Generally, we don’t call fiction written in and about the author’s own time as historical novels. Yet modern readers can consider them a slice of history. Who better to fill us in on fine details of the day than someone living then and there?
I don’t find the tales of Edward Marston as smoothly written as, say, Ellis Peters or the wonderful Lindsey Davis. But that lack of ‘smoothinity’ (I’m aware of ‘smoothness’ but this suits my purpose) lends additional verisimilitude. The reader can feel the dirt in roadside food, the pinch of the cobbler’s shoes, the stench of an outhouse.
We live in a politically correct ‘woke’ atmosphere. We foster a supercilious attitude where we think we’re some way superior to those who’ve come before. Novels set in ancient Egypt or Imperial Rome remind us we’re not so different, not different at all.
Many of us, R.T. Lawton and Janice Law, David Edgerley Gates and Eve Fisher, to name a few colleagues, love the research as much as the writing… and reading.
For your pleasure, following are a dozen historical novels, new and old, you might want to nab.
The Alienist first appeared in 1994, the first in a short series. Who can resist New York City Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt?
The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco’s first novel published in 1980, is one of my all time favorites. Monesteries aren’t all peace and quiet.
I loved the virtually vanished Jewish Alps, the Borscht Belt Catskills in upstate New York. Think The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel entertains The Hotel Neversink.
Thanks to Tirzah Price at Book Riot for many of these suggestions and further details.
What are your favorite historical novels or series?