Historical Fiction Genre Discussion

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

Post by Fran » 05 Nov 2015, 07:21

herquilarh wrote:Exodus by Leon Vris.
I stumbled upon this book while searching online for books to read to pass the time and i must say it was an excellent read. The book is set around the era of israeli independence,it tells a compelling story of how israel came to be an independent state. While there are some places in the book that can be termed as boring,the action packed scenes more than make up for them. Leon Vris draws you into the lifes of the characters and they dont let go. He also talks about how mass murders of jews were carried out during the holocaust describing in detail methods which were used.
All in all exodus is a great book and i highly recommend it for anyone wanting to read historical fiction
Read it years ago & really thought it superb - I subsequently read everything Leon Uris wrote. He was a brilliant writer of historical fiction & did superb research.
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Post by herquilarh » 05 Nov 2015, 10:12

gali wrote:
herquilarh wrote:Exodus by Leon Vris.
I stumbled upon this book while searching online for books to read to pass the time and i must say it was an excellent read. The book is set around the era of israeli independence,it tells a compelling story of how israel came to be an independent state. While there are some places in the book that can be termed as boring,the action packed scenes more than make up for them. Leon Vris draws you into the lifes of the characters and they dont let go. He also talks about how mass murders of jews were carried out during the holocaust describing in detail methods which were used.
All in all exodus is a great book and i highly recommend it for anyone wanting to read historical fiction
A great book indeed! There was also such a movie. :)
Yea,the movie was also great. I think all movies or books related to exodus do great

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Post by DennisK » 06 Nov 2015, 22:03

I twisted my knee; so all I've been doing is resting with all of these books to read. I just finished Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton & I am currently reading Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I am about ¼ through and I am thoroughly enjoying it. It trapped me from the start - won’t take me long to finish.

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Post by gali » 07 Nov 2015, 01:02

DennisK wrote:I twisted my knee; so all I've been doing is resting with all of these books to read. I just finished Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton & I am currently reading Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I am about ¼ through and I am thoroughly enjoying it. It trapped me from the start - won’t take me long to finish.
I am sorry to hear about your knee. Be well!

I am glad you enjoy the book so far. :)
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by kio » 07 Nov 2015, 15:43

best of luck with your knee @Dennis K. That's got to hurt. Just to let everyone know, you can still discuss your books as you read them even if you haven't finished them yet ;) For me, I've been reading High Divide by Lin Enger. It's about two brothers who are trying to come to grips with their dad leaving their mom. Without telling their mom, they head across the country to try and find what happened to their dad. Told alternatively between the mom, the dad, and each brother's point of view we see their adventure of rediscovering themselves.

The idea of the kids running off was hard for me to believe, but I liked how well developed the story was. One of the big characteristics I noticed with Historical Fiction is that actions tend to be determined by the time period the book takes place in. I also the like the ones where the characters are more developed, but this isn't always the case. Usually, they mix up real and historical events into the story (even if they are changed by an alternate history type scenario). Like the boys' dad fought in two of Colonel Custer's Indian Wars and, without spoiling too much, his reason for leaving is linked to something that happened when he was in the military. Plots usually have a solution (after all, they are in the past ;) ).

What are some other characteristics you guys have noticed? How would you say some of these characteristics change when you cross genres (ex. Historical Fantasy, Time travel into a historical setting)?
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Post by DennisK » 08 Nov 2015, 02:39

Thanks Gali and Kio, I'll be OK. The silver lining is that I get to relax and read without guilt. Though I now have a problem because I should be telling about my experience with Pirate Latitudes, but Orphan Train has so out shined Pirate Latitudes, it is hard to think about Pirate Latitudes. Not that Pirate Latitudes was a bad read, it was a fun book to read. It is a historical novel, though I don't know why Michael Crichton thought it was necessary to make it so. The story is a rip-snorting pirate adventure – that just happened to be based on actual historical events. That is, if you can discount the kraken that chased down their ship and commenced to grab screaming, kicking seamen from the deck with its large slimy tentacles.
The story starts in Port Royal which is in the Caribbean island, Jamaica. It is during the 16th Century and during that time, a great distinction was made between pirates and privateers. Pirates were hung and privateers were financed and encouraged to raid Spanish ships and settlements. A percentage of their spoils ended up in England's royal coffers. Pirates, on the other hand, raided anyone and none of their spoils graced England's royalty – thus the hangings. The protagonist is a privateer named Captain Charles Hunter who plans for and executes a raid on the Spanish fortress that was suspected of harboring a galleon that carried treasure. This adventure was plagued with all sorts of obstacles which kept me on the edge of my seat through most of the book. The book depicts its characters realistically, and the terminology used to describe 17 century square riggers seem to me accurate – at least he uses sailing terminology that we use today. The oaths sworn by the pirates seem consistent with the time. It was a fun story to read, and it ended with the actual possibility that there is an undiscovered pirate's treasure buried somewhere on a Caribbean island. So, look through your gold doubloons and if you find one with triangular scratches, you may need to start your own adventure. I give the book a 4 out of 4. :text-bravo:
Now, back to Orphan Train ….. :character-yoshi:

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Post by kio » 08 Nov 2015, 21:21

ooh, Pirate Latitudes does sound good. Thanks @Dennis K. Good thing I've already read Orphan train :)
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Post by DennisK » 10 Nov 2015, 14:22

kio wrote:ooh, Pirate Latitudes does sound good. Thanks @Dennis K. Good thing I've already read Orphan train :)
I hope you enjoy it, Kio ... if you like adventure stories, you probably will.

