Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wonderful Wednesdays #6 (Historical Fiction)

Wonderful Wednesdays is a meme about spotlighting and recommending some of our most loved books, even if we haven't read them recently.  Each week will have a different genre or theme, and originates over at Tiny Library.

This weeks theme is historical fiction.

Which stories set in the past do you really love?

I notice that Sam from Tiny Library hasn't asked that the historical fiction necessarily be accurate, and I'm relieved!  I went through a phase of novels that have a similar theme - a slightly feminist retelling of certain time periods, or if not feminist exactly, more of a focus on female life.

My favorite of these is The Thrall's Tale by Judith Lindbergh.  It tells the story of the Viking presence in Greenland through the story of three women.  The author spent ten years researching before she wrote the book, so you'd better believe there is some historical basis here.

Two books in a similar vein are The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, the story of the Biblical character of Dinah, and Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-gazer by Sena Jeter Naslund, which is a historical-feeling novel based on the wife of the fictional character of Captain Ahab from Melville's Moby Dick.

Other than The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, I can't even tell you of another piece of historical fiction that I have read recently.  It isn't really my thing, but I might just have a very narrow niche.


  1. I have been tempted to read Thousand Autumns purely based on the strength of my previous experience with the author, his novel Cloud Atlas being one of my all time favourites.

  2. I found it very different - much more historical with very few of the fantastical elements that I really love about Mitchell. I learned a lot about a period of history I knew nothing about!

  3. I LOVED The Red Tent! Passed that on to my mother and all three of my sisters... they raved about it, too. Off to investigate The Thrall's Tale.

  4. The Red Tent is something that I MUST read. I read The Gilded Chamber recently, a historical novel about Queen Esther in the Purim story and it fell a bit flat. Everyone who commented on that review told me that I must read The Red Tent!

    And like Joanne, I loved Cloud Atlas. That's actually put me off Thousand Autumns because I don't think it could possibly live up to it...

  5. My favorite historical fiction novel is The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.

  6. The Red Tent was such a wonderful book. I haven't read Ahab's Wife but it's sitting on my shelf. I did read Naslund's book about Marie Antoinette and was a bit disappointed by it. I think Ahab's Wife is supposed to be better though, so I should get to it eventually.

  7. @Susan - I think Ahab's Wife is best if you've read Moby Dick. I read it once before and once after, and it made for a richer reading experience the second time for sure. I'm also just in love with the cold, bleak island landscape.

    @Scott - I'm unfamiliar but should add it!

    @Sam - You won't be sorry. I read it during a phase where I really needed to read strong female spiritual characters and it was very satisfying. When I try reading other books by Diamant they seem shallow.

  8. Thank you for the recommendations. I've heard of Ahab's Wife but not read it as yet. The Thousand Autumns is on my nightstand waiting to be read.

  9. My favorite this year are Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution. most amazing book. my review is here:
    And books by Bernard Cornwell. I read his series on the Saxon chronicles, except the last volume which was just published. Historical fiction at its best. here is my review of the 1st volume: http://wordsandpeace.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/my-review-of-the-last-kingdom/
    if you search for Cornwell in my blog, you will find the 3 other reviews.

  10. Thanks Emma! I feel like Cornwell is an author I'm always hearing about but never trying. It sounds like I should.


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