743410092. I've never read any of her books, but several of them sound like they'd be good reads.
Hope someone finds a good one in this list!
Michele, I just noticed your question about books dealing with the plague. I've read a few that I thought were pretty good.
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. This is actually a fantasy, time travel novel, which I'm not normally a fan of, but this is a good read. Very good descriptions of life during the plague.
The Plague Tales by Ann Benson Another fantasy novel, but not as good as Doomsday Book, imho.
The Day Laid on the Altar by Adria Bernardi This one deals with the plague as kind of a sub-plot of the main plot, if that makes any sense. Good read though!
This one is the classic of novels dealing with the plague, a MUST read! It's one of my favorite books. It's a permanent part of my collection.
Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor
Hope you find something good here! Sorry I didn't answer soon, don't know how I missed your question. :-/
Has anybody read Mirabilis? That is also a historical book - but a very strange one!
Also, I don't know if it was mentioned here or not, but The Dress Lodger deals with the plague.
Oh my Valli... I was lukewarm about Crimson Petal... I think the change of voice in the novel bugged me - and the ending.
Rose - did you get through Mirabilis? I think I gave up early on because it wasn't hooking me.
I did finish Mirabilis, but at that time I finished just about ever book I started. And, silly me, I thought that eventually the book was make sense, but no, it didn't, it was just weird. At the end it had an authors note about how it was based on a little known saint that feed a whole village by nursing it during a famine. Funny thing, the authors note with it's short account of this saint was the best part of the book.
Thanks Rose! It was Under the Skin. So very, very odd! It was one of those books that I couldn't stop reading because it was so strange, I *had* to find out what was going on.
Marci, I loved Crimson. I actually thought that the ending kind of "fit" what was happening to Sugar at the very end. Wasn't it kind of an abrupt ending? Maybe I need to go re-read the end, it's been a long time. I haven't read Mirabilis yet, but I do have it. I hate to hear it wasn't that great though. It has such an intriguing description. The cover art is awfully pretty though...LOL. Has anyone read Caokal's book Breath and Bones? It sounds good too.
What is the word for the description of a book that you find on the backs of paperbacks and on the inside of the dustjacket on hardcovers? The word is on the tip of my tongue and driving me nuts because I just can't think of it?
Anyone ever read Susan Carroll? I came across the historical fiction section at my favorite UBS and picked up a couple, just haven't gotten around to reading them: The Dark Queen; The Courtesan; and The Silver Rose are what I picked up. Just looking for any feedback.
For Historical Fiction, Norah Lofts is a great author! I don't know if there are any on here yet, but I plan on posting all my books that I have of hers. It takes a little longer, because though they are in good condition they don't have ISBN's, so I have to do it longhand!
Sharon Kay Penman
There are copies of the first three books in Penman's medieval mystery series available for request. The only one not listed is the very last book of the series which is Prince of Darkness.
I really enjoyed the medieval mysteries, but I adore her books The Sunne in Splendour and When Christ and the Saints Slept.
I can never decide which of those two books I enjoyed more. The medieval mysteries are definitely great reads though.
I've read Here Be Dragons, but I've been saving Falls the Shadow. I'm not going to read it until there is a date available for the release of the third book. Like you, I am eagerly awaiting it!! 2008 seems so far away...:-(
I love books set in the Wars of the Roses period and Penman's is the best of them all to me. Have you read Treason by Meredith Whitford? It's set during the Wars too. I really , really want to read this one. I'm going to just buy it eventually. I'm fifth in line on the wishlist and it hasn't moved even once since I added it ages ago.
Stacey, I read The Dark Queen last year. It was fun and very light, at least for historical fiction. It's more of a historical romance, actually, which sometimes made me smile and other times annoyed me. (I'm not knocking romances; they're just not my cup of tea.)
You definitely can't rely on the book for accurate historical information, but I enjoyed it enough that I may eventually read the other two in the trilogy. It had a touch of fantasy to it, which I enjoyed.
Information on The Dark Queen, including my review.