Orphan Train, written by Christina Baker Kline, is a beautifully crafted story. It is actually two stories that oscillated from one to the other:
The first story is about a modern day 17 year old named Molly who is a foster child. She is well on her way to a very difficult adult life. She was in and out of numerous foster homes because there were always conflicts with her foster parents. She had become hardened and pessimistic by all the disappointments that dominated her young life. Her current foster parents are Ralph and Dina Thiboldeaus. There is a lot of friction between Molly and Dina. Molly managed to get into trouble by stealing a book from the library. She could have spent the rest of her childhood in Juvenile Hall as a prisoner, but she was given the choice of working through 50 hours of community service. For that service, she found a elderly woman named Vivian who needed help cleaning out her attic. The elderly woman was in her 90's and her attic contained boxes of memorabilia that she collected throughout her life.
The second story was about a little 9 year old girl (Niamh) who, with her family, was driven from Ireland that was in the grips of a famine. They crossed the Atlantic in search of a new life in America. This was during the later part of the '20s. They ended up in one of New York’s slums. There was a fire, and she lost the whole of her family. She was placed with a group of orphans who were loaded onto a train to tour Midwestern states in search of new parents. That train is a part of our American history. Because her name was foreign and difficult to pronounce, she was given the name of Dorothy by her first foster parents. The only homes she found were with people who were looking for slave labor, or with a family that was deep in poverty and deprivation. She ran away from that family after being molested by her step father. This was during the Great Depression, but she fortunately found herself under the temporary care of a woman who ran a boarding house. From there, she found a permanent home with a couple who owned a store that dealt with general merchandise. She was adopted by this couple, and was given the name of Vivian.
As the two orphans, Molly and Vivian, unpacked each box, items that came forth also spilled out their stories, and little by little, the wall that Molly built to isolate herself began to fall away. This story is heart wrenching, but it also has redemption and a very happy ending. I want to give it a 5 out of 4 – is that legal? No? OK then, 4 out of 4.

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Post by zaynab_m » 10 Nov 2015, 15:25

One of my favourite books/series (from all genres) is the Anne of Green Gables series, set in Avonlea, Prince Edward Island, Canada. I would, of course, give it 4 out of 4 stars. It is a beautifully written story about a young orphan, a very talkative one. Her name is Anne Shirley (Anne with an 'e'.) The story begins with a mistake; Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert had sent for a boy of around 11 from the orphanage, to help Matthew around the farm. They wanted a lad who wasn't too young to be a nuisance, nor too old to not be brought up properly. Marilla would, of course, be in charge of bringing him up.
Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding little 11-year-old Anne was sent to Green Gables to the Cuthberts instead. She was ecstatic, thinking she had finally found a proper home and someone who would care for her. But her excitement soon died when she witnessed Marilla's tight-lipped stern face, enquiring of Matthew who this was, and where the boy they had wanted was. Anne was heart-broken, thinking she would be sent back to the orphanage. Marilla was firm; there was no way they were going to keep a girl, who would, instead of helping, be a burden to them. However, she agreed to keep the girl at Green Gables for a week. But, after many a plea and speech in flowery language on Anne's part, even strict Marilla had to relent: she let Anne stay with the Cuthberts permenantly.

The series, comprising of 8 books, follows Anne's life as she grows up to be a beautiful and vivacious young woman who steals the hearts of many. She marries for love, and in the final book, has children.

This series is a stunning piece of literature. The story is amazing, and I adore the setting. Montgomery's ability to describe the enchanting scenery of Prince Edward Island, down to the mere subtleties, is truly remarkable. She has an uncanny way of making a reader feel like they are present with Anne, walking down Lover's Lane and under the shade of the Snow Queen.
Another of the author's abilities is to describe her characters, making them jump off the pages and come to life. She does this by describing their appearance, making them lively, animated and delightful individuals - yes, even Mrs. Lynde - and also by the dialogues she assigns each of the people she creates.

I would most certainly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Even today - more than 107 years after AGG's publication! - Anne Shirley continues to steal her readers' hearts by her exuberant, yet lovable ways.
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

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Post by PaulR » 14 Nov 2015, 22:59

What does it mean having to fight for freedom? It is not so obvious to those who were born in freedom and did not experience a lack of it much less suffered a tyranny.
All young people should read Poland by J. A. Michener and try to imagine whether they, should they live at that time, would be able to recognize two of the worst tyrannies ever right at their start.
What were those tyrannies? Read Poland and see. Are there any similar tyrannies forming up now?

