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Topic: Stuck in an England rut...

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Subject: Stuck in an England rut...
Date Posted: 3/6/2013 2:33 PM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2009
Posts: 94
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I need some suggestions for non-English/British Isle settings.. I feel like all my recent reads have been set there.  Any must-reads from other locales?
I have Doc on my list already....

Date Posted: 3/6/2013 3:16 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,429
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Have you read the Beverly Swerling books? I think the first one is City of Dreams? I loved them all!

Sara Donati's Wilderness series is another great one ... the first one is Into the Wilderness, I think.

Kathleen Kent has two books set in the Salem, Massachusetts area that tackle the lovely piece of our history referred to as the Salem Witch Trials. The books are very good and very compelling, albeit a bit difficult to read at times: Wolves of Andover and The Heretic's Daughter.

I've enjoyed every book I've read by Christine Blevins, and Sally Gunning is another author that most of us really enjoy.

If you enjoy historical mysteries and haven't read them yet, I strongly recommend the Silver Rush series by Ann Parker (post Civil War, Leadville, Colorado) and the Nell Sweeney series (post Civil War, Boston) by P.B. Ryan.

Lastly, I haven't read it yet, but according to those who have, Moloka'i by Alan Brennert is wonderful.

Have you browsed our "best of 2012" list? Christa linked it to our sticky thread titled Historical Fiction Forum Table of Contents. 

Good luck ... and, although I'm first to respond, I won't be last! Be prepared to be inundated with great options to get you off the British Isles!



Last Edited on: 3/6/13 6:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/6/2013 5:36 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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@Kate, be careful what u wish for on this forum. ;-) Have u read The Kitchen House? That's pre-Civil War American history, and it's excellent. Another non-English favorite for me is Stephen Lawhead's Byzantium. IIRC, the Vikings are in it, but it's mostly about the demise of that country. If you like a little bit of thriller, I highly recommend The Religion by Tim Willocks. This is about the Spanish Inquisition and the crusade in Malta. The 2nd in the series will be out in May in England. Also highly recommend The Girl Who series by Steig Larsson.
Date Posted: 3/6/2013 5:48 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
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Careful what you wish for. I love big fat sagas set in old California. Try The Proud Breed by Celeste de Blasis. Her Swan trilogy is pretty good too - it starts in England, but moves onto Maryland.

How about Russia? Cyntha Herrod Eagles has an awesome trilogy, Anna, Fleur and Emily. There are strong romantic elements in them, but don't let that stop you. HTF but a lot of fun is Annette Motley's Men on White Horses. Catherine the Great, early years through her coronation as empress. Peter is at his nutty best.

India? MM Kaye, Emma Drummond (she's got bunches of titles) or Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald.

Date Posted: 3/6/2013 7:59 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,544
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I've got to put in my two bits for the House of Niccolo series of books by Dorothy Dunnett...Bruges, Trebizond, Cyprus, Russia, Iceland, Egypt, Scotland, the west coast of Africa to name just a few locations. 

Last Edited on: 3/6/13 7:59 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/6/2013 8:24 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
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Dunnett is an excellent suggestion. I haven't done the Nicollo books, but the Lymond books are a wild ride. They do start and end in the British Isles (I think, it's been a while), but in between you are all over the map. 

Date Posted: 3/7/2013 1:26 AM ET
Member Since: 4/27/2007
Posts: 8,542
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Lastly, I haven't read it yet, but according to those who have, Moloka'i by Alan Brennert is wonderful.


Loved, loved, loved this book!

If you like a little vampire here and there, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.

Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series...

Wilbur Smith's Ancient Egyptian series...

I like Kate Furnivall too, for light reading. Most of her books are set in Russia or China. And Michelle Moran does Egypt and France.

And a while ago in this forum we were talking about Olivia and Jai by Rebecca Ryman - that is India.

And if you like American family sagas, try John Jakes. I read his Kent Family Chronicles several times when I was younger, and the Civil War North and South series.

Or Herman Wouk's WWII books...Winds of War, War & Rememberance...those are pretty amazing, and all over the place.

And if you're a glutton for huge, huge, huge books try Russka by Edward Rutherfurd. And he has a new one coming out...Paris. It isn't released yet, but the advance reviews are good. That's April, I think.

I'll come back if I think of more!




Last Edited on: 3/7/13 1:28 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/7/2013 7:56 AM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
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Well, this was a dangerous thread!  

Date Posted: 3/7/2013 10:10 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,757
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So many good suggestions!  I recently read City of Thieves by David Benioff, set in WW2 Russia, and I absolutely loved it.  Grim setting, bleak subject matter, but it still manages to be a heartfelt, touching story with a dark comedy element. 

