Addicted to historical fiction, but need some recommendations!

(46 Posts)
KingRollo Tue 14-May-13 21:00:50

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jkklpu Tue 14-May-13 21:25:16

Music and Silence by Rose Tremain - lots of it is set in the Renaissance court of Denmark, though it's obviously fiction rather than a dramatised version of the kings and queens

Galaxymum Tue 14-May-13 23:11:30

Sarah Dunant has fascinating details in her historical novels - Renaissance Europe so slightly different but they are very informative with characters that feel real. The Birth of Venus and Sacred Hearts (about nuns!) are both excellent.

SconeRhymesWithGone Tue 14-May-13 23:19:52

Restoration by Rose Tremain, set in (and out of) the court of Charles II. It is a beautiful book. When you finish it, watch the film (Robert Downey, Jr. and Sam Neill).

MorvahRising Wed 15-May-13 00:00:28

I recommend this so often that people are going to think I'm her agent or her sister or something (I promise I'm not) but The Autobiography of Henry Vlll by Margaret George is fantastic. It's a novel, not an actual autobiography.

I love the Blood and Roses by Helen Castor, based on the wonderful Paston Letters, which is just your period!

SorrelForbes Wed 15-May-13 00:01:56

We Speak No Treason by Rosemary Hawley Jarman which is abou Rixhard III

elkiedee Wed 15-May-13 02:28:06

Diana Norman wrote historical fiction set in lots of different periods, and as Arianna Franklin, she also wrote a historical crime series set in medieval England.

KingRollo Wed 15-May-13 06:42:25

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HousewifeFromHeaven Wed 15-May-13 06:45:27

Nigel tranter is good too. Wallace is excellent!!!

Laquila Wed 15-May-13 06:51:40

Have you read Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, and Bring Up The Bodies? I love those books so much!

I also second the vote for Restoration, by Rose Tremain (indeed all Rose Tremain novels, although they're not all historical).

KingRollo Wed 15-May-13 07:12:43

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Sarah Dunant's new book is about The Borgias. It's called Blood and Beauty and is very compelling.

tiredemma Wed 15-May-13 07:23:58

Not a 'novel' but I found Alison weirs book about Henry Viii six wives really interesting.

mimbleandlittlemy Wed 15-May-13 12:37:18

Sarah Dunant is very good - I'm looking forward to the new one about the Borgias and I love Rose Tremain. I'd also recommend A L Berridge who has written two books set in France in the 1600s and one set in the Crimea, and also, without doubt and often suggested on here, Dorothy Dunnett who is possibly one of the best historical fiction writers ever. Her Lymond and Nicolo books are now out of print but you can often pick them up in second hand shops and in the library, and you can get them all on Kindle. Lymond is set in the mid 1500s, Nicolo in the mid 1400s.

Another writer I really like is Michelle Lovric - especially The Remedy and The Book of Human Skin, and there's also Andrew Miller's Pure which is about 17C Paris.

As well as Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel wrote a terrific book about the French Revolution called A Place of Greater Safety but it's not a book for happy endings given the subject!

If you like rather quirky historical stuff there's a writer called Karen Maitland who wrote A Company of Liars. I wasn't so sure about her next one, The Owl Killers, though.

Hope some of those come up trumps.

HairyButtMonkey Wed 15-May-13 12:40:46

The Angelique series from the 60s by Serge Anne Golon is great. Set in France during the reign of Louis IV. Out of print now but you can pick them up on EBay.

iseenodust Wed 15-May-13 12:42:16

If you like a rollicking saga the Poldark series is a good one.
I personally would avoid Ken Follett's tomes.

SirBoobAlot Wed 15-May-13 12:45:36

Michelle Moran is quite good. Loved her Ancient Egypt ones, and going to start her French Revolution one soon.

SirBoobAlot Wed 15-May-13 12:46:34

Oh, and Christian Jacq for more ancient history. Jean Plaidy's are classics as well smile

kiwigirl42 Wed 15-May-13 12:48:39

I love historical fiction. I'm currently reading a series of books about pre-european contact America by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and her DH. They have written heaps of books about this subject. They are novels based on archeological fact.
I'm reading 'People of the Owl' at present. 'tis good.

TerrysNo2 Wed 15-May-13 12:56:45

My favourite two historical fiction books are:

Guernica - an amazing story based on the real events.
Company of Liars - possibly one of my favourite ever books and the one which enticed me into historical fiction

I just read A Swarming of Bees on my kindle which was good too, and quite cheap!

Will be checking out some of the other recommendations!

GoblinGranny Wed 15-May-13 12:58:24

If you enjoy light murder mysteries, with a 13-15C background, there's always Paul Doherty
He also wrote the Brother Athelstan series.

Michael Jenks Good on medieval archery and the French campaigns.

Non-fiction, but a great read

And the master himself, Geoffrey Chaucer.

TerrysNo2 Wed 15-May-13 12:58:31

mimble I agree that Owl Killers was a disappointment too, its a shame as I'm hesitant to get Karen Maitlands other books now (that and the fact they aren't cheap on the kindle)

Seeline Wed 15-May-13 13:01:02

I like Barbara Erskine's books - they are normally set in modern times, but are linked to a variety of historical eras, usually with a bit of paranormal-type effects. Sound strange put like that but I have found them really interesting as they area well researched.

