Discussion Forums - History

Topic: Really Excellent Historical Fiction

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
hardtack avatar
Standard Member medalBooks for Schools medalPrintable Postage medal
Subject: Really Excellent Historical Fiction
Date Posted: 3/16/2012 5:17 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 5,432
Back To Top

Yes, I know there is a forum for Historical Fiction. Still, for those of us who love reading history and novels, having a place for recommendations on excellent historical fiction would be helpful. I currrently read historical fiction series in many areas: including 1st century Roman 'informers,' 11th century monks and 19th century 'independent women.'  And I enjoy all of them. 

However, my most recent book was North Star Conspiracy by Miriam Grace Monfredo. This lady really did her homework.  I felt like I was really in 1854 and Seneca Falls, New York. The novel's plot includes more than the one required murder, but is also closely tied in with the Fugitive Slave Law and the people who supported and opposed it. The Underground Railroad is a strong plot feature and various 1850s African-American and white historical figures make their appearances. I hated for this novel to end.

This is the second book in a series that begins with Seneca Falls Inheritance.



Last Edited on: 12/29/12 9:58 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
polbio avatar
Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 3/16/2012 8:49 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
Back To Top

That sounds like a really good book.

Generic Profile avatar
Date Posted: 3/26/2012 12:45 PM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2006
Posts: 236
Back To Top

Thomas, you perhaps know this already but there are some very good discussions on this topic in the Amazon forums - some professional historians and all kinds of well informed people weigh in.  I've found some excellent threads and recs there. 

Cheers, Margaret

hardtack avatar
Standard Member medalBooks for Schools medalPrintable Postage medal
Date Posted: 12/29/2012 9:47 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 5,432
Back To Top

I finally found another historical novel that I feel rates being mentioned here. It is The White Guns by Douglas Reeman. Reeman served in motor torpedo boats (MTB) in the British Navy during World War II and wrote numerous novels based on his experiences. The ships that figure in his works range from the MTBs to submarines to battleships. While some of his characters seem to reappear in his novels, the plots are always different. Not all of his characters, even his heroes, are likable. And not all of his endings are happy. People died in war, not just physically, but also mentally and morally. Reeman acknowledges this in his novels and so the plots and characters have a sense of realism to them. 

The link is to my review of the book.

Generic Profile avatar
Date Posted: 10/12/2014 1:02 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
Back To Top

I no longer collect books. I have a very tiny "keeper" shelf. It has Grapes of Wrath and Cold Mountain on it and maybe a copy of Lord of the Flies that I haven't gotten around to donating to the GoodWill. Oh, and Gone with the Wind is there but I don't plan on reading it again. 

That's it. I borrow my reading material from the library and I am happy to turn about 99% of what I borrow. 

But there was one historical fiction book that I had a hard time parting with. It's a Pulitzer winner, if I recall correctly. The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters (1958) by Robert Lewis Taylor. 

Man, that was an excellent book about a young pup who accompanies his father across the overland trail. Just beautifully written and it achieved the rarest of all reading experiences: it managed to make me laugh. 

hardtack avatar
Standard Member medalBooks for Schools medalPrintable Postage medal
Date Posted: 10/12/2014 1:10 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 5,432
Back To Top

The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters - never read the book, but I do remember watching the TV series in the 60s.

hardtack avatar
Standard Member medalBooks for Schools medalPrintable Postage medal
Date Posted: 3/8/2017 4:09 AM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 5,432
Back To Top

Here's another one, about a woman who lived in the southwestern U.S. in the late 19th century.

These is My Words

Generic Profile avatar
Standard Member medalFriend of PBS-Gold medalPBS Blog Contributor medal
Date Posted: 4/5/2017 12:35 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 3,918
Back To Top

Truly enjoyed These is My Words.  Always look for what you recommend Thomas.  It is so great that you take time to share what you find.



Last Edited on: 7/10/17 9:30 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
hardtack avatar
Standard Member medalBooks for Schools medalPrintable Postage medal
Date Posted: 3/7/2018 2:21 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 5,432
Back To Top

I read a lot of good historical novels, but sometimes I also read a very bad one. Just finished The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan MacNeal. While this is a good series, you have to wonder if, for this particular book, all the publisher's editors were on holiday, but someone sent it to the presses anyway. The link goes to the book's page and my review.

LATER: MacNeal does it again with book #5 in this series. See my review of Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante.



Last Edited on: 5/2/18 1:00 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
hardtack avatar
Standard Member medalBooks for Schools medalPrintable Postage medal
Date Posted: 4/7/2018 8:22 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 5,432
Back To Top

I just finished another novel by Douglas Reeman, a naval fiction novelist. But then I've dozens of his novels. If you are looking for really good, WWII naval fiction, it is hard to beat Douglas Reeman. Of course, he knows what he is writing about as he was a British naval officer during World War II.

He also wrote a series on British Marines, spanning several generations of the same family. I've read them, but don't consider them on a par with his naval fiction.

hardtack avatar
Standard Member medalBooks for Schools medalPrintable Postage medal
Date Posted: 6/12/2018 12:55 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 5,432
Back To Top

As a big reader of World War II history, I naturally also like good World War II novels. As such, I'd like to recommend James Benn's series on "Lt. Billy Boyle." I've read nine books in the series and there are more coming. The first book in series is aptly titled Billy Boyle.

Billy Boyle is of Irish descent and from Boston. His family has ties to the IRA and hate everything British. So when World War II rolls around, his folks figure out a way for Billy to stay in the U.S. and not have to go "fight for those British bastards" in Europe. Turns out Billy's mother has a cousin who is married to a U.S. Army brigadier general who has a safe place in the War Department in Washington, D.C., and they are sure this guy will never get sent overseas. So they use their family conections to get Billy assigned to his much older cousin-by-marriage's staff.

Billy Boyle now has a safe billet to send the rest of the war in. So Billy goes to Washington to meet and join his 'Uncle' Ike's staff---yes, that Ike. Next thing you know, Billy is overseas in the thick of it, as 'Uncle' Ike sends him into situations which make a front-line infantry job look comfy.

I've tried to find historical mistakes in Benn's books and failed. Perhaps you'll do better.

 



Last Edited on: 2/23/19 10:49 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
hardtack avatar
Standard Member medalBooks for Schools medalPrintable Postage medal
Date Posted: 6/29/2018 9:13 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 5,432
Back To Top

One of my favorite historial novel series follows a U.S. Navy officer from the last two years of the Civil War into the late 19th century. His name is "Peter Wake," and he starts out with one hand tied behind his back because he didn't attend the Naval Academy, but came from the merchant marine. His first tour of duty is in Key West where he assists the blockade of the Confederacy's Gulf Coast. Then, just so his social life isn't an escape from turmoil, he falls for a Southern belle who father is a rabid Confederate. I'm just finished the fifth novel, where "Lieutenant Wake" is assigned to the West Indies and then to the Mediterranean, where he not only gets into new trouble, but trouble also follows him from the West Indies.

The books are written by Robert Macomber, and the first one is At the Edge of Honor.

 

 

hardtack avatar
Standard Member medalBooks for Schools medalPrintable Postage medal
Date Posted: 1/7/2019 4:35 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 5,432
Back To Top

P.F. Chisholm is writing a series on a character, a noble, who is the Deputy Warden of the West March, the border between Scotland and England. The series begins in the late 16th Century, a time when the border was plagued by raids from outlaw families and others. It was a dangerous place, crime and corruption was rampant. The first book in the series is A Famine of Horses.

I was halfway through this book when I had to stop and request more from PBS, and if they weren't available, buy them from Better World Books. This is a very entertaining and well researched series.  There are currently nine books in the series, the last was published in 2018. There are also three omnibuses, each of which contain three of the novels. I almost hate to post this, as other members might compete with me for the books.

P.F. Chisholm is a pseudonym used by Patricia Finney, who has written other historial novels and used other pseudonyms.

UPDATE: I just finshed reading A Season of Knives, which, if anything, was even better than the first book. But please don't request these books until I have the complete set.



Last Edited on: 1/26/19 1:03 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
hardtack avatar
Standard Member medalBooks for Schools medalPrintable Postage medal
Date Posted: 4/8/2019 10:47 AM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 5,432
Back To Top

I've really enjoyed reading the "Chapman" series by Kate Sedley. It is a mystery series taking place in 15th century England, with Roger Chapman, a roving pedler, solving common murders, but also often getting involved in the affairs of English royalty.  The series begins with Death and the Chapman. The author also really keeps you interested with daily life during this time period.



Last Edited on: 4/8/19 10:55 AM ET - Total times edited: 1