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Dillards 50: The big 5-0!


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20 hours ago, singsingsing said:

Thanks, that's one of my pet peeves, and I find it cropping up a lot with male writers of historical fiction (though to be perfectly fair, female writers can have the same issue when writing about males). I had the same issues you mentioned with Edward Rutherford when I tried to read London and Sarum. They were enjoyable, but as I got further into them I realized all the female characters were cardboard (and idiots to boot), and essentially the same basic plotlines played out over and over again.

I know what you mean. One of the male authors, whose female characters as protagonists I can stand is Graham Masterton. His "Scarlet Widow" is set in colonial America, pre-revolution, but in the 18th century. The main protagonist is a woman, in a small village, solving a murder mystery. It's flawed in some ways, but his voice as a woman (it's written in the first person) doesn't rub me wrong. In other words, he sounds like he's aware of the limitations for women, but neither makes too big a deal of them, nor ignores them.

I personally like that Beatrice Scarlet is well-educated, has a keen mind, exercises it to the best, runs into the social limitations of her time, and then worries about how to survive from day to day. She is not a "break-out" character, although she is different. And the women around her are believable. So are the men.

If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, set in a place and time-period beyond the, say, Regency, I recommend: La lunga vita di Marianna Ucrìa by Dacia Maraini.

Or "The Silent Duchess". I'm not sure if it's still in print. It's a novel about the life of a Sicilian duchess, who can't speak, and her very slow emancipation. Her life is told in vignettes.

Margaret Lawerence's books about Hannah Trevor, starting with "Hearts and Bones", about a midwife in post-revolutionary war 1700s Maine, are also rather good. They're murder mysteries, but provide a rich tapestry of life in those days, of life on the frontier in the wake of upheaval.

And I nearly forgot my favourite, though it is unsettling and dark: "The Accomplice" by Kathryn Heyman.

From the back: "The Accomplice describes one of the most shocking events of the 17th century: the wreck of a Dutch ship, the Batavia, off the west coast of Australia, and the extraordinary events that befell its stranded survivors. It is also the story of Judith Bastiaanz, sailing with her family to a new life, who is caught up in something well beyond her experience: first infatuation, and then perhaps, something more dangerous."

It's no spoiler to say that the wrecking of the Batavia in 1629 ended in a rule of terror over the survivors, and Judith Bastiaanz survived the absolute horror that ensued. But I think the book is worth reading, for the simple question of what would *I* have done.

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On 31/01/2018 at 6:01 PM, Knight of Ni said:

Can anyone give me recommendations for historical fiction that does not deal with the Tudor/War of the Roses era? I love historical fiction but the vast majority of the ones I read are from that era and am looking for something different. I remember reading a really good one about Helen of Troy but can’t remember the author. 

A bit about mythology rather than history but I do love Marion Zimmer Bradley's stuff.

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On 2/1/2018 at 7:46 AM, nst said:

Don't forget Sweet Valley High books.  Ah the 80's - I meant when I was in the 80's :D

 

Do you know about these books...the twins are all grownup.

The Sweet Life: The Serial (Sweet Valley Confidential)

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later

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18 hours ago, Chickenbutt said:

This is a very, very old series of historical books (you may not be able to find them in the library) 

About a family who settles in Canada and goes thru the lives of the family. Spans 100+ years. There are 16, I think, books in the series.

https://www.fictiondb.com/author/mazo-de-la-roche~series~jalna~4717.htm

This is my favorite series.  I have all the books in various editions because they are indeed hard to find.

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I'll add another vote for The Mercer Girls, I really enjoyed it, and I loved The Pillars of the Earth, and the sequels, although the complaint about everything going wrong (way up the thread- is very true, and made me laugh, thanks for that!) I also highly recommend both books by by Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow, and The Rules of Civility. Both are historical fiction, and the writing is outstanding. 

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@LilMissMetaphorI have them all too. Went onto Amazon and bought whichever books from whoever had them. At least they are all in paperback. 

They are one of my dearest possessions and I tell Mr. Butt if the house ever starts to burn, grab those books!

Glad to hear I am not the only one loving this very obscure series of books. 

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I haven't seen anyone mention Tracy Chevalier yet. I've read all her books.  "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" is probably her most well-known, but my favorite is "The Virgin Blue." 

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I listen to audio books more than I read these days (used to be a big reader, but I earn my money with translating and proofreading, so that takes the fun out of "causal" reading for me)... Anyway, I really enjoyed the Clifton Chronicles (Jeffrey Archer) and Ken Follet's Century Trilogy.

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4 hours ago, DillyDally said:

I listen to audio books more than I read these days (used to be a big reader, but I earn my money with translating and proofreading, so that takes the fun out of "causal" reading for me)... Anyway, I really enjoyed the Clifton Chronicles (Jeffrey Archer) and Ken Follet's Century Trilogy.

I've recently discovered audio books. I just don't have time to read anymore, so now I have story time on tap when I'm going about my day, it's great.

I used to reserve an hour at bedtime for reading, but now I go to bed to sleep. Being a grown up is exhausting.

