Sunday, July 22, 2012

Historical Fiction Challenge


Danger, Will Robinson!! Danger!!  I've found another challenge!!

While reading some blog postings the other day, I found this Historical Fiction Challenge at Historical Tapestry.  I have absolutely no business signing up for another challenge, but I've nearly finished three of the four challenges I originally signed up for this year, so why not??  I do love historicals and between my book groups and my TBR shelves, I easily found more than ten historicals that would fit the challenge (not to mention historicals on my to-read list for book groups at the library). I've signed up for the third level, Struggling the Addiction, which is ten books.

Here's a what I have hanging around the house at the moment that would qualify for the challenge:


It might be a bit blurry, so here's what's on the pile:

  1. I, Claudius by Robert Graves
  2. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  3. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber
  4. Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
  5. Sapphira and the Slave Girl by Willa Cather
  6. Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather
  7. The Living Reed by Pearl S. Buck
  8. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
And then there's this stack:  



  1. Alas, Poor Lady by Rachel Ferguson
  2. The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen by Lindsay Ashford
  3. The Post-Office Girl by Stefan Zweig
  4. Summer Will Show by Sylvia Townsend Warner
  5. A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr
  6. The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard
  7. Marking Time by Elizabeth Jane Howard
  8. The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer
  9. Lark Rise to Candleford by Elizabeth Jane Howard
And then I found a few more. . . . 


  1. Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
  2. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters
  3. Empress Orchid by Anchee Min
  4. A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss
  5. The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss
  6. The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt
I'm only sorry that I didn't see this challenge earlier -- I looked back at my Goodreads list of 2012 reads so far, and I've already read at least eight historical books this year that would have fit the challenge.  Anyway -- what do you think, bloggers?  Which ones should I read first?  Any that should go on the donation pile immediately?  And am I absolutely insane for even thinking about another challenge?

18 comments:

  1. My first choices would be Lark Rise to Candleford, and The Unknown Ajax (which is so funny, and has one of Heyer's best heroes). I also enjoyed Sorcery & Cecilia, though not the sequels.

    Go for the challenge :)

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions! Georgette Heyer was one of my favorite discoveries last year -- I read three of her books in quick succession and really enjoyed all of them. I've also heard great things about Lark Rise, still haven't seen the TV series. And I think Sorcery and Cecelia is a must-read because it's about an enchanted chocolate pot!

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  2. You've been successful at your other challenges, so why not?! The year is still young :)
    I love The Children's Book by Byatt. It should definitely be on your list!

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    1. I have no doubt I can read ten historicals in the next five months, especially since I'll be reading some for my book groups. I haven't read any Byatt since Possession so I'd really like to read that one.

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  3. Shadows on the Rock by Cather is absolutely delightful. It reads more like a book for juveniles than her other books. But I just read it in the past year or so and loved it. Highly recommended. I also love, love, love, A Month in the Country. A very slim book but one you will want to take time with. Sapphira and Summer Will Show are on my list for this year so maybe our reviews will pass like ships in the night.

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  4. Read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell first it is an absolute delight! Better still, if you can get it on audio it's even better read by Simon Prebble. Enjoy they all sound fab!

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion! i checked and my library does have the audio version. It's always nice with a long book to have the audio going in the car as well.

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  5. I, Claudius and The Hunchback of Notre Dame are some of my favorites. Lark Rise to Candleford is also charming (and fascinating as a bit of social microhistory), and it reads a bit faster than the other two, in my experience.

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    1. I'm a little intimidated by Hunchback, so thanks for the suggestion. I've had I, Claudius on my TBR list since I saw the Modern Library Top 100 list years ago, still haven't touched it. My daughter is taking Latin and so that one's particularly intriguing, all the Roman history.

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  6. I've always wanted to read Corelli's Mandolin and that Susanna Clarke book. I own Byatt's The Children's Book so ... maybe.

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    1. If nothing else, it's a really beautiful book. It's just nice to have hanging around the shelves!

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  7. I enjoyed Lark Rise, Captain Corelli and I, Claudius. I think I'd choose the Willa Cather books to read first, I'm hoping to read them all, eventually.

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    1. I got a big stack of Cathers last year at the Borders clearance and I haven't read a single one yet ! The copy of Shadows on the Rock is an old one, bought it in antique store a couple years ago.

      I remember Captain Corelli is really beloved in England, but I think everyone hated the movie. I hope I can read it without imagining Nicolas Cage.

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  8. I'm still working my way through Janathan Strange, it's not got a lot of pace to it, but it IS delightful. I'd kind of like to read it along with some Austen era stuff to make prose comparisons, though.

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    1. A bunch of bloggers are reading Austen in August, so you might find some people to read along with! I've read most of her books multiple times. I'm a little daunted by the sheer size of it -- I've read a lot of huge books this year.

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  9. It seems that you are more than prepared to do this challenge!!! : )

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    1. It's just too bad I didn't sign up for it earlier, I've already read several historicals this year. Oh well. There's always next year too!

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  10. Gulp! Signing up for 10 historical novels at the end of July? Egads, you are voracious :)

    Let's see...

    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is one book I simply couldn't finish; read half of it and found that I didn't care to read anymore of it.

    I also abandoned The Crimson Petal and the White because I found it utterly depressing.

    I have been wanting to read I, Claudius for years, but haven't acquired a copy yet. Heard it's great, though. You can't go wrong with Victor Hugo, and I've heard good things about Sorcery and Cecelia and A Month in the Country.

    I have A Conspiracy of Paper just begging to be read, and I really enjoy Willa Cather.

    Enjoy making your selections and good luck!

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