Wednesday, November 26, 2008

To Read or Not To Read ~ Historical Fiction

I have a confession to make ... I don't want to read historical fiction. 


Yes, it's true. I've gone to the library and bookstores, I've read the reviews online, I've picked up the books and thumbed through them and thought "this sounds really good" ... and yet, I can't bring myself to read them. Why?

Because I like a happy ending. And one book ruined them all for me. (cough, cough ... Cold Mountain ... Charles Fraizer, are you listening?)

Let's face it, in most historical fiction novels, the guy isn't going to get the girl. Nope, in most cases, something really tragic happens. Which is why the events were impressive enough to be recorded in the first place. History loves to be gloomy. So when a book is based on a true historical events, you are bound to put down the book feeling cheated out of your happily ever after. And so that's why I don't read them. But lately, the urge to really give one a try has gotten stronger. I mean, maybe I am wrong. Maybe it doesn't always happen that. Maybe I just happened to chose the one book guaranteed to prejudice me against historical fiction for all of time. Maybe. 

And so, in the spirit of trying new things (and since I am out of things to read until a new crop of books gets published), I have turned to the one thing I vowed I would never do. Read. Historical. Fiction. 

My heart actually hurts at the thought of all that time spent reading, enjoying the rich tapestry of the author's world only to be blindsided at the end. But I am going to give it a shot. I really am. I chose three books from the library yesterday and one of them is going to be good. I hope. I already know the story of The Other Boleyn Girl (although I refused to see the movie - just as I refused to see Cold Mountain much as I love me some Jude Law). So I am not going into that one blind. The others? We shall find out. I'll keep you posted. 

Here are the quick book blurbs:

The Other Boleyn Girl ~
When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family's ambitious plots as the king's interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king, and take her fate into her own hands.
The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte ~
Charlotte Bronte, the beloved author of Jane Eyre, lived a quiet and private life in her father's Yorkshire parish. Or did she? What if a diary was uncovered that revealed her secret involvement in one of the most thrilling adventures of the 19th century?
Upon learning that she has been falsely accused of breaching her publishing contract, the normally mild-mannered Charlotte sets off for London to clear her name. But when she unintentionally witnesses a murder, Charlotte finds herself embroiled in a dangerous chain of events. With the aid of her sisters, Emily and Anne, and of the suspiciously well-informed but irresistibly attractive brother of the victim, Charlotte works to unravel a deadly web of intrigue that threatens now only her own safety but the very fabric of the British Empire. Charlotte is plunged into a perilous adventure and a passionate romance that leads her from the peaceful Yorkshire moors to the crime-infested streets of London, across the seat to the Continent, to the ports of Cornwall, the wilds of Scotland, and the palaces of Queen Victoria herself. Will Charlotte be able to stop a devious invisible villain whose schemes threaten her life, her family, and her country?
The Sealed Letter ~
Miss Emily "Fido" Faithfull is a "woman of business" and a spinster pioneer in the British women's movement, independent of mind but naively trusting of heart. Distracted from her cause by the sudden return of her once-dear friend, the unhappily wed Helen Codrington, Fido is swept up in the intimate details of Helen's failing marriage to a stuffy admiral and her obsessive affair with a young army officer. What begins as a loyal effort to help a friend explodes into a courtroom drama that rivals the Clinton affair - complete with stained clothing, accusations of adultery, counterclaims of rape, and a mysterious sealed letter that could destroy more than one life. 


Barbara said...

I enjoy reading historical non-fiction stories for research. But, I must confess that I, too, am not a fan of historical fiction. I did read the other Boelyn girl, but only because I saw and liked the movie. But other than that, nah, I'll pass. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE historicals, but only the romantic kind :)

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Emily.

Taja said...

I have Cold Mountain but I watched the film instead. It had Judd Law and didn't take as long. Also, I already had a good guess as to how it would end because it was written by a man. ;)

The Sealed Letter sounds interesting. I'm curious which one you'll read first.

Bethany K. Warner said...

I struggle with historical fiction too.
If you want a fairly decent one, try "The Tea Rose." IT's sequel, the "Winter Rose" is ok but not as good.
Also, "Pinkerton's Secret" is brilliant and it's historical fiction too.

Emily said...

I've heard The Tea Rose is excellent. I haven't even started reading any of those yet but I will keep you all up to date!

Mollie said...

I'm not a big fan of historical works. But I LOVE historical movies. Go figure.....!

Marg said...

As a lover of historical fiction, can I give you another suggestion - Elizabeth Chadwick. Whilst she is not that easy to get hold of, her early books were historical romance, now they historical with s lot of romance! If you want other suggestions let me know because I have a ton of them!

Elle said...

I refused to read historical fiction as well, but a few years back friend lent me a Philippa Gregory book (not The Other Boleyn Girl) and I really enjoyed it. I've now read more of PG's work.

Hope you enjoy The Other Boleyn Girl and good call not seeing the film - it was rubbish!

Emily said...

Want to hear another confession? I haven't started on any of them yet and they are due back at the library tomorrow! Oops!

Anonymous said...

Have you read anything by Diana Gabaldon... I think that is a good mix of historical fiction and romance. She has a series... but the first book stands alone. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon... give it a try! Good luck with the historical fiction quest! Lucy