Regarding Sharon Penman, can someone list her trilogies or series of books (not the mysteries with Justin de Whatever, those don't interest me.) In a box I have stashed away somewhere, I have When Christ and His Saints Slept, Here Be Dragons, and The Sunne in Splendour. I can't remember which books belong to which series and which is a stand alone. Help! :)
Freebie unpostables, one free with each book ordered:
Geoffrey Wagner---The Sands of Valor (hardcover)
Juliet Marillier--Daughter of the Forest
Juliet Marillier--Son of the Shadows
John Masters---Man of War
Terry McCarthy---The Sword of Hannibal
Hi Michelle, here is the order for the SKP books
Welsh Trilogy - Here Be Dragons, Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning
Henry/Eleanor Trilogy - When Christ..., Time and Chance and the forthcoming Devil's Brood.
The Sunne In Splendour is a stand alone.
You might want to check out her website www.sharonkaypenman.com
Anne, I'm glad you bought Sally Hemming's, it's worth every penny. Riboud is also a pretty accomplished artist as well as an author and I believe that you can see her "artist's soul" coming out in her writing. That may have sounded strange, hope you know what I mean! She did a ton of research before writing this book and you can definitely tell. I think she did a great job portraying what the real Sally might have felt about Jefferson. I would imagine that Sally would have had some emotional confusion about the man whom she lived with, had children with, but was also her master. She didn't romanticize their relationship at all though. The whole book just seemed to ring true to me. It's really a great book. I haven't read any of her other books yet, but I would like to one of these days. I'd like to see if all her books are as good as Sally.
LG, You should add this one to your WL, I really, really think you'd love it. Out of all the books I've recommended here, I think you'd enjoy this one the most.
I just finished a semester on historical fiction. We read:
Jim Crace, Quarantine -- people either loved or hated it. I loved it.
George Eliot, Romola -- skip it unless you're a huge fan of Eliot or early-Renaissance Italy
Edward P. Jones, The Known World -- another one people either loved or hated. I think it's a brilliant book. I've read it twice now & am eager to give it another go.
Pat Barker, Regeneration -- everyone loved this. I've taught it at least a half dozen times now so I'm sick of it, but for a first or second read it's great.
Philip Roth, The Plot Against America -- everyone saw it as horribly flawed, many hated it, some adored it.
And on my shelf I have Barry Unsworth's Pascali's Island. If you're into historical fiction, I'd check out anything by him. You either love him or hate him but you really get a sense of the time/place he's writing about.
There's a book between City of Dreams and City of Glory - it's Shadowbrook. The same families are involved in all three books. I enjoyed each of them. Shadowbrook deals with the French & Indian War -- a period in US history I remember learning about in school, but reading the book jogged my memory a bit. :)
I should have mentioned the sequel, didn't think about it. I've got it on my wishlist too, I'm really looking forward to it. If you'd like some really great websites for historical fiction, let me know. I've found a couple that I love. There is one that has the books listed according to the setting of the book. If you like books set during the Medieval ages, American Revolution, etc, they're listed all together. They have books listed for all countries, all times. It's great!
COuple which I just read (or tried to read):
To The Tower Born by Robin MaxwellThis is another version of the lost princes/princes in the tower - did Richard III really murder his nephews? Read on to see what Maxwell says in her fictional book. Maxwell's been hit or miss with me - indfferent towards The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, liked Virgin, couldn't even read past chapter one of The Queen's Bastard.
Triangle by Katharine WeberSomeone want to tell me WTH this book was about? Loved the concept of a novel of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, but by the second chapter when I 'met' composer George and his music, I was past the point of caring to read on to see how it all came together. Got it from the library - glad I didn't waste my money or a credit.
The Fourth Queen by Debbie TaylorBased on the story of a Scottish runaway who was kidnapped by Barbary pirates, sold into slavery and became one of the wives of the Morracan emperor. Bogged down in parts, but I am glad I read this one through.
Not sure if I've posted this before, but here's a link to my library thing account with everything I've tagged "historical" -- it includes some period mysteries too, so if that's not your cuppa you can ignore those.
