Historical Fiction Genre Discussion

For November 2015, we will be reading a Historical Fiction novel.
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janiceyoung
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Re: Historical Fiction Genre Discussion

Post by janiceyoung » 17 Nov 2015, 19:49

I am currently reading "Leaving Whiskey Bend" it is set in the earlier 1900's. A woman is running from her abusive husband and she gets caught in a rainstorm and almost drowns in a river. She was then rescued by a farmer and his nephew and is at their farmhouse. There are a lot of unexpected twists and turns.

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Post by Gravy » 23 Nov 2015, 00:43

I suppose I could count two of my books this month as historical. One was a fantasy set during the time of King Richard: The Lionheart. However, I highly doubt it was very accurate, historically speaking :wink: :lol:
In any case, it was Robin Hood: Demon's Bane (Mark of the Black Arrow), by James R. Tuck, and Debbie Viguie, and I rated it a 3. In this twist on the Robin Hood legend the sheriff is a demon, the woods are home to the Fey, and Robin might be a changling. I suggest it for those who enjoy the fantasy genre, and it was a good start to a trilogy, I do hope the next one delivers a bit more. Still good, though.

The second was The Danish Girl, by David Ebershoff, and I rated if a very low 3, I would actually knock it down to a 2.5 if I could. Set in the 1920's, it's about artist, Einar Wegener, and his journey to becoming Lili Elbe, that's underselling it a bit. Greta, his wife, has her own story, and an interesting one at that.
I enjoyed it, it was a nice story, loosely (very loosely) based on the true story, but it seemed at every turn something felt wrong. From medical procedures to the way some characters reacted. There was also a character brought in at the most convenient time to be of use, this always annoys me. However, most details were well researched, some historic events were included, and a lot of the medical practices were right, which actually bothered me more than if the whole thing would've been poorly researched.
I recommend it to those who find themselves interested in it, it's a good book, and others may, or may not find the same issues with it. I wouldn't have noticed the issues I did if it wasn't something that interests me anyway. Another part of my lower rating is because of the ending, and that is all about personal preference.
And, as I said before, I enjoyed it, just not enough to nullify the problems I found with it.
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Post by donaldzlotnik » 26 Nov 2015, 17:54

I write historical fiction because it is easier to tell the truth writing fiction than it is to tell the truth writing non-fiction! Especially, when I have lived portions of the historical fiction I write. Mary Renault's "The Persian Boy" is exceptional. What is unique about historical fiction is a huge portion is based on fact and then the author gets to use his own intellect to fill in the gaps. With the Intent it makes writing historical fiction exciting. The author can almost instantly verify facts and combining research documents with Google Earth the author can place himself almost anywhere in the world. For EXAMPLE: When I was writing my historical fiction novel the protagonist was in a boat on the Vistula River near Auschwitz, I wanted to get the feeling for the area and using Goggle Earth I could go to a nearby location and then clicked on local pictures. Using that info, I could write accurately without ever having been there. Another example is when I was writing/researching my masterpiece saga, I used the Internet constantly to verify everything from clothes to weapons. I reached a very difficult part writing about the Mongolian bow that changed warfare on the Eurasian steepe--I spent three days researching how the bow was made and how it was shot. (Which amounted to about two pages in the 600+ page novel.) :shock: Also, researching clothes and the dates of inventions--all off the Internet while writing. Before the Internet--all that research would have taken ten times as long and not providing anywhere near the volume of information at a fraction of the time. I probably read over a thousand historical fiction books before writing my first one--but there is nothing I enjoy more than creating the historical fiction novel. :D

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Post by ladyj42_73 » 30 Nov 2015, 18:13

Hello. I'm commenting on Emma by Jane Austen. I enjoyed the book. Emma is a coming of age story, about a rich young lady. Emma doesn't have the influence of a mother, but has a caring housekeeper who helped shape her character. Emma thinks she has it all figured out, as most young people do. She tries her hand at matchmaking, and fails. She's so wrapped up in other people's lives, that she almost misses the opportunity to find true love for herself. It's a lovely historical story, written in the language of the time period, which at times is difficult to decipher. I did not enjoy the New Afterward by Sabrina Jefferries, i believe it is unnecessary and detracts from a great original. I would rate this as a :READ for all women of a certain age, and for those of us who are 'slightly' older.

