⏳ Historical Fiction Challenge ⌛

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⏳ Historical Fiction Challenge ⌛

Editado: Dez 17, 2022, 8:01 pm

______________________________ Floating clock on mantel; Selection of Historical Fiction titles

Hi! Welcome to the Historical Fiction Challenge! Last May (2022) Katie over at Books and Things launched a Historical Fiction Readathon! The video in which she lays out what qualifies as historical fiction as well as several of her recommendations are here: https://youtu.be/XPgpXd-9cBI

A number of readers in the 2022 Category Challenge were rather enamored of this challenge and co-opted it as a mini-challenge within their own threads for the month/year; So I asked Katie for permission to re-mount the prompts here as a year-long challenge and she graciously agreed 🙂

1. Read a work of historical fiction set in the country you’re from
2. Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from
3. Read a work of historical fiction set in your favourite historical time period to read about
4. Read a work of historical fiction set in a time period you’ll less familiar with
5. Read a work of historical fiction with a speculative element
6. Read a work of historical fiction about a real historical figure or a specific historical event
7. Read a classic work of historical fiction
Bonus: Read a work of historical fiction of over 500 pages

Read at least one or shoot for the whole list; Or anything in-between!
There is no minimum or maximum per prompt and you can read a book for a prompt in any order whenever you feel like it. You can start now if you like and we'll be carrying it through December 2023.

Don't forget to add to the Wiki: https://wiki.librarything.com/index.php/2023_Category_Challenge:_Historical_Fict...

Dez 7, 2022, 5:04 pm

Can one book count for more than one prompt? For example, a classic work set in my country with more than 500 pages?

Editado: Dez 7, 2022, 5:21 pm

>2 Robertgreaves: Yes! :-)

A book can count across up to six different prompts!

(I would really love to see that...)

Editado: Dez 7, 2022, 6:26 pm

What's a 'speculative element' ?

And what's 'classic work'

Editado: Dez 7, 2022, 11:51 pm

>4 majkia: A speculative element is a seemingly magical or supernatural element like time travel (e.g. Outlander (by Diana Gabaldon) or The Map of Time (by Félix J. Palma-- actually his whole Victorian Trilogy works here) or, as Katie holds up, books by Natasha Pulley, The Gifts (by Liz Hyder) and Kindred (by Octavia Butler)). If you're reading a book that seems like it has a supernatural element in it; but it ends up there is a rational explanation, that can count too (I would give an example here; but that would end up spoiling the books I have in mind). Ghosts, divine interventions, vampires that take you back to Medieval Italy, a bolt of lightning that throws you back in time, a book that snags the reader into its pages... All would work!

As for a Classic, how far back you consider a work a Classic is up to you. I consider anything in the public domain a "Classic" while Katie has chosen anything written before 1980. An example that I can think of off the top of my head is The Black Tulip (by Alexander Dumas pére which was written in 1850; but set in 1672). And I also consider Shakespeare's Histories to be in this category (written in the late-16th and early-17th centuries about English Kings in the 15th century). Katie gives, as an example, A Tale of Two Cities (by Charles Dickens) which was written in 1859 but set during the French Revolution in the 18th century, War and Peace (by Leo Tolstoy, written 1869, set in 1810) and again, Kindred.

Editado: Dez 7, 2022, 8:48 pm

>1 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Love the hourglass icons in the thread title! I haven't seen that before on LT.

>4 majkia: Katie's video (linked in >1 Tanya-dogearedcopy:) explains each of the challenges and titles that would fit each challenge. Plus her enthusiasm will have you running to your shelves (or your public library's website) for ideas.

Dez 7, 2022, 9:50 pm

I've not done this before, but it is tempting. I might give it a try this year!

Editado: Dez 7, 2022, 11:56 pm

>6 kac522: Yeah, hopefully the hourglasses will give the thread a visual boost among the rest of the CATs & KITs. It’s a late entry onto the field so it needs a little something! 🙂

Dez 8, 2022, 1:06 am

>1 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Thanks for setting this up!

Dez 8, 2022, 1:07 am

>4 majkia: I just read A Master of Djinn which is a great historical fiction with magical elements. Set in 1912 Cairo, which is a setting not seen often, which made for different fantasy elements.

Editado: Dez 8, 2022, 1:33 am

I have decided that my first book will be Romola by George Eliot. I'm currently re-reading Middlemarch, which I should finish by the end of the month, and after a short break, plan to start Romola sometime in January.

It fits 4 challenges & the Bonus:
1) it's set in Italy--not my country
2) it's a classic (1863)
3) it's set in Renaissance Florence, an era of which I know nothing
4) it includes real persons and events: the French invasion of Italy in 1494 (although Romola herself is a fictional character) and
5) my edition clocks in at 583 pages.

This will be a slow, slow read, but I hope a rewarding one. I love Middlemarch, and I've been meaning to read Romola for several years. I am thankful to have this challenge to give me the incentive I need to tackle it now.

Dez 8, 2022, 1:37 am

>11 kac522: I've got Ramola on my virtual TBR shelf but I've been putting it off.

Dez 8, 2022, 3:25 am

I'm in, too! One of my goals for 2023 is to read more historical fiction and I hope that this challenge will give me the push I need.

Dez 8, 2022, 4:05 am

Also of course my absolute favourite historical fiction with magical elements is The Night Circus!

Dez 8, 2022, 4:06 am

>11 kac522: Oh, are you reading Romola with the Youtubers/discord group that are reading it in January/February?

Dez 8, 2022, 4:09 am

I know I will be reading number 6 in January as I have an ARC of The Mitford Affair by Marie Benedict. I love reading about the Mitford sisters.

Dez 8, 2022, 8:51 am

I have Outlander but my granddaughter took my book Map of Time; it was a good read.

Dez 8, 2022, 9:01 am

I think I will read Dragonfly in Amber, the second Outlander novel, for the speculative element.

Editado: Dez 8, 2022, 9:33 pm

Well this is my fav genre, and am eager to meet those prompt (Im sure I have a few reads already that meet most of those those prompts!) Im going to follow my own definition historic fiction- that it be older than I am, and add that to my challenge! Re speculative element, that can be magic realism or historic fantasy, i assume? Many of the books by guy gabriel kay fit that, as well as early isabel Allendebooks

Because its my fav genre I have read a ton of these,so I will need to find seven more reads unless I can find a few that cover it all. So a hunting I shall go (think Ill start with my own tbr shelves first). This will be fun!

Dez 8, 2022, 10:40 am

>14 JayneCM: loved that book except is it historical fiction?

Dez 8, 2022, 10:57 am

>15 JayneCM: I might participate, although I've never used discord. I'll probably just watch whatever videos are posted and comment there. I don't think there's any set schedule. It's what first put the idea in my head, but I think this challenge gave me the final nudge.

Dez 8, 2022, 3:01 pm

I will start this off with A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. It is a work of historical fiction set in a country not my own and also it is a classic story.

Dez 8, 2022, 4:24 pm

>15 JayneCM: >21 kac522: What is discord?

Dez 8, 2022, 6:14 pm

>21 kac522: Discord? Oh, I was just going to keep track here.

Dez 8, 2022, 6:17 pm

I'm in!

Editado: Dez 8, 2022, 8:03 pm

>21 kac522: >23 Robertgreaves:
LOL, when I saw that , I too was like, What?! And then I read the message over and realized it had to with another book group 🙂

Discord is a messaging platform like Slack that originally served gamers. It has expanded its customer base though to include any number of groups. (My daughter is a “gamer girl” and uses Discord).

Editado: Dez 8, 2022, 8:35 pm

>26 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Thanks for explaining!

>23 Robertgreaves:, >24 LibraryCin: I was responding directly to Jayne's question in >15 JayneCM: as to whether I was joining the Youtube group read of Romola. It's not part of this group; so sorry for the confusion!

Editado: Dez 10, 2022, 10:24 pm

>11 kac522: I read Romola last year. To say the least, I found it much different than other Eliot's I've read. Eliot is one of my top 5 fav authors. I will be interested in your review!

As far as this challenge, I completed it last year and am involved in another historical fiction challenge, much longer. But I will nose around for some BB's from my favorite genre!

Dez 8, 2022, 10:37 pm

>20 cindydavid4: It is set in the 1800s - late Victorian era - so I would call it historical fiction.

Dez 8, 2022, 11:20 pm

>27 kac522: Thanks for clarification!

Editado: Dez 9, 2022, 12:24 am

I have decided to take part in this challenge. One of the books on my TBR list will suit at least 2 prompts. Poor Fellow My Country by Xavier Herbert is an Australian novel (my country) and at 1462 pages - 852,000 words - is believed to be the longest SINGLE volume novel to have been written in English so it well and truly makes the 500+ prompt. I could maybe even be used for the classic prompt. It was written in 1975. However I think ‘classics’ should at least be older than myself and therefore that excludes this book. It is set in the 1930s/1940s.

Dez 9, 2022, 12:29 am

>31 Zozette: One I have been meaning to read for years! I have started it before but as you say, it is rather a long read.

Dez 9, 2022, 1:07 am

I have been meaning to read it since it was first released 47 years ago. It is going to be easier to read as a Kindle book, the font in the printed version was so small.

Editado: Dez 9, 2022, 1:35 am

My reading for this challenge will closely align with the quarterly prompts over at Reading Through Time next year: WWI, the period between the two World Wars, WWII and, Modern History (1945-present, though I’ll probably impose a limit circa 1963 for myself). I don’t have it all mapped out and I’m sure there will be other time periods I’ll be reading; but to start, I’m going with The African Queen (by C. S. Forester). Written in the 1930s and set in 1914, it features a captain and a lady passenger as they head, via river through German colonial territory in Africa. I have an old paperback with a cover and jacket description that make it sound like a Harlequin romance novel; but I’m looking forward to this story which is the basis of the eponymous film (starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn). I’m not sure if there are Great War factors in it or not but I guess we’ll see! It will fit the second prompt, “Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from”. It’s set in the former German East Africa which Wikipedia tells me is comprised of today’s “Burundi, Rwanda, the Tanzania mainland, and the Kionga Triangle, a small region later incorporated into Mozambique”. Hopefully, as I read through the book I will be able to narrow it down to some degree.

Editado: Dez 9, 2022, 2:48 am

>34 Tanya-dogearedcopy: My reading for this challenge will closely align with the quarterly prompts over at Reading Through Time next year

What a smart idea! After Romola I may go in for To Serve them All My Days, which would fit into the "between the wars" time period.

Dez 9, 2022, 3:48 am

>29 JayneCM: oh yeah you are right. thanks

Dez 9, 2022, 3:53 am

>1 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Thanks for setting this up, it will be great fun! And I will definitely take a look at the video. I'm not much on YouTube or other social media, but I really appreciate the kind response from Katie.

I'm not planning my reads yet, but Romola looks like a good choice.

Dez 9, 2022, 7:58 am

The African Queen is one of my favorite movies but I have not read the book. I will add to my TBR list.

Dez 9, 2022, 2:42 pm

>38 mnleona:
Me too! Love the movie and have had the book on my shelf for a long time.

