Over the last couple of months there have been around 20 reviews written of historical fiction for the challenge. When I look through the reviews there is one book that was reviewed multiple times, one author who had multiple books reviewed and several books that I haven’t previously highlighted in one of these monthly round up posts! Voila…an agenda for this post!
The book that continues to receive a great deal of attention as part of the review is Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. Last time I mentioned this book in a round up I did say that the reviews were mixed, but this time around they are all glowing reviews! Brenda’s review on Goodreads finishes with ” this is certainly a book which will stay with me for a long time. I have no hesitation in recommending Burial Rites highly to everyone.” and over at Books Are My Favourite and Best it is called “extraordinarily beautiful”.
Louise Allan started her review by saying:
I’d read the rave reviews of this novel prior to buying it. I knew that it had won the inaugural Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award, that it had been sold in 18 different countries and that it had sparked a bidding war for the movie rights. I approached it hoping I’d love it, but fearing I wouldn’t — sometimes, I feel like the sole person on the planet that a book has not charmed …
No need to worry with this novel: I felt desolate as I finished it, and I love it when a book leaves me feeling like that.
Me too, Louise. Me too.
Bernadette from Reactions to Reading summed up her post with words that pretty much encapsulate why I love to read historical fiction about the lesser known figures from the past
In some ways the things I liked most about BURIAL RITES were the things that weren’t there. It didn’t provide easy answers, it’s ending didn’t include lurid details (though Kent doesn’t gloss over the undoubted horror of a public beheading) and there were no implausible scenes better suited to the modern day. It is a sad but rich story that offers a glimpse into the world of someone we have to imagine because Agnes Magnusdottir is one of the millions of people which official history records precious little about. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her.
Moving away from an author with one book reviewed multiple times to an author who had multiple books reviewed over the last couple of month. Alison Stuart is the author of a number of historical novels, but as far as I can tell she hasn’t been reviewed much for the challenge. Lynxie over at Goodreads has reviewed both The King’s Man and By the Sword which are both set in 17th century England, an era which features one of my personal favourite kings to read about – Charles II. Whilst By the Sword didn’t work that well for Lynxie, The King’s Man definitely did:
If you don’t know much about this time in England’s history, you’ll find this tale amusing and entertaining, if you do know of this rather turbulent time, you’ll find this tale rich in detail, adding colour to the dreary, daily life of the English subjects.
Also over at Goodreads, Eleni reviewed Gather the Bones saying:
I absolutely loved this book. Beautiful language, beautiful plot of people dealing with the after-math of World War I.
I will finish up with a few of the books that were reviewed during the month that I haven’t yet featured in one of these roundups (or at least that I can remember).
The first is Sunset Ridge by Nicole Alexander, a dual storyline novel that switches between the present day and WWI. Shelleyrae from Book’d Out says of the book:
A stunning Australian saga told by a consummate storyteller, Sunset Ridge is an absorbing read and one I won’t hesitate to recommended.
The Beloved by Annah Faulkner was longlisted for the Miles Franklin prize when it came out. Set in New Guinea, the story deals with a young girl who gets polio in the mid-1950s. Maree Kimberley says of the novel:
The Beloved has its flaws but it’s a well-written novel with a great heart, and I look forward to reading more from this author as she develops.
Elizabeth Storrs is an extremely skilful writer. Good historical fiction is extremely difficult to write – such novels attempt to portray a world that doesn’t exist and the writer has to exercise as much imagination in creating a ‘real’ environment as Tolkien, say, needed to do when writing fantasy. The reality of historical times is simply not there to be taken for granted, unlike in novels set in the world of today. By intertwining the lives of the three women so cleverly this writer has created a satisfyingly rich sense of the harsh life of the period.
The final book I am going to spotlight this month is The Russian Tapestry by Banefsheh Serov a book by the authors own family. Lauren at Australian Bookshelf says of the book:
The Russian Tapestry is such an interesting story, not only from its origins (the author’s inspiration) but how it captures wartime Russia and brings to life two characters that are able to make a new life for themselves in the face of adversity. I found the plot, the setting and the historical aspects of the story very engrossing. I could picture the time and the place and I enjoyed reading about World War I from the perspective of the Russians.
I’ve just noticed how many of the books I have mentioned today have links to World War I. Given that next year is the centenary of the start of the war I suspect we will see a lot more books with this setting coming out!
As always you can find more of the historical fiction reviews at any time by clicking on the Historical Fiction Weebly page.
Apologies for no round up last month. I had a house guest for a month and it cut into my computer time!
Marg has long been an avid reader of all genres but especially historical fiction and she loves to read about all different eras and locations. Marg has been blogging about all different genres and other things at Adventures of an Intrepid Reader for more than 7 years, and was a founding member of Historical Tapestry, a group blog that has been focusing only on Historical Fiction for more than 5 years. You can tweet to her either @margreads or @historytapestry.