Discussion Forums - Historical Fiction

Topic: Recommendations please

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Recommendations please
Date Posted: 9/28/2012 5:29 PM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2009
Posts: 94
Back To Top

Longtime lurker, first time poster here! With the change of seasons, I find I'm looking for some new HF books/series/authors to add to my TBR pile.  For some reason this time of year always makes me want to dive into the past by a warm fire with a mug of hot cider. I'm not a newbie to the genre and have read many of the books on the Essential HF book list, so I'm looking to branch out a bit.  I found the wonderful SKP & Bernard Cornwell via this forum so I know you all will have many other fantastic authors up your sleeves if you wouldn't mind sharing....  I am *shockingly* still an Elizabeth Chadwick virgin ( I never knew where to start as she's so prolific) so I'd definitely welcome any suggestions there!

Thank you in advance! 

PS I am also eagerly awaiting the announcement of the 2013 HF challenge as I came late to 2011 and had a baby during 2012 so have not yet actually been able to participate.  This is my year!


Date Posted: 9/28/2012 5:51 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
Back To Top

Do you want primarily medieval settings or looking to branch out? Any eras of greater interest to you?

Date Posted: 9/28/2012 6:10 PM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2009
Posts: 94
Back To Top

Ha, I should have clarified. I love the medieval period, but will read absolutely anything and welcome suggestions from all time periods!

Date Posted: 9/28/2012 7:21 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
Back To Top

Are you nuts??? You do realize that when you ask this group for recommendations, you need to be prepared to spend all your credits, buy more bookshelves, haunt all libraries and bookstores within a 50-mile radius, forego all chores and other activities, such as sleeping and eating, neglect your new baby (belated congratulations, by the way), and generally risk your health and sanity in order to acquire and read all the titles that you're about to be bombarded with. That being said, welcome!!

Where to start? Well, obviously, you're gonna have to get to Elizabeth Chadwick. I would start with The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion, and A Place Beyond Courage. Cathy (Misfit) has a list on Amazon of Chadwick's books that you might want to check out. And of course, you should check out her, Tanzanite's, and Holly's blogs -- lots and lots of HF recommendations. (Apologies if I've missed other regular forum members' book blogs.)

Kudos on discovering Penman and Cornwell -- keep reading them. I see you have the first of the Lymond Chronicles by Dunnett on your WL. From my perspective, this series is simply brilliant and a must for any HF fan. 

My other absolute favorite HF books that I've read in the past couple years and that are all doorstoppers (i.e., 700+ pages):

  • The Heaven Tree Trilogy by Pargeter
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas (the UNABRIDGED translation by Buss)
  • Aztec by Jennings
  • The Physician by Gordon
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy by Stone
  • Zemindar by Fitzgerald
  • The Far Pavilions by Kaye

Other HF favorites:

  • Doc by Russell
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer and Barrows
  • City of Thieves by Benioff
  • Distant Land of My Father by Caldwell
  • Katherine by Seton
  • The Autobiography of Henry VIII by George
  • Legacy by Kay
  • An Instance of the Fingerpost by Pears

Other HF books that I really, really liked:

  • Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Mantel
  • The Stolen Crown by Higginbotham
  • Code Name Verity by Wein 
  • Gillespie and I by Harris
  • The Missing by Gatreaux
  • The Winthrop Woman by Seton
  • The Winter Sea by Kearsley
  • Outlaw and Holy Warrior by Donald
  • Treason by Whitford
  • The Kitchen House by Grissom

Oops -- DH is home -- gotta run. More later.


Date Posted: 9/28/2012 7:55 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
Back To Top

One warning about Chadwick, and that there are two authors writing as Elizabeth Chadwick. One is US and writes regency type romances, the EC you want is from the UK and writes medievals. You definitely opened yourself a big can of worms asking for recommendations, but I'm still wool gathering. I'd either name every favorite book I could think of for a tl;dr post or just throw things out at random as they come to me.

Deb's made a good start, and I second most of her mentions (a few I didn't love as much and/or haven't read yet, that's life). The Heaven Tree trilogy is lovely, love Legacy, and just about anything (not all!) by Anya Seton. Zemindar and the MM Kaye books - fabulous.

She has a couple of dogs. I've been more on the hunt (and mood) for the long-lost gems of HF and haven't been reading much of the new releases. I also like a healthy dose of romance in my books, but not a requirement. Here's a few thoughts.

