More Historical Fiction Hotness and Notness
Posted by: Keir Graff
Karleen Mauldin writes:
You bet it is! My children and I love historical fiction! Home educators, most of whom probably do not subscribe to the Booklist, love to use GOOD historical fiction to flesh out their history curriculum, or use as most of their history, church history, and even science, curriculum. Many of the books we like are by G. A. Henty, Allen French, Joanne Williamson, James Daugherty, and others. So, just because historical fiction is not heard of in “your world” definitely does not mean it’s ‘history!’
Claudette Brown, an elementary school librarian writes:
Historical fiction IS a genre. My favorite! However, I can’t sell it to my kids. Richard Peck? Collecting dust on my shelves. Graham Salisbury? Ditto. It pains me, but series, series, series are hot, particularly fantasy. The girls are consumed with “chic lit” and contemporary fiction beginning in third grade. And that’s my reality.
Marcia Stiller writes:
I’m way into historical fiction and very grateful that historical fiction is being showcased, the market does seem to be shrinking, I find it harder and harder to find good historical fiction. That said, I have very little clue if it is hot in my library or not, (I work at the reference desk in an academic library.) But, I do have friends who are into historical fiction almost as much as I am, so please keep the reccomendations coming!
My fiction reading is almost entirely in the area of historical fiction, primarily European before the modern era, though I also read other areas and periods — especially Chinese — if the subject/era interests me. However, I tend to avoid most of the more popular authors — Philippa Gregory, Robert Harris, Nicholas Nicastro, Jeanne Kalogridis, Conn Iggulden, Robyn Young, Sam Barone, etc — as well as romance and bodice-rippers, as the quality of writing is not on par with what I am seeking.
My observation, though I have no stastistical sample to buttress my opinion, is that book groups tend to love two types of novels. The first is literary historical fiction. The second group focuses on books which explore foreign cultures. I attended the Key West literary seminar recently on Historical novels, and the discussion often focused upon that single element which helps to create a great book. Historical novels take us to a place we cannot visit or experience. Books like Pillars of the Earth, or The Red Tent, or any of the Anya Seyton novels, classics like The Hunchback of Notre Dame or Tale of Two Cities, sweep us away from the present and give us a new sense of time and place. Doctorow’s The March, Geraldine Brooks People of the Book, and Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain do add literary dimensions to the historical tale which further the development of the novel.