Wednesday reading experience #26

Choose a historical era and read one or more non-fiction accounts of it, either of the general history of the era, an event that took place within the era (e.g. a war, the discovery of new lands or a royal marriage), or the biography of a person who lived during that era. Then find a historical novel that features the same era, event, or person, or is directly about the same (i.e. a novelisation), and see how an author can use - or in some cases abuse or twist - historically known facts to tell a fictional story.

You may even want to compare the history book and historical novel with a novel about a similar subject that was written during that era.

Some suggestions for historical novels:
Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
Georgette Heyer: An Infamous Army. Her other novels, which are mostly either pure romances or have a strong romantic element (Infamous Army does too) are more domestic in scope, but they are excellently researched and give one a good idea of the manners and language of the era they cover (mostly the English Regency, but some take place in the 18th century)
Paul Scott: The Raj Quartet
One or more of Steven Saylor’s mysteries about Gordianus the Finder (the rise of Julius Caesar and Roman politics of the time is in the background of the stories)
Ellis Peters: The Brother Cadfael books
Wilbur Smith: River God and its sequels
Patrick Süskind: Perfume - I highly recommend this one
Alexandre Dumas: The Three Musketeers and its sequels, or The Count of Monte Cristo
Victor Hugo: Les Miserables or The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Sigrid Undset: Kristin Lavransdatter
Baroness Orczy: The Scarlet Pimpernel
Toni Morrison: Beloved or The Bluest Eye
James Clavell: Shogun
Sir Walter Scott: any of the Waverly novels, e.g. Rob Roy, Ivanhoe or The Talisman
Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities
George MacDonald Fraser: The Flashman Chronicles
Patrick O’Brien: The Aubrey-Maturin series
Bernard Cornwell: The Sharpe series
Margaret Mitchell: Gone With the Wind
John Jakes: North and South
Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose or Baudolino
Arturo Pérez-Reverte: The Captain Alatriste novels
Fannie Flagg: Fried Green Tometoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Alice Walker: The Color Purple


Gallimaufry said…
What an interesting idea! I'm thinking of Anne Perry's Inspector Pitt mysteries & Dickens. What a contrast!!
Bibliophile said…
Funny you should mention Perry and Dickens - I originally wrote an addendum suggesting books to read together, and one of the suggestions was to pair those two.

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