Dez 9, 2022, 4:27 pm

>34 Tanya-dogearedcopy: After reading The African Queen I couldn't imagine how the two main characters could be portrayed in the film by Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. The film takes the framework of the novel, reinvents the characters and changes the ending. I enjoyed both the book and the film, but Huston created his own story.

Editado: Dez 9, 2022, 7:10 pm

Todays NYT book review has a list of the top 10 historical fiction works that might interest you all (I can see several that would cover at least 2 prompts)


AFTER LIVES loved the two books I read by him this last year, Ill be checking this one out for sure


THE BOOKS OF JACOB Eastern European Jews is a subject I know, but I know little about the 18th century or Jacob FranK so thats two prompts




NIGHTS OF PLAGUE another author I enjoyed last year, so this might be on my list



Dez 10, 2022, 12:57 pm

>35 kac522:
I loved To Serve Them All of My Days by R. F. Delderfield when I read it last year during my Thanksgiving break. You are in for some enjoyable hours of reading. I liked it so much that I purchased his Swann Family series and hope to start on them soon.

Dez 10, 2022, 2:09 pm

>42 benitastrnad: I loved that book many years ago and still do! Probably time for a re-read.

Dez 10, 2022, 4:41 pm

>42 benitastrnad:, >43 LadyoftheLodge: Thank you--So many people have loved Delderfield, so I look forward to it. Amanda has made him the featured author for next May 2023 in the 75ers British Authors Challenge:

Looking at my shelves, I have Theirs Was the Kingdom, too, but now I realize it's book #2 in the Swann family. Guess that means I'll have to look for book#1--I have no excuses now.

Dez 10, 2022, 4:51 pm

>43 LadyoftheLodge: Oh goodness, that might be the first HF I read about the war. Made a huge impact on my life.

Dez 11, 2022, 4:37 pm

It's time to read The Books of Jacob, which I bought last year for my LT Anniversary. It can fit into 3 of my categories - could have been 4 if it had been set in a time period unfamiliar to me.

2. Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from
6. Read a work of historical fiction about a real historical figure or a specific historical event
Bonus: Read a work of historical fiction of over 500 pages

Editado: Dez 11, 2022, 7:00 pm

Have ordered The Book of Jacob which will fiil

Read a work of historical fiction set in a time period you’ll less familiar with (18th century poland

Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from

Read a work of historical fiction about a real historical figure or a specific historical event

Bonus: Read a work of historical fiction of over 500 pages

looking forward to starting!

ETA its not out till end of January! ah well will pick something else. Found sultan in palermo on my TBR stacks. meant to read that for the asian challenge, will read it here should cover

read a work of historical fiction set in your favourite historical time period to read about Love the middle ages, no matter which country!

Dez 11, 2022, 5:10 pm

>47 cindydavid4: I hope you like it! I enjoyed Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, so am hopeful.

Dez 12, 2022, 8:46 am

>34 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I read The African Queen. It is very much UN-like the movie.

Dez 12, 2022, 9:57 am

I've just finished Death of An Eye by Dana Stabenow. It is set in Alexandria, so not my country, and a favourite period, the ancient world.

Dez 12, 2022, 2:22 pm

>45 cindydavid4: Same here, and since it was about a teacher, that made a double reason to read it for me.

Dez 13, 2022, 11:56 am

Earlier in the year, I picked 22 books form my stacks to read and The House of Special Purpose (by John Boyne) was one of them. I've just started, but it appears to be flashback of a 82 year old man born in 1899 in Tsarist Russia. From a dirt-poor village, he ends up in the Winter Palace and bears witness to the fall of the Romanovs... I've only read a couple books by Boyne before, but both ripped my heart out-- so I need plan the chapters out so that I finish on a weekend night (so I'm not red-eyed and exhausted for work the next day!)

Dez 13, 2022, 3:27 pm

I love this challenge. I read LOTS of historical fiction!

I'm currently reading Miss Eliza's Victorian Kitchen: A Novel of Victorian Cookery and Friendship by Annabel Abbs.

2. set in a different country - England.
6. about a real historical person - Eliza Acton

Dez 13, 2022, 10:50 pm

Thinking of joining this challenge. Depends on my personal challenges when I set up after Christmas.

Dez 14, 2022, 3:32 pm

I wanted to let everyone know that on the US Amazon site, Natasha Pulley's book, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is currently on sale for $3.99. It's a great price point to try a new author and it happens to be "historical fiction with a speculative element" :-)

Dez 16, 2022, 2:59 am

>55 Tanya-dogearedcopy: ooh yes, I want to read that one!

Dez 16, 2022, 8:23 pm

>5 Tanya-dogearedcopy: So, for example, Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson, was published in 1884, and the novel is set in 1884. Is it also considered historical fiction, as it is obviously historical to us in 2022, but not when published.

Editado: Dez 16, 2022, 9:03 pm

>57 marell: This challenge was originally set up by Katie of Books and Things last April, and in her video (linked in >1 Tanya-dogearedcopy:) she defines Historical Fiction as set by the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction: to qualify for the prize, the majority of the book must be set at least 60 years prior to the publication date. So using that definition, your example would not qualify, as the majority of a book published in 1884 should take place prior to 1824.

However, with that said, Katie goes on to say in the video that it's really up to you to define your own guidelines, but that it should be set mostly in the past to when the author is writing--that is, set prior to the publication date. I think she gives the impression that 30 years prior to publication date is her own guideline.

In my mind, I think anything that is mostly set in a time prior to the author's birth would be "historical" to the author, and therefore that author would definitely be writing historical fiction, since it would be a time not part of his/her (the author's) life experience.

But again, it's up to you...

Dez 16, 2022, 9:22 pm

>58 kac522: Thank you for the clarification.

Editado: Dez 18, 2022, 1:36 am

>57 marell: >58 kac522: Personally, I am not using period fiction or fiction written & set in the author's lifetime for this challenge; but that is a qualification I set for myself. So, while I wouldn't read/count The Mystery of Edwin Drood (by Charles Dickens; written and set in 1870), I would read/count Drood (by Dan Simmons; written in 2009).

But you have the freedom to decide for yourself if you want to count a Classic/contemporarily-written novel, a novel written inside the thirty- or sixty-year mark; before or during your the author's or your own timeline...

There are are only two hard and fast rules for this challenge: 1) No Non-Fiction and; 2) Enjoy your reading! Don't let this challenge become a burden where you feel like you're trapped by excessive rules or, by October, you begin to feel like panic-reading!

I will say though, that if there is sufficient interest for another go in 2024, I'm open to adding or modifying prompts and would definitely consider adding a prompt for a, "Classic/contemporarily-written novel" :-)

Dez 16, 2022, 9:41 pm

Editado: Dez 17, 2022, 12:18 am

I like those hard and fast rules!

Been looking for definitions of HF to me and Im rather fond of this definition since it doesn't designate what is considered 'in the past,. but, "Historical fiction seeks to recreate the aura of a time past, reconstructing characters, events, movements, ways of life, and the spirit of a bygone day. The time period--and its portrayal--is at the core of the story." This saves me from figuring out how old the author was when the event happened, and allows me a broad determination of HF which might indeed include books written as 'contemporary' of the authors Works for me anyway

Dez 17, 2022, 1:09 am

>58 kac522: >60 Tanya-dogearedcopy: That fits in with my own personal definition for historical fiction, set before the author's birth. But although I always want to know exactly what the rules are for any challenge, when it comes down to it, I read what I want to read and then shoehorn it into a challenge if I can. If it's a borderline or ambiguous case, then I might mention it in the thread but don't put it in the wiki.

Dez 17, 2022, 6:43 pm

>63 Robertgreaves: That is also my definition, for the most part, of historical fiction. I always do try to follow the rules (after all, I am a teacher!), but when I'm trying to work only from my TBR, sometimes I must press the envelope a bit and I hope others don't mind. They can always think of me as the "crazy book lady!"

Dez 18, 2022, 12:51 am

Sounds good. I enjoy reading historical fiction, when I'm in the historical fiction mood:-)

Dez 18, 2022, 2:18 am

I enjoy historical fiction and look forward to joining this challenge. The "speculative" one might be the most tricky for me.

Dez 18, 2022, 8:03 am

>4 majkia: a speculative element can also be something improbable....perhaps a phrase of WHAT IF. For example, what if Hitler had been successful, what if humans could fly?, etc.

Dez 18, 2022, 4:12 pm

>66 VivienneR: I'm not a big speculative fiction fan either, but quite liked Farthing, which imagines post-war England if Germany had won WWII.

Dez 18, 2022, 4:25 pm

>66 VivienneR: Look for alternate history - that may appeal more than the fantasy side of speculative - what if stories essentially. Or steampunk (Victorian era but with steam and machines). Or something like Doomsday Book - starts with time travel and sends future historians in the past but the story is essentially a historical novel (with a few modern people in there). That can be done badly but when done well, it shines and may even allow an author to explore things which don’t lend themselves to pure historical novels.

Editado: Dez 18, 2022, 5:56 pm

>66 VivienneR: Historical Speculative Fiction List on LT.

I'm thinking of Kindred for 2023, or possibly The Watchmaker of Filigree Street. I liked To Say Nothing of the Dog, which refers to Three Men in a Boat.

Adding Sidewise Award for Alternate History. (I think alternative is the correct word, but nobody likes a pedant!)

Dez 18, 2022, 6:31 pm

>70 pamelad: Really liked Kindred.

Editado: Dez 18, 2022, 7:51 pm

>67 Tess_W:, >68 pamelad:, >69 AnnieMod:, >70 pamelad: Thank you for all those tips! That's a big help.

ETA: Thanks to your tips I found I have The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde on the shelf.

Dez 18, 2022, 10:18 pm

>70 pamelad: there are also the books by Guy Gabriel Kay; Used to really love him till his books just started sounding alike. But his early stuff it pretty good

Dez 18, 2022, 11:06 pm

>73 cindydavid4:
I am also a fan of Guy Gabriel Kay. I liked his two books set in Tang China - Under Heaven and River of Stars.

Dez 19, 2022, 12:50 am

>70 pamelad: The prize is for a very specific sub-subgenre, where there are only two timelines and the main character crosses from one to the other each year.

Dez 19, 2022, 1:47 am

>75 Robertgreaves: No worries as long as they fit the category.

Dez 19, 2022, 3:17 pm

>72 VivienneR: oh, I have that on my shelf, someone recommended it.

Works for me!

Dez 19, 2022, 3:49 pm

Another speculative fiction choice could be The Enchanted Chocolate Pot and the other books in the series.

Dez 19, 2022, 5:43 pm

The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik would also fit as speculative fiction. They are based in the history of the Napoleonic Wars and have dragons. Sort of like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Dez 19, 2022, 7:19 pm

>74 benitastrnad: both of those are among my fav of his. I lost interest after that, felt like his books were getting to be all the same plot with similar character types. But those two in particular worked for me

Dez 20, 2022, 1:32 am

>66 VivienneR: Household Gods by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove has a modern American who goes back in time to Roman Carnutum (in what is now Austria). Both authors have written separately other works which fit the criteria for speculative historical fiction as well as more mainstream historical fiction.