Last Edited on: 8/31/07 12:16 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Another book that I can highly recommend is
Cape Random By Bernice Morgan
There is also a sequel, Waiting For Time. I haven't read it though.
I have the Bernice Morgan books on my wishlist, but they never seem to get posted. Glad to hear they are worth a coveted wishlist spot though!
I have a huge thing for books set in Newfoundland so the Morgan books are right up my alley. I've also got The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, a couple of Donna Morissey's books, and a couple of the books in Howard Norman's trilogy. I love books that are set in cold places like NF, Iceland, etc. Maybe since I live in the humid, hot climate of the South, I'm enthralled by stories set in the ice and snow. I also adore books about historical Arctic exploration. I've found a new to me Icelandic author that I'm dying to try, Haldor Laxness. Has anyone here read any of his books? Or, know of any other really great books with similar settings?
Valli, Me too! I also have this thing about books set in Newfoundland, so THANK YOU for the rec's. There is another book that I read not too long ago set there too. The Town That Forgot To Breathe By Kenneth J Harvey. It is more psychological horror, I loved the setting, the cold darkness of the town was perfect for the creepiness of the book.
I have been 1# on the WL since the day I joined for Waiting For Time, almost a year now. Too bad these books aren't more popular, Bernice Morgan really is a hidden gem.
Great minds think alike Rose! Just got The Town That Forgot to Breathe yesterday! It sounds like a good creepy book. It got some good reviews too. I was planning on starting it as soon as I finish the book I'm reading right now. I'm in the mood for something scary.
Anne, Innocent Traitor is a great choice. I think Weir did a wonderful job with her first book of fiction. I hope she writes many more.
Has anyone read this book? Treason by Meredith Whitford. I've been thinking of ordering it, but I haven't been able to commit to it yet. It's only available online, written by someone I've never heard of, but it has recieved some decent reviews by readers at Amazon. I'm usually a little leary of buying these unknown books, but this one is set during my favorite period, The Wars of the Roses, so I'd like to give it a try. Anyone recommend it? Or, do you know someone who read it and enjoyed it?
Going back to the FICTION that started this thread...
Anyone read The Observations by Jane Harris? Not looking for plot details (spoilers) but just over all thoughts whether you liked it or not.
I just got it from the library and am about 1/4 of the way through and not sure what I think yet. It's interesting enough that I'm keeping on with it, but I HATE the dialect for the main character Bessy. I hate when people write in dialect! Grrrr.
Back to Weir - I, too, started with The Six Wives of Henry VIII and loved it. I've since read a couple others and enjoyed them. The one I enjoyed least was Eleanor of Aquitane as it was a bit dry. Granted there's not a lot of documents on Ellie compared to the Tudors. She's a fascinating character, but even AW didn't bring her to life for me.
When I first started reading Alison Weir, I started with the Henry VIII books too. The Margaret George book is the best novel I've ever read about Henry VIII! I loved all of her books though.
I just saw a few books that are available for request that are worth mentioning to you guys.
Morality Play by Barry Unsworth. There's several copies of this listed in both HC and PB. It's a medieval murder mystery set during the 14th century. Unsworth won the Booker Prize for one of his books, he's an excellent writer. I've read most of his books and enjoyed them all.
The Good Men by Charmaine Craig. This is about a young woman who is tried during the Inquisition in 1320.
Sally Hemming's by Barabara Chase Riboud. I saw that there is one mass market PB listed if there is anyone still looking for a copy of this book.
There's also quite a few copies of the first book in the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett, The Game of Kings,...if anyone is interested in starting that long, incredibly complicated, but addicting series! I finally got the last book that I needed to have complete sets of both series. I'm planning on having a Dorothy Dunnett read-a-thon as soon as I get some credits built up. I'm thinking I'll need a bunch to last while I'm reading these books.
I might go ahead and start The Courtesans tonight. I love reading about the lives of influential, historical women. They may not have had the right to be in Parliament, but they sure knew how to get things done! I enjoy reading about the queens and mistresses more than the kings.
