Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Historical Novels

Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is the top ten books you would recommend to people who haven't tried historical fiction.

I'll skip over bestselling titles like Orphan Train--those are books that have already found their readers. Here are books--some newer, and some you may never have heard of--that fall into the historical novel category. Each of the books below enthralled or entranced me in some way.

1. My Dream of You by Nuala O'Faolain. I love, love, love this book. Sadly, O'Faolain passed away, so there will be no more novels by this Irish writer, author of the best-selling memoir Are You Somebody. This is one of those books that goes back and forth between the present and the past. Here, the novel within a novel is about an Anglo-Irish landlord, his English wife, and her affair with an Irish groom. Set during the time of the Irish potato famine.
2. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. A beautifully crafted novel about secrets. Set during World War II, the 1960's and the present.
3. Exit the Actress by Priya Parmar. Set in England, this novel tells the story of Nell Gwyn, who rose from poverty to become a famed actress and the mistress of Charles II.
4. Time and Again by Jack Finney. I don't know if this is really a historical novel--it is more a blend of time travel, historical fiction, and mystery. But the writer brings to life New York in the 1880's.
5. Passion by Jude Morgan. One of the most immersive reading experiences I have had. This novel is about the Romantic English poets. Amazing, lush, gorgeous.
6. Vindication by Frances Sherwood. A novel about Mary Wollstonecraft, author of Vindication of the Rights of Women.
7. City of Light by Lauren Belfer. Set in Buffalo and Niagara Falls in 1901. This was one of the first historical novels I read and enjoyed. Still vivid in my mind, even though I read it more than a decade ago.
8. TransAtlantic by Colum McCann. This novel links several time periods and characters from history. Compelling for the beauty of the prose, and for the thematic links between characters and eras.
9. Possession by A.S. Byatt. One of the best novels I have every read. Set partly in the present, and partly during Victorian times.
10. Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub. I'm a huge fan of old movies, so I loved this story of Old Hollywood.

What historical novels would you recommend?


bermudaonion said...

I don't read a lot of historical novels but most of my friends do so I'm making note of some of these titles.

bibliophiliac said...

@bermudaonion-I'm liking historical fiction more and more. Jude Morgan has several other titles, and I keep wanting to read his novels about the Bronte sisters.

Judith said...

Oh, what a superb list, and a keeper at that. I will record every title.
I adored The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. It was an exquisite tale.
And I had forgotten that I read and loved City of Light!! I read it over ten years ago, back when we were living on the outskirts of Boston. I agree--an historical a reader can fully embrace.
Ken and my father-in-law enjoyed Time and Again so much that they gave me a copy, and I was thoroughly captivated.
The rest of your titles I'm recording, except for Possession, which was not my favorite, though I was glad I read Byatt.
What a wonderful list!
Thank you for writing about it,
Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)

Anonymous said...

Ooo, I've never heard of Vindication, but I'm totally going to look it up now! I'm a little crazy for Wollstonecraft.

LBC said...

I don't think of myself as a historical novel fan, but I really love Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures. I should give more of them a chance. This is a great list!

Monica's Bookish Life said...

Every book on your list looks really interesting to me. I picked up Possession at a book sale last year, and it's just been sitting on my shelf. Now, I'm going to have to read it!

Leah @ Books Speak Volumes said...

I love historical fiction, but I haven't read any of these. Adding some to my TBR!

bibliophiliac said...

@Judith-The Secret Keeper was so Good! I have another Kate Morton book on my shelf, and I hope I have time to read it soon.

bibliophiliac said...

@Shannon-I read a lot of Wollstonecraft in grad school and became pretty obsessed with her. I read everything she wrote, and all the biographies I could get my hands on. She is such an inspirational figure....

bibliophiliac said...

@LBC-Yes, the Hollywood setting of Laura Lamont was so fascinating. i really loved that book.

bibliophiliac said...

@Monica-I hope you got some good reading ideas from this list!

bibliophiliac said...

@Leah-I'm becoming more fond of historical fiction the more I read of this genre.

Lisa said...

I haven't read so many of these - more books to add to my wish list!

bibliophiliac said...

@Lisa- Top Ten Tuesday always adds to my TBR list!