Friday, July 20, 2012
Fabulous historical fiction: Patrick O'Brian, Philippa Gregory, Hilary Mantel
Yes, friends, I read a lot of fiction, and historical fiction in particular.
I have found a giant among these novelists and his name is Patrick O'Brian. This is not just my wee opinion, since my husband concurs, and so does the New York Times, where I read that O'Brian is the greatest living historical fiction writer in the English language. Sadly O'Brian died a few years ago and we lost a genius of a man.
The first book in his series is "Master and Commander" and you may have seen and enjoyed the movie by that name, starring Russell Crowe as Jack Aubrey and Paul Bettany as Stephen Maturin.
To me, the casting of these actors is Perfection.
The books are set in about 1800 to 1820 and cover Britain's wars at sea, and the life of the sailors as they venture around the globe on the King's business, to Chile, Africa, Europe and the South Seas, and also their time on land. Jack and Stephen each love very strong women.
My husband and I bought all 20 of the books, and I just completed reading "Letter of Marque", number 12 in the series. I am led to tell you that this volume is a high point to read. Jack is revealed as a truly noble man and refuses the "pardon" offered to him since he was an innocent man and not guilty.
Stephen Maturin is a complex man, a dedicated ship's surgeon and scientist, a spy at the highest levels, and a patriot following his convictions, and his love for a lady.
Now therein lies a tale.
Have you read this series? Do you admire it?
Another excellent writer is Philippa Gregory, and her books on the Tudor kings and queens, with my favorite thus far being "The Other Boleyn Girl", set in the court of Henry VIII. Now that was an exciting period, and this book covers a few of King Henry VIII's wives and the political intrigues. One thing that influenced this king to marry so often was the huge pressure for him to have a male heir.
I recently bought "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel, about Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell and enjoyed it. Cromwell is a fascinating man and reviewers say things like "witty, arch, elegant, richly detailed."
Any historical fiction you recommend ?