GoblinGranny Wed 15-May-13 13:01:40

Oh, and these, based on the Flower of Chivalry that was William Marshall.

SconeRhymesWithGone Wed 15-May-13 13:09:00

Rose Tremain recently published Merivel, a sequel to Restoration. I have not read it yet (saving it for my summer holiday), but it has received excellent reviews.

Ubermumsy Wed 15-May-13 13:09:47

C J Sansom, if you like whodunnits. Or the Bernard Cornwell ones (Sharpe, and the Heretic/Harlequin trilogy) if you don't mind a war-related theme.

And of course the Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters, though they're not exactly challenging!

For non-fiction, I really rate Terry Jones (Barbarians and Medieval Lives are two good ones).

I didn't like Owl Killers at all; made me feel deeply unsettled.

Tidypidy Wed 15-May-13 13:13:17

Try CJ Sansom's Shardlake series. They follow the reign of Henry VIII so a bit later in history but they are very atmospheric and gripping. Each one has about 700 pages so they last a long time too! I've read all five in last 12 weeks whilst breastfeeding dc3!

MorvahRising Wed 15-May-13 14:47:44

SirBoobALot I absolutely agree about Jean Plaidy; I read them to death as a child and teenager and I still love them. They also taught me an enormous amount of history just by osmosis!

iseenodust I also avoid Ken Follett, although my sister loves his books.

About to check out Dorothy Dunnett! Looks great.

KingRollo Wed 15-May-13 15:55:02

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mimbleandlittlemy Thu 16-May-13 12:43:36

I think the Ken Follett books are pretty enjoyable - the first one particularly. Second one feels too much like a replay of the first but worth a go.

Is it true that C J Sansom has said the next one will be the last because of his health?

Polyethyl Thu 16-May-13 12:47:44

Mary Renault wrote superb fiction set in ancient Greece.
And nothing beats the Flashman books for an incredible romp through Victorian history.

Absolutely yes to Dorothy Dunnett. And you can't beat Georgette Heyer for something lighter.

KingRollo Fri 17-May-13 07:27:43

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CoteDAzur Fri 17-May-13 10:24:37

You have to read This Thing Of Darkness.

Laquila Fri 17-May-13 11:15:12

KingRollo I'm so pleased you started this thread - I have loads of recommendations here to look forward to!

Mimble I was very disappointed with A Place Of Greater Safety - I only got about a third of the way through. It's still on my Kindle and I look at it wistfully every now and again but can't muster up enough excitement to try it again. Have you read Fludd and if so what did you think to that? (I haven't yet)

I enjoy the Shardlake ones but preferred Winter In Madrid, also by CJ Sansom, although it's set much more recently (not sure what constitutes "historical" for you in this context!)

Ooooooh also: The Glass of Time and The Meaning of Night, by Michael Cox - LOVED those books! (one's a sequel to the other but can't remember which way round)

KingRollo Fri 17-May-13 20:28:05

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juneybean Fri 17-May-13 23:34:29

I enjoyed The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell earlier this year

Dunlurking Tue 21-May-13 08:39:49

Great to hear of other authors to try on here, thanks.

To Philippa Gregory fans - it is worth trying Elizabeth Fremantle's debut novel about Katherine Parr, just out. Not as good as Philippa Gregory as she writes now, but possibly better than some of her early books. It's only just out in hardback so I got mine from the library. You get that Henry VIII's wives fix from it anyway!

Bearandcub Tue 21-May-13 08:53:58

Hangman's Daughter Trilogy
Company of Liars
Swarming of Bees

There's a great book about The Black Death but cannot find it to give you a title similarly something re The Witchfinder General.

Not much help there.... I'll get my coat.

KingRollo Tue 21-May-13 18:34:21

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lemonpuff Tue 21-May-13 19:25:12

how about Diana Galbordon, Sara Donati (not available on Kindle, I live in hope) and Cynthia Harod-Eagles, i currently working my way through these again.

Ruffello Wed 22-May-13 07:21:36

Not particularly the period you're interested in, but I enjoyed The Last English King by Julian Rathbone and As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann.

Bearandcub Wed 22-May-13 16:25:15

grin King Rollo

mimbleandlittlemy Wed 22-May-13 16:54:36

I'd forgotten both The Last English King and This Thing of Darkness - this is a great thread for remembering good books.

LaQueen Thu 23-May-13 18:15:24

I've just re-discovered Norah Lofts, and I think she isn brilliant.

She writes mainly about 18th/19th century England (and usually in Suffolk) - but I just love how she writes.

many of her books have a slight hint of the supernatural about them, and the period detail is excellent.

And, you HAVE to read anything by Rosemary Hawley Jarman - IMO the best historical novelist ever, bar none - and I have read a lot of historical stuff.

We Speak No Treason - makes me ache every time I read it. It is so beautiful and poignant. Her prose is better than most poetry I've ever read.

LaQueen Thu 23-May-13 18:17:15

And, yes I also vote for Mary Renault. I have everything she ever wrote, and I re-read her constantly. Achingly beautiful.

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