Historical fiction, as I understand it anyway, is a fictionalized account of something that actually happened in history (like a retelling) or a novel with a historically accurate setting but fictional characters or a book which presents an alternate history. I may be wrong, but this is what this list includes, books which I loved for that fascinating, at time eerie feeling I had a thought, that even some of this might have actually happened. I have never been good at remembering dates, so whatever I do know of the world history, it’s through reading fiction.
Here are the books, in no particular order:
– The Crucible by Arthur Miller: This was the first full-length play I read and I enjoyed it immensely. I was looking for a book that best described the Salem Witch Trials and this drama does it. It has been argued (a lot) whether this play is historically accurate, though the characters are based on the real people, who were in the town of Salem when it all went down and the atmosphere of hysteria is portrayed most convincingly. For me, it gives a basic idea about the witch trials, not to mention tells a whole lot more about Miller’s views on McCarthyism. Not to go too much into the details, let me just say, this is definitely a fascinating piece of fiction.
– 11/22/63 by Stephen King: Could I just say, I loved this book? This is the story of the man who goes back in time to prevent JFK’s assassination in ’63 and instead finds a home for himself in the past. I loved the characters and the he has made the time travel seem so believable. I recently found out that King had the idea for this book a while before he published his first novel, Carrie, and has now released it almost forty years later. Isn’t that kind of amazing?
– The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore: I read this last month (or this month not sure) but if you scroll down just a bit you’ll find a long review! This book is about, as you can tell by the title, a werewolf in Paris. The story is set in France, where the War of 1870 and the fall of the Paris Commune form the perfect backdrop for a gruesome tale of a boy, who cannot control his inner monster.
– Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke: This book is just something else. It is an alternate history of the 19th Century England during the Napoleonic Wars, based on the premise that magic once existed. And, in this tale, the two eponymous magicians bring magic to back to England. The author has created a wonderful sense of the past and the English and even the war with her precise imagery. I loved the parts when the Jonathan Strange, probably my favourite fictional character, invented tricks to win the war or to confuse the enemy like magically creating roads and moving entire towns, thus rendering any maps useless. And how can you miss the fact that he helped defeat Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo?
Honourable mentions: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt, Perfume by Patrick Sueskind and This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson.
I might have missed some, but I do love all these and I also do welcome recommendations!