I am not sure if you have noticed or not but it is prize giving season right now! There are longlists, shortlists and prizes being announced all over the place, and the same is true in the world of historical fiction.
As an unabashed fan of historical fiction, I can’t tell you how pleased I was when Carrie Tiffany won the inaugural Stella Prize with her historical novel Mateship for Birds. In addition, since the last roundup of historical fiction reviews both the longlist and the shortlist have been announced for the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. Whilst no AWWC eligible books made it through to the shortlist it was still exciting to see M L Stedman’s The Light Between the Oceans make the longlist. It is a fantastic achievement to be recognised for one of the UK’s richest literary prizes so congratulations to M L Stedman. There is still one Aussie book on the shortlist – Daughter of Mars by Thomas Keneally – so even though it isn’t an AWWC book there is still something to cheer for.
Let’s turn our attention to the challenge now though. It was a fantastic month in March for historical fiction reviews with 25 reviews being submitted for the challenge.
There were several books that had multiple reviews this month. The first is Chasing the Light by Jesse Blackadder about the first women to go to Antarctica, which was reviewed by Kylie Mason at the Newtown Review of Books and by Amanda on Goodreads. The Railway Man’s Wife by Ashley Hay also was reviewed several times (alright… 3 times). Paula from Wordsville loved it saying
This is a heart-crunching novel about reading and writing, dreaming and hoping, loving and taking flight. It’s been a while since I felt so deeply affected by a novel and I will be very surprised if this book is not an award winner
The biggest book purely from just the number of reviews was the newly released Kate Forsyth novel The Wild Girl. There were 6 reviews for this book and they were all overwhelmingly positive! I would add that I too read this book and loved it – just haven’t written my review yet! With that many reviews in one month it only seems fair to spend some time in this post seeing what everyone had to say
Author Stephanie Gunn says of The Wild Girl
The prose in this novel is utterly beautiful. At times, it is pared back so much that it seems almost plain (though always serviceable), but then Forsyth inserts an almost painfully beautiful phrase or image. Everything feels real – the huge events of history that pass around Dortchen’s life, seen only in fragments by her are nonetheless full of impact. Forsyth manages to convey perfectly how an event like a war affects people on the individual level as Dortchen and her family live and grow (and sometimes fall).
It’s the addictive quality of the writing that draws you in to a beautiful and well constructed story that leaves you unable to put this book down, even to perform necessary tasks.
Sally from Books and Musings from Downunder raved
THE WILD GIRL must not be missed; it is a powerful story about storytelling, about love in the harshest of conditions, overcoming adversity.
Folly Gleeson reviewed the book for The Newtown Review of Books and said
I found this novel very moving and I respect the writer’s personal generosity in going to such sad and emotionally painful places in order to write Dortchen’s life. Like a fairytale, The Wild Girl gives us an explosive and evocative set of truths set within a deceptively simple and delicately written story.
Shelleyrae from Book’d Out finished her review by saying
Really I could go on, The Wild Child is remarkable. A tale of triumph over adversity, an epic historical romance, a fascinating glimpse into the history of storytelling – it is all those things and more. One of my favourite reads for the year, I recommend it wholeheartedly.
And finally, Lauren from Australian Bookshelf said
An engaging historical novel about fairytales, love, despair and hope that at times reminded me of Little Women – only a little darker. My first Forsyth novel, but it won’t be my last. I highly recommend this tale.
You can find more of the historical fiction reviews at any time by clicking on the Historical Fiction Weebly page. Hopefully some of the other books listed might capture your attention, no matter what era from history you love to read about!
Marg has long been an avid reader of all genres but especially Historical Fiction. She has very strong memories of reading through the entire collection of Jean Plaidy novels in the school library and 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.