Tag Archives: reading

Why I enjoy historical fiction

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I don’t read historical fiction all the time, but when I pick up a book that not only chronicles a specific time in history, but brings me closer to the people, I can’t put it down. I’ve just finished The Wolf’s Banner by Paula Lofting, sequel to Son’s of the Wolf, set ten years before the Norman Conquest when the British Isles were in a state of chaos, as earls and thegns battled to keep hold of their piece of England…

‘I enjoy reading historical fiction for the same reason I enjoy watching Time Team, not just to immerse myself in the historical era, but to get close to the people and Ms Lofting describes her characters and their relationships with skill and an artful touch. Details of clothing and daily tasks help paint a picture of life from 1056AD in Horstede.

Where the first book in the series, Sons of the Wolf, is mainly about Wulfhere, a real thegn from the Doomsday book, The Wolf’s Banner begins and ends with Wulfhere and his family, but chronicles the trials, victories and setbacks of Burghred, son of Afgar, who goes against his father in support of his king. He wishes to uphold his grandfather’s name, rather than gain back his Mercian kingdom at the expense of the English throne.

There’s battles and blood feuds, family disputes and coming of age trials, set against the political maelstrom, ten years before the Norman Conquest. Even though these are violent times, the author doesn’t shirk from describing the outright fear and seeming futility of hacking your opponents to death in a shield wall as they breathe their last breath in your face, before another victim treads over his kinsman to receive the same brutal punishment.

I loved reading of Wulfhere’s children growing up, and the inevitability of the destruction of his relationship with his wife, Ealdgytha made me sad. Burghred’s ambitions and clever use of tactics to end a siege and the coming of age of Winflaed were two highlights of the book for me, and I felt for both of them, living their lives as pawns at a time of chaos and political uproar.

Three tumultuous years take their toll on Wulfhere, but he lives to fight another battle, and there’s hope at end of the book, that he will be restored.’

 

If you’d like to read historical fiction by Paula Lofting, check out her Amazon author page https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paula-Lofting/e/B007IWFIIM/ref

 

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My Review of Fortune’s Wheel – The First Meonbridge Chronicle by Carolyn Hughes

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I enjoy historical fiction novels but need there to be a good story, not just a telling of historical facts. This novel, by Carolyn Hughes, sets the scene beautifully, helping the reader relate to the characters.

It’s 1349. The Black Death has halved the population of Meonbridge so the ‘cast’ of this story are the family members left behind, forced to adapt to the broken world they now live in.

The village adjusts to the new order of things. Eleanor, in her late teens, without parents and her fourteen year old step brother her only surviving kin, decides to expand her sheep onto more of her land with the help of her shepherd. The cottars, tenants without land of their own, are getting wise to their worth, demanding more money to farm Sir Richard’s land while Alice, mourning the loss of her husband and eldest son is left to guide her youngest sons, while hoping her only daughter Agnes will return safely after disappearing before the plague made leaving the village ill advisable.

It’s a sad but gripping beginning to the book. There are a host of characters, the whole village it seems, but imagining them at the time in the setting described makes it easy to remember them. There are plenty of wise, strong women in this book, finding themselves in traditionally male roles, out of necessity.

I enjoyed this book, packed full of historical facts and set during a period in British history where a third of the population was lost to the plague. Having played the lead role in Isolation at Eyam at school, I knew a little of the history but I’ve enjoyed learning more through this novel.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fortunes-Wheel-Meonbridge-Chronicle-Chronicles/dp/1781325820/ref

https://www.amazon.com/Fortunes-Wheel-Meonbridge-Chronicle-Chronicles/dp/1781325820/ref

 

 

 

What do YOU want from a novel?

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I gave up putting up the book I was reading on Goodreads…because so many were so bad, I couldn’t finish them. Each and every one had been recommended by glowing reviews yet they didn’t grab me or keep me wanting to read them. I know what I want to read, my latest review ‘Soul Doubt’ by D Hart St Martin, proves that but maybe other readers are looking for something different?

I want…believable, real, engaging characters

Identifying with the characters is paramount in my reading. I don’t have to like them all, but they need to be ‘real’. I’m a visual reader so if I can’t picture the characters acting out the scenes in the book, you’ve lost me already.

I want…a story that holds my attention

Moving on from the characters, it’s the story that holds me and compels me to read on. It can be happy, sad, thrilling, exciting or inspiring but I need to believe that the story is important. For me, the story isn’t the plot; it’s what the book is really about.

I want…a well-crafted book

I love words. I love them used to create a memorable sentence. I don’t mind background or words that move the reader from scene to scene but I want words used thoughtfully, provocatively and beautifully.

I want…a well-edited book

I’m not a stickler for this but if the formatting is heywire, there are additional words, words spelled incorrectly or if a book feels like a first draft, you’ll lose me after a couple of chapters. I may read on if the story is compelling but rarely to the end.

I want…to be left wanting more

I love reading a book that I enjoy so much that I can’t wait to read another by the author. We all have our favourite authors, those books we devour the moment they are released and many readers enjoy books from a series, each book a whole story in its own right while the next moves the characters and story on further.

I want…a story to dwell in

For me, all books are magic, transporting the reader to another time or place, away from our own reality. Total immersion is what I seek. I want to be clinging to the side of a Viking ship or taking my first space walk to fix a problem with the solar panels. I want to sun myself on a beach in Australia or battle the elements, climbing to a mountain summit. I want to ride a train to Budapest or a camel in the desert. I want to dance at a ball in my high necked gown or hide in a cave from a demon.

What do YOU want from a novel?