Alcestis Books Historical fiction Recommendations

More lazy spring-break link posting

Con or Bust raised over $5000 to help fans of color attend Wiscon! And the copy of Alcestis I donated has already arrived with its new owner.

Sarah Johnson wrote an insightful post about “reviewerese” and the notion of authenticity in historical fiction. A sample:

When you see a novel described as impeccably researched, meticulously researched, or historically accurate (and you’ll find this in publicity material, too), what the reviewer may really mean is: “the author includes a lot of historical details that made the setting come alive” or “I didn’t notice anything obviously wrong” or “I learned a ton of new info from this book” or even “it has a massively long bibliography.” Or it could mean exactly what it says. Without knowing anything about the reviewer’s capability to judge such things, it’s impossible to know for sure.

Lapham’s Quarterly posts a chart of day jobs of famous writers, including Henry Fielding, Magistrate.

Finally: I’m reading An Instance of the Fingerpost and really enjoying it so far. I know it’s incredibly popular. Are there any other historical fiction books you think should be required reading for fans of the genre?


  1. Thanks for linking up my post! Glad you’re enjoying the Pears so far – I loved that book and wish I could read it again for the first time. I’ll be interested to hear others’ recommendations.

  2. You’re very welcome! I’m actually feeling a bit more unsure about the Pears now — I’m around 2/3 of the way through and only just now feeling much suspense. I was talking to my mother about this yesterday; I think the reason it’s not working brilliantly for me as a mystery (yet) is that the psychology is so alien to me — I admire it as historical fiction but it means that I can’t play my usual psychological guessing games with the mystery plot, because I have no idea how to predict the politics or the religiously-motivated craziness that seems to be driving the characters. I’m intrigued enough to finish it, though.

    I’d definitely recommend Possession as required reading for historical fiction fans (and for everybody!).

  3. Yes, Possession, definitely – another favorite of mine! Fingerpost seems to inspire a variety of reactions. It was the very gradual unlocking of the mystery that intrigued me, and he caught my attention with one major plot twist I hadn’t seen coming. The final account I thought was just brilliant.

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