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July 2012 Feature of the Month: Family Sagas

A monthly discussion on varying themes guided by our members. (Book of the Month discussions through December 2011 can be found in this section too.)
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Matt Phillips
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Joined: August 2009

Post by Matt Phillips » Thu July 5th, 2012, 3:38 pm

John Jakes's North and South trilogy and Kent Family Chronicles were the first historical fiction I ever read. I picked up North and South when I was maybe 12 or 13 after watching the ABC miniseries back in the '80s, and I've been hooked on the genre ever since. I had always loved history and had no idea, until then, how rich and fulfilling HF could be, how it offered the reader a virtual time machine when done well.

After Jakes opened my eyes to the genre, I went on to choose Ivanhoe and I, Claudius for high school English class assignments, and I also got hooked on SKP's sagas around that time, too.

I recently re-read North and South and happily found that its 900 pages stood the test of time. My only real quibble is that his villains tend toward one-dimensional portrayals, but I still count it among my top 5 favorite historical novels.

On another note, I haven't seen Ken Follett's sagas mentioned in this thread. Pillars of the Earth and World Without End follow the stories of Tom Builder and his descendants (as well as others in the fictional medieval English town of Kingsbridge), and his current 20th century series that started with Fall of Giants seems to fit this category too.
Last edited by Matt Phillips on Thu July 5th, 2012, 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 5713
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "Pine" by Francine Toon
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Post by Madeleine » Thu July 5th, 2012, 4:16 pm

There should be threads somewhere for Pillars, it was discussed a lot when the TV series was shown, but it's probably buried somewhere on the site now!
Currently reading: "Pine" by Francine Toon

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Ludmilla
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Posts: 1346
Joined: September 2008
Location: Georgia USA

Post by Ludmilla » Thu July 5th, 2012, 4:59 pm

Some more I thought of that I tagged multigenerational, but are stand-alones (not part of a series that I know of):

Jonis Agee's "The River Wife" spanning from early 1800s to 1930s, covers several generations of women linked to one particular man in a southern Missouri town along the Mississippi.

Carsten Jensen's "We, the Drowned" spanning from mid 1800s to end of WWII, covers roughly three generations of men in a Danish seafaring community.

Michael Crummey's "Galore" which covers roughly six generations of intertwined families in a Newfoundland community, culminating at the end of WWI. This is probably the best book I have read all year. I thought it was not only beautifully written but utterly brilliant in the way the author brought the story full circle.
Last edited by Ludmilla on Thu July 5th, 2012, 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Amanda
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Joined: August 2008
Location: Sydney, Australia

Post by Amanda » Fri July 13th, 2012, 11:01 pm

I have just seen that John Jake's Kent Chronicles have just been released on Kindle too.

annis
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Post by annis » Sat July 14th, 2012, 6:17 am

Posted by Ludmilla
Michael Crummey's "Galore" which covers roughly six generations of intertwined families in a Newfoundland community, culminating at the end of WWI. This is probably the best book I have read all year. I thought it was not only beautifully written but utterly brilliant in the way the author brought the story full circle.
Isn't Crummey the one who wrote River Thieves? I thought that a brilliant book about the tragedy of well-meaning cultural misunderstanding, and also a vivd evocation of the Newfoundland landscape.

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Ludmilla
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Location: Georgia USA

Post by Ludmilla » Sat July 14th, 2012, 7:17 pm

[quote=""annis""]Posted by Ludmilla


Isn't Crummey the one who wrote River Thieves? I thought that a brilliant book about the tragedy of well-meaning cultural misunderstanding, and also a vivd evocation of the Newfoundland landscape.[/quote]

Yes, same author. I really liked River Thieves, too, but think Galore is in a class by itself.

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Madeleine
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Posts: 5713
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "Pine" by Francine Toon
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
Location: Essex/London

Post by Madeleine » Sat July 14th, 2012, 7:58 pm

Just finished my read and thoroughly enjoyed it, bit sad at the end though!
Currently reading: "Pine" by Francine Toon

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Vanessa
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Posts: 4231
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Post by Vanessa » Sun July 15th, 2012, 10:56 am

Not sure whether I will get round to Demelza any time soon, but have bumped it up the pile. I got a bit carried away in the library yesterday! :rolleyes: Glad you enjoyed it, Madeleine.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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