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Old 05-12-2013, 06:19 AM   #1
Akai
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Historical Fiction Books

I've just picked up Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell, which will be my first foray into the historical fiction genre. (My usual adventures with the 'historical' tag involve coffee-table encyclopaedias of warfare - most especially maps and artillery.) It'll be my first foray into romance, too, but the focus here is on the time and the place.

Would you folks be willing to suggest some of the 'best of the best' historical fiction, in your opinions? I'm most interested in the time period of 1900 - 1950. (Does that count as 'historical enough'? It does to me; I'm an early '90s child.) However, that doesn't rule out anything earlier - it only serves to highlight my main area of interest.

Thank you for any and all suggestions. I look forward to abusing my already-too-large collection of unread books.
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:30 AM   #2
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My favorite Historical Fiction series is the Flashman series by George MacDonald Fraser. He plucked the Flashman character from the book Tom Brown's School Days and has written a whole series of novels around him taking place in Victorian Britain. He has him at Charge of the Light Brigade, sacking of the Summer Palace and numerous incidents in India. Also has him in the US for two books.

Very funny and very historically accurate.
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Old 05-12-2013, 09:30 AM   #3
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I just read Sworn Sword by James Atchison. A very good read set in 1069 3 years after the Norman invasion.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sworn-Sword-.../dp/0099559412
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Old 05-12-2013, 10:58 AM   #4
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R.F. Delderfield wrote the Swann family saga about an English family in the transportation business over the period from the late 1850's to the start of WWI
God Is an Englishman, Theirs was The Kingdom, Give Us This Day. This is slightly before your indicated period, except for the overlap in the last volume. What makes it interesting to me is the theme is the family's adaptation to the changes over that period.

Also by Delderfield, To Serve Them All My Days, about a schoolmaster in the interwar period.

Also be Delderfield (I'm a big Delderfield fan), the A Horseman Riding By trilogy, about a man who buys a landed estate in Devon in the early 20th century
Long Summer Day, Post of Honour, The Green Gauntlet,

You might like John Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga, about an English family in the early 20th century:
The Man of Property, Indian Summer of a Forsyte, In Chancery, Awakening, To Let

Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time series (12 volumes) starting with A Question of Upbringing (mid 20th century)
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Old 05-12-2013, 01:47 PM   #5
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If you don't mind crossing genres a bit, I highly recommend Louis L'Amour's "Sackett" series. It charts the Sackett family from the 1500's through until the early 1900's
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:32 PM   #6
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Thanks for suggesting some books for me to take a look at, all four of you. They all look pretty interesting, so I've added them to my list of books to purchase next. I've heard stellar things about God Is An Englishman in the past (but somehow I never did get around to looking it up), so I'll be starting with that once I've finished Gone With The Wind.
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:46 PM   #7
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Georgette Heyer has some nice murder mysteries set in the early 1900s.

Also, if you're willing to do Regency (English 1700s and early 1800s) historical fiction, she has a lot of well-researched, very funny historical romances. They're lighthearted fluff with lots of humor and happy endings. I've found them to be much better at the actual historical parts than typical Regency fiction, which usually have at least a few complete anachronisms.
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Old 05-12-2013, 09:20 PM   #8
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Georgette Heyer has some nice murder mysteries set in the early 1900s.

Also, if you're willing to do Regency (English 1700s and early 1800s) historical fiction, she has a lot of well-researched, very funny historical romances. They're lighthearted fluff with lots of humor and happy endings. I've found them to be much better at the actual historical parts than typical Regency fiction, which usually have at least a few complete anachronisms.
I've seen Georgette Heyer mentioned quite a few times on this forum while I've been exploring back through as many of the threads as possible, but would you believe that I'd never heard of her prior to joining MobileRead? I've never read a murder mystery before (and I'm always just terrible at Cluedo!), so I think I might download some of her murder mysteries. If I find those agreeable, I'll pick up a few of her romances. Can you please recommend some of her better novels in both genres? Amazon has provided me with a veritable ocean and I've got no idea where to start!
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Old 05-13-2013, 05:12 AM   #9
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If you are interested in historical fiction from New Zealand that begins in the late 1800's and to date goes through about 1918, take a look at Shayne Parkinson's "Promises to Keep" series. The first book, Sentence of Marriage, is free and is available from Smashwords (and elsewhere). I think this is one of the best series written. Myself, my wife, and many of our friends became fans of Parkinson as a result of reading Sentence of Marriage.
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:24 AM   #10
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Not 20th century but Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth and World Without End are fantastic. His 20th century work Fall of Giants might be good but I haven't read it yet.
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:55 AM   #11
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I've seen Georgette Heyer mentioned quite a few times on this forum while I've been exploring back through as many of the threads as possible, but would you believe that I'd never heard of her prior to joining MobileRead? I've never read a murder mystery before (and I'm always just terrible at Cluedo!), so I think I might download some of her murder mysteries. If I find those agreeable, I'll pick up a few of her romances. Can you please recommend some of her better novels in both genres? Amazon has provided me with a veritable ocean and I've got no idea where to start!
For mysteries, Duplicate Death. They Found Him Dead (semi-prequel to Duplicate Death but not required to understand id), Behold Here's Poison and Detection Unlimited are also fun.

For romances, Cotillion (this is my favorite), Black Sheep, The Grand Sophy and Frederica are all good places to start. The Talisman Ring is kind of a crossover between romance and mystery - it's historical, and the heros and heroines get together while trying to solve a murder so they can restore the rightful heir.

Heyer's novels are typically very stereotypical, but they shine because of how she develops her characters and pulls the story together in dialogue. I think she falls short of Sayers and Christie in how she simply veers off from handling things seriously, but her books are almost always great fun.
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Old 05-13-2013, 11:31 AM   #12
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One of my favorite historical fiction novels is Eduard Rutherford's Russka. His book Sarum is very good as well. I'm currently reading the aforementioned Fall of Giants series. It's very good as well. Other's that I've really liked.

Pillars of the Earth and sequel (mentioned above)
Dr. Zhivago
Armagedon by Leon Uris
Exodus by Leon Uris (good, but Armagedon was better)
The Physician by Noah Gordon and the sequel Shaman
War and Peace (Tolstoy)
When Christ and his Saints Slept (Sharon Kay Penman) (There are several in this series, very maticulous in historic detail. I've only read the first and its starts with Henry I which overlaps some of the timeframe of Pillars of the Earth).
In the name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

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Old 05-13-2013, 12:20 PM   #13
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Elizabeth Jane Howard's Cazlet Chronicle describes an upper-middle class English family over the period 1937-39 (The Light Years) through WW2 ( Marking Time and Confusion), and post-WW2 (Casting Off).

it was also a Masterpiece Theatre series.
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Old 05-13-2013, 02:38 PM   #14
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I would recommend the Gettysburg trilogy by Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen. It looks at what might have happened if the Confederates had won the battle of Gettysburg.

http://www.amazon.com/Gettysburg-Nov...rds=gettysburg

They also wrote a historical fiction series about Pearl Harbor.

http://www.amazon.com/Pearl-Harbor-D...ref=kinw_dp_ke
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Old 05-13-2013, 02:44 PM   #15
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I would very highly recommend anything written by Bernard Cornwell.
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