"Misfit" wrote:While it's better classified as a novel in a historical setting and not a historical novel, I loved Susan Howatch's Cashelmara a great deal - this has the added bonus that she parallels the lives of her characters with those of England's first three Edwards.
Cashelmara covers 1859 to 1891, set mostly in Ireland, also in England and the US, with American, Anglo-Irish and Irish characters. You see the effects of famine and get some idea of the political situation. I'd recommend it.
Maeve Binchy has written period fiction set in Ireland - nothing really historical but several novels dealing with young women growing up in the Dublin area in the 1940s, 50s and 60s that give you an idea of how different a society it was then. I enjoyed Light A Penny Candle, Echoes and Circle of Friends - especially the last one.