Editado: Dez 20, 2022, 2:26 pm

>81 Robertgreaves: Those author names are familiar to me. Thank you for that Robert.

Thanks to everyone who gave me suggestions, all gratefully received. I have choices now.

Dez 20, 2022, 11:01 pm

A fews days ago, I decided to pick up Einstein's Dreams (by Alan Lightman; narrated by Grover Gardner), admittedly because it is short (192 pages/2.50 hours audio) and I was looking for a "filler listen" before the holidays. My husband had recommended it but I couldn't get him to tell me what it was about-- so I went in blind. It turns out to be a historical fiction featuring Einstein in 1905 when he wrote the four annus mirabilis papers (I'm sure I've committed egregious errors on redundancy with that last sentence...) which became the foundation of modern physics. The more grounded chapters feature Einstein in context of his imagined life while the meat of the book consists of the dreams that inspired him in his work on Time. The dreams are actually little narrative expositions of some/many theorems of temporal physics. While this may sound dull, they are actually fascinating, poignant, sometimes heartbreaking vignettes. This is one I am stacking for a later, more leisurely re-read.

I see that some (LT Tag Cloud) have tagged this as "time travel" which might lead you to think it's a good fit for the "Speculative Historical Fiction" prompt; but there's really no "WOO-WOO" factor in play here. I'm not sure which prompt I'm sorting this one into yet, if at all.

Dez 21, 2022, 10:04 am

I've had Jubal on my mind today, and I'm thinking it's time to reread my first, and one of my favorite, Louis L'Amour novels, Jubal Sackett.

If anyone is up for an excellent chunkster I'd highly recommend Follow the River by James Alexander Thom.

Dez 22, 2022, 10:09 am

I’ve started reading The Doomsday Book (by Connie Willis). A future Oxford which still has bicycles and pubs, also has a transporter that can send academics forwards and backwards through time. In this story, Kirvin— a 20-yo student, has been set back into the 14th-century, but something has gone wrong…

I decided to start this one earlier than my originally planned start date in a couple of weeks as I happened to notice it’s 608 pages and; I wanted make sure I had room to get to a couple other things in January… So it’s one for the “Speculative Historical Fiction” prompt and hits the Bonus of being 500+ pages :-)

Dez 22, 2022, 10:43 am

asked this before but didnt get an answer is magic realism considered speculative fiction?

Dez 22, 2022, 10:54 am

>86 cindydavid4: I count it as speculative, yes.

Editado: Dez 22, 2022, 11:48 am

>86 cindydavid4: Apologies I somehow missed the question when you posed it earlier; but yes, I would consider magic realism to be under the speculative fiction umbrella.
FWIW, I consider speculative fiction to cover the "other" that it is not part of an empirically validated world as it exists now. So, the time machine, the magic watch, the soldier who can see who is going to die next, the ghost who works as a tour guide to the past, the shaman whose worldview prepares his native nation for battle... all signal "speculative fiction" to me. The first example that comes to mind would be The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. A quick tag mash of historical fiction & magic realism also brought up To the Bright Edge of the World (by Eowyn Ivey) from my own library.

Dez 22, 2022, 2:05 pm

I finished Secrets of the Nile which is set in Egypt alternating chapters between 1904 and ancient Egypt (one of my fave time periods to read about).

Dez 22, 2022, 2:15 pm

>87 AnnieMod: >88 Tanya-dogearedcopy: ok thanks. Kinda thought so. Its one of those types of books that can be fantasy as well, so it does get confusing.

Editado: Dez 22, 2022, 2:20 pm

>90 cindydavid4: Hi there! Cecilia and Sorcery or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot also fits with this category as magical realism.

Editado: Dez 22, 2022, 2:23 pm

>91 LadyoftheLodge: oh Ive not heard of that one!Will need to check it out, Chocolat anything needs to always be considered! ETA looks like its a series. Is that the first one?

Dez 23, 2022, 1:06 pm

>92 cindydavid4: Yes, that is the first. They are all written in epistolary style.

Dez 23, 2022, 7:04 pm

>91 LadyoftheLodge:
I have wanted to read cecilia and Sorcery and its sequel for a long time. This might be the time to get them read.

Dez 23, 2022, 7:38 pm

excellent,its on my list

Dez 26, 2022, 12:04 pm

>94 benitastrnad: >95 cindydavid4: I first read Sorcery and Cecilia when I was in library school, for a YA literature seminar--one of the best courses I have ever taken. Then I acquired the next two in the series, and my sister and I read them together. I hope you like Sorcery and Cecilia.

Dez 26, 2022, 1:01 pm

thanks, hope so too!

Dez 27, 2022, 12:19 am

>96 LadyoftheLodge:
I didn't know there were three books in that series. Our library has two. I will have to check that out and get the third one ordered before I retire.

Dez 27, 2022, 2:51 am

Currently reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. It runs from the 1920s down to the end of the 20th century. The author was born in 1960, so the part of the story before that is historical fiction. It is set in a foreign country (Greece, the US), in a period I am less familiar with, and (so far) set against real events - the taking of Smyrna by the Turks and the Great Fire of Smyrna.

Dez 27, 2022, 9:34 am

loved that book, and that Smyrna section had me googling more information, The idea that all of those ships left thousands to die was jus so appalling. In the book . The book The Silence of Scheherazade goes into much more detail of the background war with Turkey and with the people who lived in Smyrna

Whats interesting tho is that most readers focus on the gender switch of the narrator more than that. I can't remember how the two events connected; think I need to reread it.

Dez 28, 2022, 8:53 am

Could someone give me an idea of books that fit "historical fiction with a speculative element" that are not sci-fi or fantasy? I don't do well with sci-fi and fantasy because I just don't like the genres.

Editado: Dez 28, 2022, 9:30 am

>101 thornton37814: I don't like sci-fi or fantasy either, so I do the speculative historical fiction. In the past I have read The Plot Against America by Philip Roth--it's what if Lindbergh won the 1940 election instead of Roosevelt--it's a novel. I've also read Stephen King's 11/22/63 and really liked it! (Very "un-Kingish" like) The Man in the High Castle assumes the Axis Powers won WWII. Colson's The Underground Railroad is also tagged as Alternate Historical Fiction, but since it's only on my TBR, I can't comment. Farthing is also on my TBR and tagged as speculative historical fiction. According to the cover Churchill was overthrown in WWII and it's now 1949. Also on my TBR is The Years of Rice and Salt and is assumes 99% of the people of the world were killed by the plague instead of the 33%.

Dez 28, 2022, 10:02 am

>101 thornton37814: I'm not a big fan of this genre either, but I know Harry Turtledove is one of the most popular authors of it. One of the young Park Rangers I work with, who has multiple history degrees loves his books.

Editado: Dez 28, 2022, 6:20 pm

Decades ago, I was so enamored of Medieval History, that I started graduate studies in Medieval & Early Modern European History. For a number of reasons, I did not complete my degree (all but thesis), but the Middle Ages are still hands down my favorite historical era. So The Doomsday Book (by Connie Willis happens to tick off three boxes for me in this challenge: "historical fiction set in your favourite historical time period to read about," "historical fiction with a speculative element," and as a bonus, "historical fiction of over 500 pages":
In 2054 Oxford, England, the college town still has bicycles, pubs, and intramural fighting amongst the professors; but it also features a "time machine" of sorts (actually more like a Star Trek transporter, but with additional time fixes instead of just places/space coordinates). One of the students from Mediaeval (college/department) has convinced various professors to have her trained to go back to the fourteenth century and, during the Advent season, succeeds in being delivered to a time of Old English, kirtles and Roman Catholicism. Unfortunately, instead of landing in the relatively safe year of 1320, Kirven ends up in the year 1348--- at the onset of The Plague in England.
I had had an underwhelming experience with Connie Willis before (Crosstalk-- which I didn't even finish) so I was a bit wary of picking up another book of hers, especially one that clocks in at 608 pages; but I love this story! The research and the dual timelines are well done; the characters well developed, credible and relatable; the descriptions of place, and atmosphere, vivid. I ended up emotionally engaged. Highly recommend with the only caveat being that this does deal with deadly pandemics and graphic descriptions of the symptoms & deaths of plagues victims.

Dez 28, 2022, 3:18 pm

>104 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I loved The Doomsday Book.

Dez 28, 2022, 3:19 pm

>104 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I loved The Doomsday Book.

Can't get touchstones to work.

Dez 28, 2022, 3:25 pm

>101 thornton37814:, >102 Tess_W: I read Farthing for the 2022 Historical Fiction Challenge. Britain has negotiated a peace treaty with Hitler and the upper classes have embraced anti-Semitism. It is part alternative history and part a traditional country house party detective story, told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of the investigating policeman and another main character. It was an interesting read and all too plausible.

Dez 28, 2022, 4:55 pm

>107 pamelad: I read Farthing and its sequels around 10-12 years ago, quite chilling.

Dez 28, 2022, 7:04 pm

>98 benitastrnad: Excellent! I hope there are others who like the stories.

Dez 28, 2022, 7:07 pm

>101 thornton37814: Do you like Steampunk novels? Something in that genre might work. How about something like Around the World in 80 Days?

Editado: Dez 29, 2022, 12:29 am

I just came across this article (by Katherine J. Chen who wrote Joan) from Lit Hub. For those who may be interested in historical fiction by and/or about women, it’s a starting point:


Dez 30, 2022, 5:01 pm

>108 john257hopper: Hi John. You might be interested in the ClassicsCAT too. In January we're reading Classic Adventure Fiction.

Dez 31, 2022, 12:59 pm

>112 pamelad: Sorry Pam, I'm not sure I understand what ClassicsCAT refers to.

Dez 31, 2022, 1:13 pm

>113 john257hopper: Hi John! Check out the listings of the categories for this 2023 Category Challenge, listed at the top of the page. There is information there about all the categories we are reading.

Dez 31, 2022, 1:51 pm

>114 LadyoftheLodge: a link pls? coz Im not sure what they all are myself

Dez 31, 2022, 3:19 pm

>113 john257hopper:, >115 cindydavid4: If you go to the top of this page and click on the 2023 Challenge link it will take you to the main page. Cat(egorie)s & kits are pinned to the top of the challenge page.

Editado: Dez 31, 2022, 3:38 pm

>113 john257hopper:, >115 cindydavid4: This is the link to the thread that describes the monthly topics for the ClassicsCAT: https://www.librarything.com/topic/345673
This is the link to the January topic: https://www.librarything.com/topic/346531
This is the Welcome thread, which explains what categories and CATs are and how the Category Challenge works: https://www.librarything.com/topic/345056

Dez 31, 2022, 3:49 pm

>117 pamelad: thank you Pam. Another challenge for me!

Dez 31, 2022, 3:49 pm

Happy new year to all!

Dez 31, 2022, 4:35 pm

thanks for your help! Happy New Year everyone!

