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Old 01-06-2011, 10:04 AM   #1
queentess
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Recommendation for mother-in-law: historical romance

My mother in law is getting an ebook reader for her birthday and I've been asked to populate it with some books so she can use it immediately upon opening the gift.

I think I'd call what she likes "historical romance", but I've never read any of the books, so I can't be sure.

Her two favorite authors are Diana Gabaldon and Philippa Gregory. I'm looking for something similar to these. Books available as ebooks are preferred, but anything is welcome as she does still read pbooks.

Here's a list of some potentials I've gleaned from forums here. Let me know if I'm on the right track or if there's anything else you can recommend.

Georgette Heyer
Sharon Kay Penman
Karen Essex (Leonardo's Swans)
Ken Follet (Pillars of the Earth; World Without End)
George MacDonald Fraser (Flashman series)
Colleen McCollough (The Touch)
Sarah Waters (Fingersmith; Affinity)
Antonia Byatt (Possession) (potentially too "literary")
John Fowles (The French Lieutenant's Woman)
Anya Seton

Last edited by queentess; 01-06-2011 at 11:02 AM. Reason: spelling mistake
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:16 AM   #2
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I love Philippa Gregory, and have read all her Tudor books. I've added 2 more authors to my collection that she might like. Vanora Bennett, particularly "Queen of Silks" and "Blood Royal". Also Alison Weir "The Captive Queen" and "The Lady Elizabeth".
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Old 01-06-2011, 11:01 AM   #3
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Diana Gabaldon and the Outlander series.
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Old 01-06-2011, 11:10 AM   #4
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Jean Plaidy and Kate Emerson.
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Old 01-06-2011, 11:15 AM   #5
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I'd second Alison Weir.

How about Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantell as well. Description from Amazon below;

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2009 'Lock Cromwell in a deep dungeon in the morning,' says Thomas More, 'and when you come back that night he'll be sitting on a plush cushion eating larks' tongues, and all the gaolers will owe him money.' England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk, and later his successor. Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events. Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages. From one of our finest living writers, Wolf Hall is that very rare thing: a truly great English novel, one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics. With a vast array of characters, and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding itself with great passion and suffering and courage.

From your original list, the Flashman novels (whilst they are my absolute favourites in the genre) are not really romance. They are pretty bawdy (more lust than romance) and probably aimed more at a male readership.

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Old 01-06-2011, 11:53 AM   #6
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Here are some historical romances that are on free promo. I haven't read any of them so can't say if they are any good or not, but they're free.

I linked to Amazon but likely they are free everywhere as they are publisher's promos. I'm being too lazy to list authors.

A Woman Called Sage
Daughter of Joy: Brides of Culdee Creek
Love on a Dime
The Apothecary's Daughter

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Old 01-06-2011, 12:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by queentess View Post
Here's a list of some potentials I've gleaned from forums here. Let me know if I'm on the right track or if there's anything else you can recommend.
Of those I know something about:

Quote:
Georgette Heyer
Heyer writes "Regency Romances", and is probably the best there is at that particular genre. She has vivid characters and sly humor. I know a fair number of folks whose sentiments might be summed up as "I don't like Romance. But I like Georgette Heyer!"

Quote:
George MacDonald Fraser (Flashman series)
Historical, yes. Romance, no. Harry Flashman is the bully in "Tom Brown's School Days". He's self-centered, a coward, and a bully. The books cover his checkered career in the military, trying to look out for Number One and get rich while avoiding anything that looks like work or danger. For instance, he's in the US Civil War as a Major in the Union Army, shifting to Staff Colonel in the Confederate Army (because Staff brass aren't normally expected to actually fight.) He's pretty much the definition of an anti-hero.

If you can take them with the appropriate amount of salt and tolerate Harry, they're fun, in part because Fraser does impeccable research, and uses liberal footnotes, like the one on one book that states the agitator dragged away by the police in a crowd could have been a young Karl Marx...

Quote:
Antonia Byatt (Possession) (potentially too "literary")

John Fowles (The French Lieutenant's Woman)
If Antonia Byatt is 'potentially too "literary"', so is John Fowles.

The book is inspired by the 1823 novel Ourika, by Claire de Duras, which Fowles translated to English during 1977. I suppose it's a romance, but it's also an extended meditation on various themes, with three separate endings proposed by the author. You might call it a "meta-romance". It's a serious book, not light reading.
______
Dennis

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Old 01-06-2011, 01:13 PM   #8
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Kathleen Woodiwiss -- her books aren't new, but they are available as ebooks. (I recently reread A Rose in Winter, so I guess that would be my recommended title. )
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Old 01-06-2011, 02:52 PM   #9
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Georgette Heyer is much more along the lines of Jane Austen than Diana Gabaldon or Philippa Gregory, which I would describe as romantic historicals. They are more historical novels with strong romantic overtones. I agree that Fowles may be too literary.

I don't read a lot of the genre, but my suggestions would be:
Dorothy Dunnett
Tracy Chevalier
Roberta Gellis
Isolde Martyn
the Bronte sisters
Thomas Hardy (though it can be a bit of a slog at times)

If she doesn't mind a bit racier writing then historical romance authors she might like are:
Amanda Quick
Stephanie Laurens
Karen Ranney

They tend to have more explicit sex scenes however.
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Old 01-06-2011, 03:30 PM   #10
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Thanks to all for the recommendations and warnings!
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Old 01-06-2011, 05:44 PM   #11
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Does she care more about the romance or about the history? That could influence your buying one way or the other.

My preferred 'romance' writers are Raphael Sabatini and Alexandre Dumas, but I like my 'romance' swashbuckling more than 'kissy-kissy'.

