Zi71bFS9nQHnivtvUJquhejTHIQ The Story Factory Reading Zone: H is for Historical Fiction

Monday, 9 April 2012

H is for Historical Fiction

Delving Deeper into History

Yesterday I was talking about genres. One of the genres I sometimes say I like to read is 'historical fiction'. Now I have a confession to make- I'm very particular about my historical fiction!

Firstly, I like it to be broadly accurate. Not for me are the non-existant royals, the impossible love affairs, or the secret plots that no-ones actually ever heard about. I'm quite happy for extra details to be made up (face it, most history would be pretty boring without them), but there's plenty of interesting stuff out there to pad-out without the extreme fiction.

Secondly, I don't just want to hear about royals, or the ruling class. There's a place for stories about the forgotten princes, or many wives of Henry VIII, but it's not really my cup-of-tea. I'd much rather hear about the reactions of the general public to an abdication, or the social history of life in the 1960s.

Thirdly, I'm not really interested in wars and battles. Military history was never something I enjoyed at school and lists of battles are just boring in my opinion. 

Then there's the fact that for some reason my historical fiction ends up mainly centered around two time periods: Ancient Egypt and the 2nd World War. The former comes from my interest in the Egyptians when I was younger (ending up in studying Ancient History), but I've no idea where the later period interest has come from. I've tried reading books about the Tudors, but for some reason they just didn't interest me. I'd love to broaden my historical horizons, but I've yet to find the right book to do it.

Finally, I'd like to introduce you to my favourite historical fiction writer. He's name is Christian Jacq and, you've guessed it, he mainly writes about Ancient Egypt. Why do I like his stuff so much? Well, he's an Egyptologist so I'm pretty sure his stuff is grounded in reality. I love the way his books tend to include maps and glossaries to really help you understand the place and time period. He writes about the Pharaoahs and their consorts, but he also tells the reader about their relationships with the everyday workers, the priests and the general population. When he tells of battles, its the impact that they have on the country that interests him, not the result in terms of numbers dead or which general survived. Overall, I find his books really interesting and I just wish he was more well-known as an author.

Do you like historical fiction? What sort do you like?

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