Dez 31, 2022, 4:41 pm

I love historical fiction and have dropped my star. I have at least one Harry Turtledove book on my shelf but >104 Tanya-dogearedcopy: sold me on The Doomsday Book.

Dez 31, 2022, 4:51 pm

I read The Cure for Death By Lightning by Gail Anderson-Dargatz for Set in your country - Canada.

Jan 1, 10:48 am

I picked up something last night that should fit, To Serve Them All My Days by RF Delderfield. I've enjoyed Delderfield in the past, and this one was my mother's favorite...so why not?

Jan 2, 3:38 pm

Thanks all for the links to the categories and etc. I am late to the game!

Jan 2, 4:49 pm

>124 LadyoftheLodge: LOL, It's only January 2... A couple of us just started early ;-) Anyway, WELCOME! :-)

Editado: Jan 2, 6:57 pm

I am participating in this challenge and already have the following books set aside
One Thousand White Women
The Book Thief
The Wolf's Hour

Jan 3, 4:57 pm

Just finished Road Ends by Mary Lawson for "set in your country".
Set in northern Ontario in the 1960s this is a story of a family coming apart after tragedies of the past. Lawson's multilayered story portrays unhappiness and grief but injects it with considerable hope that keeps the reader optimistic. It's a tender story reminiscent of Kent Haruf's style, yet the tension makes it a page-turner. This was my first book by Lawson and certainly won't be the last. Highly recommended.

Editado: Jan 5, 7:21 am

I have finished Der Himmel über Palermo which is set on Sicily, during the time Richard Wagner spent there with his family. His stepdaughter met and married a Sicilian aristocrat, that's the main interest in the book, but it's not particularly exciting or romantic.

Jan 5, 5:49 pm

I recommend this one, read in Dec.

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

Jan 6, 7:18 am

I have also finished The trampling of the lilies, a romance set in Revolutionary France.

Jan 7, 12:27 pm

>42 benitastrnad: I loved that series--probably been forty years since I first read it.

Jan 7, 12:36 pm

>70 pamelad: If you enjoy time travel, "To Say Nothing of the Dog" is a delightful read!
"Blackout" and "All Clear" also by Connie Willis, are good reads bases in time travel--solid reads without the humor of the 'dog'.

Editado: Jan 8, 6:42 pm

I finally finished The House of Special Purpose (by John Boyne)! The story opens in 1981 in London and, in subsequent alternating chapters, the narrator, Georgy flashes back over his life and marriage to his wife, Zoya. The other chapters are the "heart" of the novel and take place in czarist Russia, 1915-1918 as Georgy heads into service at the Winter Palace. Where the two plot lines finally meet comes the denouement; but instead of an emotionally charged "Aha!" moment, the juncture has been enervated by early and clear foreshadowings. Robbed of tension, the story becomes less interesting, a mere catalogue of scenes until the reader's early suspicions have been confirmed. Descriptions of places are painterly; of people less so, though emotional profiles are finely tuned. Pales by comparison to the author's more recent work, The Heart's Invisible Furies; but if you manage your expectations, it's interesting enough in regards to a romanticized time and place.

Editado: Jan 8, 3:59 pm

>132 cfk: Thank you! I don't normally read books with time travel but didn't mind To Say Nothing of the Dog because of its connection to Three Men in a Boat. The speculative category is a way of widening our book choices, I suppose.

For the first option, Read a book set in the country you're from, I read The Holiday Murders by Robert Gott, which is set in Melbourne in 1943.

Editado: Jan 11, 2:45 am

Just started The Lure of the Moonflower (Pink Carnation #12; by Lauren Willig). The series as a whole is set during the Napoleonic Era (1799 - 1815) and, as the series has progressed, the historical fiction elements have become better, though honestly you can only get the barest outlines of historical events in general. Nonetheless, it is a period of time in which I’m less familiar with and I am learning a little bit about French history. In this last-in-series, the French have seized Portugal and the Portuguese court has fled the country. So in addition to being work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one I’m from and, in a time period I’m less familiar with, it also has the added bonus of being over 500 pages long! 🙂

Jan 11, 9:48 am

Just finished I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys. Takes place during the Romanian revolt, 1989.
How did I not know more about this fairly recent history?
Sepetys is a favorite; I've read all her books and learned a lot.

Jan 15, 7:33 pm

What Moves the Dead (by T. Kingfisher) - This is a novella which uses the short story, "The Fall of the House of Usher" (by Edgar Allan Poe) as its foundation and inspiration. Set in 1890, Alex Easton, heads to the home of Madeleine Usher where she is in decline. After having arrived, the military veteran tries to grapple with the extant situation: a crumbling, moldering estate, an odd tarn, and the Usher twins who are clearly "not right." Together with the American doctor who has arrived at Roderick Usher's request, a mycologist who happens to be Beatrix Potter's aunt, and a Scottish batsman named Angus-- they attempt to understand the inexplicable horror that they find themselves in. Kingfisher's story is dark and morbidly fascinating-- a worthy companion to Poe's Classic tale. I contemplated a bit after finishing this as to whether or not this would/should fall into the category of "historical fiction with a speculative element" and eventually landed on, "Yes! Yes, it does!" The story itself remains firmly rooted in the late 19th century, nods to a few contemporary Victorian markers and, most importantly, has that "woo-woo" factor that sits firmly within the frame of reasoning for that time. :-)

Jan 15, 7:42 pm

Currently reading Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries Volume Three by Ashley Gardner, an omnibus of three novels from a series of mysteries set in Britain during the Regency period (1817/8 in this case). It fits the prompt "set in my own country". I wouldn't call it a favourite period, but I am reasonably familiar with it.

Jan 15, 10:07 pm

>136 nrmay: I remember the horrible stories about the orphanages. People were encouraged to have large familes and IIRC abortion was banned. So many children were left in orphanages that bring you back to the 1800s, moved many people to adopt

Jan 15, 10:19 pm

>137 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I've put a library hold on What Moves the Dead because it meets one of my main requirements for speculative fiction: short! I'm also tempted by RidgewayGirl's review of Babel, Or, The Necessity of Violence which is long, but sounds good.

Jan 16, 10:01 am

Im also interested in reading Babel. Liked her first book the poppie war the sequel not so much. This looks like there is some linguistics going on here, which is why im interested.

Jan 16, 3:58 pm

I listened to Where The Sky Begins by Rhys Bowen, which takes place in England, so it is a different country. I enjoyed this audiobook very much.

>136 nrmay: I have just bought Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys because I was looking for Lithuanian books. I am happy to read that she is one of your favourite authors.

Jan 18, 11:14 pm

Currently reading The Alexandria Affair by Ashley Gardner set in Egypt in 1818 - not my country, unfamiliar time

Editado: Jan 19, 1:50 am

I always thought I had a decent education; but the more I read history, both fiction and non-fiction, the more I find myself facepalming, "How did I not know that!" Anyway, when I was growing up, history was pretty hagiographic and Western Civ/US -based-- so I'm more than a little embarrassed as an adult to find out things like, Napoleon was a great military leader, the whole Russia thing notwithstanding; but basically he was an imperialist threat and the "liberation" of Portugal is the ugly proof... So, yeah, French history and the Napoleonic Era are not areas I am very strong in at all.

The Lure of the Moonflower (Pink Carnation #12; by Lauren Willig) is the last installment in a romance/mystery/spy thriller/historical fiction series that starts out very light in the history part but by the end of the run, shows a bit of actual research. This story takes place in Portugal as the French army under General Junot sweeps in and the Portuguese court flees for Brazil. Jack and Jane are two experienced agents who are on a mission to ascertain the whereabouts of the Mad Queen Maria I. There's quite of bit of local color and the notes at the end of the book indicate where the author may have nudged a timeline or taken artistic liberties and; what her sources were. The series overall is light, fun, and of the closed door sex scene variety-- and I enjoyed it immensely (of course some of the titles more than others). Sad to see it end. I just might do a re-read in the future like christina_reads :-)

So, a book of "historical fiction set in a time period (I'm) less less familiar with" (Napoleonic Era), "a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one (I'm) from" (Portugal) and; "historical fiction about a... specific historical event" (Liberation of Portugal).

Jan 19, 1:52 am

>144 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I had been thinking that just because a period is familiar in your own country, you might not have much idea of what was going on in other parts of the world at that time. Just because, for example, I am quite familiar with England under the Tudors, doesn't mean I have any idea about the contemporary early Mughal period in India. So there is a geographical component to criteria 4 and 5.

Jan 19, 2:07 am

>145 Robertgreaves: I think too that much of my early education history classes were traditional legacy programs originally developed during WWI when Western Civ was being used to promote “100% American” ideals. So, in a sense you are right about the geographic component; but still there are blind spots in American history that I’m just discovering now!

Editado: Jan 19, 4:31 am

>145 Robertgreaves: yes, this. when I was a kid I used to pour over the timeline (think from time-life)that showed different countries/empires through the years. Was always fascinated by the middle ages, and have read some about the Maya, India, The Levant. would like to read about Africa during that period. Not sure where to start

Just finished haven review is here https://www.librarything.com/topic/347243#n8039455

2. Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from
4. Read a work of historical fiction set in a time period you’ll less familiar with

Bonus: Read a work of historical fiction of over 500 pages

now reading babel which I hope will include

2. Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from
5. Read a work of historical fiction with a speculative element

Bonus: Read a work of historical fiction of over 500 pages

Jan 19, 4:49 am

>147 cindydavid4: Not quite medieval is Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf, a novelisation of the life of Hasan al-Wazzan al-Gharnati al-Fassi (c 1485 - c 1555), known in Europe as Leo the African, a merchant and diplomat who was born in Islamic Granada, grew up in the Maghreb and travelled down to Mali and across to Egypt before being captured by pirates and sold into slavery in Italy where he became a papal adviser.

Editado: Jan 19, 4:59 am

Interesting, thanks I will look for that I have read about Ibn Battuta through reading travels with a tangerine which is non fiction

Jan 19, 7:35 am

>147 cindydavid4: I still feel like that. I can never believe that the empire of Angkor was parallel in time to the European Middle Ages - I always feel like it must have been much longer ago.

Jan 19, 9:48 am

well when you consider the middle ages is from around 500 ce to around 1400 theres a big span of time.

Jan 19, 12:23 pm

Just finished Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel, set during WWII, one of my favorite eras to read about.

Editado: Jan 19, 3:57 pm

I finished The Librarian Spy in which I learned a lot about the French resistance that I knew nothing about, as well as learning a lot about Lisbon and also Lyons.

Jan 20, 2:46 pm

I read In Distant Fields by Charlotte Bingham which largely takes place during World War One and also features some more specific events: The Battles of Ypres, Loos and the Somme, as well as the sinking of the Lusitania.

Editado: Jan 21, 7:21 am

Three weeks later...

To Serve Them All My Days by R.F. Delderfield

A well done look at an English school for boys, taking place between the two world wars of the twentieth century. I never felt like putting it down, it kept me interested, even enthralled at times. Some of the slang confused me at first, but most became clear in the context.

