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Rich and immersive, transporting and informative, good historical fiction is a sumptuous treat. See the past re-written with our Historical Fiction collection. Here to take you to another time without the cost of building a time machine.
September 2010 Guest Editor Belle de Jour on Stendhal... I find his books are incredible for how dense they are with detail – it’s like the entire plot of any other novel, on each page. But in particular his heroes are engaging, especially Julian Sorel in The Scarlet and the Black. A classic schemer and loner who, through a set of unlikely circumstances, discovers about life and love what very few ever realise.
March 2010 Good Housekeeping selection. On My Bookshelf by Joanna Trollope... Rose Tremain’s historical novels are big gems. My favourite is Music And Silence. It’s a book you just inhabit as you read.
History brought to life through a fascinating tale of adventure, survival, determination and pure grit, for the acquiring of spices, which could be engendering great wealth, was fraught with danger. Pirates, war, treachery, disease, murder and heroism are all here in a thrilling read, much of it taken from original documents. Highly recommended.
Voted the winner of the Man Booker Best of Beryl. A novel about one family's experiences in the Crimean War. When the Battle of Inkerman was over, five survivors were assembled in front of a camera. A sixth figure - Master Georgie - added symmetry to the group. In the distance a young woman circled round and round like a bird above a robbed nest. Combining a breathtaking eye for beauty with a visceral understanding of mortality, Beryl Bainbridge exposes her enigmatic hero as tenderly and unsparingly as she reveals the filth and misery of war, and creates a novel of luminous depth and extraordinary intensity. Beryl Bainbridge's last novel, The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress will be published posthumously in June 2011.
The Flashman Papers series is one of my favourites. No other series makes me blurt with laughter, raise my eyebrows, or afterwards reach for the history books quite as much as this one. Flashman was the school bully in Tom Brown’s School Days by Thomas Hughes, and here, George Macdonald Fraser takes Flashman and propels him into the centre of a whole host of famous incidents taking place between the 1830’s and 90’s. Flashman is a coward, a scoundrel, and one of the most readable and fascinating characters to be found in literature. He affects history, and can be found in various battles from the Charge of the Light Brigade to Custer’s Last Stand. Highly recommended. Books in The Flashman Papers Series: 1. Flashman 2. Royal Flash 3. Flash for Freedom! 4. Flashman at the Charge 5. Flashman in the Great Game 6. Flashman's Lady 7. Flashman and the Redskins 8. Flashman and the Dragon 9. Flashman and the Mountain of Light 10. Flashman and the Angel of the Lord 11. Flashman and the Tiger 12. Flashman on the March
Shortlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize. Set in Italy of the 1960’s Jenny flees to Naples to leave her trouble behind but finds that life's little dramas can affect you wherever you are in the world. Friendships, romance, discovery. A short novel but packed full of emotion and insightfulness.
From small-town England to the Russian court of the 17th century in the company of a man who can feel no pain. From an object of curiosity to a great surgeon himself we learn much of the science and the philosophy of the period as we travel with this extraordinary man in a very skilful, densely written, complicated novel. Challenging and intelligent, it is a rewarding read.Comparison: David Liss, Iain Pears, Barry Unsworth.
November 2012 Guest Editor Kate Mosse on All Quiet On the Western Front... I write about war and the consequences of war, the way ordinary people are caught up in events larger than themselves. Written by a veteran of the First World War, to my mind this it the finest anti-war novel of them all. The story of a young German soldier in WWI, it lays bare the futility of war and with the most heart breaking closing paragraph. A 2011 World Book Night selection. One by one the boys begin to fall...In 1914, a room full of German schoolboys, fresh-faced and idealistic, are goaded by their schoolmaster to troop off to the 'glorious war'. With the fire and patriotism of youth, they sign up. What follows is the moving story of a young 'unknown soldier' experiencing the horror and disillusionment of life in the trenches. Our Editorial Guru, Sarah Broadhurst, has suggested others book and authors that would be perfect for you to read next or to pass on the recommendation - so your gift will keep on giving enjoyment. Her selections for this title are: Pat Barker, Sebastian Faulks.
A world away from the Royal courts of Europe, this is set in and around the aftermath of the slave trade in Bristol. Gregory brings her unique combination of a vivid sense of history and inimitable storytelling skills to illuminate a complex period of our past, a past that unlike the American slave trade is much less well known but no less disgraceful. Riveting, heart-breaking, powerful, haunting, intensely disturbing, this is a novel of desire and shame, of individuals, of a society, and of a whole continent devastated by the greed of others.
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize For the four fraught, mysterious days of her doomed maiden voyage in 1912, the Titanic sails towards New York, glittering with luxury, freighted with millionaires and hopefuls. In her labyrinthine passageways are played out the last, secret hours of a small group of passengers, their fate sealed in prose of startling, sublime beauty, as Beryl Bainbridge's haunting masterpiece moves inexorably to its known and terrible end.
March 2012 Guest Editor Alan Bradley on Patrick O'Brian... Beginning with “Master and Commander” this beautifully-written series follows the fortunes of a most unlikely couple of companions: Jack Aubrey, a large, bluff and not overly-refined sea captain, and Stephen Maturin, a Catalan ship’s doctor and part-time spy. Their lives, their wives, their loves and tragedies are etched in loving and unforgettable detail.
With authors like the two-time Man Booker Prize winning Hilary Mantel among its illuminati, it’s no wonder that Historical Fiction is arguably more popular than ever. Follow the lives, loves, betrayals, deaths, trials-and-tribulations of those that went before us.
Whether you follow Sebastian Faulks and P.S Duffy to the hell and displacement of the Front in WWI, Philippa Gregory to the intrigue, immorality and perils of the court of Henry VIII, or get rocked on the high seas of the King’s Navy in Patrick O’Brien’s Master and Commander, there is a wealth of exceptional storytelling to dive headfirst into. Where will you let our time machine take you today?