For Lack of a Better Post (For Now)


Okay, so the historical post has not been written yet. I have some ideas floating around my head, but I have not yet decided on a particular place and person. So, any ideas would be welcome! (And that was not a subtle hint…!) Instead, I decided to do something a little different…

To begin, my favorite genre of literature is historical fiction. I am quite fond of novels based on early modern England, especially the Plantagenet (think War of the Roses) and the Tudor (think Henry VIII and his six wives and Elizabeth I) families. Lately, I have read a couple of different books about Tudor England. I am currently reading The Secrets of the Tudor Court by D.L. Bogdan. Released this year, it tells of Henry VIII’s reign through the eyes of Mary Howard, the daughter of Thomas Howard, third Duke of Norfolk (who helped to orchestrate both Anne Boleyn’s rise to and fall from power) and wife of Henry Fitzroy, King Harry’s illegitimate son. Interesting so far, but as a whole, I have not formed a strong opinion towards it. Now, I am not one to shy away from reading books I do not like, but I seem to have had my fill of them recently. A few weeks ago I bought another book on Plantagenet England by Robin Maxwell, To the Tower Born, a novel of the lost princes of Edward IV. Told from the daughter of English printer, William Caxton, I could not like the protagonist of the novel for she had no flaws and Maxwell took too much dramatic liberty in fictionalizing and speculating about the relationship between Caxton’s daughter and Elizabeth of York. I doubt their relationship could have been as close as portrayed due to social constraints and royal expectations. But, I digress. To the point, I am feeling as though I am exhausting my interest of Tudor England at the moment, and I am trying to find some other material.

I found a refreshing change of pace in Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. This book, set during the Great Depression details the life of a Cornell-educated vet in a traveling circus. Gruen tells the story in two different time frames: the past and the present. The protagonist in the story relapses into flashbacks in which he tells his story. I cannot give away any more details except that it is a fantastic combination of murder, romance, suspense, and a highly intelligent elephant. I highly, highly, recommend it.

If anyone is interested in some good historical fiction from the late medieval/early modern era in England, I recommend Philippa Gregory, Anne Easter Smith, Alison Weir, Susan Penman, Margaret Campbell Barnes, and Elizabeth George. I know I am forgetting some authors, but these should give one a good start. Most are thoroughly researched and have great author’s notes as the end of them, discussing what was true and what was fiction or speculation.

Also, if you have any good suggestions for books or for a historical person or event I should blog about, please feel free to comment or email me at awilliam@carrollu.edu. I am game to read anything out of the ordinary.

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