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How can he not see the irony!? Dad of two who claims to have a job etc who spends his time on twitter saying other people don’t have a life!? 

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On 2/1/2018 at 7:46 AM, nst said:

Don't forget Sweet Valley High books.  Ah the 80's - I meant when I was in the 80's :D

 

Historical fiction at its finest!

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9 hours ago, Evangeline said:

I haven't seen anyone mention Tracy Chevalier yet. I've read all her books.  "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" is probably her most well-known, but my favorite is "The Virgin Blue." 

Oh, seconded! I found it a pretty chilling read - despite lacking gore-, which stayed with me for a long time. Initially, I found it a bit hard to get into, but it's a great read.

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On 2/1/2018 at 12:54 AM, singsingsing said:

Has anyone read any of Bernard Cornwell's novels? I've been thinking about checking them out, but I'd love to know what others who've read any of them thought of them.

I have read some of his Warrior Chronicles, and quite liked them (the TV series is good too), and I have the first book of his king arthur stories (the winter king..?), but haven't read it yet.

 

Give it a shot, and if you like him, try Simon Scarrow - he wrote an entire series of books on imperial Rome, and they are amazing!!

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12 hours ago, WhoompThereItIs said:

I really enjoyed Leon Uris, particularly Mila 18, QB VII, Trinity, and Exodus.

Read QB VII in middle school and loved it. I've seen the movie versions of QB and Exodus both classics.

I suggest two by Marge Piercy:

Sex Wars: About the Comstock Laws which outlawed condoms.

City of Darkness, City of Light: The French resistance in WWII

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On 2/2/2018 at 2:16 AM, Lurker said:

I read historical romances that are generally light on history and have an excess of young single dukes.   However, some authors take the time to do deep delves into setting the backgrounds correctly.

if you want to have some enjoyable reading, check out the blog Two Nerdy History Girls maintained by authors Loretta Chase and Susan Holloway Scott for great stories and links.  (twonerdyhistorygirls.blogspot.com). They do a roundup on the weekend of random historical info called Breakfast Links and one posted Jan. 22 is titled Dispelling Tudor Myths:Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury.

thank you for the blog!

 

(I'll need to check my bookcases....I'm sure I've read more historical fiction)

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Plugging the Myth-o-mania series by Kate McCullan. It's a series written for middle schools about Greek Mythology from the POV of Hades. The premise is that the standard heroic stories about Zeus were exaggerations of his heroics and that he is going to say how it "really" happened. It's tongue in cheek and very silly. They cover the generally accepted story and then Hades says how it "really" went down. I like it because there are so many versions of mythological stories so the concept plays off of the difference between different retellings of the same myth. I'm taking a class on classical mythology right now that is going to study why these same myths are told in different ways so I like she takes that concept and runs with it. Obviously, Kate McCullan isn't saying her version was ever told in Ancient Greece, especially because they reference things like Laz-i-Boys (she calls them Laz-i-Gods) and cell phones. My Latin teacher would read them to us in 5th and 6th grade. Recently, I found that they are all available on KindleUnlimited (or Prime Reading, I'm not sure the difference) for $10 bucks a month. Totally worth it, all the Harry Potter books are available, with audiobooks, among a bunch of other good books including a semi-animated Dracula, Secret Garden, and Journey to the Center of the Earth among others. I've been re-reading them as an adult and think they hold up well. They are short fun little books that I recommend for adults and kids. 

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The historical illuminati chronicles by Robert Anton Wilson. The first - The earth will shake - is available as an audiobook too.

(oh, it has nothing to do with that Dan Brown shit)

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7 hours ago, purplepeony said:

How can he not see the irony!? Dad of two who claims to have a job etc who spends his time on twitter saying other people don’t have a life!? 

It’s been deleted...what did it say?

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If you want something  a little different then I urge you to try A Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby. Murasaki Shikibu a tenth century Japanese noblewomen and the author of the worlds first novel The Tale of Genji. Dalby's book is the story of her youth, marriage, life at court, Etc. A really fascinating  and beautiful book. 

 

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1 hour ago, Shadoewolf said:

You can tell I'm the mom to a tween girl when you all say Warriors and I think of the cat books by Erin Hunter. 

Are those still a thing! I'm almost ten years post-tween and vividly remember those books with love. When (spoiler alert) Silverstream died all my friends cried. A bunch of the books had been published by then I'm surprised they are still going.

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7 minutes ago, freedom_for_all said:

Are those still a thing! I'm almost ten years post-tween and vividly remember those books with love. When (spoiler alert) Silverstream died all my friends cried. A bunch of the books had been published by then I'm surprised they are still going.

lol, yes! they are still a thing. wow. I started reading them when i was in 5th grade (2007) and stopped reading them the summer after my freshman year of college (2015). i was a dedicated reader but they are still going.  I always vowed I would read them as long as they would go but I gave up, mostly because I barely read anymore because there was no time in college, and also because I definitely outgrew them.  but Im a sucker for long, drawn out storylines/timelines. so it was great.  I also loved the Percy Jackson series when I was in high school.  Would read those all over again if I had time, and I am not a re-reader of books, ha!

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