Those who do not know history….a Top Ten list



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke & the Bookish.  It’s awesome. Every Tuesday, the lovely ladies over there give us book bloggers wonderful and fun topics to create our lists!  Check out what others have posted by going over there!

This week’s topic is-

 Top Ten All Time Books in X Genre

I have chosen Historical Fiction as my genre.  What is historical fiction?  It is fiction “written in a setting drawn from history and often containing historical persons” (thanks Wikipedia).  This is the way I view historical fiction, but lots of lists include an alarming number of books that include much bosom heaving and words like Queen and Princess in the titles.  While I like heaving breasts and rippling muscles as much as the next gal, I do not usually count that as historical fiction, therefore my list doesn’t contain any.

1.  Gone With the WInd

by Margaret Mitchell

Ok, there is much romance and drama here, but, at it’s very core, GWTW is historical fiction at it’s best.

Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War, Margaret Mitchell’s epic love story is an unforgettable tale of love and loss, of a nation mortally divided and its people forever changed. At the heart of all this chaos is the story of beautiful, ruthless Scarlett ‘O’ Hara and the dashing soldier of fortune, Rhett Butler.

2.  Burr

by Gore Vidal

I loved this book when I read it in college.  Vidal brought Arron Burr to life.

Burr is a portrait of perhaps the most complex and misunderstood of the Founding Fathers. In 1804, while serving as vice president, Aaron Burr fought a duel with his political nemesis, Alexander Hamilton, and killed him. In 1807, he was arrested, tried, and acquitted of treason. In 1833, Burr is newly married, an aging statesman considered a monster by many. Burr retains much of his political influence if not the respect of all. And he is determined to tell his own story. As his amanuensis, he chooses Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler, a young New York City journalist, and together they explore both Burr’s past and the continuing political intrigues of the still young United States.

3.  The Scarlet Letter

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

My heart ached for Hester, stuck with all of those Puritans.

Set in the harsh Puritan community of seventeenth-century Boston, this tale of an adulterous entanglement that results in an illegitimate birth reveals Nathaniel Hawthorne’s concerns with the tension between the public and the private selves. Publicly disgraced and ostracized, Hester Prynne draws on her inner strength and certainty of spirit to emerge as the first true heroine of American fiction. Arthur Dimmesdale, trapped by the rules of society, stands as a classic study of a self divided.

4.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by  Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I loved this story of life on the small English island during and after WWII.

“ I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

5.  The Red Tent

by Anita Diamant

This reading this book really did something to me.  It affected me.  I didn’t want the story to end.

Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah’s voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood–the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers–Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah–the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah’s story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past. Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women’s society.

6.  The Poisonwood Bible

by Barbara Kingsolver

I love stories that take place in colonial Africa.  The way the author tells the story through the women of the family is priceless, especially the voice of the eldest daughter.

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.

7.  The Name of the Rose

by Umberto Eco

This was a great book and a pretty terrific movie with the ever delicious Sean Connery and Christian Slater.

The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon—all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where “the most interesting things happen at night.”

8.  The House of the Spirits

by Isabel Allende

I wasn’t 100% sure if I could categorize this as historical fiction, but I am going to give it a shot.  I feel that the author pours so much of her own history into her work and that is especially true in her first, and best novel.  The story follows the Trueba family and traces the post colonial social and political upheavals of Chile.  I read it years ago, and I think it is time of a reread.

In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies. Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.

9.  The Historian

by Elizabeth Kostova

A long book, but well worth it.  A story within a story, within a story, all leading to Vlad the Impaler.

Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor’. Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history

10.  One Hundred Year of Solitude

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This is one of the most amazing (and at times confusing) historical fiction novels.  You will be sweet away by this lyrical tale.

One of the 20th century’s enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world, and the ultimate achievement of a Nobel Prize winning career.
The novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the family. It is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life and death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America.

20 thoughts on “Those who do not know history….a Top Ten list

  1. So pleased you chose The Guernsey etc etc Society. I love that book, and it taught me a lot of things I didn’t know about the Channel Islands. Before reading it, I knew those islands existed, and that was pretty much the extent of my knowledge of them.

  2. Great list! I listened to the audiobook of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society last year, it was wonderful. The Scarlet Letter and The Poisonwood Bible are both sitting on my TBR shelf, I know I’ll get to them eventually!

    Here’s my TTT!

  3. Fabulous list! The only one I haven’t read is Burr, and I really can’t quibble with your choice of any of these. Terrific books, and I always include Gone With The Wind when I talk about excellent historical fiction!

  4. What an interesting list! I don’t read much historical fiction these days but it used to be more go-to genre. I especially like the ones that imagine stories involving ‘real’ people, which means I must check out Gore Vidal’s Burr. I assumed it was nonfiction.

  5. My goal has been to read The House of the Spirits and One Hundred Years of Solitude in the original Spanish, but the task is so intimidating that the books have been sitting untouched on my shelf for a couple of years now. I should probably just give in and read them in English, since I’ve heard they’re both amazing. 🙂

    Here’s my TTT if you’d like to check it out.

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