Has anyone read Sex with Kings by Eleanor Herman? I got it from the library a few months ago and it was a fun, quick read. I'm looking forward to reading the new one, Sex with Queens. My library doesn't have it yet, darn it!
I mentioned earlier that I was reading The Courtesans (which is now on the way to Anne). I got that book as part of a set that also contained the following books. Has anyone read any of these? Opinions?
you will love the Sandra Gulland trilogy--one of my favorites. Also really enjoyed The Twentieth Wife and The Feast of Roses, but cannot find them to list them...I think the author is Indu Sundaresan? Some other good ones are:
One Thousand White Women ~Jim Fergus
The Known World~ Edward P Jones
The Birth of Venus ~Sarah Dunant
Regarding Fires in the Dark -- move it to the top of your TBR pile stat!
I had about 100 pages to go last night and stayed up to read it through to the end. What an engrossing book. It does start a bit slow, but once the Nazis start rounding up the undesirables the book just comes alive. The horrors of the camp just made my skin crawl.
Despite the horrific subject matter, it really was a wonderful read. I've not encountered anything else about the Roma experience during WWII, so I'm off to look for more. This is fiction, but I'm be interested in non-fiction accounts -- if i can stomach them. I have such a difficult time reading non-fiction about this terrible period in history.
Alert: New Plaidy Release! To your wishlists, quick, quick, quick!
The title is Loyal in Love. It's about Henrietta Maria, Queen of Charles I. I am so happy that they are releasing so many Plaidy books, and so quickly too. I wonder if I'll live long enough to see them all re-released... It seems like they are doing about 4 or 5 each year, so I might have a chance of getting them all if I live into my 90's! I better start eating a bit healthier...
Does anyone have a particular title or series of Plaidy's that you wish would be re-released? I do. I am hoping they will do the Plantagenet series. I might write the publisher a letter suggesting that they do so, it couldn't hurt.
*Thanks to the fabulous PBS'er who told me about this release!
Melody, didn't you just love Snowflower? Every word of it?!
Have you read The Binding Chair by Kathryn Harrison? It's another wonderful book that is similar to Snowflower. It would be hard for me to have to decide which of these two books that I enjoyed most. They are both great. Anyone who enjoyed Snowflower would also enjoy The Binding Chair.
Another great book that focuses on friendship and sisterhood between women in China is The Secrets of Jin-Shei by Alma Alexander.
Has anyone read Empress by Shan Sa? It's a historical novel about Empress Wu, the first and only female emperor. It certainly sounds like it will be a great read.
Mmm... I haven't read Snowflower, but I've read (and loved) The Binding Chair. In fact, it's my favourite of Harrison's work. I've read her others and that's the one that I liked best. (Poison was good too, but I haven't much liked her contemporary novels.)
Regarding Plaidy - appears that Arrow/Random House (UK) is reprinting several of her titles - some of which Three Rivers Press has reprinted in the USA. Here's a link to the Arrow/Random House titles: Link
At first glance, there appear to be some titles available from the UK that aren't yet reprinted in the USA. (More to add to your wishlist, Valli?) I might have to check Amazon UK to see if I can order them and have my colleague bring them over at the end of the month. Of course, they'll not match my US editions on my bookshelf. Decisions, decision.
Off to add Snowflower to my wishlist -- or maybe request it from the library.
Has anyone read The Great Stink By Clare Clark? I beieve it is another plague book. Just wondering if it's good...
I have it Rose, but I haven't read it yet. I didn't think it was about the plague, but I could be wrong. It's set in Victorian London so I don't think it's possible that it is about the plague.
From the back: "Descend into the subterranean world beneath the teeming streets of London in an extraordinarily vivid novel that brings Victorian England to life."
Sounds like a good one to me! I think it recieved some good reviews as well.
eat Stink - read about 50 pages and that was it for me. And usually VIctorian England is a subject matter that I enjoy reading about.
FYI: those Plaidy Arrow imprints that are currently in the PBS database are as follows: