So glad you have done a list AvidReader. Have just added these to my TBR list. Thanks and best wishes.
May I suggest Bernard Cornwell - A possible addition to your list?
Please give a preview.
I've only read one of Cromwell's novels to date -- Sharpe's Tiger. I enjoyed it and plan to continue with the series. I'm not planning to include any Cornwell books on my list though, as the list is meant to share my favourite works of historical fiction.
Thanks, I will look into the Penman books that you recommend, they appear interesting.
May I suggest you try marguerite Yourcenar ,The Memoirs of Hadrian or The Abyss. Books that are not easy ,will have your reaching for the dictionary (or goggle) often but are extremely rewarding. Written by a woman of towering intellect and often referred to as the standard by which all historical fiction is judged.
On a lighter note try Barry Unsworth's A Ruby in her Navel, a novel set in Sciliy in the 11 th Century a fascinating and romantic story of a multi cultural society ruled by the Normans.
One of my all time favorites is "The Quality of Mercy" by Faye Kellerman. Set in England during the Inquisition, Shakespeare is one of the main characters.
Faye Kellerman is such an awful writer. Her thrillers are dripping with unnecessary sex scenes and irrelevant Judaism, I shudder to think how she manages to avoid either in a historical novel.
Sue B. Thanks so much for your recommendation. I'm really looking forward to reading that. Here are two authors that I'm shocked are not included on the list. Susan MacNeal with her series starting with Mr. Churchill's Secretary. And also Jeffrey Archer and so many of his gripping historical fiction books.
My favorites that are not on your list:
The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett (first book: Game of Kings)
The Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian (Master and Commander, etc.)
I was wondering when someone would bring in one of my favorite authors Dorothy Dunnett. In my opinion her works (esp. Lymond series) are tops on any list!!
I can't believe I forgot to include the Aubrey/Maturin books! I love that series.
I'm not a fan of Dunnett, though. Her writing style is not to my taste.
I've just updated my list to include Master and Commander :-)
My favorite historical fiction is The Sparrowhawk Series by Edward Cline. It is a six book series set in England and Virginia before the American Revolutionary War.
I've never heard of that series. I'll have to look into it.
How about the amazing historical novels by James Michener - like Poland, Hawaii & Alaska?
Also, readers who like Historical fiction may like the books by Edward Rutherfurd - London & Russka.
Both Michener and Rutherfurd have written sagas based spanning the history of a particular place, usually based on the lives of fictional families.
I have won in 2012 Honorable Mention in San Francisco Book Festival and a First in Hollywood for 2012 Book Festival. Aided in Sonoma County Food Bank, selling and giving away books in Autumn, and my book, "Pinkhoneysuckle," will be in Noe Valley Book Festival this Weekend with 42 authors -- One San Francisco community. My book is mixed genre, for I researched to correct dates of involvement with Civil Rights under Dr. King's mantle. I give a full account of the Southern Diaspora which began mid-century forcing small farmers to become white trash in city ghetto, and voices beg that America displaced thousands of Southern Appalachians to be Rust Belt work horses, and those who lived it are ashamed because of the depth of our poverty. I become naked to share one woman's journey, that the thousands still broken to this day may know they were never alone, and our loss of Mountain Laurel and homes to become, 'Poor White Trash," needs acceptance in literature, documentary, and film. How do you help me know how to bring our equivalent to, "Grapes of Wrath," to the forefront. WVXU in Cincinnati will interview me soon, and having been governed by two episodes of blood clots to my lungs has held up my entry in to other events. After 60 years; Is our Holocaust of a way of life still to be hid under our skirts. Northern ghettos always have a population of those of us who left the farm, because The USA saw us as dispensable, so truly; Must we like our parents die knowing that no one gave a damn about we, "Hillbillies," "Rednecke," and "Crackers," because most of us had white skin? Comments appreciated. Barbara Everett Heintz, Amazon, Kindle, Create Space
Barbara, I feel your pain and you have put it out here raw and unnerving to anyone familiar (and possibly to just anyone who lives anywhere in America). It's reassuring that you are getting these accolades and recognition, that PINKHONEYSUCKLE is actually going somewhere. Man, I sure hope you get sales as well. When I say I feel your pain I mean that because I can and do empathize, having grown up in Alabama during the outset of the Civil Rights Movement. I empathize too through the novel I've just recently completed called THE SUM OF HIS WORTH, an historical novel told by a teenage boy who befriends a liberal white dentist and follows the dentist through his trials and tribulations becoming part of that great movement. The book is out in digital form now (at Amazon, B&N and Smashwords) and will be in book form this year.
Again, your journey is amazing and I for one sure am looking forward to reading PINKHONEYSUCKLE.
Ron, your generosity and understanding is overwhelming, for we were in our fields as little kids dragging cotton sacks, and no one made our pictures; No, they made it look like we all were on that bridge at Selma. Meanwhile, a black family was with us in the fields, just one example, and we played and laughed, and no one had told me that I was going to have more opportunity as a poor white. Dr. King wanted us included and God had mercy, and I would get to be with Mrs. Coretta King in Washington on the Poor People's march, but I had to work harder at anything and everything to find no help most of the time, because I was poor and white. I need help selling my book, for I am not a sale's person, but I ask God Almighty to help me empty the truth of all of us who were torn apart from our folks, and to those who wound up in city ghettos -- The Appalachian Diaspora trashed so many thousands, and I will get the story out. Hear me my long lost angels, for I have told our story, and let us start climbing up that mountain to places like Pisgah where decent people held on. I will not let, "Pinkhoneysuckle," my raw self forget that others cannot speak our truth. It is time Ron. Thank you with all of my heart. Barbara Everett Heintz, "Pinkhoneysuckle," Amazon, Kindle, Create Space
I agree that the books of Dorothy Dunnet, sadly deceased, are brilliant, especially the Lymond series. Also those of Phillipa Gregory, are excellent. Most of the list is familiar to me, and I can only endorse the majority of choices.
I've read all of the major historical novels mentioned, and enjoyed them to a greater or lesser degree. I'd add "People of the Book" to the list for a fascinating trip through history and different locations. And now for something different: http://www.shelfari.com/books/31462799/The-Sandoval-Sisters-Secret-of-Old-Blood set in New Mexico and Texas during the period when Manifest Destiny was the practice if not the rule of law.
Yes, I'd definitely second "People of the Book". I liked it and it led me to read other books by Geraldine Brooks.
I enjoyed People of the Book. It's not a favourite of mine, hence why it's not on my list, but I thought it was enjoyable.
I love historical fiction, but have learned that it means different things to different people. I couldn't read stories set in the Tudor era endlessly, but some people never get enough. Same thing with any fiction involving royalty. While Brooks' writing is not as lyrical as I would like, she created a new world where the characters and their motivations became real to me. Emphasis on "new."
Yes, different readers look for different things from historical fiction. As evidenced by my list, I read a lot of historical novels set in England and never get tired of them even if some time periods are overdone.
Nice list. I'd recommend Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy - the third of which THE GHOST ROAD - won the Booker. Wonderful series about the English hospital Craiglockhart and psychiatrist William Rivers' treatment of the shell-shocked soldiers of WWI (poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen among them).
One of you mentioned Barry Unsworth and any number of his books should make a "best of" list of historical fiction: his Booker-winning SACRED HUNGER, as well as LOSING NELSON and MORALITY PLAY.
Thank you for the Pat Barker recommendation. I've been tempted to try the first book since the trilogy is set in a time period I'm interested in.
I'd recommend the empire triology novels of J.G. Farrell: The Siege of Krishnapur, Troubles & the Singapore Grip.
Thanks for the recommendation. I do have The Siege of Krishnapur on my TBR pile. I'll get to it one of these days...
True History of the Kelly Gang, by Peter Carey is another great one
That one I have read. It was pretty good. Have you read The Egyptian by Mika Walteri?
No. I'll look it up. With regard to your list, I haven't read many of them. I think Mantel is great and I am looking forward to the next volume, but I wonder if we are a little too close in time to be putting her so high in the pantheon of greats. I enjoyed reading Sarum, but it was a little too loose for my liking - that said, there are many individual scenes in it which still recall themselves to me even 20 years after reading them. There are so many interesting figures who played big parts in a ton of "history" - like William the Marshall - it's great to see someone take them on in fiction.
I remember reading books by Jean Plaidy a number of years ago. Much of the history of Tudor England I learned from her books. If the English history is your interest, she would be an author to explore. Not too sure how readily available her books are, but you might try your library to find them
I've read a few of Plaidy's novels and, sadly, was not overly impressed. They are good, but not great works of historical fiction, imho. I'll still continue to read her stuff, especially since she was such a prolific writer, but I don't think any of her stuff will every make my best of lists.
