Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday night link roundup

I'm pretty tired following a 2-hour meeting this afternoon, followed by an extended session on the NordicTrack at home (gotta work off all the German food I ate on vacation), but I wanted to get a blog post written tonight. For those who follow me on Twitter, you may have seen some of these already.

Reviews of Editors' Choice titles for the Historical Novels Review's Nov 2009 issue are up. For a nice change, I've read four of them already: Rebels and Traitors (which I lugged to Europe and back), A Separate Country, Flint, and The Little Stranger.

The November reviews for Historical Novels Review Online are also up, as of tonight, and the forthcoming books page for 2010 is updated -- with thanks to Sarah C, who keeps track of UK publications. They're online through next August.

Edward Rutherfurd defies the political correctness police in writing his New York: The Novel.

Another British historian jumps on the historical fiction bandwagon: Hallie Rubenhold's trilogy about "an 18th century heroine, Henrietta Lightfoot: courtesan, adventuress, spy and erstwhile murderess" has sold to Transworld, for publication beginning in 2011.

The different approaches to historical fiction taken by a Booker winner and a Governor General's nominee, from Maclean's. However: "Someone who made her name in historical fiction wouldn’t stand a chance, however good her work, of a Booker nomination." What about Sarah Waters, shortlisted for Little Stranger? All of her novels fit both categories.

An interview with Annabel Lyon, author of The Golden Mean, the novel about Aristotle which was triple nominated for literary awards in Canada. And which got snapped up by Knopf (US) and Atlantic (UK) shortly thereafter.

Historical Tapestry is hosting its first challenge: the alphabet in historical fiction. As they write: Each fortnight you write a blog post about an historical fiction book of your choice (it might even be something you already read before), but it must be related to the letter of the week. Jump over to their site for the complete rules.

This is a great idea and theme; I'm going to participate in this, time permitting. I expect most if not all the books I'll be talking about are backlist titles. I also wonder what will happen when we get to the letter X. Will we all be blogging about Xavier Herbert's Capricornia, or Edison Marshall's Caravan to Xanadu? How about something set during the reign of King Xerxes? I guess we have 48 weeks to figure this one out.

Finally, I was pleasantly surprised to find Historical Fiction II reviewed on the Booklist book club blog last Friday; it's especially nice when a reviewer understands the approach I decided to take.

Now back to reading Wolf Hall. I'm halfway done.


  1. Yay! I am so glad that you are going to be participating in the HT challenge! I am cheating at this point and have reposted on old, but worthy, review. I must confess that I have already begun wondering about a couple of letters, like X.

  2. I have ideas for some of the other letters but am already sorry I mentioned Caravan to Xanadu. Because I keep getting that Olivia Newton-John song stuck in my head (and I only know the chorus!).

  3. Hi Sarah. I immediately emailed Hallie after I heard the news. I was excited when she described the series as really gritty, sort of Sarah Waters meets Jane Austen. I suppose one could read Desiree for D over at HT.

  4. D for Desiree would be perfect Elizabeth! I am hoping that we will get some posts on people and places, not just on books and authors.

  5. Elizabeth, the "Sarah Waters meets Jane Austen" description is intriguing - they are so different.

    Marg, this challenge should be fun! It'll give me a good reason to go through my shelves and post about some old favorites I haven't talked about before on the blog.

  6. I wonder why there's a current rash of historians turning to historical fiction? Alison Weir, Harry Sidebottom, Saul David and lately also Adrian Goldsworthy. Is it happening in the USA too? Please don't tell me it's because there's more money in HF?

    I guess that insofar as writing factual history, at least for non-specialist readers, can be seen as a kind of storytelling, it makes sense to branch out into fiction. But there's always the risk that they can't do novelly stuff like story arc, dialogue and character development and won't be able to resist big fat info dumps in their novels. Harry Sidebottom is a good - or should I say bad? - example of this. On the other hand, HFM Prescott was a natural novelist - and she turned to HF because she'd hit the academic glass ceiling in the early to mid-c20.

    Anyhow, Hallie Rubenhold's novel sounds wonderful. I just looked at her website where her protagonist is deliciously described as a female Flashman. Rather that than a cross between Jane Austen and Sarah Waters, an awkward hybrid that gives me a headache just trying to imagine it.

  7. I'd love to take part in Marg's challenge - thanks, Marg and thanks for the heads up, Sarah. Will pop over there and find out about it.

  8. It's interesting, Sarah, as I don't know as many American historians who are doing the same, but there are some. There's Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore, Carolly Erickson... hmm, I know there's more. And on the UK side, Simon Montefiore and Ian Mortimer (as James Forrester). Have you seen this article from the Times? It does give money as a contributing factor for the switch, though I'm sure there are other issues as well. I know Weir has said she'd always had the desire to write it.

    I have two of HFM Prescott's novels on the shelves somewhere... really need to get to them soon.