Monday, 18 June 2018

Chuckles Chat #69 Scenarios We Love And Hate In Historical Fiction

Welcome to Chuckles Chat where great blogging minds unite to discuss the topics of the day mainly in the book and blogging world. I'll be sharing my thoughts on a topic and then inviting you all to share your thoughts. It's ok to disagree but PLEASE be respectful of each other's views! All of the comments on my blog are moderated and offensive posts ie racist, bigoted will not be published! 

NB: I don't follow or leave comments on blogs run by Google Plus, or DISQUS as I refuse to join something just to leave comments, and I won't allow them to follow new people, update my profile or post tweets 'on my behalf'. I won't comment on any blog that makes me sign in using another account.   

Over the coming weeks I'm looking at our book buying life. By this what I mean is, what are the scenarios in a book blurb that make us really want to pick up that book and start reading? What do we love about the genre and what puts us off?

This week I'm looking at historical fiction. It has never been a genre that I've read a massive amount of but when I joined Bookcrossing, I took an interest in bookboxes. This was where someone posted you a box of books. You took out the ones you wanted to read and in their place, you put your own selections and sent the box to the next person on the list. Most of the time a bookbox had a theme like african, asian, horror, mystery etc. (As postage costs went up, it became a virtual bookbox) To make it worthwhile for the postage, you'd take out some or all the books you hadn't read. I took part in the asian box every time and found fiction and non fiction books set in asian countries from China to Afghanistan. For over a year I loved reading this kind of book but then my tastes began to change.  

My big love in historical fiction has to be Tudors and Plantagenets. I was recommended Philippa Gregory's 'The Other Boleyn Girl' and I loved it. That started me on a love of fiction about this time period-the scandal and intrigue, couples in arranged political weddings, state sanctioned murder and war for the crown...you really can see how things like the War of the Roses inspired Game of Thrones. After reading this first tudor book, a week later season one of The Tudors aired on TV and I was hooked. I couldn't get enough of Henry and his wives and children. I read authors like Judith Arnopp, Lyn Andrews, Margaret Campbell Barnes, Jean Plaidy, Ella March Chase, Elizabeth Fremantle, Diane Haeger, Sarah A Hoyt, Robin Maxwell, Emily Purdy and Alison Weir. I have a lot of other books and authors yet to try! I love the books that follow each Queen or Lady and her story best. The stories that follow real or fictional servants can be more hit and miss.

I love a lot of historical subjects but I don't always want to read fiction about it. I hardly ever read fiction books set during wars despite my interest in this kind of documentary and non fiction book. An exception to the rule are a couple of things I've read like Dean Koontz 'Lightning, Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone With The Wind', Michael Shaara's 'The Killer Angels', Khaled Hosseini's 'The Kite Runner' and Markus Zusak's 'The Book Thief' and those on tbr like Ryan Graudin's 'Wolf by Wolf'. I would be interested in reading more fiction on the subjects of events like the plague and the Great Fire of London. I read 'Year of Wonders' which I liked and since then I've picked up a couple of other plague books-ie Ann Benson's 'Plague Tales' but none on the fire yet. 

Things like Typhoid Mary, Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden and things like that interest me and I want to get more books on these-it's just finding the right ones for my taste and that can be a problem. I also have a few things set in the Dracula era though I'm not a fan of this time period and London society plots. My interest in vampires made me download them though, including LD Goffigan's 'Beast of London'. I'm really unsure how I'll get on with that. I also greatly enjoyed Michael Korda's 'The Immortals' which was a fiction novel about Marilyn Monroe's affair with The Kennedy Brothers. More things like that would be interesting. Novels about Elvis and other Presidents maybe?