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Post by DennisK » 15 Nov 2015, 00:15

kio wrote:What are some other characteristics you guys have noticed? How would you say some of these characteristics change when you cross genres (ex. Historical Fantasy, Time travel into a historical setting)?
I have always thought that historical novels were stories embellishing historical fact without actually changing history. But in the case of, say, traveling back in time and changing history so that a what-if scenario is proposed; could that be considered a historical novel? If we are to learn from our past mistakes, it would seem to me that one way would be to propose an alternate solution. For instance, write a story that led up to the end of WW1, but instead of placing such heavy reparations on Germany, give the country a chance to recover, thus avoiding desperate situations which led to Hitler's rise in power. With WW2 avoided, a whole new reality can be created by the author. I think that would make a very interesting historical novel. :eusa-think:

-- 14 Nov 2015, 22:33 --
PaulR wrote:What does it mean having to fight for freedom? It is not so obvious to those who were born in freedom and did not experience a lack of it much less suffered a tyranny.
All young people should read Poland by J. A. Michener and try to imagine whether they, should they live at that time, would be able to recognize two of the worst tyrannies ever right at their start.
What were those tyrannies? Read Poland and see. Are there any similar tyrannies forming up now?
I've read Michener's Poland many years ago. I'm afraid the only thing I can remember about it was that Poland does not have any natural barriers to isolate it from predatorial nations; so it was always in a defensive mode. But they did retain their nationality right up to modern times - interesting. I also remember how the famous Polish Arabian horses came to be. I think that is when they got on a more offensive footing. I want to reread two of his books – Poland and Hawaii. So little time and so many books to read!

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Post by gali » 16 Nov 2015, 22:55

I am now reading another great historical book, "In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Larson. It is based on a real story and tells about rise of Hitler, and the evil of the man and his supporters. It is a chilling read, to say the least. It also shows how the world knew about Jewish persecution as early as in 1933, and still they chose to turn a blind eye to this. They simply didn't care and thought the Jews brought it on themselves. Pure racism and Anti-Semitism, and not just in Germany. They also were blind to the grave threat posed by Hitler until he forces the issue down their throat. They could have stopped it, if they acted earlier. Sadly, the world didn't learn from its history, as current affairs attest. The book merges fiction and many historical facts and a must read in my view. I am about to finish the book and highly recommend it.
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Post by anonanemone » 17 Nov 2015, 11:10

I had forgotten that this is historical fiction month. :oops:

I am currently reading MYK: Prince of the Vends. I am only 15% into the book but it is interesting so far. It is set in the second century and is about a boy that is a part a Celtic tribe known as the Vends. The story takes the reader through the boy's life starting at about age 8. The author aims to paint a story on how the Vend tribe interacts with neighboring tribes & Druidic priests. The part I have not reached yet is where the tribe has contact with small groups of Roman and Mongolian people.

For historical fiction I tend more toward settings that are not near history. I am looking forward to seeing how these stories play out.

-- 17 Nov 2015, 11:22 --

Also, thanks for the recommendations, gali. I still have a bad tendancy to dismiss cheesy romance covers out of hand. Hearing what the book is actually about has me much more interested. I have added both of your recommendations to my read list.

I don't remember hearing about this 'orphan train' phenomena. I am interested in this history now that I look at it. Overall, the theory seems like a good one for the time period ,when the alternative was asylums <shudder>, almshouses or worse.
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Post by DennisK » 17 Nov 2015, 14:21

Hornet Flight by Ken Follett
This is an adventure story within a WW2 setting. The historical significance concerns the Danish resistance and Germany's introduction of radar as a wartime weapon. The main characters consist of Harald; a young Danish boy who was about to graduate from school, and his brother, Arne who was a pilot within the Danish Army Aviation Troops. Hermia is Arne's fiancee, but she is located in England working for the British secret intelligence service. Hermia and Arne have been isolated from each other since Germany invaded Denmark. Peter Flemming was a schoolmate of Arne's, but there was a family conflict that made them enemies. Peter was obsessively a law and order inspector who worked closely with the occupying Nazi military.
England was losing its war with Germany. Her bombing raids have always been met with heavy resistance – as though the Germans knew exactly where British bombers were going before they arrived. At first, they suspected a spy, but soon they realized that Germany had developed a device that could locate airplanes while they were in flight. They learned that this device was located in Denmark. They desperately needed to learn all they could about it. The essence of this story is about how that information was acquired, and how it was smuggled out of Denmark – which turned into quite an extraordinary adventure.
I am partial to Fullett's writhing style, and this book was no disappointment. The book is a definite page turner – in fact it kept me up until 1:30 AM last night. Be forewarned! I give the book a 4 out of 4. :text-bravo:

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Post by Nina B » 17 Nov 2015, 18:32

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.

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