Books that grab you and don't let go
June 15, 2008 6:20 AM Subscribe
Looking for decently written, page-turning historical fiction.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork to media & arts (66 answers total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
I love, love, love historical fiction. But I find that I'm kind of picky about the books that really grab me. It seems that it's been about a year since the last general historical fiction recommendation question, so I'm hoping to get some suggestions. I find that Amazon's "people also bought" suggestions are good, but sometimes lead me pretty far astray, and I like LibraryThing and GoodReads to find suggestions, but it can be hard to wade through everything there.
My basic parameters: well-written enough so that bad writing doesn't jar me or take me out of the story, not so well-written that it feels cumbersome and a drag to get through. I'd like a dash of romance, and if it involves a mystery or suspense that would be great, but not totally necessary.
Books I love: the Outlander series, Connie Willis' "Doomsday Book" and "To Say Nothing of the Dog," Rutherford's "London" and "Sarum," (but his other books have not grabbed me), a few Phillippa Gregory books, "The Historian," everything by Deanna Raybourn and Tasha Alexander.
Books I have not enjoyed: Dorothy Dunnett (maybe I'm not giving her enough of a chance, I could not get into the two books of hers I've picked up), The Red Tent, Years of Rice & Salt. Not really "historical fiction," but I don't particularly care for Jane Austen.
In terms of fantasy books that read kind of like historical fiction but are not actually historical, I love Robert Jordan's first 5 books, but I could not get into George R.R. Martin. I have tried Pratchett and just don't enjoy his writing style. Also, because it always comes up in these book questions- I liked "Pillars of the Earth" (and kind of liked the sequel, but that was not nearly as good), but I wouldn't lump it in with books I loved. I hope these aren't horribly tight restrictions that make suggesting anything impossible, there must be people who like the same kind of books I do out there!