I tend to avoid time periods like Victorian as I'm not a fan of the whole society ladies thing. My attempts at reading steampunk failed miserably because of things like that. I like my female characters to be kickass or at least seen pretty much as equals. I avoid the sweeping epics set over generations as I find them too slow and I tend to look more to Britain and America for my settings. I rarely read books set in Europe as authors have a tendency to write dialogue in other languages and not translate it which really bugs me! I don't like a strong focus on romance though it doesn't bother me in the Tudor novels for some reason. 

I do like reading fiction about real people and events that I do know something about, even when authors put their own twist on by adding supernatural events or telling it from a different angle. I enjoy Tudor novels because there is scope to experiment over things like was Katherine of Aragon a virgin when she married Henry, did Anne use another man to try and get pregnant, was there incest in Anne's family, did Mary Boleyn have Henry's child, was Amy Dudley murdered, who killed the Princes in the Tower etc. Every historian has different ideas on these topics so it seems obvious that authors will twist the established tale a little as well. I do enjoy all the twists even if I don't believe it happened.

Do you read historical fiction? Which time periods do you enjoy? Which time periods do you enjoy? What subjects or people interest you in the genre?

14 comments:

  1. I tend to not read historical fiction because the idea of interjecting made up stuff into real situations is anathema to me.
    Plus, I've seen too many people get their ideas about actual history from bogus movies and books.

    I don't mind time period pieces at all. But taking a historical character or event,not my cup of coffee ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah when The Tudors TV series came out, historians were going nuts about the things that were changed so that can be a problem in alternative history novels. Hopefully, it will get some more people interested in finding out the facts. Mind you, there are too many who believe every single thing they see in the media!

      Delete
  2. oh I do like historical fiction. I am picky over it though. There has to be a good subject. I don't want to read a historical fiction just for the setting. although steampunk is fun for that at times. I do like historical fiction that involves Jack the Ripper, Frankenstein retellings, Lizzie Bordon and any kind of retelling of known stories really. The serial killer ones I really enjoy. great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't read a great amount, mostly the Tudor novels but I would like to read more. I picked up a couple of Borden and Ripper books, a few plague related ones and a Mothman legend one so I hope to read them soon!

      Delete
  3. I love historical fiction. It’s one of my favorite genres. There’s nothing I avoid, but I’m kind of over crossdressing. I’ve read a lot of girl-pretends-to-be-boy stories. I’d like to read more stories of girls doing awesome things while dealing with society’s prejudices instead of getting around them by dressing like a boy.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I find because I watch the news and am into politics, I see so many depressing things like racism, bigotry, sexism, homophobia, prejudice etc that I just want to avoid those topics in my reading! Guess that's why I comfort read zombies and horror...

      Delete
  4. I like some historical fiction. The ones I read really have to have a supernatural/paranormal or mystery element to them. That being said, I love books about Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Border and other infamous beings. I love Sherlock Holmes stories and all kinds of versions of retellings. This is such a great discussion topic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see this on your blog and that's what got me grabbing a few of them. I have a backlog of historical fiction that I really need to get on with so I can empty my shelves a bit!

      Delete
  5. I do like historical fiction but I'm probably tend to stick to late 19th century - first half of 20th. I'm picky about the plots as I don't like the Society stuff either and prefer a narrow focus with character development.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tea dances and suitors just bore me in these books. I guess I was never meant to be a lady or maybe I was one in a previous life and I'm rebelling now!

      Delete
  6. I've always enjoyed historical fiction novels, only I don't read them as much as I used to. But my favorite time periods would probably be WWII, The Gilded Age, Victorian England, the Tudors, and the American Old West. I tend to avoid (like the plague!) ancient Greece or Rome, and the Napoleanic era. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I definitely enjoy reading about the Tudors-what happened then is more exciting than what you see in dramas on tv!

      Delete
  7. I used to read historical romance when I was a teen. I fell away from it. Now I enjoy historical mysteries and horror. I too am fascinated by Jack The Ripper and Lizzie Borden, whether supernatural or factual.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a couple of books on those subjects waiting to be read. I need to get on with some of this stuff.

      Delete