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Post by BarryEM » 30 Nov 2015, 21:09

Nina B wrote:I love historical fiction novels, especially ones that take place in ancient Egypt. My favorite is probably Kleopatra by Karen Essex because she put a decent amount of research into it and even included a detailed family tree at the beginning of the book.
One of my favorite books might be a good fit for you then. It's Mika Waltari's "The Egyptian". It is a historical novel and based very much on fact, heavily embellished with fictional characters. While I do enjoy historical fiction I read this in my youth when it first became available and I wasn't really aware of the distinction of historical fiction back then. I just saw this as fiction, and as one of the strangest and most compelling adventure stories I'd ever read.

A lot of historical novels really see humanity and civilization as having values similar to ours but with less technology. Not this one. This puts the reader into the middle of a very advanced civilization for it's time but one that is totally unlike our own. That isn't about technology. It's about how people think and what they do with their thoughts. It's like being in a different world.

The main character is Sinuhe, the physician to the pharoah Amenhotep IV, who historians say originated the idea that there is one god. In this case the god was the sun and since it shone equally on all he also said, for the first time that we know of in history, that all men are equal. Radical ideas, and they got him killed and his son, Tut (yes that Tut) became pharoah.

A lot of biblical scholars, not all but many, think it's entirely possible that, since his followers were enslaved after his death, it was their descendants who participated in the Exodus, and not the remains of the Jews who had come into Egypt a couple centuries earlier with Joseph, and that these people, believing in one god, met the remnants of the Jews who had stayed behind when Joseph's family followed him to Egypt because of the famine, and formed what we know as Judaism today. One piece of evidence for this in the bible is that before Joseph God always said he was the main God, never the only God. After the Exodus, he became the only God. That isn't proof but it's enough, with all the other little points, to make it seem very possible. The bible makes no reference to anything that happened during the 400 years between Joseph and the Exodus.

Anyway, aside from all the historical significance, this is an amazing story, full of fascinating characters, very unlike us, who breathe. You can almost hear them as you read, they are so real.

I think I first read this about 1955 and I've read it about every 5 years or so ever since. It's never stopped amazing me.

Waltari wrote other books, some of which I also read, although not over and over again. They were all historical novels and were excellent although "The Egyptian" was the best of them.

Barry

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Post by DennisK » 30 Nov 2015, 23:30

BarryEM wrote:
Nina B wrote:I love historical fiction novels, especially ones that take place in ancient Egypt. My favorite is probably Kleopatra by Karen Essex because she put a decent amount of research into it and even included a detailed family tree at the beginning of the book.
One of my favorite books might be a good fit for you then. It's Mika Waltari's "The Egyptian". It is a historical novel and based very much on fact, heavily embellished with fictional characters. While I do enjoy historical fiction I read this in my youth when it first became available and I wasn't really aware of the distinction of historical fiction back then. I just saw this as fiction, and as one of the strangest and most compelling adventure stories I'd ever read.

A lot of historical novels really see humanity and civilization as having values similar to ours but with less technology. Not this one. This puts the reader into the middle of a very advanced civilization for it's time but one that is totally unlike our own. That isn't about technology. It's about how people think and what they do with their thoughts. It's like being in a different world.

The main character is Sinuhe, the physician to the pharoah Amenhotep IV, who historians say originated the idea that there is one god. In this case the god was the sun and since it shone equally on all he also said, for the first time that we know of in history, that all men are equal. Radical ideas, and they got him killed and his son, Tut (yes that Tut) became pharoah.

A lot of biblical scholars, not all but many, think it's entirely possible that, since his followers were enslaved after his death, it was their descendants who participated in the Exodus, and not the remains of the Jews who had come into Egypt a couple centuries earlier with Joseph, and that these people, believing in one god, met the remnants of the Jews who had stayed behind when Joseph's family followed him to Egypt because of the famine, and formed what we know as Judaism today. One piece of evidence for this in the bible is that before Joseph God always said he was the main God, never the only God. After the Exodus, he became the only God. That isn't proof but it's enough, with all the other little points, to make it seem very possible. The bible makes no reference to anything that happened during the 400 years between Joseph and the Exodus.