This was one of my mother's favorites. I recall seeing on the side table by her wing chair. It fills OP #2 and the Bonus.

Jan 21, 7:48 am

>156 fuzzi: What a beautiful memory and equally pretty cover.

Jan 21, 2:50 pm

>156 fuzzi: When I had that book years ago, it had that cover. The copy I own now is missing the dust jacket, although it is a fine copy in dark green binding.

Jan 22, 10:58 am

>147 cindydavid4: I just finished Babel and it was outstanding. I hope you're enjoying it as much as I did.

Editado: Jan 22, 7:16 pm

I stayed up way too late last night reading it. What an amazing world she has written! Im in love with the conversation about words and translating; lots of the discussion was similar to what I knew, but lots of interesting new ideas as well. I hope this continues!

I read poppy war which I loved. this is such a different book in every way and am really impressed by the range she has.

ETA Im half done, and I really wish I could attend Babel!!!!

Jan 22, 6:19 pm

I've just read The Northminster Mysteries by Harriet Smart, which are set in England in the 1840s, a favourite historical time period.

Jan 24, 5:30 pm

For my RL book club this month we read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1847). The action begins in 1801 Yorkshire, but does flashback to events in the 1770s-80s. This was a re-read for me (4th time through). It fits the following prompts:
2. Set in a different country to the one you’re from
4. Set in a time period you're less familiar with
5. A speculative element (what would this book be without the ghosts!)
7. It's a classic

This is not a favorite of mine. Each time I've read it I've tried to figure out why people love it so much, and I just don't. I did appreciate Bronte's writing and the atmosphere that she creates and sustains throughout the book. But the characters are overwhelming cruel to one another (with one or two minor exceptions) and that just leaves me cold. So apologies to those who love this book; it's just not for me.

Jan 24, 5:39 pm

>162 kac522: But the characters are overwhelming cruel to one another
In high school English we had to put Heathcliff on trial for being ‘cold, cruel, and calculating’ lol

Jan 24, 5:41 pm

>163 raidergirl3: Yes!--I'd LOVE to be on the jury for that one!!

Jan 25, 9:46 am

>162 kac522: I also have wondered why people love this book, but have long given up. hated it as well

Editado: Jan 25, 9:55 am

Finished Babel review here https://www.librarything.com/topic/347243#n8048284

this covers

2. Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from (Britian, China)

4. Read a work of historical fiction set in a time period you’ll less familiar with ( familiar with lots of English history, less so the 18th and 19th century

5. Read a work of historical fiction with a speculative element

Bonus: Read a work of historical fiction of over 500 pages

Jan 25, 10:58 am

>166 cindydavid4: For some inexplicable reason, I was on the fence about this one, but you’ve sold me! :-)

Jan 25, 1:25 pm

>165 cindydavid4: so, I'm not the only one...

Jan 25, 3:00 pm

>168 fuzzi: And I've read Wuthering Heights 4, count 'em: 4, times, trying to figure out why people like it. It completely baffles me.

Jan 25, 6:14 pm

>169 kac522: But why? There are so many books out there. Why put yourself through reading something you don't like 4 times? How many books you thought were wonderful have you read 4 times?

Jan 25, 9:30 pm

>170 Robertgreaves: OK You asked for it!! 😁
First time 60 years ago as a pre-teen.
Second time 30 years ago for a class, thinking my youthful self might not have understood it.
Third time 15 years ago because I heard so many people liked it; why didn't I like it, since I love Jane Eyre and Anne Bronte's novels?
Fourth time for my book club this month so that the details were fresh in my mind so that I could discuss it intelligently. This time I appreciated the sustained Gothic atmosphere Emily created.
I don't plan on reading it again. But I do learn something each time, about the book and about what appeals to me in literature.

My favorites I re-read often: Jane Eyre and all of Jane Austen I've read many, many times--certainly more than six. Some of Dickens I've read 3-4 times; currently re-reading Trollope favorites.

Editado: Jan 26, 6:50 am

I recently finished The Riddle of the Sands (by Erskine Childers; narrated by Anton Lesser). Written in 1903 and set in 1901, this is a spy thriller/adventure story featuring two Englishmen, one a sailor and the other fluent in German, that head out from the Baltic Sea and onto the North, in pursuit of a hunch-- that the Germans are hiding military sea-based plans in the event of a war with England. This build-up was a major concern in the years leading up to WWI as Germany was, in fact building up their fleets in direct rivalry with England-- who at the time controlled the seas. Deep with nautical terms and maps, it can be a bit challenging to get to the heart of the story unless you are familiar with sea-faring ways. Nonetheless, I was able to work through by looking up "kedging", finding a Google map that someone had put together of the boat's trail and, zooming out from the details of the story and immersing myself in the atmospheric descriptions and dialogue.
I'm counting this towards a "historical fiction set in a time period you’ll less familiar with". American Reconstruction, The Gilded Age, Belle Epoqué, Fin de Siècle, The Edwardian Era... there's a 40-50 year period that I'm not really familiar with at all, anywhere!

ETA: Dang! Just realized that this is not historical fiction! It’s contemporary writing to its time. Removing from the wiki!

Jan 25, 11:58 pm

>169 kac522: I hated it. Hated the characters, hated the book...

Editado: Jan 26, 1:12 am

>173 LibraryCin: Right. I need at least one character that has some redeeming qualities. About the only person with any redeeming qualities in the book is Nellie Dean, the housekeeper that tells the story! And even she's not a completely reliable narrator. I have to say I thought the "framed" story within a story structure was an interesting device. But keeping the various Cathys and Lintons and Hindleys and Heathcliffs and Hareton all straight was a pain-in-the-you-know-where.

Jan 26, 8:42 am

>171 kac522: I've read all the main Bronte books, and I would say Anne Bronte is the underrated one, her two novels I enjoyed, especially Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

Jan 26, 3:54 pm

Wow, I feel so relieved right now! I read Wuthering Heights in 2010 and did not really like it, and I thought I was the only person in the world. Apparently not!
I still plan to reread it to see if I like it more now that I am older and also have more experience with reading classic novels (it was one of the first I ever read, especially when it comes to English novels).

>175 john257hopper: I completely agree. I love Charlotte Brontë's novels, too, but I have a soft spot for Anne as I feel that she is so underrated.

Jan 26, 3:59 pm

>171 kac522: "My favorites I re-read often: Jane Eyre and all of Jane Austen I've read many, many times--certainly more than six. "

Yes, this!

I also love the Timothy Dalton version of Jane Eyre, it just seems to fit the characters so well!

Jan 26, 4:52 pm

>177 fuzzi: Yes to Timothy Dalton. Also the dialogue in that version is so close to the book--Jane and Rochester really get to "spar" as they do in the novel.

Jan 26, 5:12 pm

>174 kac522: But keeping the various Cathys and Lintons and Hindleys and Heathcliffs and Hareton all straight was a pain-in-the-you-know-where.

Oh, I'd forgotten about that (it's probably been about 30 years since I read it)! That, too!

Editado: Jan 27, 5:56 pm

I listened to The King’s Justice by E.M. Powell which is a mystery set in medieval England. It is the first on the Barling and Stanton series. Barling is clerk to the justices of King Henry II and Stanton is his assistant. The novel is set in 1176. The two have to investigate a murder in a village not far from York.
This book is set in my favourite time period ie the Medieval period (I especially like the period between the 11th and 14th centuries).

Jan 28, 10:08 am

Sommergäste is set in the early 20th century in Chicago, a Canadian island and the Belgian Congo , a period I'M not very familiar with. It's a great book, though, more or less about the life of Willa Cather.

Jan 28, 9:04 pm

Leo Africanus is up next a fictional autobiography of a famous geographer and traveler. So far so good, but dang it even if its Historic Fiction, a map would be nice!

2. Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from (spain)

3. Read a work of historical fiction set in your favourite historical time period to read about (the middle ages, no matter what country)

6. Read a work of historical fiction about a real historical figure or a specific historical event (Born a Muslim called Hasan al-Wazzan in the 1490's, he died a Christian called Joannes Leo Africanus in 1552. He was a 16th century historian, diplomat, author and a prolific adventurer)

Jan 28, 11:33 pm

2. Set in a country that's not where I'm from

White Chrysanthemum / Mary Lynn Bracht
4 stars

It is during WWII, and 16-year old Hana is a haenyeo with her mother in he water on Jeju Island in Korea when she is stolen from the beach in an effort to protect her younger sister from the soldier Hana spotted. She is taken with other young girls to a brothel in Manchuria to “service” the soldiers (these girls/women are later known as “comfort women”). In 2011, an older woman, Emi, is still haenyeo, but has two middle-aged children in Seoul. Emi has kept plenty of secrets from her children about her life when she was younger.

I was not prepared for the amount of violence and rape. I must have known that would be the case when I added it to my tbr, but often, between the time of adding a book to my tbr and actually reading it, I forget what the book is about. I only remembered it being about haenyeo (women divers in Korea). That being said, although I learned about haenyeo in Lisa See’s book, I didn’t know about “comfort women”; the two books have a different focus.

I often like one storyline more than the other in these dual timeline books, but although Hana’s story is the more jarring and powerful of the two (I often “like” those better), I think Emi’s story gave me a bit of a break from Hana’s abuse. Oddly, although I often don’t like unrealistic endings, this one didn’t bother me (and the author explains in her note why she ended it this way). Overall, I thought this was very good.

Editado: Abr 8, 10:28 am

I finished up the month with:

The Highland Widow, Sir Walter Scott, 1827

I've never read any works by Sir Walter Scott, mostly I think because they look so long and intimidating. I'm afraid I won't have the background to appreciate the history in the tales. When I spied this little novella at a used book store, it seemed a perfect way to dip into Scott.

The Highland Widow is one of three short novels that comprise one of Scott's last works, The Chronicles of the Canongate. It is a framed "story-within-a-story" structure that was confusing to me at first, because apparently the storyteller is introduced in the full Chronicles and not included in the edition I read. The mid-18th century tale centers around Elspat MacTavish, widow of the great hero Hamish MacTavish, who died in battle fighting the forces of the crown. Elspat is left a widow with a young son, Hamish Bean. The son grows up hearing stories of his father, but is not interested in being the roguish rebellious fighter his father was. The mother is over-bearing and eventually Hamish Bean leaves home to make his own way. When he returns some time later to tell his mother he has decided to join the military to fight in the French & Indian war in America, his mother has other plans for him.

In less than 90 pages, Scott takes a simple story and turns it into a full and tragic tale that does not have the typical triumphant ending of a Scott novel. I particularly enjoyed the descriptive sections, and found the dialogue (even without any dialect) a little less accessible. There were very few notes or explanations. I think I will continue with Sir Walter Scott, but only in a well-annotated edition, so that I better understand the background, history and language.

