Top Ten Books for a Beginner to Historical Fiction

This is a rendition of Top Ten Tuesday (and a Day…or Three) by the thebrokeandthebookish.wordpress.com. This week’s prompt was the top ten books you’d give someone to introduce them to your choice of a genre. I chose historical fiction because I feel there’s many wonderful books that are sadly overlooked.

Top Ten Books for a Beginner to Historical Fiction (many of which are just my top ten historical fiction books)

1. “Scaramouche” by Raphael Sabatini
-I know I mention this a lot and there’s an abundance of reasons for it! This book is set in the French Revolution and is good for drama nerds, lovers of wit, and people who like “The Princess Bride.”

2. “Mistress Wilding,” also by Raphael Sabatini
-This has one of my favorite first sentences: “‘Then drink it thus,’ cried the rash young fool, and splashed the contents of his cup full into the face of Mr. Wilding even as that gentleman, on his feet, was proposing to drink to the eyes of the young fool’s sister.” As you can see, it is high on passions, as well as British history and romance, in both senses of the word.

3. “The Borgia Bride” by Jeanne Kalogridis
Borgia_Bride
-This novel focuses on Sancha, bride of the youngest Borgia son and notorious in several tales. For fans of the Borgias, Italian history, “Game of Thrones,” scheming, and strong female leads.

4. “Master of Verona” by David Blixt
(Full review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/the-master-of-verona/)
-This is another Italian history tale, that focuses on Dante’s son and explains the feud behind “Romeo and Juliet.” Obviously, for fans of Shakespeare, Italian history, and those who like to discuss philosophy.

5. “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Tracy Chevalier
-This tale of a girl’s entanglement with Dutch painter Vermeer provides excellent insight into a historical mindset in a lovely succinct, brief manner for such intense themes.

6. “The Second Duchess” by Elizabeth Loupas
-Another Italian setting, Barbars marries the Duke of Ferrara in 1565. This is another literary crossover tale as it’s based on Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess.” For fans of poetry, murdery mysteries, and paranormal works.

7. “The Grand Sophy” by Georgette Heyer
(Full review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/the-grand-sophy/)
-This regency romance with a shockingly in-control heroine is a hilarious, quick read for fans of romance, Regency Britain, and humor.

8. “Her Royal Spyness” by Rhys Bowen
(Full review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/her-royal-spyness/)
Her Royal Spyness
-This murder mystery set in 1930s England showcases a witty, practical, and engaging heroine who leads us on a light, quick read for fans of mystery, humor, British history, and reliable narrators.

9. “Lion of Ireland” by Morgan Llywelyn
lionofireland
-This history of Brian Boru brings early Ireland to vibrant, detailed life. For fans of Ireland, “Game of Thrones,” military tales, scheming, and “Vikings.”

10. “Catherine called Birdy” by Karen Cushman
-A fit introduction for younger readers, this daily diary book is set in 1200s England from a teenage girl who discusses holy days, marriage prospects, and daily concerns like food, animals, and who can fart at will.

Yes, indeed, if we switch out “Catherine Called Birdy” for “Baudolino” by Umberto Eco, this would basically be a list of my top ten historical novels of the moment. But “Baudolino” is not for beginners…So, if you aren’t one, I highly recommend it to you. What historical novels do you like?

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