For the past two years or so about 60% of what I have been reading has been historical fiction (the other 40% has been made up of best-seller list-type fiction, historical non-fiction, and issue-based non-fiction, such as the Omnivore’s Dilemma, and some of my old favorites). It all started with a “hey, why not” sort of decision to pick up Philippa Gregory’s “The Other Boleyn Girl at Borders. I was a history major who loves to know things for the sake of knowing them, and who had not studied that time period at all (other than 4th grade, or whenever I learned about Henry VIII beheading Anne Boleyn).
I was completely mesmerized by the story I had never learned, of Mary Boleyn, Anne’s sister, who was Henry’s mistress before her sister was his queen. Because I picked up the book during finals week, my roommates resorted to hiding my book so that I would work on my papers and study for my finals. Once I finished that book, I went on to the rest of Philippa Gregory’s books (at least the ones touching on the Tudor court, I have yet to muster interest in her other books).
Being a history major I was quite aware of the power of point of view even in scholarly histories, not to mention in fictionalized history, so I began reading around the time period, in order to get a more complete picture – or at least to draw my own conclusions from the varying points of views of different authors. In doing this I was drawn into Jean Plaidy’s work, as she has been quite prolific on English royal history, especially in the Tudor times.
Lately I have been TRYING to branch out, some historical fiction about Marie Antoinette here, non-Tudor historical fiction by Jean Plaidy there. This is all relevant because it touches on two of the reasons I started this blog:
- I would like to encourage people to read more historical fiction. Actually, I would like to encourage people to learn more history, because I think that there are fantastic lesson, both suggestions and warnings, that are applicable to the modern day no matter what time period or geographic region you study. In addition, history helps you understand your own cultural heritage, as well as that of others. I believe that historical fiction is a very accessible way to be drawn into history. Many people reading historical fiction will be drawn into either reading historical fiction around the subject, or even researching the veracity of the story itself. Even if you only stick to the historical fiction, though, you can broaden your scope and understanding of history.
- I would like to expand my own scope. I could probably be happy reading primarily Tudor history and Jean Plaidy novels for a long time, although the Plaidy novels might entice me to read around other time periods in English or French history. However, I sort of doubt that many people would be interested in reading this blog if that is 90% of what I talk about. Plus, I think expanding my scope would make me a more well-rounded person. I hope that, in the course of this blog, I will make a concerted effort to broaden my horizons (even if only to a greater diversity of historical fiction), and I hope that people will give ME recommendations of books that they have enjoyed and I might enjoy as well.