Much gratitude to you for the suggestion. I am not certain we are speaking of the same experience which I am sharing, for Ron, of Alabama totally understands, but I do not discount the book which you are suggesting. The history which I am sharing is what happened to thousands of us after World War II and how we saw our small farm life taken to fill the greed of our government to brink a compliant, literate, faithful to a flaw group of citizens to fill the factories of the North. Those of us who lived through it have suffered every insult under the sun, most which I have listed many times, the name calling of people who dwell in cities who still have southern accents after 60 years, for folks moved where they could afford and never got out. "Pinkhoneysuckle," is researched as far as the historical parts, but I must repeat that we bore the shame as if we purposefully gave up our farms, purposefully destroyed our beautiful little towns and county seats, and we watched our father's faces fall in shame that they had failed as farmers, because the government was infallible in our folk's eyes, so they took the bait, and now small farms are all the new rage, but the people who lost were thousands of Appalachian citizens and the places we knew as home. Now we are being told that Alice Waters of Berkeley California inspired the garden to table food and food in season, and no one remembers but us that was the only life our parents new. I go over the history of the Scot Irish people in, "Pinkhoneysuckle," which is not even known by most people back in my home county. We were not even allowed our own identity. I have studied it, and I have lived the life of the southern Appalachian, and we were a Diaspora which this country has kept hidden all of this time. A lot of people have place their faith in me for this book to finally tell you what happened especially in Northern Alabama, middle Tennessee, and North Georgia, so I thank you very much, but I think we are speaking different languages here. I have been told that I need to take my book on a speaker's circuit. Give me an audience of 200 and I will come and I will speak for my fathers. My brother Robert wrote an incredible Prologue to my book to speak to the men and to show what a 7 year old was expected to do in our days. People have shown The Civil Rights Movement, The Oklahomans, but never the Southern Appalachian Diaspora. Thank you so much Linda. Does that help?
Thank you to those of who you who actually provided comments on my best of list. I put it together to share with other readers those books which I feel are well worth reading within the historical fiction genre Obviously every person's list will be different. I encourage each of you to create your own best of list here just like I've done. That way you can share your favourites with other readers.
Take a look at GOODBYE VIETNAM: WAR, LOVE AND ESPIONAGE IN VIETNAM for more recent historical fiction.
Thanks for suggestion!
Thanks for the suggestion! And I see yr the author😀 amazon review looks really good. I'm going to order it.
Many years ago I read Fire in the Lake, which was excellent. Not fiction but....so few I knew ever read it.
Thank you for yr service to our country. Looking forward to reading your book.
Susan, I hope you enjoy GOODBYE VIETNAM. I have gotten many positive responses. The book is based on interpersonal relationships in Vietnam in 1970-71. This is a part of war that is rarely written about. The first chapter originally was a short story I entered for a contest and was selected for the South Carolina Fiction Project in 2009. The book is more about love than fighting. Dell
- @ Avid ReaderMay not be from your favourite periods,but Mary Renault's recreations of the ancient world are excellent,top class.
I have one of her books on my shelves, I can't remember the title but I think it's about Alexander the Great. I've heard great things about her historical novels.
I had forgotten about this author, which I read years ago. May have to do a fresh look. I tend to like the 'heavier' historical fictions, tho. Really like your list and discussions. I have so many in my TBR piles.
I thought you might enjoy my new e-book "Call of the Sea". It has 20 of the classic fiction and non-fiction stories that draw us to the sea with illustrations and audiobook links! Please let me know what you think! http://www.amazon.com/Call-The-Sea-Illustrations-ebook/dp/B00ENHLMRG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1377612126&sr=1-1
1000 White Women by Jim Fergus
The Dove Keepers by Alice Hoffman.
thanks for sharing your list, can't wait to try out the couple I missed!
Two British historical fiction writers I like are C.J. Sansom, author of a series of 5 detective/crime novels (Matthew Shardlake) set in Tudor England. Just sorry he hasn't yet written more but more are promised! I also like Paul Doherty. His mystery/detective series (Hugh Corbett) set in late 13th/early 14th century England consists of 17 novels of which I have so far read the first 5. The Sansom novels are more recent and the characters have more psychological depth but both authors tell a good story, mixing fiction with real history. Both hugely enjoyable.
My latest historical fiction -- Knights of Gold -- addresses race relations from several perspectives: (1) Confederate advocates who moved west, (2) exclusion of minorities in frontier Oregon, (3) the mystery of the "lost" Confederate treasury, (4) an organization called the Knights of the Golden Circle (the secret financiers of the Confederacy), and the legislative process in the 1970's-80's. The story takes the reader from Oregon, to South Carolina, to Florida, to the resorts of Grande Cayman, and to the jungles of interior Brazil. It's available at outskirtspress.com/knightsofgold, Amazon and Kindle. I welcome opinions and comments.