"There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage."
--Martin Luther

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Historical Fiction

I've been off enjoying Punta Cana (yay!), but am now back to link up with another Top Ten Tuesday at the Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is Favourite Books in X Genre, so I chose Historical Fiction.  I majored in History in university, and I still read a lot of history books as well historical fiction.  My qualifications for good historical fiction are:  1)  Well-researched.  Since I know a lot about history, I will be annoyed if key facts are wrong; 2) Good story.  Research isn't enough to make up for a bad or boring story; 3) Able to merge 1 and 2.  If I feel like I'm living through history, I am a happy camper.  There are some time travel books that would count as historical fiction under those categories (such as 11/22/63) but I decided to limit my list to exclude them.

1.  Between Shades of Gray by Ruth Sepetys; set during Soviet Occupation of Latvia, before and during WWII:  I loved this book and how it brought to life a situation that not many people know about:  The detention and deportation of Latvians in the USSR.  So well-written and engaging.

2.  Number the Stars by Lois Lowry; set during WWII in the Denmark:  This was a favourite of mine as a child, and I could read it again and again.  It made me think about history as a young person.

3.  Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan; set in Germany and France during WWII:  This tells the story of a group of jazz musicians in Germany.  The group are a mix of German Jews, Germans, African Americans, and one talented young man who is half-German, half-Black.  An engaging story for sure.

4.  The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje; set in WWII-era Italy and North Africa:  It's been ages since I read this book (time for a re-read?) but it's stayed with me.  The characters come from various strokes of life and are a fascinating mix.  I loved the detail in its description, for example the defusing of a bomb.

5.  Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden; set in pre-WWII and WWII Japan:  A look at the training and life of a geisha.  My mom had this book on the table one time, and I picked it up and couldn't put it down.  Such a fascinating story!

6.  Shanghai Girls by Lisa See; set in WWII in Shanghai and post-war Los Angeles:  I loved this book and what it showed of the life of educated and westernized girls in China and then the immigrant experience in LA.

7.  The Birth House by Ami McKay; set in Nova Scotia in the early 1900s, WWI:  A really interesting book about midwifery in small-town Nova Scotia and the introduction of modern birthing techniques.  I loved the relationships between the women.

8.  Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell; set during and after the US Civil War:  No need to introduce this one really.  I read it at age 16 and probably wouldn't like it as much now, but there's no arguing that it's an epic story and paints a picture of the South.

9.  Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz; set in Rome during the reign of Nero:  It's a love story, and a depiction of the politics of Rome, and a picture of the early church.  I loved this book.

10.  A Voice in the Wind (and the sequels) by Francine Rivers; set in the Roman Empire during the early church era:  When I read Quo Vadis, I wondered if Francine Rivers hadn't been inspired by it to write A Voice in the Wind, as there are similar elements.  I found this an intriguing look at the fall of Jerusalem, the early Christian church, and the debauchery among many of the Roman elite.

There are sooooo many historical fiction that I haven't read yet.  I have yet to read any Philippa Gregory and Margaret George, and I've had Wolf Hall on my list for ages.  What are your favourite historical fiction books?


  1. I read Out of the Easy by Ruth Sepetys and loved it! I am excited to read Between Shades of Gray!
    New follower :)
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  2. So many here that I want to read! Between Shades of Grey, Number the Stars and The Birth House! Completely forgot about Memoirs of a Geisha - another great pick. Lovely list :)