I have long been a fan of historical fiction – in fact, I rarely read a book that hasn’t got some sort of historical aspect to it. As I’m new to this blogging malarkey, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you my top historical fiction authors in order to give a flavour of what I like and what sort of historical periods I’m interested in.
- Philipa Gregory– I dare you to try and find a top historical fiction list that doesn’t feature the amazing Philipa Gregory somewhere. I own every single one of her books, and am waiting with great anticipation to see what she does next after her Tudor Court and Plantagenet books. I think her strength is the depth she gives her characters, and she gets the balance between historical accuracy and speculation just right. Particular favourites include The Lady of the Rivers and The Red Queen.
- C. J. Sansom – again, another classic historical fiction author. His Shardlake series is a set of historical murder mystery novels set in the reign of Henry VIII, with the main protagonist being a hunchbacked lawyer. His next novel, Tombstone, is due to be released in October and I cannot wait! According to the publicity bumpf, Matthew Shardlake is now a lawyer for the future Elizabeth I and gets sent to Norfolk to investigate the murder of a distant Boleyn relative.
- Deborah Harkness – Harkness’ books are an interesting blend of historical fiction and fantasy. Her amazing All Souls trilogy follows the adventures of an academically-inclined vampire and witch as they fall in love and fight to discover the origin of their species. Times’s Convert, a spin-off novel following the origin story of one of the characters from the trilogy, is due in September and the first novel, A Discovery of Witches, is currently being made into a series for Sky TV.
- Phil Rickman – Rickman is probably not as well known as other authors featured in this list. I think several of his books appeal to me personally as they cover several topics that interest me – Tudor history, early modern Welsh history and the history of witchcraft/the occult/mysticism. The main protagonist is Dr John Dee, the Welsh astrologer and sometimes advisor to Elizabeth I. I thoroughly recommend you pick up The Heresy of Dr Dee and The Bones of Avalon when you have a chance!
- Imogen Hermes-Gowar – I include this author in my list solely on the basis of her fabulous debut novel The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock. I have previously described this book as The Covent Garden Ladies meets The Little Mermaid. Imogen is an historian-turned-writer (she has previously worked in the museum sector) and this is reflected in the attention to detail and language used in the story which is set in Georgian London. Everyone I have recommended this book to loves it too, and I cant wait to see what comes next from her!
Honourable Mention – Now, I know I’m going to get a lot of grief for not including Dame Hilary Mantel in my top five, but it took me a while to get into both Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies because of the narrative style used – third person limited present tense FYI. The stories are told entirely from Thomas Cromwell’s point of view, and the pronoun he is used so much you get confused over whether the book is referring to Cromwell or another male character entirely.
I am an avid reader and simply devour books, so I would love to hear about your historical fiction recommendations and why you love them so much – please let me know in the comments below!