This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands,-- This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. ~~William Shakespeare, Richard III

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Booking Through Thursday - Discuss

Booking through Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Deb over at Wordpress. This week's "question" is a bit different as we're putting out questions to be discussed by other readers.

"I was wanting to try a certain author and wished I knew someone who had read her works so I could get a recommendation when it occurred to me that having a “YOU ask the question” Booking Through Thursday might be fun. Each participant could ask a question they’ve wanted to discuss with other readers. Perhaps, like me, you’d like a recommendation of a certain author’s best work, or perhaps you LOVE a certain genre or series but no one else you know does and you’d just like to discuss it with someone. Or perhaps you want to try a new genre and would like recommendations from seasoned readers."

It was incredibly hard to narrow this down to one question as I have so much I would love to discuss, as well as get recommendations from other readers. So, here is my question to other readers:

Do you prefer to read historical fiction that is only lightly based on historical fact or would you prefer to read one that is much more historically accurate?

I tend to lean a bit more towards having more things historically accurate in what I read, but if the book is well written then I will enjoy it either way. Some would say if a book sticks solely to known historical facts they're probably going to be dry and boring, like a history book. Not so. One of my favorite authors, Sharon Kay Penman, is very historically accurate in her novels and they are absolutely riveting reads. There has been a lot of discussion lately about Philippa Gregory's works. I enjoy her books (for the most part) and find them entertaining, interesting, and fun to read. I know that they are not the most historically accurate and that would be fine EXCEPT....she is really promoted as being such a wonderful and thorough historian. That bugs me. There are some other historical fiction authors that I have really loved and I know their books have plenty of historical inaccuracies but they do not promote themselves as impeccable historians so the inaccuracies don't bug me nearly as much. Am I saying a historical fiction author should always stick to only what is known? Goodness no. Most of what these authors write happened hundreds of years ago and there is no way of knowing for certain what someone said, felt, did, how certain events actually came about, etc etc, and the authors HAVE to fill in with what they believe is probable. That is what makes it FICTION after all.


  1. I feel exactly the same way about Philippa Gregory. I listened to a discussion with her and one with Hilary Mantel, and what struck me is that Gregory kept saying, "This is what think happened" while Mantel said, "This is what I think could have happened." There's a difference there between a statement of fact and one of possibility that puts me off Gregory a bit (and I also find it frustrating when she's billed as a Tudor historian in the popular media!).

  2. Angela Hunt has some good reads on historical fiction.

  3. I'm not a stickler, but I don't want anything jarringly inaccurate. The biggest thing I run into is words or phrases that aren't from the period. Can't think of anything off the top of my head, but most of the historical with issues are mass market straight to paperback historical romance.