Anyway, aside from all the historical significance, this is an amazing story, full of fascinating characters, very unlike us, who breathe. You can almost hear them as you read, they are so real.

I think I first read this about 1955 and I've read it about every 5 years or so ever since. It's never stopped amazing me.

Waltari wrote other books, some of which I also read, although not over and over again. They were all historical novels and were excellent although "The Egyptian" was the best of them.

Barry
Thanks for describing this book, Barry. I see it is in e-reader format. I read that the book was published during the 40's and was made into a film in 1954. Netflix doesn't appear to have it in DVD form - otherwise I would add it to the December reading list. Regardless, I will add it to my library as you make it seem an interesting read.

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Post by BarryEM » 01 Dec 2015, 07:48

I saw the movie decades ago. I don't recall much about it now except that it wasn't very good. I do think I have a copy of it somewhere so maybe I should take another look. I have it on my Kindle now to read again sometime in the not too distant future and I think I might watch it after I read it.

I'm curious why you need the movie to put the book on the reading list? I'm new in this forum so I don't really know how things work yet.

Barry

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Post by anonanemone » 01 Dec 2015, 10:01

@BarryEM That is because the genre that was voted for December is 'Books Made into Movies'. The general idea is that readers will be able to make commentary comparing and contrasting the books and the movies. forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php ... mp;t=31791 This doesn't mean he won't read it until he gets the movie :mrgreen:
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Post by BarryEM » 01 Dec 2015, 10:22

Thank you for explaining.

Barry

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Post by literaturelover » 01 Dec 2015, 11:06

Graverobber wrote:I started my November book a few days ago. I went with The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff. As of right now I am about a quarter of the way through it.
It's set in Copenhagen Denmark in the 1920's, and is a novelization of the true story of artist Lili Elbe who was born Einar Wegener.

I'm enjoying it quite a lot :D
I've been wanting to read that! Please keep me updated, I would love to know if you recommend it.
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Post by RebeccaB4176 » 01 Dec 2015, 21:44

The Historion is one of my favorite books of all time. Here is the Goodreads summary of it[quote][/quote]Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor’. Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history."

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Post by Gravy » 02 Dec 2015, 08:12

literaturelover wrote:
Graverobber wrote:I started my November book a few days ago. I went with The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff. As of right now I am about a quarter of the way through it.
It's set in Copenhagen Denmark in the 1920's, and is a novelization of the true story of artist Lili Elbe who was born Einar Wegener.

I'm enjoying it quite a lot :D
I've been wanting to read that! Please keep me updated, I would love to know if you recommend it.
I finished it and posted about it here :)
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Post by ms_paranormaladdict6 » 02 Dec 2015, 14:10

I recently finished a series called Seven Sisters by ML. Bullock. The author writes about a mansion in Alabama during the slavery period. Now, being that I am of African American descent, some of the terms used in this book did highly irritate me but I did understand the necessity of it being that she wrote about that time period. The story was about a haunted mansion called Seven Sisters, several unsolved murders of slaves and city officials happened here, witchcraft, betrayal, adultery etc. The book then transitions to the present time where a young woman has dreams of things that happened in the past and she ends up working at Seven Sisters Mansion. The young lady sets out to uncover the mysteries because she thinks that may stop the paranormal activity.
I believe this is a unique book because for one, the author takes great depth in using such an ugly disgusting time in history to turn it into a justice. Secondly the protagonist isn't some whiny indecisive female, she actually is a relate-able character. Last but not least the whole point of the story is the fact that an injustice can always be turned around and when it comes to the slave issue, that's not often seen in books. Good job ML Bullock :)

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Post by elivia05 » 16 Jun 2018, 18:11

