aavarana, Book Bloggers, books on my tbr, fred and edie, historical asian fiction, indian book bloggers, jamaica inn, must read historical fiction, pavithra srinivasan, snow flower and the secret fan, star of india, swords and shadows, the snow child, the thousand autumns of jacob de zoet, top ten hisotrical fiction books, top ten tuesday, true history of the kelly gang, wolf hall, yester tales
Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres but I haven’t been reading too much of it lately and I feel the pain of separation!!!! So, in order to heal the wounds in my heart, I have made a wishlist of the genre and have acquired a few and am yet to acquire some others.
1. True History Of The Kelly Gang : This one won the 2001 booker prize and is about the Kelly gang (as is obvious from the title). In True History of the Kelly Gang, the legendary Ned Kelly speaks for himself, scribbling his narrative on errant scraps of paper in semiliterate but magically descriptive prose as he flees from the police. To his pursuers, Kelly is nothing but a monstrous criminal, a thief and a murderer. To his own people, the lowly class of ordinary Australians, the bushranger is a hero, defying the authority of the English to direct their lives. Indentured by his bootlegger mother to a famous horse thief (who was also her lover), Ned saw his first prison cell at 15 and by the age of 26 had become the most wanted man in the wild colony of Victoria, taking over whole towns and defying the law until he was finally captured and hanged. Here is a classic outlaw tale, made alive by the skill of a great novelist.
2. Wolf Hall – This one is also a Booker Prize winner (2009) and I’m not sure if this whole list is going to be filled with booker prize winners! But, this one is in one of my favourite settings! England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?
3. Star Of India – If you check my blog regularly you’ll have noticed I reviewed The Woman In The Bazaar earlier. I have fallen in love with the author’s light writing style and cannot wait to read this one. “Stella Carrington, young and beautiful, feels that life is passing her by in the repressed Victorian household of her grandmother and spinster aunts. A casual flirtation shocks and horrifies the elderly ladies and they summon Robert Crayfield, her godfather, who is an officer in the Indian Civil Service, to make suitable arrangements for her to be a missionary or governess. But, tantalized by her beauty and disregarding the difference in their ages, he offers to marry her instead, scandalizing the village.
Stella, indifferent to romance, is most excited by the prospect of going to India that her marriage offers. Once there, she is enthralled at the beauty and mystery of the subcontinent, but increasingly disenchanted by her husband, who is only interested in her as a whet to his sensual appetites. When the young, handsome Philip Flint is posted as a junior officer in the same town, for the first time, she is forced to consider her own desires and duties.”
4. Jamaica Inn – On a bitter November evening, young Mary Yellan journeys across the rainswept moors to Jamaica Inn in honour of her mother’s dying request. When she arrives, the warning of the coachman begins to echo in her memory, for her aunt Patience cowers before hulking Uncle Joss Merlyn. Terrified of the inn’s brooding power, Mary gradually finds herself ensnared in the dark schemes being enacted behind its crumbling walls — and tempted to love a man she dares not trust.
5. Fred And Edie : In the winter of 1922 Edith Thompson and her younger lover, Freddy Bywaters, were found guilty of murdering Percy Thompson, Edith’s boorish husband. The two lovers were executed in a whirl of publicity in 1923. The case caused a sensation, a crime of passion that gripped the nation’s imagination and became the raw material for Jill Dawson’s sensual and captivating novel Fred and Edie, a fictional account of the lovers’ romance and their subsequent trial, predominantly told through Edie’s imaginary letters addressed to her lover, “Darlint Freddie”.
6. The Snow Child – I got this after seeing Resh’s review. She presented quite a compelling case for it, as you can see, and I got online immediately and picked it up. Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart–he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm, she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season’s first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning, the snow child is gone–but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.
7. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – I have to admit I only bought this for the cover and the fact that it was historical fiction. Now, reading about it, it seems rather interesting! In your hands is a place like no other: a tiny, man-made island in the bay of Nagasaki, for two hundred years the sole gateway between Japan and the West. Here, in the dying days of the 18th century, a young Dutch clerk arrives to make his fortune. Instead he loses his heart. Step onto the streets of Dejima and mingle with scheming traders, spies, interpreters, servants and concubines as two cultures converge. In a tale of integrity and corruption, passion and power, the key is control – of riches and minds, and over death itself.
8. Snow Flower And The Secret Fan – In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men.
As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.
9. The Nightwatch – Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked out streets, illicit liaisons, sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, The Night Watch is the work of a truly brilliant and compelling storyteller.
This is the story of four Londoners – three women and a young man with a past, drawn with absolute truth and intimacy. Kay, who drove an ambulance during the war and lived life at full throttle, now dresses in mannish clothes and wanders the streets with a restless hunger, searching . . . Helen, clever, sweet, much-loved, harbours a painful secret . . . Viv, glamour girl, is stubbornly, even foolishly loyal, to her soldier lover . . . Duncan, an apparent innocent, has had his own demons to fight during the war. Their lives, and their secrets connect in sometimes startling ways. War leads to strange alliances . . .
10. Aavarana, The Veil – Because my questions made Amir uncomfortable, he pronounced talaq just like that on the wife who had abandoned everything for him because his religion gives him that privilege. Where do I now stand, sir? Do you have any solutions for me?’ Lakshmi, a rebellious, free-spirited and intelligent film-maker, breaks ties with her staunchly Gandhi an father to marry Amir, the man she loves. She even agrees reluctantly to Amir’s request that she convert to Islam, as a formality and change her name to Razia. However, she is shocked to discover that her husband is not the open-minded, progressive individual he claimed to be. For after marriage, Amir takes his family’s side in trying to force her to follow the more rigorous tenets of their faith. This sets her off on a personal journey into India’s history to uncover the many layers of religion, caste and creed. Her quest leads her to the many parallels in the narratives between the past and the present and she gradually finds that though much has changed in Indian society over the centuries, much remains the same. The second historical novel by celebrated Kannada author S.L. Bhyrappa, translated for the first time into English by Sandeep Balakrishna,
Have you read any of these? I gotta say I am most excited for 10, 8 and 5. I own 8 and 5 and am yet to pick up 10. Hopefully I will grab it asap.
UPDATE : After writing this post I came across another brilliant Historical Fiction author who writes historical fiction set in south India. They’re available on kindle so if you’re interested have a look at Swords And Shadows which is set in the 11th century Chozha Empire and Ponniyin Selvan which is a very famous epic originally written in Tamil that she has translated. Her most recent book is Yester Tales which is, you guessed it, shorts stories of the same genre. I hope you check these out.
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started by The Broke And The Bookish where you post a top ten bookish things list every week.