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Failsafe historical fiction

For discussions of historical fiction. Threads that do not relate to historical fiction should be started in the Chat forum or elsewhere on the forum, depending on the topic.
Ash
Bibliomaniac
Location: Arizona, USA

Postby Ash » Wed July 28th, 2010, 2:37 pm

If an author’s body of work covers multiple genres, can that author be considered HF if only a small segment of their work is HF?

With a few exceptions, I don't label an author as HF, I label a book as such. Barbara Hambly is a good example of that.

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Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Currently reading: A Trail through Time by Jodi Taylor & Angel by L J Ross
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Postby Madeleine » Wed July 28th, 2010, 3:03 pm

"Ash" wrote:If an author’s body of work covers multiple genres, can that author be considered HF if only a small segment of their work is HF?

With a few exceptions, I don't label an author as HF, I label a book as such. Barbara Hambly is a good example of that.


Me neither, I'd only label an author as HF if they wrote mainly historical fiction, such as Philippa Gregory, Elizabeth Chadwick, Bernard Cornwell - even someone like Barbara Erskine who writes novels with a dual time-frame wouldn't be considered HF in my view, and I certainly wouldn't call Maeve Binchy a HF author! :) Perhaps she's marketed slightly differently outside the UK, but here she's usually filed under "women's fiction".
Currently reading "A Trail through Time" by Jodi Taylor & "Angel" by L J Ross

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Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Wed July 28th, 2010, 3:07 pm

That's how she's regarded here, also. Even her books such as Light A Penny Candle and Circle of Friends that are set in the 1950s and 1960s, aren't generally considered HF. At least, that isn't my perception.

SGM
Compulsive Reader

Postby SGM » Mon August 16th, 2010, 8:46 pm

"Michy" wrote:Have you tried the library? That's where I got my copy; although I enjoyed it so much that, if I continue to enjoy the rest of the series as much, I will probably buy copies to keep.



I have now found a reasonably priced Dawn's Early Light from Amazon UK (originally I only found ones priced at over £100 - and I am not going there) and I shall be reading it soon.

Unfortunately, a few years ago I think libraries here (although a British librarian might correct me) were encouraged to move on their stock. And, although wonderful for those of us who managed to pick up some wonderful ex-library books very cheaply to keep, it means that apart from the classics not many libraries keep older books, particularly in London where storage costs are so high. I know that the City of London Library does appear to keep some old stock in their stack service (ie the Moreland Dynasty and the Jean Plaidy books) but generally speaking it is easier to try and find these books second-hand (and that is so much easier now with with the internet).

Whilst trying to locate the other recommendations you gave me I came across a thread about why American HF is not fashionable (or do I mean popular?) and the many reasons you all came up with for this. I would just like to say that as a Brit, I find colonial American history and the Revolutionary War fascinating (but then they are also part of European history as well). The reason I don't follow the later stuff is simply that due to spending many many years studying history from 1815 onwards, I now try to avoid anything later than 1815. I also rediscovered the 17th century (whilst studying politics and not history) and that is so complicated, I don't really have any time for anything else.

However, you seem to identify trends in your educational system as being partly to blame. I can only say that many eminent historians here would say the English/Welsh education system (as the Scottish system is different) have a similar problem. In fact, it some cases it would appear that unless it is US history, the kids here don't see the point. Naturally, as someone who studied world history/international history but always concentrated on the European aspects, I find that very disheartening. BUT IT IS A VERY BIG QUESTION IN ENGLAND at the moment.

I am now going in search of Celia Garth. Thank you for all your suggestions.
Currently reading - Emergence of a Nation State by Alan Smith

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Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Mon August 16th, 2010, 9:29 pm

I will be anxious to hear how you like these books, especially Dawn's Early Light, since I really liked that one. I am now awaiting the third book in that series....

Chris Little
Reader
Location: Going back in Time

Blogs = New Curiosity Shoppe

Postby Chris Little » Tue August 17th, 2010, 6:17 pm

Are there works of “Women’s Fiction” constructed with an HF setting?
Are there differences between a “Period Piece” and “Historical Fiction?”
Would Wouk’s “Youngblood Hawke” be a period piece but not HF?

