How I learned to love historical fiction
My first foray into historical fiction was when I was in high school. I would devour books by Edna Ferber, Norah Lofts, Jean Auel. Then I became interested in Roman and Greek history, from the comedies to the tragedies. I read Homer's Ulysses and the Iliad.
In the '80s when I was raising my children, I did not have a lot of time to read but I would try to read at least before bedtime. At that time I was reading a lot of "bodice-rippers" — you know the ones, men and women on the covers in various stages of undress. These books were escapes for me from the headaches of the day, a time to just get into the story and wish I was the heroine. A handsome brute, usually pirates who would take me away on their ships to unknown lands. I read that kind of books for a long time, and then I think I evolved. I wanted to read different kinds of novels. I started reading a lot of Stephen King, Dean Koontz and John Saul, just for a change.
It wasn't until around 1987 that I discovered Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine, her first novel. Boy was I hooked. The book is about two women, 800 years apart but sharing the same destiny. It is almost 600 pages in length. It took me quite a few years to read it. I only took it along on road trips. I wanted to savor it that much. I remember I had to special order it because it was not available in the U.S. Thank goodness for the Internet. I eventually finished the book — I think I even did a review on it somewhere, can't remember where. I loved what I read so much that I did research for the same type of story.
Time travel led me to read more of Barbara's novels, and I discovered Susanna Kearsley, another favorite of mine. I then discovered Diana Gabaldon, and that's a whole other article. After spending the last six years doing reviews, I have found that I love them all. I am now partial to the Tudor era.
If you're looking for excellent historical fiction authors, my recommendations are:
- Susanna Kearsley
- Diana Gabaldon
- M.J. Rose
- Margaret George
- Philippa Gregory
- Sandra Byrd
- Christopher Gortner
- Elizabeth Chadwick