This book meets challenges:
2--not my country (Scotland)
4--time period I don't know (18th c. Scotland)
6--real event (French & Indian war in America)
7--a classic

Fev 2, 10:39 am

Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey (by Kathleen Rooney) - In WWI, thousands of homing pigeons were used by both the Allied and Central powers to carry messages as other forms of communications (runners, telegraph lines, radio) proved to be less than reliable, secure, or clear. At the battle of/at the Meuse-Argonne, the last battle of the war, an American battalion of men advanced deep into enemy lines, only to find themselves cut off and exposed to fire. In "The Pocket", Major Whittlesey ended up with one last pigeon to send back for help, the mis-gendered bird, "Cher Ami". This is a historical-fiction account with alternating chapters told from the point-of-views of Major Whittlesey and an anthropomorphized Cher Ami. Cher Ami's chapters tend to be a bit more expositional, showcasing the author's research; but both characters are sculpted with sensitive personalities and with poetic turns of phrase. The story brings the reader into the time and place; but the brevity of material covering the actual battle and the Lost Battalion is disappointing and, the author's decision to approach both the characters though sexual identity is of questionable merit: Major Whittlesey is no longer around to have a say as to whether or not he would like to have been "outed", in a fictional or non-fictional story (n.b. - This is not a spoiler., but made very clear in the opening chapter from his POV). Overall, a lovely story, but I found myself wanting more somehow and, copying down the list of NF titles the author used in her research.

I'm counting this one as a work of "historical fiction about a real historical figure or a specific historical event": Cher Ami, Major Whittlesey, The Meuse Argonne Offensive, The Lost Battalion

Editado: Fev 3, 3:44 pm

>184 kac522: I read Ivanhoe after seeing the 1982 movie (Anthony Andrews...yum). It involved a little "work" but wasn't difficult.

Fev 3, 3:46 pm

I've borrowed The Leper of St Giles by Ellis Peters for "a time period you're less familiar with". Mediaeval.

Fev 3, 7:53 pm

>186 fuzzi: Thanks! Ivanhoe is one that I own in a Penguin edition with lots of notes. I was going to try Waverley first, but Ivanhoe might be the way to go.

Editado: Fev 7, 4:14 am

I have just finished Not the Faintest Trace by Wendy M Wilson. This is set in New Zealand in 1877. Two young men go missing from a Danish immigrant community and Frank Hardy is asked to search for them. Hardy, an ex-soldier is haunted by events the occurred during the Māori Wars. 4.5/5

For me this fits no 2 ‘Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from’

Fev 6, 9:49 pm

>172 Tanya-dogearedcopy: what would you call it then? Its certainly HF to us......

Fev 6, 11:54 pm

>190 cindydavid4: The Riddle of the Sands isn't historical fiction because, even though it's old, it was set in the time it was written. Historical fiction is set in a time that's earlier than when it was written. How many years earlier is your choice, but usually fifty or more.

Editado: Fev 7, 1:17 am

>191 pamelad:

I agree with your definition and it is the one I would use. 50 years seen good to me. For recently published books, as least as far as I am concerned, I simply say that they should be set before I was born and I am in my 60s.

Even if you take a broader definition a a historical novel should be about events that occur before the author was born.

Editado: Fev 7, 1:20 am

>182 cindydavid4:

Leo Africanus sound interesting. I have put it on my very long wishlist.

Fev 7, 1:34 am

>192 Zozette: I agree. The definition I have always used is set before the author was born.

>190 cindydavid4: I would just say "early 20th century fiction", using the time when the author was writing.

Editado: Fev 7, 2:22 am

>190 cindydavid4:, >191 pamelad:, >192 Zozette:, >194 Robertgreaves: Right, the idea is that the world the author is creating is historical to the author, i.e., either many years in the past or before the author was born. The author is not using his/her own first-hand knowledge of the setting/events, but rather relying on histories or recorded accounts; past works of fiction and nonfiction; tales or gossip passed down from prior generations, etc.

That's the skill in writing historical fiction: creating a believable tale and setting from the past that the author couldn't have experienced himself or herself.

Fev 7, 10:03 am

>192 Zozette: For recently published books, as least as far as I am concerned, I simply say that they should be set before I was born and I am in my 60s.

I think about the when I recall the first event I remember, it would be 1963 JFK assassination, so wouldn't anything before that date be HF to me?

>195 kac522: the idea is that the world the author is creating is historical to the author That's the skill in writing historical fiction: creating a believable tale and setting from the past that the author couldn't have experienced himself or herself.

yes I agree. But that takes out lots many boooks that are considered HF. I dunno, this is an interesting convertation but its making my head spin

>193 Zozette: Im afraid I haven't paid it too much attention as Ive had a couple three books happening at once. But do want to get back to it! As I said print is really small, but Ill get there

Fev 7, 12:48 pm

I finished Between Shades of Gray by Rutas Sepetys which fits prompts 2 and 6 and which I strongly recommend!

Fev 9, 3:44 pm

I seem to be reading the topics in order!

1. Read a work of historical fiction set in the country you’re from - Crooked Heart, set during WW2 in the UK
2. Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from
The Island of Sea Women - set in an island off Korea starting during the occupation by Japan and moving through past WW2 and the separation of the two Koreas.

Next up
3. Read a work of historical fiction set in your favourite historical time period to read about
Certainty - WW2 - the war in Asia

Fev 10, 4:43 am

Starting The Sign of the Eagle set in a favourite period (1st century AD), a country I'm not from (Italy) and a country I'm from (Britain)

Fev 14, 7:12 pm

I finished Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth Neubauer for "Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you're from." This is a mystery set in Egypt.

I also finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett for "Read a work of historical fiction set in a time period you're less familiar with." I was happy to learn more about the US's civil rights movement and this was a good one to read for Black History Month, which we also observe in Canada.

Fev 15, 3:47 am

I have finished Das Bestiarium von Mähren, a historical mystery set in Moravia where women are thought to have been killed by a werewolf. And our hero receives a vital bit of information from a palm reader ... so I think it fits the "speculative element".

Fev 17, 5:39 pm

I finished The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. I enjoyed it although alternate history is not a genre I care for. I was glad to be able to fill this category of the challenge as it was the only title I had that would fit.

Editado: Fev 17, 7:04 pm

6. Read a work of historical fiction about a real historical figure or a specific historical event

I read Switchboard Soldiers by Jennifer Chiaverini about the female switchboard operators enlisted to help the military in World War I. Chiaverini focused on one real woman--Grace Banker--and created several others. I enjoyed learning about this era of history from the eyes of women on the front lines.

Fev 18, 2:25 pm

ICYMBI, the ebook version of the book, 'The Pull of the Stars' (by Emma Donoghue) is on sale (Kindle & Book) for $1.99. It is a historical fiction novel set in Dublin during the Great Flu outbreak of 1918. Julia Power is a midwife who serves as a nurse in a maternity ward...

Fev 20, 9:06 pm

Realized the book I am now reading the brothers ashkenazi works for this challenge

2. Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from (Poland)

4. Read a work of historical fiction set in a time period you’ll less familiar with (Im usually not interested in late 1800 HF)

7. Read a classic work of historical fiction

Bonus: Read a work of historical fiction of over 500 pages (641 pages)

Fev 20, 10:29 pm

>205 cindydavid4: I've added it to my wish list. Where did you find your copy?

Fev 21, 12:47 am

Favourite time period: Tudors

To Hold the Crown / Jean Plaidy.
3.5 stars

The Wars of the Roses is over, with Elizabeth (House of York) having married Henry VII (House of Lancaster) to join the two warring houses for the crown of England. This book starts when Elizabeth is pregnant with her first child (Arthur) and ends with Henry’s death. It follows the births of all their children; the two “pretenders” to the crown pretending to be Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville’s missing princes from the tower – the “rightful” heirs; Katherine of Aragon’s marriage to Arthur and subsequent betrothal to the soon-to-be Henry VIII. Henry VII was always concerned about someone coming along to claim the throne.

It was good, but – especially at first – I found it a bit hard to follow as it followed many different viewpoints of many different characters and transitioned without any indication of a transition! I think it got a bit easier once we were following Henry VIII and his generation, as I know the people and characters better, so I could figure it out. The story moved forward very quickly, as years would pass with only a sentence or two (or nothing, and it’s a few years later).

Fev 21, 3:23 am

I have finished The corner that held them, set in the 14th century in East Anglia immediately after the outbreak of the Black Death. A time period I am less familiar with, and I had to look up quite a few of the strange words related to convent life. It's marvellous.

Fev 21, 4:27 am

>208 MissWatson: I love medieval mysteries so I have added this book to my Wishlist.

Fev 21, 7:46 am

>200 mathgirl40: I finished Murder at the Mena House last week. We stayed there last year and will stay there again this year when we return.

Started yesterday Madame Fourcade's Secret War by Lynne Olson. It is about the French Resistence.

Fev 21, 9:04 am

>206 pamelad: i see you had the same problem i did.i rarely spend more than
$10 for a used book the prices on this were crazy! got mine for $25 at ebay. good luck!

Fev 21, 10:10 am

>206 pamelad:, >211 cindydavid4: There are several copies described as good condition on abe.com less than $25.

Fev 21, 6:42 pm

210 Oh wow, you actually stayed there! I'd love to do that myself one day, especially after reading a book set there.

Fev 21, 7:33 pm

>213 mathgirl40: what book?

Fev 21, 8:30 pm

>213 mathgirl40: My granddaughter and I shared the room and she paid to upgrade the room so we could see the pyramids from our balcony.

>214 cindydavid4: Murder at the Mena House. It was a grat read.

Editado: Fev 21, 10:00 pm

>215 mnleona: That sounds wonderful!

>214 cindydavid4: Yes, it was Murder at the Mena House -- a great setting for a mystery.

Editado: Fev 21, 9:47 pm

> 213, >214 cindydavid4:, >210 mnleona: Just in case you don't know, the second in the series is available, Murder at Wedgefield Manor. I finished it a few days ago and I liked it although the setting was a manor house in England. All of the primary characters were here and the romance gained some steam.

Fev 21, 10:02 pm

>217 clue: Good to know. To be honest, I wasn't all that enthusiastic about the plot of the first novel, but I loved the setting (and I also love English manor house settings) and felt that I could grow to really like the characters, so I will definitely pick up the second book sometime.

Fev 22, 3:06 am

>203 witchyrichy: I added this one to the WL.

>215 mnleona: What a dream!!!

Fev 23, 12:56 am

I read The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen for the category about a real event.

Mullen planned this originally as non-fiction about the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918 but there was so little information available that he decided to create a fictional work instead. Published in 2006, well before Covid became an everyday word, the rumours and misinformation were just as prevalent in 1918 as they were a century later although in our most recent pandemic they have been amplified by social media.

Mullen uses events of the time in his story, which takes place in the fictional town of Coronation, Washington that isolated itself as protection against the virulent flu. Labour unions and conscientious objectors are added to the mix of patriotism, fear and superstition. Keeping the townspeople quarantined meant they were also prevented from buying anything when supplies began to run low, which led to rampant theft. This slow story deals more with contemporaneous issues that almost overtake the account of Spanish Flu. But the paucity of information about the epidemic makes this unsurprising. Slow in parts but worth reading.

