Friday, June 23, 2006

Question for You!

I'm afraid I'm feeling lazy today, so I'm going to do two easy bloggy things: a question for y'all, and a snippet.

But wait, first I'm going to go get a donut.

There, back with donut in hand. Lazy AND unhealthy...but happy. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Question first. I'm interested in finding out how many of y'all read (or did read) historical fiction...and what you liked. This is both occupational research and a little scrounging for more to add to the (already toppling, am I insane?) TBR pile. So please, even those of you who don't normally post comments, post with 3 historical fiction titles you really enjoyed. Doesn't matter how long ago you read them, either.

Hmmm, and now a snippet. It's getting harder to find something small that I haven't posted before, that's not a spoiler. I'm at least pretty sure I haven't posted this one here:

From The Murderess's Tale, Copyright Susan Adrian, 2006

I was dreaming of dragons. A golden dragon, with red eyes and breath of deadly fire, was chasing me through the countryside, laying waste to all we passed. I ran through a hollow, gasping for breath, searching for a place to hide. But he could see everywhere, everything. I was trapped.

I bolted upright, my hands clenching the silken sheets. It was night; the crackling fire was the only light, except for the cold silver of stars I could just glimpse through the window slits.

He had not come.

I was still alone, still safe. I wrapped the coverlet tighter around me. Still safe, for now.

I rubbed my eyes, wondering what had woken me. It seemed there had been a noise…it came again. Heavy footsteps on the floor above. A bang. Shouts. What was passing up there?

Well, if it kept the Duke from my chamber I was glad of it, whatever it might be. I slipped from the bed, pulled a shawl over my shift, and padded to the little fire. The room was cool, the white stones chill against my bare feet. I knelt next to the fire, breathing in the fragrant wood-smoke and stretching my hands out to the flames.

Fire. It was always the same, no matter my own fortunes. In Eva's kitchen, St. Mary's abbey, Godwina's house, here…fire was ever-present, giving warmth, cooking food. It mattered not to the fire if I was child or woman, captive or wife. I wondered suddenly if God was the same. Constant, unchanging. But was He uncaring too? Or did He really watch over us, care for us, if we lived well? Was Juliana right, that God had already abandoned us? Even the question was heresy. I could add heresy to my list of crimes.

Medieval Word of the Day: hetefast: Firmly, securely, fast.


Sara Walker Howe said...

I have a list of historical writers on the sidebar of my blog. (And you're included!)

I don't have favourite books, I'm afraid. Once I find an author clicks with me, I devour everything she's ever written.

Top 3 historical authors right now:
Gabaldon (I think Voyager is my favourite, so far.)
Laura Kinsale (Hmmm. I think Shadowheart is my fave of hers.)
Anne Perry (I've read a few of her first series, but none of the second or others.)
(I think Darlene Marshall deserves an honourable mention, if I'm allowed to name a fourth!)

Susan Adrian said...


I just went over and browsed on your blog--don't know why I didn't make it over there before. Cool beans!

Thanks for the hist. authors! I've read something from all those...though I didn't make it through all the Laura Kinsale. Don't know why exactly. I need to read more Anne Perry one of these days...

Sara Walker Howe said...

If you started with Kinsale's FOR MY LADY'S HEART, I don't blame you. That was tough. I nearly gave it up, but Beth Shope urged me to finish, and I found I quite liked it by the end. I picked up a few more of her titles at the used bookstore (because they were all out of print then), read them and liked them too.

What I like about her stories is that she doesn't have her boy and girl separated by small matters that could be easily cleared up with a single conversation. She does romance right.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan:
I go for Philippa Gregory, with the Other Boleyn Girl being my most recent, and probably my favourite so far. I'm going to buy the Queen's Fool and the Virgin's Lover soon, but the Wideacre series was pretty good too.
In my tbr pile there's a heap of Rosalind Miles, I've read the first Tristan and Isolde so far, pretty good, but it's not Gabaldon, ya know.
If Diana wrote cereal box backs, I'd read those.
I see you've picked up the Sara Donati books, I liked those, but better - get her literary novel Homestead. Absolutely beautiful.

Susan Adrian said...


Yep, it was FMLH. I just couldn't finish it. But then I don't have a lot of experience with the romance titles, so I didn't know if it was that. Glad to hear her others are better reads!

Susan Adrian said...


Ah, Philippa Gregory. I've read a lot of her stuff as well. I don't think I've read Rosalind Miles, but I'll check her out!

Into the Wilderness is fabulous so far!

Sara Walker Howe said...

Just thought of another...
Have you read P.F. Chisolm? I love her books!

Anonymous said...

The titles I enjoyed the most are from a long time ago. Outlander, Shanna, Knight in Shinning Armor. I hope this helps your research.


Anonymous said...


I am a huge Dorothy Dunnett fan--have read both of her series, some of the books twice. My favorite is Pawn in Frankincense.

Another all-time favorite is A Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, about a seventeenth century village that quarantines itself during the plague.

I also enjoyed Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles, Gardener to the King by Frederic Richaud, and Judith Merkle Riley's Margaret of Ashbury trilogy.


Susan Adrian said...

Sara, Carol, and Julianne:

Thank you! I haven't read MOST of your time to get busy!!


JK said...


Haven't done a lot of reading for fun lately, but I do like historicals where the characters have a sense of humour, and aren't dour, leaden figures that trudge through the book, weighing down the story. I have read a couple by Roberta Geillis, and while her dialogue tends to be stiff, she's created some interesting characters.

Julie K

Susan Adrian said...


LOL! Yes, dour and leaden characters tend to make me close a book too! And I have come across a few here and there.

Have you tried Philippa Gregory?

Renée said...

Hi Susan-

They were already mentioned but I enjoyed The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory and Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks too. Some of my other favorite historical novels are Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund and the Red Tent by Anita Diamant, and also Girl With a Pearl Earing and Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier.

I found your blog through the Compuserve forum and it looks great! I've added it to my bookmark list. :o)


Susan Adrian said...

Thank you, Renee! Visitors and book recommendations are always welcome! :)

Julie said...


I haven't tried Philippa Gregory - thanks for the tip!


Henrik said...

I recently read Susanna Clarke's "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" and I liked it very much, particularly the way Clarke makes her fiction blend with history in a very seamless manner. Or rather she lets her fictional characters act in specific historic situations (Battle of Waterloo &c.)

I also enjoyed George McDonald Fraser's books on Harry Flashman for the very same reason, ie. that you recognize the action from history class in school and even begin to wonder wheter the fictional persons did in fact participate in the historic events depicted.

I also enjoyed Elisabeth Kostova's "The Historian", even though it is not as well written as the above - part of the book has even gone Dan Brown: All cliffhangers and no juice.

Susan Adrian said...


Ah, I love the feeling you mentioned--that moment when the author's done such a good job that you wonder if it was real. Good point.

I haven't tried Fraser or Susanna Clarke's book yet. Actually I put off all the "big" books while I was writing, as I find them too distrating. Maybe I'll tackle Jonathan Strange one of these days.

I did try "The Historian" and I'm afraid I didn't even get halfway through. I kept putting it down and then finding excuses not to pick it up again. Even with the cliffhangers!

Thanks for your comments.


Henrik said...

I think that Fraser's books will interfere the least with your own writing. They're something like a first-person-shooter computer game, only they are in book form.. think Leisure Suit Larry meets Barry Lyndon(!). George has done something in the area of 12-13 books in the series so far, and the first 5-6 ones are very very funny.