"Margaret" wrote:Great list - that's a site worth exploring. The WWII list there is much more extensive that the one at HistoricalNovels.info (thanks for the mention, Steve) because I try to focus on true historical novels, ones written quite recently by authors who were born after the war, and keep the contemporary WWII novels to a minimum. The difference between historical novels and contemporary novels about WWII can be subtle sometimes. Novels by soldiers who fought in the war and/or people who lived through it on the "home front" have the advantage of being written by people with intimate personal experience of the wartime period. The compensating advantage for true historical novels is that the authors have more distance from the war, so they are often able to see its events in a less subjective way than authors who lived through it and therefore had strong personal feelings about it. For example, more novels are being written now that explore the experiences of Germans during the war in a nuanced way that goes beyond blame to try to understand the complexity of the German experience of the Nazi era and WWII.
Great point about the difference between historical and contemporary novels, Margaret. That distance inherent in a historical novel can allow the author to get at greater truths in the storyline, and often ones that apply to their own period just as well. I'm currently reading two novels in which this difference plays out: Field Gray by Philip Kerr, just published; and Jeder stirbt für sich alleine by Hans Fallada (Everyone Dies Alone), written in '47 and based on historical records. While Fallada's book is probably more nuanced than many contemporary novels on the subject, it's still much more damning than a book like Field Gray.
Going beyond blame to try to understand the complexity of the German experience is definitely something I've pursued in my own work. And if I can generalize, for research I tend to rely on those contemporary novels formed by experience but as a reader I tend to look to those written much later after the fact.
Thanks for the great response.