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NPR's list of best historical fiction for 2012

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Pasky
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NPR's list of best historical fiction for 2012

Post by Pasky » Fri December 7th, 2012, 1:30 pm

Hello, historical fiction buffs.

Here is a list of National Public Radio's choices for best historical fiction of 2012. Of course, the ubiquitous Hilary Mantel is on the list, but some lesser known authors are on here as well.

It's worth a quick look.
http://www.npr.org/2012/12/06/166481809 ... al-fiction

cheers,
pasky

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fljustice
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Post by fljustice » Fri December 7th, 2012, 4:01 pm

Interesting list. The only one I've read is The Twelve Rooms of the Nile, which I'll be giving away as part of a blog hop next week.
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Pasky
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Post by Pasky » Wed December 12th, 2012, 7:12 pm

Faith (great name, coupled with Justice),

I've downloaded the first few chapters of 12 Rooms of the Nile. I'm having trouble getting into it (primarily because of a lack of narrative engine in the early chapters). Do you think it's worth a read?

What's a blog hop?

best,
pasky

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Mythica
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Post by Mythica » Wed December 12th, 2012, 8:13 pm

I wouldn't say it's NPR's choices - it appears to just be one person's opinion, that of author Mary Sharratt. Note the plug for her own novel at the end of the article.

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Post by Pasky » Wed December 12th, 2012, 9:44 pm

Yes, Mythica. That would certainly be more accurate. Thanks!

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Post by fljustice » Thu December 13th, 2012, 10:31 pm

[quote=""Pasky""]Faith (great name, coupled with Justice),

I've downloaded the first few chapters of 12 Rooms of the Nile. I'm having trouble getting into it (primarily because of a lack of narrative engine in the early chapters). Do you think it's worth a read?

What's a blog hop?

best,
pasky[/quote]

It's more of a literary effort, which I always equate with lack of plot. I enjoyed it for the character insights and setting. Her descriptions of traveling on the Nile are wonderful. The author did a good job on research, reading Flaubert's letters and Nightingale's journals, along with lots more (she took seven years to research and write the book.) I'm usually more of "story" person, but this one kept my attention. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, however, especially if you like tightly plotted stories and lots of action.

A blog hop is a bunch of blogs that are all hosting giveaways and list all the other blogs, so a reader can "hop" from one to the next to check out the goodies. It's an opportunity for the participating blogs to expand their readership and it makes it easy for the readers to find books and blogs they enjoy because there is usually a theme (all these blogs have something to do with history/historical fiction.)
Faith L. Justice, Author Website
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri December 14th, 2012, 4:42 am

I'm a plot / action lover, although I also like lovely writing--but if the plot is torturous, slow, or full of holes, the characters are unlikeable beyond a certain point, or the whole thing seems to go out of its way to shock / offend, then I won't read it.

Unfortunately, literary critics (and many writers) seem to laud just this kind of writing. So if a book is much applauded by critics, I find myself disinclined to read it.

I wonder, if Wolf Hall had not received an award and so much attention, how many people would have put up with the book's many and glaring plot / grammar / pacing flaws?

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Post by Pasky » Fri December 14th, 2012, 9:49 am

Thanks, Faith. Please let us know when you do your Nile giveaway.

So, one of the few authors (IMHO) who does not force readers to make the (admittedly simplistic, artificial) "plot vs literary choice" is Graham Greene. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, he's also one of those authors whose works are not widely available as ebooks (which I rely on exclusively these days). I'd love to hear suggestions on historical fiction authors who can weave narrative and art as successfully as Greene.

MLE, any specifics on Wolf Hall flaws?

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Post by Lisa » Fri December 14th, 2012, 10:15 am

[quote=""Pasky""]Thanks, Faith. Please let us know when you do your Nile giveaway.[/quote]

fljustice and Tanzanite have both recently posted about giveaways in the "Latest Book Giveaways" thread :) :

http://www.historicalfictiononline.com/ ... 53&page=13

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri December 14th, 2012, 3:37 pm

[quote=""Pasky""]Thanks, Faith. Please let us know when you do your Nile giveaway.

MLE, any specifics on Wolf Hall flaws?[/quote]
You can go back to the thread where it was book of the month and get the many reactions, but the most annoying was Mantel's decision to purposely fly in the face of grammar rules regarding pronouns. She used 'he' to almost always mean her protagonist, even though the normal use of a pronoun refers to the last proper noun mentioned. This meant readers had to endlessly track back and puzzle over which he was the he she meant. Some people thought it very clever. I thought it was rude.

Secondly, since Mantel's whole point was to turn the accepted viewpoint regarding well-known historical figures on its head, she managed the facts like OJ Simpson's defense lawyer. I don't mind a new slant, but I read fiction for entertainment and she didn't make it entertaining enough for me to gag on the misinformation. I had no problem with the blatant rearrangement of facts in Gregory's Other Boleyn Girl, because--in that book, at least--her storytelling was well-crafted enough for me to be willing to suspend disbelief.

Mantel's management of the story -- how she chose to unfold her tale -- was very clunkily handled. Maybe I would have gotten caught up in it more had she not chosen to insert little unexplained side vignettes that came out of nowhere and went nowhere, which meant that the reader had to hunt around to pick up the thread of her main tale. I suppose all of these were intended to come together into some kind of atmospheric gestalt by the end, but coupled with the recurring pronoun-attribution-searches, I basically felt like the woman was trying to take me somewhere I was not the least interested in going.

I know literary readers just love this stuff. I'm not one of them. When I want to give myself a mental workout, I just do research. When I read fiction (unless it is for more research on what else is out there) I want to be entertained.

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