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Historical Fiction 101-starter books for the newbie

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Amanda
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Location: Sydney, Australia

Post by Amanda » Sun February 8th, 2015, 8:57 pm

California by John Jakes?

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blueemerald
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA

Post by blueemerald » Mon February 9th, 2015, 12:23 am

In a previous post, Misfit added a link to a Goodreads list on CA historical fiction that was of particular interest. Yes, and John Jakes "California Gold". I enjoy his family saga epics and shall pass that title on as well. I've read many of his novels and had been unaware of this one. Thanks Amanda.

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blueemerald
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Post by blueemerald » Sun April 5th, 2015, 1:25 pm

An update~
My friend selected "California" by John Jakes. Seemed a BIG BOOK for a beginner reader, but she was very enthusiastic about her selection She is still slugging away, but staying with it and enjoying the story. "It's just like being there and interesting to learn some history about California (she grew up there) without having to get it through a dry ol' history book." "It's a big book" she added.... ;)

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Margaret
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Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favourite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
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Post by Margaret » Tue April 7th, 2015, 5:51 am

Cecelia Holland, a "you are there" historical novelist par excellence, has written several novels set in California:

Railroad Schemes, about an orphaned girl and an outlaw determined to stop the railroad from coming to 1870s Los Angeles

Lily Nevada, a sequel to Railroad Schemes, set in Gilded Age San Francisco

The Bear Flag, about a young woman involved in California’s struggle for independence.

Pacific Street, about an escaped slave who gains influence in Gold Rush San Francisco


These are not necessarily novels I would recommend to every "newbie" HF reader, because their strong attention to the authenticity of the historical setting and characters means Holland's characters are not generally as sympathetic to the typical modern reader as the main characters in a lot of other novels, historical or contemporary. But Sena Jeter Naslund is a literary novelist similarly interested in authenticity over other considerations, so your friend may well enjoy Holland. (My all-time favorite of her novels has to be Great Maria, which I first read as a teen and have re-read several times over the years, always with deep interest and enjoyment.)
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

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blueemerald
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Post by blueemerald » Tue April 7th, 2015, 3:15 pm

Woops-what I meant in my earlier post is "California Gold" by John Jakes! Yeah, that's it!

And thanks for those additional suggestions and information Margaret. I'll keep them in the queue for my newbie HF friend and myself.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue April 7th, 2015, 3:17 pm

Ceclia is very authentic in her attention to detail, and her characters are intriguingly multi-faceted--though not, as Margaret says, always sympathetic. She's an acquired taste, but an excellent one.

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Leyland
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Post by Leyland » Thu May 14th, 2015, 5:31 pm

Anya Seton's The Turquoise and My Theodosia are two fine American HF works that should be added to Newbie's Novels. Goodness knows, there are a great many of us here that give Ms. Seton full credit for getting us hooked on our lifelong historical fiction additions!
We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams ~ Arthur O'Shaughnessy, Ode

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blueemerald
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Re: Historical Fiction 101-starter books for the newbie

Post by blueemerald » Wed August 5th, 2015, 12:49 am

Ok-here's the unfortunate update. My friend excitedly entered the hitherto unknown world of pleasure reading. John Jakes "California Gold" piqued her interest and this she selected. Over the next month she got through the copyright page, TOC, and to page 10. Then she stopped. Hasn't picked the book up since (or any other pleasure reading material, for that matter). Says she is done. Says "sorry, reading just didn't work out for me." Say what? Can you imagine?!!

Well I am disappointed that my friend's initial foray into pleasure reading (HF) was a no-go. Hopefully some day, in some life, in some universe (one can always hope) she will try pleasure reading once again and find it a delight!

Thanks again everyone for the suggestions. I certainly found several titles of interest which I look forward to reading....because I LOVE TO READ.

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