Today I was having a hard time coming up with an idea for a blog post, so I decided to fall back on a list. Today I wanted to share five of my favorite historical fiction books. Hope you enjoy. 🙂
Synopsis: By the time the novel appeared to tremendous popular and critical acclaim in 1871-2, George Eliot was recognized as England’s finest living novelist. It was her ambition to create a world and portray a whole community–tradespeople, middle classes, country gentry–in the rising provincial town of Middlemarch, circa 1830. Vast and crowded, rich in narrative irony and suspense, Middlemarch is richer still in character, in its sense of how individual destinies are shaped by and shape the community, and in the great art that enlarges the reader’s sympathy and imagination. It is truly, as Virginia Woolf famously remarked, ‘one of the few English novels written for grown-up people’
I read Middlemarch when I was around 16 I think? So it’s been awhile but I just bought a new copy and I can’t wait to read it again. I loved this book because the main character Dorothea is very relatable being intelligent and idealistic. She gets married to a man older than she because she dreams of being able to help him with his writing, while all he wants is someone to warm his bed and to show off. Middlemarch gives a great look into the life of a woman in the mid 1800’s.
Synopsis: The year is 1793, the eve of the Napoleonic Wars, and Horatio Hornblower, a seventeen-year-old boy unschooled in seafaring and the ways of seamen, is ordered to board a French merchant ship and take command of crew and cargo for the glory of England. Though not an unqualified success, this first naval adventure teaches the young midshipman enough to launch him on a series of increasingly glorious exploits. This novel–in which young Horatio gets his sea legs, proves his mettle, and shows the makings of the legend he will become–is the first of the eleven swashbuckling Hornblower tales that are today regarded as classic adventure stories of the sea.
This is one of the few books that I read after having seen the movie, or rather tv show in this case. The adventures of a officers and sailors during the Napoleonic Wars drew me in immediately, and Hornblower is a fantastic character. He’s quick and intelligent and the stories follow him as he rises through the ranks. I love his depth as a character, sometimes proud but other times extremely humble and prone to depression. But always a man of honor.
Synopsis: Anna Comnena has every reason to feel entitled. She’s a princess, her father’s firstborn and his chosen successor. Someday she expects to sit on the throne and rule the vast Byzantine Empire. So the birth of a baby brother doesn’t perturb her. Nor do the “barbarians” from foreign lands, who think only a son should ascend to power. Anna is as dismissive of them as are her father and his most trusted adviser–his mother, a manipulative woman with whom Anna studies the art of diplomacy. Anna relishes her lessons, proving adept at checkmating opponents in swift moves of mental chess. But as she matures into a young woman, her arrogance and intelligence threaten her grandmother. Anna will be no one’s puppet. Almost overnight, Anna sees her dreams of power wrenched from her and bestowed on her little brother. Bitter at the betrayal, Anna waits to avenge herself, and to seize what is rightfully hers.
I read this book when I was just starting high school, and it was one of my first encounters with a dislikable main character. Anna is prideful and arrogant but at the same time intelligent and interesting. The story of her downfall is fast paced and will keep you turning pages.
Synopsis: Many novels have been written about the Civil War and its aftermath. None take us into the burning fields and cities of the American South as Gone With the Wind does, creating haunting scenes and thrilling portraits of characters so vivid that we remember their words and feel their fear and hunger for the rest of our lives.
In the two main characters, the white-shouldered, irresistible Scarlett and the flashy, contemptuous Rhett, Margaret Mitchell not only conveyed a timeless story of survival under the harshest of circumstances, she also created two of the most famous lovers in the English-speaking world since Romeo and Juliet.
It’s no surprise that this book is on my list. I’ve already posted at least twice (I think) about how much I love the characters in this book. Call me strange but I like characters that are ”dislikable”. The story of Scarlett is not only a fascinating look on life in the south during the Civil War but it also follows a real woman. A strong woman who would do anything to keep the place she calls home.
Synopsis: The Living Reed follows four generations of one family, the Kims, beginning with Il-han and his father, both advisors to the royal family in Korea. When Japan invades and the queen is killed, Il-han takes his family into hiding. In the ensuing years, he and his family take part in the secret war against the Japanese occupation. Pearl S. Buck’s epic tells the history of Korea through the lives of one family. She paints an amazing portrait of the country, and makes us empathize with their struggle for sovereignty through her beautifully drawn characters.
This is probably one of my favorite books ever. Following a couple of different characters, this book immerses you in the life and customs of a Korean family. I don’t think I have enough words to describe how good a book this is, it moved me to tears several times. All I can say is the characters and plot are fantastic and you won’t regret reading it.