But I love, love, love Georgette Heyer. Can't recommend her highly enough.
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Old 01-06-2011, 06:48 PM   #12
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I love White Rose Rebel. The except is here:
http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/White...v-g/page1.html
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Anne Farquharson is a Highland girl – tempestuous, bold, determined to be her own woman. Yet the clan Farquharson is threatened. The Highlands suffer at the domineering hand of English King George, while there are rumours that Bonnie Prince Charlie, exiled to France, is raising an army in a bid for the throne. When Anne marries a clan chief and creates a shaky alliance, she is doing more than taking his bed. Soon she is drawn into the heart of a brutal and bloody conflict, and as the Jacobite rebellion escalates, she and her husband find themselves on opposite sides of the battlefield. White Rose Rebel is inspired by the true story of a Highland heroine who risked everything for her country and its rightful king. Anne Farquharson is a Highland girl - tempestuous, bold, determined to be her own woman. Yet the clan Farquharson is threatened. The Highlands suffer at the domineering hand of English King George, while there are rumours that Bonnie Prince Charlie, exiled to France, is raising an army in a bid for the throne. When Anne marries a clan chief and creates a shaky alliance, she is doing more than taking his bed. Soon she is drawn into the heart of a brutal and bloody conflict, and as the Jacobite rebellion escalates, she and her husband find themselves on opposite sides of the battlefield. White Rose Rebel is inspired by the true story of a Highland heroine who risked everything for her country and its rightful king.
It's historical, and has a fairly gripping romantic line but if she doesn't like the history as much as the romance maybe skip it.
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Old 01-06-2011, 08:35 PM   #13
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Sometimes people who like historicals prefer books set in "their" time periods and aren't so much interested in stuff that happens in other places and times. I don't know if this would apply to your mom or not, but it's something maybe to keep in mind.

Going by Gabaldon and Gregory, it looks like she might possibly favour British Isles stuff from medieval through Renaissance UK and might be a little more into plotty-lots-of-political/personal-maneuvering-in-detail with maybe a bit more focus on the historical personalities than straight get-together-then-happily-ever-after type romances.

If that's so, I second the recommendation for Alison Weir. I haven't read her fiction yet, but her non-fiction English history works were informative and entertaining. And while I've only read Roberta Gellis' fantasy crossover stuff, her writing seemed pretty solid, and you can get a couple of her books free via the This Sceptre'd Isle Baen promotional CD over at the Fifth Imperium website.

On the Irish side, Morgan Llywelyn writes marvelous Celtic historicals, often with a fantasy element. The ones I know of in e-book format include The Lion of Ireland, about Brian Boru, and Grania, about the real-life pirate queen Grace O'Malley who lived during the Elizabeth Age.

While not historical romances, per se, both have fairly strong romantic threads underlying several of the character relationships, so they might be books that appeal.

Also, Susan Higginbotham's historical romance, The Traitor's Wife, set during the reign of Edward II and featuring his niece as the heroine, was recently offered free in all the stores. It won some sort of minor award, according to Wikipedia.

So possibly if you're an inveterate freebie-getter like I am, you may already have this.

Finally, if early US history turns out to be okay, I give a very high recommendation to Barbara Hambly's two novels about various First Ladies:

Patriot Hearts, exploring the relationships between Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolly Madison, Sally Hemings and their respective Presidents

The Emancipator's Wife, about Mary Todd Lincoln, which was a finalist for the Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in a Civil War Novel. This one's a somewhat weightier and less "romantic" read, but still has a solid and well-depicted love story contained within.
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Old 01-07-2011, 05:34 AM   #14
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There's another I like that I forgot, it's called Painting Mona Lisa in Australia but most other places it seems to be called I, Mona Lisa.

Quote:
Set against a backdrop of political and religious conflicts in 15th-century Medici-ruled Florence, Kalogridis's bloody historical (after The Borgia Bride) identifies the subject of Leonardo da Vinci's painting as Lisa di Antonio Gherardini. Lisa was the daughter of Madonna Lucrezia, wife of a wealthy wool merchant who also enchanted both da Vinci and Lorenzo de' Medici's brother Giuliano, murdered by conspirators in 1478. Giuliano's assassination—and the later murder of Lucrezia—presage a reign of religious terror led by a monk known as Savonarola and the retreat of the Medicis in the face of invasion from France's King Charles. An adult Lisa attracts the romantic attentions of a young Medici scion, whom she marries for love. (His father, Lorenzo, commissions her portrait from da Vinci.) But violent events soon separate the couple and a brutal Savonarola follower tells Lisa that her husband is dead—and her father's life in danger—unless she marries him instead. Lisa survives, an avenging angel, proving herself worthy of da Vinci's immortal artistry. Kalogridis's fevered bodice ripper invents a passionate woman behind La Gioconda's enigmatic smile. (Nov.)
http://www.amazon.com/I-Mona-Lisa-ebook/dp/B002GYI99C
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Old 01-07-2011, 07:36 AM   #15
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But I love, love, love Georgette Heyer. Can't recommend her highly enough.
I love Georgette Heyer as well, but it's really not a lot like Diana Gabaldon and Philippa Gregory. Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen are Regency romances - light in tone, sharply witty and often comedic. Diana Gabaldon and Philippa Gregory are much more sweeping dramas on a grand scale - think Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

Colleen McCullough (The Thorn Birds) is a very well known historical, although it's set in Australia so it may not be of interest. I'm also not sure if it's available in ebook form. If early outback Australia is an option, I'd also recommend Mary Durack, starting with Kings in Grass Castles. Possibly also All the Rivers Run by Nancy Cato.

Catherine Cookson was very popular for a while, although her novels tended to deal with the lower classes.
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