Falling in Love with Historical Fiction

We’ve talked a bit about genre and the Pink books in the past two weeks. One of the reasons I appreciate genre categories is because once you’ve found a book you love, knowing what genre it is can help you find hundreds of other similar books to try. Today, we have a guest post from Chanpreet, who will explain how reading The Secret History of the Pink Carnation helped her to rediscover her love for the historical fiction genre.

I’ve always loved reading. My memories don’t go back to when I was three years old, the age my mother tells me I first learned how to read, but as long as I can remember I’ve been reading and loving it. The book that started my love for all things historical and romance was a novel titled The Love Stone by Deana James. I read it when I was in the 5th or 6th grade and carried it around with me everywhere. After that, I started actively looking for books like The Love Stone, and I started reading Jude Deveraux, Judith McNaught, and Karen Robards. I read historical romances exclusively until I stumbled upon contemporary romance authors like Rachel Gibson, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Sandra Brown, and then that was all I read.

In 2004, there was an excerpt of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation that I read somewhere. It was a scene with Amy and Richard and featured them in the gondola and I remember thinking, “That’s hot! I want to read more!” I immediately looked up the publishing date and any information I could find on Lauren, which wasn’t much at the time. I started to look for more information about the book. When the book first came out, I was unable to afford buying the book in hardback but was ecstatic when my local library accepted my suggestion that they add the book to their lending selection. I remember checking it out and being so excited! I started reading it the moment I got home and finished it the same day, staying up late at night to finish it. I fell in love with the book. It was everything I’d hoped it would be and so much more. The book was funny, sweet, hot, and so very entertaining! I was so sad when it was over, because I wanted more. I was also pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the action and mystery angle. I wanted more Amy and Richard, Collin and Eloise, to find out how Miss Gwen and Jane were going to stop Napoleon, more intrigue, more drama, more of everything.

All of a sudden, I couldn’t get enough of historical novels again. My passion came back, but differently. I was still enchanted with bygone eras, but I was old enough to realize that what I had read as a teenager wasn’t always an accurate portrayal of the times. I also learned I wanted more to my stories than just romance.  I realized reading a book that was just as much a romance as it was a historical novel or an action/suspense novel was exhilarating and so much more fulfilling.  Since then, I’ve read countless historical novels.  I actively began to look for them when I would have passed over them before.   I own all of Lauren’s books in paperback and always look forward to reading her new books and re-reading and visiting with some of my favorite characters.  I look forward to news about her upcoming books, what she’s reading, and especially what she’s researching.  I’ve been introduced to many new authors and books through my daily stalkings of her website.  So much so, when I met her a few years ago at a singing she recognized my name and this year as well when I got to meet her for 15 minutes at RT.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation was a game changer for me and I think for many others as well.  I noticed that her fans grew with each book. I always get that happy feeling knowing I was one of the lucky ones who found her at the beginning and thinking how lucky the new readers are to have an extensive back list waiting for them.  I’m always very excited to see her books on the shelves and on the table with other best sellers.  It takes someone extra special to be a writer, and I’m hoping Lauren will continue to bring me and other readers joy.

Thanks for sharing with us today, Chanpreet! I’ve found several great recommendations on Lauren’s website for historical fiction as well. Off the top of my head, I know I’ve read Forever Amber, The Far Pavilions, and Shadow of the Moon on Lauren’s recommendation. If you’d like to see a list of some of Lauren’s favorite books by category, she has one posted on her website. Tracy Grant’s novels are on Lauren’s list as favorite historical mysteries! If you’d like to give one a try, make sure to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of Vienna Waltz!

What are some of your favorite historical fiction novels?

5 thoughts on “Falling in Love with Historical Fiction

  1. Since historical fiction is absolutely my favorite genre, there are many books I could list. However, to mention just a few, I will start with Sharon Kay Penman as an historical fiction author extraordinaire. She was recommended to me by our school librarian, and I have never been disappointed in anything of hers that I have read. The first book was HERE BE DRAGONS, the first of a trilolgy that told the story of struggle between England and Wales, beginning with King John and Llewelyn, Prince of Wales. The second, FALLS THE SHADOW, and third, THE RECKONING continue the story through the reign of Edward I. Her research and storytelling skills are impeccable. WHEN CHRIST AND HIS SAINTS SLEPT could be considered a prequel to this series, as well as the books she has written about Henry and Eleanor of Aquitane and their progeny – TIME AND CHANCE, DEVIL’S BROOD, LIONHEART, and KING’S RANSOM. She also tried her hand with historical mysteries, much shorter, but still excellent – THE QUEEN’S MAN is the first of four starring Justin DeQuincy who is spying for Eleanor of Acquitane.

    Jennifer Donnelly has another amazing trio beginning with THE TEA ROSE, about a poor family in London trying to survive in the 1880’s. The story continues with THE WINTER ROSE and ends with THE WILD ROSE, taking the family into the 1900’s through WWI. There are so many real people in these books, ranging from Jack the Ripper to Lawrence of Arabia. The story goes from England to New York and back, as well as a stint in Kenya and of course Arabia. One touches on the struggle of women in medicine before the turn of the century, another on adventuring, mountain climbing, spying during the war, all the while dealing with social issues and politics of the times as the family story is told.

    Last is a series set in Poland written by James Conroyd Martin – PUSH NOT THE RIVER, AGAINST A CRIMSON SKY, and THE WARSAW CONSPIRACY. They story begins in the 1780’s and goes through the early 1800’s – exquisite detail and descriptions of the times, again as a family story is told through the upheaval in Europe – Austria, Russia, France, all fighting and carving up Poland for their own interests. Napoleon plays a major part as well as Catherine the Great.

    Historical fiction – what a wonderful genre that teaches so much in an entertaining way!

    • Betty, thank you for all these great suggestions!

      I have had a copy of “The Tea Rose” for months and haven’t gotten around to it yet – clearly that needs to change. Also, I’ve seen “Push Not the River” around and considered picking it up as well.

      Have you ever read anything by Mary Renault? “The King Must Die” and “The Bull from the Sea” were incredible if you like Greek mythology and history.

      • THE TEA ROSE is excellent – I couldn’t do it justice in the description above. I felt the need to continue the story after reading and sought out the other two.

        For PUSH NOT THE RIVER, go to Conroyd’s site and view the trailer – it will grab you.

        I read a book about Alexander the Great by Mary Renault long ago – can’t recall the title right now – maybe FIRE and ICE?

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