Sunday Salon: Historical Fiction
It's been a few weeks since I last posted to the Salon. It's been a bit of a busy two weeks, at least in my real life, if not so much here in book-blogger land. I joined two more challenges for 2009: The 100+ Book Challenge and the Pub Challenge. I also took some time on Wednesday and Thursday to post a little bit about me. During this time period, I only posted one review, for The Uncommon Reader. Real life hasn't been terribly cooperative with my reading lately. I'm really hoping it will pick up a little in December, but who knows?
Right now, I'm currently reading The King's Daughter by Sandra Worth. It was sent for me to review, and it will be released on Tuesday. I'd like to get it done and get the review posted before Tuesday. I'm enjoying it so much. It's about Elizabeth of York, the only woman (so far) to have been daughter, sister, niece, wife, and mother to kings of England. Though a great deal of attention is paid to the wives of Henry VIII, his mother is rarely the subject of literary attention. I've studied the Tudors, and British history in general. And reading this book is making me want to go bury myself in an academic library and read more about her, as well as other historical British monarchs.
For me, that's almost the best indication about whether an historical fiction novel is any good- does it make me want to do more research? If the answer is yes, I tend to think the author has accomplished something. I've read many historical fiction novels where the inaccuracies make me want to cringe and cry, and I'm so focused on the negative that I don't get that research itch. But when I get the research itch, that's a good sign. Now, it could be that, when I go back and read some nonfiction on the subject, it makes me realize that there are major faults with this novel. But I'm really hoping that's not the case here.
That's not to say I have to have total accuracy when reading historical fiction. If I'm looking for total accuracy, I read actual history books (and don't get me started on lazy research and historical inaccuracies in those books). If the story is engrossing, that's more than enough for me. I think it's like my plot vs. character stance. I don't have to have total accuracy (though I do cringe at gross inaccuracies) as long as the story is compelling.
What about you? What are some of the things you look for in historical fiction? And what are some of your favorite historical fiction novels?