Category Archives: Historical fiction/non-fiction

The Curiosity by Stephen Kiernan

ISBN 978-1-84854-876-3

I’ve often wondered what it would be like for someone from the past to suddenly find themselves in our time. Much would depend on when, and from what environment they came.

This book has a US Massachusetts judge called Jeremiah, who fell overboard in 1906 into freezing sea, and who quickly became part of an iceberg, being unfrozen by a group of scientists, including the heroine Kate Philo. Its a very human kind of love story. The author is gentle and empathetic when dealing with (most) of his characters, and the theme is dealt with intelligently. Kiernan is very good at clearly describing scenes and situations, as well as different personalities. It’s very much a book about people and their relationships, but also remains remains an enjoyable page-turner.

I highly recommended it.

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

ISBN 978-0-85720-543-8

900 Jews holding out against the Romans on a mountain in a place known as Masada. This story is about the two woman and five children who survived.

The author manages to bring the characters and the situation into raw, awe inspiring life. She combines historical detail, life, drama, and magic in a book that I can only fully recommend you read.

After reading the book I wanted to visit Masada. It’s a place I’d heard about as a child, but never given much thought to. Like so many of the best books of this sort,  one of its strengths is that it is primarily about people, but also full of detail on the situation in the middle east in that time.

The Last Apache Girl by Jim Fergus

ISBN 978-0-330-44585-6

Set in the 1930’s Ned Giles, an aspirant photographer from the North, joins an expedition to track down a young Mexican boy, taken by Apache. Ned meets a young Apache girl who survived her family’s massacre by scalp hunters. The Mexican government paid for Apache scalps at the time.

My grandfather travelled in the “wild west” in the first decades of the 20th century crossing the country under trains and dragging bodies out of bars. This historical romance certainly rings true, including the social attitudes and lawlessness of the time concurring with his stories.

Although my description makes the book sound very violent, it is not. It’s an easy-to-read, historically fascinating romance, and well worth a read.

The Street Philosopher by Matthew Plampin

ISBN 978-00-0-7313242 Harper Collins, 2008

This centres around a newspaperman, Thomas Kitson, and is set in Crimea and Manchester during and just after the Crimean war in the 1850s. This is Plampin’s first novel. I will be first in line to buy the next one.

The British military leadership’s arrogance and sociopathic attitude of the time is very clearly shown, along with the way the main characters’ lives are affected by their society and their personalities. The book is full of historic facts and descriptions of the society of the time, but also full of fast moving drama, passion, treachery and betrayal.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

ISBN 9780006514008 HarperCollins

This is the first Philippa Gregory book I’ve read and I’m very impressed. She has an extremely convincing knowledge of the Tudor period and manages to bring the sorry saga of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn to life. Vivid, easy to read and fascinating.

Like any good historical novel, it seems wrong to label this fiction.

I’ll be reading more of her books soon.