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Old 12-11-2009, 01:02 PM   #31
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If 'Possession' is typical, then I don't think Byatt can portray convincing male characters.
That was another aspect of my irritation with it.
Her women characters aren't qualitatively different from the men, so I don't think it's that. But they aren't 'people-next-door' types either, it's not people you and me meet - or not people we think we meet. They're literary 'characters' - and for me - perhaps more interesting. They have a certain meaning and point in the story.

'Possession' isn't completely typical of Byatt. It' probably one of the more directly accessible of her books.
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Old 12-12-2009, 08:18 AM   #32
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Her women characters aren't qualitatively different from the men, so I don't think it's that. But they aren't 'people-next-door' types either, it's not people you and me meet - or not people we think we meet. They're literary 'characters' - and for me - perhaps more interesting. They have a certain meaning and point in the story.
Ack . Sounds distinctly "allegorical". Not my favourite style of writing at all.
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Old 12-12-2009, 09:10 AM   #33
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Ack . Sounds distinctly "allegorical". Not my favourite style of writing at all.
On re-reading I'm not even sure I agree with myself I'm not good at explaining this. You make me think of 'The Trial' and it's definitely not like that. What I think I really think about her characters, are that they are mostly not wholly likeable. I think Byatt is showing us whole humans, with both good and bad sides - as most of us has. How many people do you know that has no bad sides and are perfectly good and likeable all of the time. We get impatient and lose our temper, we forget things, sometimes we use other people, sometimes we don't do things we ought to or deliberately look to the other side because it's easier. We're fallible. I think we mostly gloss over these imperfections in the people we meet, because it's makes everything easier and is normal civilised behaviour and we don't think about ourselves doing it either. Byatt exposes these rougher edges of people along with their positive traits. It makes in my opinion for actually well-rounded characters, but they also often aren't all that easily likeable.

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Old 12-12-2009, 09:15 AM   #34
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Perhaps I need to read it and make up my own mind. Thanks for trying to explain .
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Old 12-12-2009, 09:30 AM   #35
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Thanks. I think I lack the education and language to relate things like this properly. I recognise it when I read it, but I'm not sure exactly what I recognise. Like art. And it's really only in recent years that I've finally understood what it means to interpret a fiction text or poetry and think about it in such terms. Never learned it in school.
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Old 12-13-2009, 01:59 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by jenieliser View Post
I'm trying to find a good historical fiction with a love story in it. (not "historical romances"-if there's a picture of a half naked renaissance (sp?) woman on the cover-not my thing)

I'm leaning toward something more along the lines of Pride and Prejudice or Wuthering Heights...

Any suggestions?
After reading through this thread, I have another question about your tastes. Do you like or object to Alternate History? The best of this category take one perturbation in a historical setting, and then write a story based on the resulting conditions (although the "one perturbation" can be a pretty big event.)

These stories can be set in any time period, and depending on the intent of the author can have significant romance included. But the romance is usually second to the alternate history focus. They're usually grouped in the Science Fiction genre.

If this sounds interesting, my favorite series starts with 1632 by Eric Flint (which is available free from the Baen Free Library). Other authors include Harry Turtledove (much less romance, in my opinion) and S.M. Stirling (although his series can get seriously weird, bordering on fantasy instead of SF.)
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Old 12-13-2009, 08:18 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jenieliser View Post
I'm trying to find a good historical fiction with a love story in it. (not "historical romances"-if there's a picture of a half naked renaissance (sp?) woman on the cover-not my thing)

I'm leaning toward something more along the lines of Pride and Prejudice or Wuthering Heights...

Any suggestions?
I have 3.

Dorothy Dunnett - 'The finest living writer of historical fiction' Washington Post (2000)
http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/12/2...24malcolt.html

Patrick O'Brian -
"The best historical novels ever written." - Richard Snow, The New York Times

The Historical Novels Society

I love historical fiction and the books of Dunnett and O'Brian were the best I've ever read. I love the older ones too, Dumas and Sir Walter Scott and Rafael Sabatini but Dunnett was the best at what you've mentioned you're interested in. Just the best stuff. Two of my top five favorite writers.

Last edited by wayspooled; 12-13-2009 at 08:28 AM.
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Old 12-13-2009, 08:19 AM   #38
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Patrick O'Brian is a wonderful writer, but where's the love story?
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Old 12-13-2009, 08:33 AM   #39
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Patrick O'Brian is a wonderful writer, but where's the love story?
lol, I was still editing Harry! That's my problem, I post too fast and before I finish thinking! heh.. Well there are two in there, Villiers and Maturin, and Jack and Sophie, they're just not heavily romantics. I came back to suggest more strongly the Dunnett of the two.

Dunnett and O'Brian are kinda like a dirty little secret to historical fiction fans. Sort of like Tolkien must have been to fantasy fans back in the sixties and seventies, where they knew eventually the world would discover him. Someday the world will discover what exceptional writing these two did. Dunnett's work is dense, complicated, hard to get started but if you stick with it, you'll read something as good as the best of Austen. I too love Pride and Prejudice and Pillars of the Earth.

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Old 12-13-2009, 12:35 PM   #40
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Dunnett and O'Brian are kinda like a dirty little secret to historical fiction fans. Sort of like Tolkien must have been to fantasy fans back in the sixties and seventies, where they knew eventually the world would discover him. Someday the world will discover what exceptional writing these two did. Dunnett's work is dense, complicated, hard to get started but if you stick with it, you'll read something as good as the best of Austen. I too love Pride and Prejudice and Pillars of the Earth.
Thanks for this - I might try them out

I've had a second look at what historical fiction I could think of. Historical fiction with a love story... It's really hard to think anything with prominent love stories if its supposed to be 'good' fiction rather than 'romance' (no offence meant, I read romance as well )
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Old 12-22-2009, 09:45 AM   #41
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No one has yet mentioned Anya Seton. Her best (IMO) is Katherine, followed by Green Darkness, The Winthrop Woman, and The Hearth and the Eagle
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Old 12-22-2009, 03:12 PM   #42
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Ahhh yes -- I just finished reading a pback copy of Green Darkness. Good stuff!
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Old 12-23-2009, 11:18 PM   #43
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I suggest Waverley, the first historical novel by Sir Walter Scott, who is sometimes credited with inventing the genre. It's set in the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 (Bonnie Prince Charlie) and has a very definite romance subplot, with two heroines. I find Scott a bit slow to get started, but except perhaps for the first few charters, Waverley is a very good read. And Scott manages to inform as well as entertain the reader.
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Old 12-28-2009, 12:10 PM   #44
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hmm...waverly sounds interesting. I went back to Les Mis where I left off. I'm a little consumed by it at the moment, but when I hit another lull I'll try out Waverly.
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Old 03-08-2010, 11:00 PM   #45
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If historical fiction set in 19th century New Zealand appeals, you could try mine :-) "Romance" is a small part of the whole.

The first book is a free download: Sentence of Marriage.
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