Calendar Girls August: Best Historical Fiction

What are Flavia and Melanie trying to do to me?!?!?! How am I supposed to pick just ONE best historical fiction????????

Historical fiction. A fictional novel written in the actual past, containing real events, places, and people. The main character might be an actual person, or might be a made up person. It’s a cool genre because there is a lot of flexibility, but you still have to do your research and know your stuff.

I adore historical fiction. This love goes all the way back to my childhood and Laura Ingles Wilder. There’s just something so magical about reading a great novel where you also learn a little bit. Plus, and I’m just being honest here, the clothes! *swoon* I can’t even begin to count the number of historical fictions I’ve read just about Henry VIII, his wives, and his children. It’s probably my favorite genre, if I had to pick a favorite, because I’m a terrible person who picks favorites, get over it.

I’ve been thinking for weeks trying to decide between three of my favorites, which are all VERY different. In the end I am picking the one that I personally enjoy the most, even if it’s not necessarily the most representative of the genre.

So. Drumroll please.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

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It’s 1792 and Madame le Guillotine is enforcing justice across the nation of France. However, a band a British aristocrats, led by the fearless Scarlet Pimpernel, risks their lives to assist their French brethren in escaping the country with their heads. Needless to say, the revolutionaries are desperate to get their hands on the elusive Scarlet Pimpernell. Marguerite, a French actress married to a British nobleman, is given the mission of discovering his identity, or her beloved brother will become the next victim of the Reign of Terror.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is James Bond meets Charles Dickens. There are not words enough to express my love for this book. It’s romantic, exciting, and keeps me on the edge of my seat.

Technically, yes, this is historical fiction, as it was published in 1905. However, it is still considered a “classic” and has truly stood the test of time. There have been multiple film adaptations (I’m still hoping for a new one starring Andrew Garfield, PLEASE!!!), a musical, plays, everything.

I always recommend The Scarlet Pimpernel to people who tell me they want to read the classics, but are intimidated, or don’t know where to start. It’s a great first classic because it’s short, light, and fast-paced. But it still feels … timeless. The romantic sensibilities are not what we would write today, and it lacks modern cliffhangers and cliches.

I was introduced to this novel when a literature teacher read the first chapter aloud to our class. I was hooked. I strongly recommend, whether you’ve read this book or not, sitting down with your family and reading the first chapter out loud, or listening to the first chapter together on an audio book. It’s funny, exciting, and I think you will really enjoy the experience.


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Calendar Girls Books is a monthly discussion hosted by Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile and Melanie at MNBernard Books. To find out more about the Calendar Girls, visit either of their August picks. Here’s Flavia’s and Melanie’s.

Our read-a-long this month is My Lady Jane, and you can find the schedule HERE.

Our chat will be on Sunday August 20th at 8 EST.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what everyone else picked, and maybe adding some more books to my TBR!


P.S. What were those other two books you love so much that you didn’t pick?! I’m just DYING to know!!!

Well, okay, since you asked so nicely.

Seriously, I’ve raved about The Killer Angels in multiple book tags. I’m not usually a fan of war novels, but this one is different. It’s just so amazing. The character development is ON POINT. AH! Read it!

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