The Kirov Trilogy by Cynthia Harrod Eagles. Anna, Fleur & Emily (I think that's the order). They can be read as stand alones and the libraries do have copies. Russia, Napoleonic period book 1, Crimean War book 2, Revolution book three. There is enough passage of time between books they can be read as stand alones.

Emma Drummond. Beyond All Frontiers (India), Behold the Glory  and Scarlet Shadows (Crimean War).

Men on White Horses (Catherine the Great) and The Quickenberry Tree (English Civil wars/Cromwell era) by Annette Motley.

Speaking of the English Civil Wars, definitely look for Pamela Belle. She wrote a trilogy and a quartet set in the period. Best place to sort it out is the fan tribute site pamelabelle.com

A recent favorite is Omamori by Richard McGill. WWII, set in Japan.




Date Posted: 9/28/2012 7:59 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
Back To Top

Oops, posted but there's more (I'm trouble with a capital "T").

Forever Amber by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Charles II, restoration period.

Lily Cigar by Tom Murphy and The Proud Breed by Celeste de Blasis (old California)

My fingers are getting tired and I must go and read so I'll be back later. A fun list over at Goodreads for more ideas on the older hidden gems here.

Date Posted: 9/29/2012 9:46 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,178
Back To Top

Welcome to the forum Kate.

Here is a link to our lists for the best reads of 2011 http://www.paperbackswap.com/H-F-Top-10-2011/topic/252021/

Some of us like historical mysteries, if those intrest you at all?

I love Jeri Westerson's Crispin Guest series.

Imogen Robertson's  Westerman and Crowther

Caro Peacock's Liberty Lane series

I just finished reading the Robert McCammon historical mysteries this summer loved those.

We have talked about the Elizabeth Chadwick books and where to start the consensus seems to be to start with the Marshal series.  If you have read Penman then William Marshall isn't unknown to you, and EC really delves into the history surrounding the Marshal's in A Place Beyond Courage (this deals with John Marshal) and personally this is where I would start. The The Greatest Knight, and then The Scarlet Lion, The TIme of Singing, and For the Kings Favor  Most libraries have these they don't come up for trade very often.   My personal favorite Chadwick is The Love Knot, that takes place during the anarchy and war between Stephen and Maud.

Date Posted: 9/29/2012 10:34 AM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2009
Posts: 94
Back To Top
Thank you all so much for these suggestions! Our library book sale is in a few weeks and hopefully I'll find a good chunk of these there. Can't beat their prices, a bag full of books for $3! I'm so excited to have so many new titles to choose from. I'm going to need more bookshelves...,
Date Posted: 9/29/2012 1:35 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
Back To Top
Kate -- I hope you realize that as a new poster to the forum, you are required to take our WLs with you to your library book sale, buy us books, and post them to us.
Date Posted: 9/29/2012 3:11 PM ET
Member Since: 4/19/2012
Posts: 363
Back To Top

I seen my favorite historical authors was not mentioned, Lisa Kleypas, Diana Palmer, Mary Balogh.

I really enjoy every book they have wrote ck them out. Lisa Kleypas has a series that starts with the Wallflowers series,

then she has 3 more series of books and all the 3 series ties together, i cant remember them off hand though.

Characters from each series are mentioned in the other series so you can see what happened to them, am i making sense. lol

Date Posted: 9/29/2012 3:36 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 929
Back To Top

Welcome Kate!  Deb gave you a great list.  I’ll just add a few more:

Year of Wonders – Geraldine Brooks

Pope Joan – Donna Leon

A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow

Shadowbrook – Beverly Swerling

Katherine – Anya Seton

An Inconvenient Wife – Megan Chance

My Name is Mary Sutter – Robin Oliveira

Fire From Heaven, The Persian Boy, Funeral Games – Mary Renault

Galway Bay – Mary Pat Kelly

Elizabeth I: A Novel – Margaret George

Revolution – Jennifer Donnelly


Date Posted: 9/29/2012 4:22 PM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2009
Posts: 94
Back To Top
How is this possible? My library doesn't have a single book by Elizabeth Chadwick. I live in a small town, but not that small... I'll have to look into their ILL program. And Deb, I will definitely snatch up as many good HF books I find! I'll be happy to send them out, once I read them first that is! Haha!