Amazon’s inventory 8/3/10

Total Books = 29,666,572
Literature / Fiction = 1,607,788
Subdivisions of Literature / Fiction
Women’s Fiction = 990
Genre Fiction = 180,343
Subdivision of Genre Fiction
Historical Fiction = 52,920

from http://www.agentquery.com/genre_descriptions.aspx

Historical Fiction:

Historical fiction is often a work of literary fiction or commercial fiction in which the plot and story transpire during a distinct era in the past. True historical fiction portrays conflicts and characters that depended on a particular time period for their existence (Civil War battles and heroes, slave trade in colonial America, 18th-century British royalty, 1960s civil right leaders, etc.) These conflicts and characters are inseparable from the author’s decision to set the story in a non-contemporary era; the historical time and place influence the unfolding narrative and the characters' struggles within it.

Historical fiction is a careful balance between fact and fiction; and although characters and events may be exaggerated or completely made up for the sake of a good story, accurate historical facts and details lend credence and legitimacy to the overall tale. Although literary or commercial fiction often incorporates historical elements into their stories for atmospheric effect, this is not the same as historical fiction, which uses historical settings and time periods to establish its core conflicts.

Women’s Fiction:

Women’s fiction is just that: fiction about women’s issues for a female readership. However, it is not the same as chick lit or romance. While utilizing literary prose, women’s fiction is very commercial in its appeal. Its characters are often women attempting to overcome both personal and external adversity.

Although women’s fiction often incorporates grave situations such as abuse, poverty, divorce, familial breakdown, and other social struggles, it can also explore positive aspects within women’s lives. Romantic love stories are also part of women’s fiction, and although love stories are found in chick lit and romance, the mature depth and tone of their development within women’s fiction set them apart from other genre classifications.

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Diiarts
Scribbler
Location: I'm based in Hampshire (UK) but we also have a partner based in Kentucky, USA
Contact:

Postby Diiarts » Sun August 22nd, 2010, 11:41 pm

"Madeleine" wrote:A lot of people find the classics, Dickens especially, very difficult to read - I read A Christmas Carol last Xmas and, despite having seen lots of different screen versions, still found it a struggle and, as for The Chimes, I barely made it halfway through. Plus we've had debate before that the classics aren't HF as such, as the authors were writing about their own period of time.


At the risk of being pedantic, both A Tale of Two Cities and War and Peace were published more than fifty years after the events they portray, so they are most definitely HF in my book. Sir Walter Scott is widely credited with having invented the whole genre (indeed, the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction was inaugurated this year for just that reason) but he would no doubt fall under the heading of 'the classics'.
www.diiarts.com - books for people who love books

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Tue August 24th, 2010, 2:11 am

I think that technically novels of the past which were about contemporary subjects don't count as historical fiction, although they can certainly give us an excellent picture of a particular period. By this criterion, Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary, for example, can't be called historical fiction, whereas his novel of ancient Carthage, Salammbo, certainly can.

laktor
Reader

Postby laktor » Sun October 3rd, 2010, 6:37 am

I don't know why some people are saying "The Other Boleyn Girl" is a gateway into HF. That book bored the heck out of me, at least the 1/4 of it that I managed to read and that was enough for me....

Have never read Bernard Cornwell but at the bookstore today, I see that he's written a LOT of books. It seems that he must write 3, 4, or 5 books a year! How can he possibly write so much so quickly, and still produce quality reading material? Again, I've not read any of his books, but I intend to try one at some point. My first will probably be Stonehenge, since it's a subject that really interests me.

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EC2
Bibliomaniac
Location: Nottingham UK
Contact:

Postby EC2 » Sun October 3rd, 2010, 9:30 am

"laktor" wrote:I don't know why some people are saying "The Other Boleyn Girl" is a gateway into HF. That book bored the heck out of me, at least the 1/4 of it that I managed to read and that was enough for me....

Have never read Bernard Cornwell but at the bookstore today, I see that he's written a LOT of books. It seems that he must write 3, 4, or 5 books a year! How can he possibly write so much so quickly, and still produce quality reading material? Again, I've not read any of his books, but I intend to try one at some point. My first will probably be Stonehenge, since it's a subject that really interests me.


One person's gateway is another person's crap. I think I started the post after seeing a website where someone had posed the question what 3 books would you suggest to get people reading. I transferred the question to the H/F genre. The point was that you had to think of 3 books where at least 1 of them was going to appeal to someone, and thus would not necessarily take your own reading tastes into consideration on every title. So, The Other Boleyn Girl might not suit me or you, but it would appeal to other sections of the readership. You have to think outside your own box.
I think Stonehenge is one of Bernard Cornwell's weaker novels. I confess I didn't finish it and I wouldn't advise it as a starter novel. I would say go with his Viking novels or Arthurian ones. I didn't get on with his Arthur ones myself but the majority of people who have read them, think they are great.
Gallows thief, his stand alone novel, is a great favourite of mine.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com


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