Fev 23, 1:19 am

>220 VivienneR:

I will add this book to my TBR. It sounds interesting.

There was an American town - Gunnison, Colorado - that did successfully isolate it from the Spanish Flu, at least from the first two waves. The third wave was much more mild than the first two.

Australia also isolated itself from the first two waves and was hit by the third wave in January 1919. My state, Tasmania, was even further isolated. It had closed its borders to the Australian mainland and the Flu did not arrived August 1919, a weakened form of the third wave.

Fev 23, 9:08 am

>217 clue: My library selected Murder at Wedgefield Hosue when I had requested Murder at the Mena House so I read that one first. I plan to re-read it. I believe there is at least one more.
I request my books on my computer and then pick them up at the library. They have a shelf just for books requested.

Fev 23, 9:35 am

>222 mnleona: Thanks for pointing out there are more in the series. I checked Amazon and they show the fourth coming out next month. My library only has the first one but they can borrow them through ILL.

Fev 23, 10:56 am

>223 clue: I will check my library. I am liking the series and locations.

Fev 23, 12:57 pm

>221 Zozette: That's interesting. I imagine it would be easier to quarantine an island, even one the size of Tasmania, than a small town of 300 people guarded by armed teenagers. According to Mullen's story, the town stocked up on everything but ran out of alcohol early, which sent people sneaking off to bigger towns to buy some defeating the purpose of the quarantine.

It seems we are hearing more about the 1918 epidemic now that we have something to compare it with.

A good non-fiction book was Pale Rider: the Spanish Flu of 1918 and how it changed the world by Laura Spinney. I purchased it just before Covid arrived but didn't get to read it until late 2021 when I had a better understanding of what havoc a pandemic can cause.

Fev 23, 6:33 pm

>221 Zozette: >225 VivienneR: If you find the idea of self quarantine of a village interesting, there is Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, set in Eyam. Just don't bother with the epilogue. There is other fiction set in Eyam, but I haven't read any others: https://www.librarything.com/place/Eyam%2C+Derbyshire%2C+England%2C+UK

Fev 23, 6:52 pm

>226 Robertgreaves: Putting Year of Wonders on my wish list because it sounds interesting and is set in a time period I'm not very familiar with. Plus, there are more than 1000 copies on LT for the BingoDOG, and it could qualify for the March GeoCAT if I count Geraldine Brooks as Australian. I'm in two minds about that, because she lives in the US.

>211 cindydavid4:, >212 clue: Thank you!

Editado: Fev 23, 7:36 pm

>226 Robertgreaves: >227 pamelad: I've read both Year of Wonder and A Parcel of Patterns and actually preferred the latter! Nothing wrong with the Brooks novel (Sorry, I read it in 2008 and don't remember the epilogue so I can't speak to that; but I do remember thinking it's better written that I had been expecting.) The Walsh novel is slender; but something of a hidden gem, overshadowed by 'Year of Wonders'. Eyam still stands and in 2020, there was a segment on British TV about the town where they were interviewing people and taking in their reactions to the COVID pandemic. It was early days and they all thought it would be over in a few weeks!

ETA Found it! "Coronavirus: How Eyam in Derbyshire 'self-isolated' - BBC News": https://youtu.be/fjm7MJZpH_o

Fev 23, 8:26 pm

>228 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I particularly remember the epilogue because I read the book quite closely to Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, so that was two books I was going to give all the stars to until I hit the epilogue. I'll add A Parcel of Patterns to my wishlist. I've been fascinated by Eyam since I was about 9 or 10 and we learned about it in school.

Fev 23, 8:39 pm

>229 Robertgreaves: LOL, I definitely remember the epilogue to Bel Canto and agree that it ruined an otherwise perfect book. I had to re-read the book a couple years ago (book club) and I just ignored the epilogue and focused on the main story while I played opera in the background!

Fev 23, 9:08 pm

>226 Robertgreaves: Thank you for that information, Robert. Coincidentally, I was just looking at Year of Wonders earlier today. I will add it to the wishlist.

>229 Robertgreaves: It's amazing how those history lessons stayed with us. For me it was the Spanish Armada and the French Revolution.

>227 pamelad: I can never make up my mind how to deal with authors who move to a new country. Should a certain length of time elapse before I refer to them by their new nationality? My catalogue is full of authors like this. As far as I understand, there is no correct answer.

>228 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Thank you. Another one for the wishlist!

Editado: Fev 23, 11:44 pm

>226 Robertgreaves: >228 Tanya-dogearedcopy:

I first heard about the village of Eyam a few years ago - possibly briefly mentioned in Barry’s book about the Spanish Flu or another book I read about a pandemic. I would be interested in reading a novel based on the events.

Fev 24, 12:58 am

Currently reading The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes for a time and place I'm not familiar with, 1930s Kentucky

Fev 24, 7:23 am

>221 Zozette: My mother was raised in a small town in Colorado near Trinidad and she showed me a white pitcher for water she said her mother used to take care of the family during the Spanish flu . I have it now but wish I had asked more questions.

Fev 26, 7:06 pm

I read Trespasses by Louise Kennedy for 20th century, my favourite time period to read about.

Kennedy portrays the political and social conditions in 1975 Northern Ireland with remarkable accuracy. Not only may religions not mix, but mixing classes is also suspect. Cushla, a twenty-four year old primary school teacher breaks the rules and risks her life and the lives of others by having an affair with a barrister who is married and protestant. She attempted to help a child from "mixed" parentage, only to inadvertently increase danger. For me, Cushla characterized many of Northern Ireland's young people who do not share the hardline intransigence of the older generation, or of the warring hoodlums.

Without resorting to sentimentality or sensationalism, Kennedy's story has an utter credibility that has a powerful impact on the reader, magnified by the depiction of children accepting war as an everyday occurrence and their ability to use the vocabulary of war. Kennedy's gift for minor detail is eye-catching, giving her writing an added dimension of credibility and appeal.

Personal note: this was the state of Northern Ireland when I left to live in Canada.

Mar 5, 6:58 pm

Just finished Post Captain by Patrick O'Brian set in the 19th century
Not as good as Master and Commander, there was just too much happening on land. Still, I enjoyed the time spent at sea. And I enjoyed the character development of Aubrey and Maturin and look forward to more in further episodes.

Mar 5, 7:43 pm

>236 VivienneR: My husband recently finished re-reading the series! They are his "comfort" reads when he's sick (He was out 6 weeks with the flu). I have the first three in my stacks for this summer :-)

Mar 5, 9:02 pm

I'm reading Captain Blood, which is set in the seventeenth century, a time I'm not too familiar with. A few books on my wish list fit this category, and it's only March, so there could be enough time to go around again.

Could you count the plague as an event? If so, I could fit Year of Wonders in that category.

Mar 5, 9:31 pm

>238 pamelad: I would count it as an event

Mar 6, 12:00 am

Finished The Paris Library

different country from where I am. (France)
time period of interest to me. (WWII)
specific historic event - the American Library in Paris remained open during the occuupation.

Mar 6, 2:01 am

>237 Tanya-dogearedcopy: They would make very good recuperation reads! A nice long series and no need to go searching for something to read when a book is finished. The series should just about last a long spell of flu.

Editado: Mar 7, 8:37 pm

I read The Wolf's Hour for the Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from. The book takes place throughout Nazi occupied Europe with visits to Africa, Russia, and England. This book also fits a book over 500 pages.

Editado: Mar 9, 4:54 pm

I'm counting Captain Blood for the less familiar time period. It's set in the seventeenth century, during the reign of the wicked King James.

Mar 10, 7:03 am

Now reading gardens of light, set in one of my fav places, Mesopotamia, and least known times, 3rd century CE. Based on what little is known about this mystic, whose philosophy feels a lot like Gilbrans the prophet is a turn pager of that time. this is the third book Ive read by Maalouf, and he never disappoints

Mar 10, 4:13 pm

>244 cindydavid4: I've got that on my wishlist after reading Leo the African. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on it. And what is the third book of his?

Mar 10, 4:19 pm

Samarkand which started out really good but think it lost its way towards the end. Still a good read, esp for the story of Omar Khayim

Mar 11, 7:42 am

>240 nrmay: I recently read Madame Fourcade's Secret War by Lynne Olson. She was in charge of the French Resistance during the war. I got from my library. You might like to read it.

Editado: Mar 11, 7:30 pm

the garden of lights rating5*

>245 Robertgreaves: It is outstanding review coming

2. Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from (ancient mesopotamia)

4. Read a work of historical fiction set in a time period you’ll less familiar with (3rd century CE)

5. Read a work of historical fiction with a speculative element

6. Read a work of historical fiction about a real historical figure or a specific historical event

Just occured to me that I probably should read something from my own country......

Mar 11, 10:40 pm

Thanks for that. I'll move it higher up the wishlist.

Mar 14, 7:10 pm

I am moving The Wolf's Hour to the speculative fiction category and using The Book Thief by Markus Zusak for a book that takes place in a country you are not from. This book also fits the book over 500 pages.

Mar 14, 9:13 pm

Currently reading Captivity by György Spiró, set in Rome and Jerusalem in the 1st century AD.

Not my country, favourite time period, more than 500 pages (862 pages)

Editado: Mar 18, 2:04 pm

Der Tote am Hindenburgdamm is set in my own country, on the island of Sylt in 1923, when the railway dam to the coast was being built. The mystery was pretty mediocre, and the dam played little part in it, alas.


Mar 20, 7:07 am

COMPLETED Captivity by György Spiró.

My review:

Short-sighted and weedy, Uri is chosen to accompany a delegation bringing an offering from Jews in Rome to the Temple in Jerusalem in the reign of Tiberius and we follow his life down to the reign of Vespasian.

Parts of Uri's story are interesting but it is mostly just an excuse for the author to tell us everything he knows about the life of Jews in 1st century Rome, Judea, and Alexandria.

Mar 20, 7:38 am

Ok that does sound interesting to me anyway

the brothers ashkenazi superbly written book about poland in the early 20th century, continues through massacres ,pogroms, strikes and riots ultimately to the revolution itself. I thought I knew about this time but apparently I did not. Its a brutal read, but one that wouldn't let me go. Ill be thinking about this for a very long time rating 5*

2. Read a work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from
4. Read a work of historical fiction set in a time period you’ll less familiar with
6. Read a work of historical fiction about a real historical figure or a specific historical event
7. Read a classic work of historical fiction
Bonus: Read a work of historical fiction of over 500 pages

Editado: Mar 20, 11:40 am

I finished a re-read of Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin (2009). It's set in Ireland and America (where I'm from). Although it's not about a real figure or event, there are real people and events from the time period (early 1950s) mentioned in the book. The book is also set in real places, including the Irish town where the author was born.

I enjoyed the book, and it moved quickly. But I was a bit frustrated with the main character, Eilish Lacey, who seemed to let others and fate make her decisions for her, until the very end of the book. I also watched the 2015 film, which was an excellent adaptation, and gave Eilish a bit more agency, I think, and made the story more satisfying. The film was also shot in the author's home town in County Wexford, Ireland.

