At what point does real, when tangled with embellishment, become fiction? What is truth when viewed by different people or seen from a different angle? History itself may be scoffed at, or viewed in another way if it had been written by the defeated, repressed, or vanquished. When it comes to truth and reality, and fabrication and fiction, there is often a very thin line between the two. In this collection we feature novels that are based on real events, or contain real people. The novels mentioned here may be ever so loosely based on reality, have a simple flutter-by of a real person, or could be saturated in historical events.
There are a number of ways that an author can write about real events or people, they could have completed painstaking research, or take the germ of an idea from an event and run with it. To decide to write about a real person in a fictional way must be daunting, to place words in the mouth, to create feelings that might not have existed, where do you start? Perhaps the further back in history you go, the easier it is to take over a person, to place them on the page. I do know that it takes real skill, and if, after you've finished reading a novel based on a real event, you find yourself drawn to further research, then I think the author has done a cracking job. And this is what we, the reader, mustn’t forget, these are novels, wonderful creations of fiction from the mind of the author.
Emily Bullock has taken a small shadow of history, and turned it into the most beautiful yet dark historical novel. Inside the Beautiful Inside is based on the true story of an inmate of Bethlam Royal Hospital between 1800 to 1815. James Norris was restrained, chained to a bar, and confined in isolation for more than ten years. The author takes a look at possibilities and makes them fly.
A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville is on the 2021 shortlist for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. This novel was inspired by letters and documents on entrepreneur and pioneer John Macarthur and his wife Elizabeth who arrived in Australia in 1790. The author was initially going to write a non-fiction account, however changed her mind and wrote a glorious novel, of such startling sincerity clarity and eloquence, that it really does give a voice to Elizabeth.
Editorial Expert Joanne Owen said of Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig: “Powerful, sweeping and elegantly composed, this compelling novels takes in Burma’s history from the 1940’s to the 1960’s and draws on the author’s personal history to remarkable effect". Joanne declared it an: “intensely illuminating, riveting accomplishment”.
Jerome Charyn exquisitely weaves fact and fiction in Cesare: A Novel of War Torn Berlin. It is a heart-rending yet fascinating historical novel set during a time of clandestine opposition to the Nazis. It contains the real life Chief of the Abwehr, spymaster Wilheim Canaris who was such a contradictory figure. There is a raw, almost brutal quality to this all-consuming storyline.
'Truth is stranger than fiction' is a much used saying, so you can expect some fabulously compelling novels in this collection, where reality and fiction is taken by the author and blended into a wonderful tale.