Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hot Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction is a proving to be a very popular genre right now and we are getting tons of requests for suggestions and recommendations!  Luckily for us, Booklist has put out a Top 10 list of Historical Fiction for the first quarter of 2009, check it out!

The Black Tower by Louis Bayard
This historical mystery is set during the early years of the restoration of the Bourbons to the throne following NapolĂ©on’s exile. In addition to the many fine, quirky character portraits and the visceral depiction of a chaotic France still reeling under the regime change, the author offers a rip-roaring plot.

Drood by Dan Simmons
Simmons offers a stunning re-creation of Dickens’ London and its characters that is almost as good as, well . . . Dickens. A top-notch, genre-bending tour de force, this is where history and horror meet. (I read this one in ARC before it was published and LoVeD iT mightily!)

The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
Rushdie chooses well in writing a historical novel centered on one of the most fascinating rulers and eras in the history of East Asia: Akbar the Great and his Mogul Empire.

Exiles by Ron Hansen
A veteran historical novelist brilliantly, if soberly, weaves a riveting novel based on the factual background to the writing of Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkin’s classic epic poem, “The Wreck of the Deutschland.

The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
Celebrated crime novelist Lehane offers his first full-scale historical epic, a detail-rich exploration of America at the end of World War I, a country on the verge of being torn apart by civil and political unrest. (The Bookies will be discussing this book June 9th at 10am, come join the fun!)

Indignation by Philip Roth
The the main character and the setting are plucked from traditional Roth country: a nice Jewish boy, the son of a kosher butcher, living in Newark in the early 1950s. A fast-paced, compassionate, humorous, historically conscious novel.

A Mercy by Toni Morrison
In the late 1600s in colonial America, slavery still exists as a thriving industry that translates into plenty of business for many people. The women associated with Virginia planter Jacob Vaark, who has quickly risen from “ratty orphan” to man of means, speak their piece in this fitting companion to Morrison’s highly regarded Beloved.

Palace Council by Stephen L. Carter
Carter explores evolving perspectives on race, violence, and national ideals through a cast of fascinating characters, drawn from both real life and the author’s earlier novels.

Peace by Richard Bausch
A versatile short story writer and novelist tells one soldier’s story in a World War II novel distilled to its chilling essence, steeped in the wretched absurdity of war and the dream of peace.

The Women by T. C. Boyle
The women who inspired Boyle’s latest fictional improvisation on the lives of historical figures are the lovers and wives of master architect Frank Lloyd Wright. A gorgeous novel of artistic conviction.

If you've read any of these titles, what did you think?  Do they live up to their billing?  If any of them have now captured your interest, let us know what you think of them when you're done!

Happy reading!
(photo credits: "A Place to Read, Write and Be" by kimberlyrenee @Flickr)


trav said...

I read Drood earlier this year. It was long. Not one of my faves. But I thought Simmons' The Terror (from the year before) was awesome!

It was just as many pages, but a much more consistent read that didn't try and weave in so many mundane "time period" facts and scenes.

Thanks for posing this list! The Black Tower is now on my TBR list.

Emmet O'Neal Library said...

Drood was a slow book to get through, but one of those that I kept coming back to in my thoughts again and again. The more I thought about it, the better I liked it but I don't think it would go on the list of books that I reread frequently.

I've put several from this list on my "Plan to Read" shelf on Shelfari!

Paul Schultz said...

Thank you for the excellent list of books (they look terrific!). As an author of HF, I am happy to read that the genre is thriving. My new novel is entitled THE FUHRER VIRUS. It is a WWII spy/conspiracy/thriller for adult readers and can be found at,, and


Paul Schultz

Emmet O'Neal Library said...

Thanks for contributing to the genre and good luck with your book!