Mar 20, 10:03 pm

review for the brothers ashkenazi here https://www.librarything.com/topic/347243#8098633

Mar 21, 9:29 am

Just finished The Librarian Spy by Madeline Martin. WWII Portugal and France.

Different country
Time period of interest to me
based on real people, true events.

And nice descriptions of a place I'm longing to visit - Lisbon.

Editado: Mar 22, 6:50 pm

OK, I'm back! I was busy reading a lot of NF about WWI; but now I've got the Prix Goncourt-winning historical novel, The Great Swindle (Les Enfants du Désastre/Paris Between-the-Wars trilogy #1; by Pierre Lemaitre; translated from the French by Frank Wynne) in hand. Written in 2013, the opening chapters are set in the trenches during the last days of WWI and I suspect, given the English name for the series, the story will move on to Paris :-)

Mar 22, 11:40 pm

#4. A time period I am less familiar with

Curse of the Blue Tattoo / L. A. Meyer
4 stars

(Book 2 of the series.) It’s 1803 in Boston. Jacky is off her ship since they found out she’s a girl and is at a boarding school (I missed where the money came from to pay for it). The school is meant to teach this orphan and former homeless waif and sometimes thief to be a “lady”. Of course, she really doesn’t fit in and she learns how mean some girls can be. However, she still manages to make a friend in outcast Amy. Jacky misses beau Jaimy and writes plenty of letters, hoping to catch him on whatever ship he is now on. And she tries to stay out of the way of the Reverend(?) Mather.

I listened to the audio and really liked this! The narrator is very good, with Jacky’s cockney accent and any other accents thrown her way. Jacky’s fun, but can go a little too far, sometimes, for sure. But a very enjoyable book and enjoyable series.

Mar 28, 3:31 am

Das verschwundene Fräulein is set on the island of Norderney and thus in my own country. It's July 1914, and by the time the case is solved, World War I has begun.

Mar 28, 10:25 pm

#6. Real historical figure

The Courts of Love / Jean Plaidy
3.5 stars

Eleanor of Aquitaine was next in line to the throne in Aquitaine and married Louis, the next King of France in the 12th century. Louis never wanted to be king (he was second-born and wanted to become a monk), but when his older brother died, Louis was next. He really wasn’t interested in marriage, though, nor creating a heir, to Eleanor’s chagrin. Eleanor had been brought up in a court of “love” with music and dancing and fun and laughter and missed it. And did not enjoy not being close to her husband.

She and Louis did have two daughters, but Eleanor was eventually able to get a divorce and she married Henry, the next King of England. They were madly in love, but Eleanor hadn’t realized (initially) that Henry continued to have affairs after they married, and she was not happy when she discovered this. Despite that, they had a number of children. As they grew apart, Henry eventually imprisoned Eleanor for a number of years. In the end, Eleanor outlived most of her children.

This was good. It was long, but Eleanor lived a long life. I have read one or two books about her, but it’s been a while, and I don’t recall the stories of Thomas a Becket and Richard the Lionheart, which Plaidy included in her book here. (Becket was a friend of Henry’s and Richard was Eleanor and Henry’s son.) They were likely there, but maybe I just didn’t know who they were when I read about them originally, so the stories didn’t “stick” in my memory. Plaidy is very detailed with her history, and that is to be commended, but it doesn’t always make for the most interesting fiction. Even so, overall, I liked it.

Mar 29, 12:06 am

>262 LibraryCin: The trouble is I can't believe any fiction about Eleanor could live up to Katherine Hepburn in The Lion In Winter

Mar 29, 5:57 am

There is plenty of other fiction about Elanor of Aquitaine. I recommend Elizabeth Chadwick's and Sharon Penman's trilogies about her and Henry II.

Mar 29, 7:30 am

>264 john257hopper: and also Penman wrote about Eleanor in her mystery series with Justin de Quincy. They're less daunting than the trilogies.

Mar 29, 11:09 am

>265 fuzzi: yes she did, though I must admit I was never as keen on her mystery series.

Mar 29, 11:38 am

seconding Chadwickand Penman!

Mar 29, 9:54 pm

>263 Robertgreaves: Oh, I've never seen that!

Mar 29, 9:55 pm

And thank you all. I'll look into some of the others, too!

Editado: Mar 29, 11:22 pm

Finished The Great Swindle (Les Enfants du Désastre/Paris Between-the-Wars trilogy #1; by Pierre Lemaitre; translated from the French by Frank Wynne). I've written a review here and in my head at least a dozen times, but deleted them all as inadequate or clumsy. I'll try again tomorrow when I have had a bit more time to process it all. I will say that it has garnered 4.5 star-rating from me... ("work of historical fiction set in a different country to the one you’re from" - France and; "work of historical fiction set in a time period you’ll less familiar with" - Interwar)

Up Next: Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters Trilogy #1; by Juliet Marillier) - a historical fantasy novel set in Early Medieval Ireland (?) when paganism was giving way to Christianity. I think this will fall into "different country" (Ireland), "favorite historical period" (Early Middle Ages), "Speculative element" (magic) and "over 500 pages" (554).

ETA: Have also started Troubles (by J.G. Farrell; narrated by Kevin Hely) - Set in 1919, a soldier returns to Ireland and heads out to a ruined hotel where his fiancé lives...

Editado: Abr 4, 11:51 am

So, I'm still having trouble with writing a review for The Great Swindle-- so I thought I would break it down in the most rudimentary fashion, The Five Ws + H:

WHO: Primary characters: Lieutenant Henri d'Aulnay Pradelle, Albert Maillard and Édouard Péricourt; Secondary characters: Édouard Péricourt's father & daughter, Albert's girlfriend and a little girl named Louise who we are teased with the idea that we will see her later in 1940 (in the last book of the trilogy?)
WHAT: Double murder at the beginning of the book/not a spoiler; Sense of Unfairness & Injustice; Post-war hardships in France
WHERE: Battle front in France (Battle of the Meuse) and Paris, France
WHEN: 1918-1920
WHY: Desperation, Greed, Grief/Sorrow, Fear, Resentment, Human Nature
HOW: Two criminal swindles preying on the country's reverence for the war dead

Okay, a couple pros and cons:
PROS: POV1-omniscient & POV3-omniscient that lends immediacy as the unnamed narrator bears witness to events and people's thoughts; vivid depictions of each scene, person and action without verbosity; original and intriguing plot without any loose ends;
CONS: The ending is poetic but contains a continuity error that many won't notice but once you do, seems glaringly obvious (no, I'm not going to tell you what it is)

So make of this what you will. I recommend to those who like suspense, historical fiction and simply put, a great story; but should warn there are some graphic depictions of a war injury sustained by one of the primary characters and, a scene which might trigger some claustrophobia (both these things are at the rather intense start though the war injury is described/referred to again and repeatedly in various contexts).

Mar 31, 1:48 pm

>270 Tanya-dogearedcopy:
I plan on reading Troubles by J. G. Farrell as well. I won't be reading it until later in April, but it is one of those I am reading this coming month.

Abr 1, 6:08 pm

I finished Washington Square by Henry James (1880), which is primarily set in New York City in the 1840s. I normally have trouble with the prose of Henry James, but I found this short novel (under 200 pages) very readable. The novel centers around Catherine, a young, simple and shy New York heiress, who is courted by a selfish fortune-hunter, despised by her father, and maneuvered by her meddlesome aunt. Slowly but deliberately we watch Catherine's character change over the course of the novel, as she is selfishly used by those around her. James grew up near Washington Square, so the descriptions of the place and the people felt very true.

This novel:
1. is from my country
4. is set in 1840s New York City, which I am less familiar with
7. is considered a Classic

Abr 2, 10:39 pm

Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
Award-winning YA novel of the American Revolution

set in my own country
included real people and true events

Abr 3, 11:44 am

>273 kac522: liked this very much, only James Ive read, may have to try another

Editado: Abr 4, 2:21 am

>273 kac522:, >275 cindydavid4: After reading the book, I watched the 1949 movie "The Heiress" which is based on a play, which in turn was based on Washington Square. It was really good and stars Olivia de Haviland and Montgomery Clift, directed by William Wyler, music by Aaron Copland and costuming by Edith Head (just a little talent there, right?) Somewhat changed from the book, but retains most of the plot and character development.

Abr 4, 2:20 am

I finished The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (1895), which follows Henry Fleming (mostly referred to as "the youth") as a young soldier during the Civil War. He's excited and petrified; he is not always "the devoted soldier", but by the end of the story he puts those failures behind him and concentrates on his successes. There is a lot of sensual imagery of war: sights, sounds, smells, etc.

It was a tough one to read; I had to do it in bits. Amazing writing, too, considering that the Civil War ended before Crane was born and at that point in his life he had never experienced battle first-hand. He had to rely on testimony from veterans for details for the story.

1. Set in my country
6. A real historical event (American Civil War)
7. An American Classic

Abr 4, 10:04 am

>276 kac522: Yes, I watched that long before I read the book. Noticed that the endings were differnent (back then movies must have a happy ending) but liked the book very much

Abr 7, 2:54 am

I'm reading Trespasses by Louise Kennedy, which is set in Northern Ireland in the seventies, during the Troubles. I'm going to count it for a work of historical fiction about a real event because fiftyish years is long enough ago to be historical I think. Then there's only the bonus book to go.

I'm thinking of doing a second Historical Fiction Challenge, starting when I read the next book that fits. Both Babel and Kindred were recent ebook bargain purchases, so I'm spoiled for choice for the speculative category.

Editado: Abr 7, 3:25 pm

I finished reading Emperor of the Eight Islands last night and I'm hooked on the series! Though I read it in 2016, I hadn't remembered anything about it much to my dismay; butthe positive side is that it's all new to me again!
Set in 12th-century Japan, there's adventure, court intrigue, sorcerers, magic... Kumayama no Kazumaru is the heir-presumptive to a small, but important estate in the imaginary/mythical kingdom that the author has based on Medieval Japanese tales. On a hunting trip with his uncle however, "things happen" and Kumayama is left for dead; but the intervention of a stag, some magic, and a sorcerer, our hero is invested with power and re-born as "Shikanoko" ("deer's child"). From here on on, his fate/destiny becomes entwined with that of the kingdom. The plot is fast moving and the lack of in-depth interior thought may fail to engage some readers fully; but I stand by my review of 2016:
Stylized like a translation of a feudal Japanese tale, this is a story of magic, passions, political power and shifting allegiances. It is spare prose that yields rich imagery, a slender book that bears an epic story. The internal beat or meter of the story is reminiscent of medieval chansons de trouveres with the evocation of poetry, the lyrical prose, the linear narrative told in small sections, and the ultimate sum being greater than the parts.

• Set in a different country to the one you’re from = Japan;
• Set in a time period you’ll less familiar with = Medieval Japan
• With a speculative element = Sorcery/magic

On to the second title in the series, Autumn Princess, Dragon Child
Este tópico foi continuado por ⏳⏳Historical Fiction Challenge: Part II ⌛⌛.