I adore reading historical fiction – I read it more than anything else. If fiction is supposed to transport the reader, hist fic does it best. Here are six of my very favorites, as shared on Studio 5 with Brooke Walker today.
What are your favorite historical fiction reads??
1. “Shadow on the Crown” by Patricia Bracewell
One word: WOW! From the very first page of this fascinating historical fiction, I was riveted. I started reading in bed, late one night, and very reluctantly closed the book after the first couple chapters. I rolled over, shut my eyes and thought, “Whoa! This is gonna be an amazing read.“
And it is! Emma, a character that until now was lost to history, is a heroine everyone can relate to, admire and love. The book, based on actual events as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, is the first in a trilogy about the brave woman’s life. Author Patricia Bracewell writes with passion and gorgeous prose. Many times, I actually held my breath as I turned the page, eager to see what would come next.
With everything from war and betrayal to forbidden love and sweet romance, Shadow on the Crownis one of the best historical fiction novels I’ve read. I cannot wait to read the rest of the trilogy.
Content note: There are about five or six brief, but moderately descriptive sex scenes between the king and Emma, some in violence (King Aethelred is a bad guy!), a few other sexual references, brief battlefield violence including mention of rape and a few uses of foul language.
2. “My Name is Mary Sutter” by Robin Oliveira
Simply put, this book is amazing. The kind of book that stays with you, truly unforgettable. Robin Oliveira’s writing is gorgeous and deeply emotional. The characters, every one, even secondary ones, are vibrant and real. And the history of medicine at the time of the Civil War is fascinating and grotesque. With no working knowledge of infections, medical sanitation, doctors went from man to man, amputating limbs with the same knife and unwashed hands. Several times, I got the chills while reading this book.
If you love historical fiction, this masterfully written book is a must-read!
Content note: War violence and injuries, detailed medical descriptions of injuries and crude surgeries, two F-words.
3. “The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman
I can’t remember a novel that made my heart ache more than this one. Author M.L. Stedman’s exquisite story of desperate choices and tragic consequences immediately grips your emotions and holds on to the perfect ending. So gorgeously and expertly written, I’ll never forget the sorrow, joy, love, struggle and everything in between, contained in these pages.
Not only is the characters’ conflict gripping and touching, but the settings mystical and enchanting. This book is an extraordinary and rare reading experience. Do not miss it!
Content note: Occasional use of mild foul language
4. “The Shoemaker’s Wife” by Adriana Trigiani
Vivid. Beautiful. Atmospheric. Lovely. Gripping. Wonderful. I loved this book from best-selling author Adriana Trigiani. The prose is gorgeous and the story a sweeping, grand tale of love and family so full of depth that readers will be hard-pressed to put it down. Trigiani’s characters are splendidly real and endearing, the descriptions of settings alluring and the road to love heart-aching. And the book itself is so pretty, the cover a photo that appeared in the September 1949 issue ofHarper’s Bazaar. A must-read!
Content note: CLEAN
5. “Here Burns My Candle” by Liz Curtis Higgs
Everything about this book is intoxicating: the romance, the writing, the emotions, and the vivid eighteenth-century Scottish history. Author Liz Curtis Higgs is a master of historical fiction and an expert in romantic writing. This book is nearly impossible to put down and, thank goodness, when it ends there are two more books to finish the story (a trilogy).
Content Note: CLEAN
6. “The Tea Rose” by Jennifer Donnelly
I’ve wanted to read this book for a long time because it is my literary agent, Jenn Mishler’s, favorite book. But I’d always hesitated to pick it up due to the enormous length. But I finally committed and I’m so glad I did. This book blew me away: the grand scope of the story, the depth of the characters, the historical details. Jennifer Donnelly’s detailed plot is masterfully executed. I don’t know how she kept everything so sharp and tight – she’s a genius. Her writing is emotional and lovely.
Unlike most books of this length, I never got bored, never wanted to stop reading. Fiona’s story is so tragic, complicated and fascinating. I had to make sure she triumphed over all the awful circumstances placed before her. I was completely enthralled from page one to the end. The only drawback of this book is the content – NOT A CLEAN READ! See below.
CONTENT NOTE: NOT A CLEAN READ!
There are several (maybe 8-10) descriptive sex scenes. The scenes are not lengthy, but leave very little to the imagination. The book also contains frequent foul language including several F-words and deity terms; a fair amount of violence, some descriptive; and some details about the darker side of society like crime, prostitution, drugs.