DennisK wrote:
03 Nov 2015, 17:26
Samoa-A Historical Novel by J. Robert Shaffer
Near where I live, there use to be an old ,what I believe to be, a horse drawn hay rake. Along the axial connecting the two large iron wheels was a string of steel thongs that could easily pierce the human body. Perched slightly forward of them was a single seat. Nothing protective existed between the thongs and the seat. From the axial, was a boom that would have been connected to the horse's harness. Sitting on this machine, I tried to get some sense of what it was like to be a farmer during the times that it was used. Horses are not like a motor – they have their own brains, and like all living creatures, we have our good days and our bad. Sitting there on my perch, I could do better than just imagine what it would be like - I could feel it. That is what I look for in a well written historical novel. I want to experience how it felt to live during the time of its story. History, to me, is more than just dates. It is even more than some concept of cause and effect. It should be a human experience. I want to feel it in my gut, and in doing so, it is like lengthening my life by extending it back into time. Of course, I haven't read an author who could transport me, body and soul, back in time, but if I can gain some tidbit of what it was like – something to which I can relate; then the book will be well worth the read. This was my expectation when I loaded this book into my Nook.
The first thing I would like to point out is that Shaffer added to his book a chapter by chapter account of what, and who was real, and what was fiction. Bookmarking this section made it easy to refer back to it while reading the story. I can't compliment him enough for taking the time to do that. Shaffer uses a style that is similar to a play where the actor leaves the character to talk to the audience – he will leave the narrative by the use of italicized font. One would think this my be confusing, but it is done in such a way that it flows with the narrative without problems.
I think the book's first part is its best. Its story starts about 3000 years ago. After migrations from New Guinea, and subsequently from the Fiji Islands, our islanders have been living on an island for many generations. There is a persistent drought and the island is no longer able to support its population. This is how the story begins. What can a people do when on an island that can no longer support its population? Do they succumb to disease and famine - have a war to deplete the population, or as our islanders do, leave? Guided by legends passed from generation to generation, it is decided to build a boat to sail some of its population to another island. The legends told them to always sail toward the rising sun, and during the night, use the stars we currently call Orion's belt. That, and identifying and observing the path of migrating birds, they were able to populate the islands of Samoa and eventually all of Polynesia. This was done more than a thousand years before 'civilized' man dared to venture beyond the sight of land.
I have the thought that the more steps you can make into the past, the further into the future you can see. While reading this adventure, I marveled at how the people of that starving island sacrificed their precious resources to build and equip that boat - and say goodbye to those who would leave forever. Today, there are plans to send people to Mars, and I can't help but see similarities between our two points in time: They were on an island surrounded by a vast, and an, apparently, unending ocean. Today, we are on an island-planet surrounded by a vast, and for all practical purposes, unending space. We are at the beginning of an exploration that will try our resources, and our courage – just as it must have been for them.
The story progresses to a time when Europe's missionaries arrived to “de-heathenize” the natives – influenza being the catalyst. The story continues through German, English and U.S. colonization efforts – all of which is colored in greed, prejudice and brutality. There were some favorable characters – a whole chapter was given to Robert Louis Stevenson,s life in Samoa. I found nothing enlightening, nor inspiring in this book's last half. Instead of being a story about the Samoan people, much of the story was about European people in Samoa. For me, this was a disappointment. I view it as a missed opportunity as Polynesian people are unique because they learned to survive on small specks of land surrounded by a vast ocean. Today, we live on a small speck of dust surrounded by a vast universe, and we are now learning its limitation. All of our recorded history are of a people who's civilizations grew within large continents. To expand, all we had to do was start walking! Never-the-less, the European influence on Polynesia was undeniably overpowering, and I can understand why Shaffer wrote it as such.
In that this novel covers such a long period of time, it is an epic story – much like James Michener's stories. The narrative was a bit choppy – as though it had undergone considerable editing to bring its size down to a readable 600-plus pages. I did gain a new perspective, but it is not a book that I would reread. The book wasn’t so much riveting as it was enlightening – at least the first half of the book. I would grade it 2 out of 4.
This review alone took me on an adventure. I will definitely take this book into consideration. It sounds very interesting.

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