I just started "The Hangman's Daughter" series by Oliver Potsch, which are historical mysteries set in, I believe 17th century Bavaria.  I only started the first book, The Hangman's Daughter last night and got just a few pages in, but I can tell I am going to enjoy it!

Some books I want to move up on my TBR are the oldies but classics by James Michener.  I've got Alaska, Hawaii and The Caribbean on my shelf.  Big sweeping sagas of places NOT England.  LOL!

Date Posted: 3/7/2013 11:23 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,581
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A couple of oldies but goodies, if you haven't read them are: Lonesome Dove by McMurtry and To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee. Speaks the Nightbird series by Robert McCammon is excellent (Carolinas - 17th century); Widow's War and Bound by Sally Gunning (Cape Cod); Genghis series by Conn Iggulden;  Madame Tussaud and the Nefertiti series by Moran. I love historical mysteries and really enjoy the Graeme Kent Solomon Island series - Devil Devil and One Blood; Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye; Viennese series by J. Sydney Jones.

That's what comes to mind off the top of my head - oh! and most anything by Michener. I won't even go into the Russian authors.

Date Posted: 3/7/2013 1:11 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,429
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 I recently read City of Thieves by David Benioff, set in WW2 Russia, and I absolutely loved it.  Grim setting, bleak subject matter, but it still manages to be a heartfelt, touching story with a dark comedy element. 

+1 on that comment, Shelley! I wish I could describe a book with one perfect sentence like that!

Lots of great suggestions - we are such a well-read, intelligent group, are we not?


Date Posted: 3/7/2013 3:29 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
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Oh, my...some great suggestions so far.

Yes, City of Thieves is one of my favorites (for what it's worth, the author, David Benioff, is the co-creator and showrunner of Game of Thrones)

Aztec by Gary Jennings -- long (1000+ pp) but fascinating and compelling story of the Aztecs

Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow (Charleston, SC during the Revolutionary War); I also liked her Jubilee Trail but was less enthralled with Calico Palace (which I believe is one of Cathy's favorites)

The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough -- an oldie but goodie; set in Australia

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Stone -- another oldie but goodie; long but thoroughly engaging novel about Michelangelo

Books by Sandra Dallas -- all set in the US; I just finished True Sisters which I thought was very good; I also liked Tall Grass; her other books are on my TBR shelves

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani -- next month's read-along; starts in Italy then moves to the US

The Gods of Gotham by Faye - historical thriller set in 1845 Manhattan

The Black Tower by Louis Bayard -- another favorite of mine (especially the audio version read by Simon Vance); set in France in the 1800s

Other non-England favorites:

  • Mudbound by Hillary Jordan (U.S)
  • The Distant Land of My Father by Bo Caldwell (Shanghai)
  • The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips (US)
  • The Missing by Tim Gautreaux (US)
  • My Name is Mary Sutter by Oliveira (US)
  • The Last Queen by Gortner (Spain)
  • Someone Knows My Name by Hill (Africa; US)
  • Half Broke Horses by Walls (US)
  • The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi by Park (Italy)
  • Push Not the River by Martin (Poland)
  • The Kitchen Boy by Alexander (Russia)

ETA: And, yes, I will add my endorsement of Dunnett's Lymond series -- one of the most memorable reading experiences I've had

Oh...and The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas (the unabridged Buss translation) -- it's not technically HF if we go by a 50-year rule but it's close enough and it's fabulous (it's also long, 1200+ pages)

Last Edited on: 5/4/13 9:15 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 3/7/2013 3:34 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 1,976
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One of my favorites is The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton.  Starts in England but quickly moves to colonial America.  There is a really good trilogy about Josephine Bonapart by Sandra Gulland Link .  For something different try The Good Earth by Pearl Buck.

Last Edited on: 3/7/13 3:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/7/2013 3:39 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,757
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Deb, oooh, how could I have forgotten Aztec?  That is close to the top of my list (if not at the top) of favorite books of all time.  I absolutely loved it!

Date Posted: 3/7/2013 5:17 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
Posts: 6,035
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This is great reference for my challenge category for five books that are related.  I'm doing "Books In New-to-Me Settings...Time Period or Geography, but excluding anything set in US or UK".

Date Posted: 3/7/2013 6:35 PM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2009
Posts: 94
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Wow and yay for so many suggestions! Thank you! I can already hear my bookcases groaning under the extra weight.... :) I actually have the first two Lymond Chronicle books at home but assumed they took place only in Scotland. Good to know there is some travel involved! I still haven't read The Kitchen House, I'm number 10 on the list at the library (and something like 35 on the list here). City of Thieves is sounding promising too!