Category Archives: Historical Fiction

November 17

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Lincoln in the Bardo is a book that provokes strong and varying opinions from the reader. Awarded the Booker Prize winner for 2017 it is at once an annoying, frustrating, silly read, and at the same time totally provocative and intelligent, and a literary experience like no other. Set in 1862  it tells the story […]

November 15

A gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Shortly after the Russian Revolution, Count Alexander Rostov is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and into the elegant Hotel Metropol. Here, in an attic room that is blatantly demeaning to the social standing and culture of the count, he commences a life of house arrest. And so begins this wonderfully charming novel. […]

November 13

Unquiet spirits by Bonnie MacBird

Holmes and Watson have returned to London from Dartmoor following the terrors of the moors, only to find Holmes fighting off a murderer with vengeance on his mind and in his heart. Just as quickly, another case presents with tales of kidnappings and ghosts that have terrorised the residents at McLaren castle in the Scottish […]

November 10

Great Narrative Poems of the Nineteenth Century

I know I’m pushing the ball uphill to convince people to try narrative poetry, but let’s give it a shot! In the 19th Century, the way of showing you were a wordsmith on the modern pop hit level was to write long poems, with stories in them, about passionate people doing foolish things. Many them […]

November 03

Nostalgic for Eighties crime, racism and sexism? Les Norton might be the hero you want.

The Les Norton books by Robert G. Barrett remind me of the early Bond novels, in that they are basically about a reactionary guy who can punch people who represent social change, and then have sex with their girlfriends. Those of you who are Bond fans may object: but in the movies he’s a lot […]

September 29

The bravest, handsomest man in Napoleon’s army. Only his modesty prevents him from telling you so.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best known for his sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, but he has another hero. A dashing hero. A man unmatched with the blade. A man of unparalleled attraction to the ladies. A man whose modesty is unsurpassed. Brigadier Etienne Gerard! Brigadier Gerard is tremendously conceited. That’s his charm. He may be brave, […]

September 22

Can you write a comedy where all of the characters are toffee-nosed Nazis? Nancy Mitford gives it a go.

Well, that was unexpected… Nancy Mitford was an English satirist during the interwar years, who wrote comedies of manners. She’s best known today for Love in a Cold Climate, which mentally I always tangle with Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, so I was bound to be surprised. I went into Wigs on the Green […]

September 15

The Midnight Watch by David Dyer

Just what exactly happened on the SS Californian during the midnight watch the night the Titanic sank? This debut novel by David Dyer explores the motives of  the Californian‘s Captain, Stanley Lord, who did not respond to the distress rockets of the Titanic on April 15, 1912, despite being the closest ship in the area. Survivors […]

September 11

Alias Grace by Margaret Attwood

Everyone’s talking about the serialised version of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – everyone but me actually, as we had trouble streaming from SBS on demand, so I’ll just have to patiently wait for my hold on the library copy to arrive. We also have the 1990 film adaptation on the catalogue, starring Natasha […]

September 07

Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris

I hesitated to listen to these stories: I’d heard they were racist. I’m OK with working through that sort of material, but was looking for something lighter, so it floated down my listening stack. It’s more complicated than that though… Joel Chandler Harris was a white guy who collected stories in the antebellum South of […]