Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Reading on a Theme: Historical Fiction Inspired by Real Historical Figures

I'm always up for really good historical fiction, and lately I've enjoyed fictional accounts of the lives of real historical figures. I love how fiction can give us a sense of the day to day life of people of the past. In this collection, we have quite a few figures from British history and the incomparable Peggy Schulyer.

More historical fiction inspired by real historical figures here and here.

Princess Victoria:
Miss V. Conroy was one of the Princess Victoria's few childhood companions. As the daughter of John Conroy, the architect of The System and Victoria's nemesis, Miss V. was caught between two loyalties. In My Name is Victoria, the renowned British historian Lucy Worsley imagines what the relationship between the Princess Victoria and Miss V. might have been like. I'm an ideal audience for this book. I've been to Kensington Palace, and I am a huge fan of Masterpiece's Victoria. I liked this book, but I did find it a little dull in parts, but, I can't complain too much because The Princess Victoria's life was rather dull, isolated as she was from the world! Out May 8, 2018. Review copy from NetGalley. 

Peggy Schuyler:
Who isn't fascinated by Alexander Hamilton these days? L.M. Elliott's new book is about Peggy, the Schuyler sister who gets the least amount of air time in the musical. Turns out Peggy was a pretty fascinating person. She was the only one of the three now-famous Schuyler sisters who was living at home during the Revolutionary War, where perhaps she might have been privy to some of the work her father did as Washington's spy master. L.M. Elliott's historical fiction is always so well-researched, and she does an excellent job rooting her readers in the historical moment. Peggy is feisty and so bright. It was really fun to get to delve a little deeper into her story. Hamilton and Peggy! is out January 2, 2018. Review copy from Edelweiss.

Katherine Howard:
Elizabeth Rose Camperdowne is a Tudor maiden in the time of Henry VIII. Eliza may be fictional, but she is surrounded by characters who really lived and breathed. Through her eyes, we see the story of Katherine Howard unfold. Eliza trains with Katherine at the Duchess of Nothumerland's school and becomes a lady in waiting to Anne of Cleves. Through Eliza, the reader sees the restrictions and expectations placed on the women of Henry VIII's court. I quite enjoyed this book by Lucy Worsley as well. Katherine Howard is one of the most misunderstood of Henry VIII's wives, and Eliza serves as a nice foil for that tragic tale. Maid of the King's Court is out March 14, 2017. Review copy from NetGalley.

John Milton:
Anne Blankman imagines that the 17th-century poet and political theorist, John Milton, had a fourth daughter, Elizabeth, and a remarkable secret that could shake the foundations of monarchy and all of Christendom. When her father is arrested, Elizabeth and the Italian scholar Antonio Vivani must decipher the clues her father scattered across England and encoded into his poetry. Traitor Angels might strike you as a 17th-century National Treasure or DaVinci Code. The book is full of real-life characters--Galileo, Charles II, Samuel Pepys, and, of course, Milton himself. It's a fast-paced, sophisticated, feminist version of the events surrounding the inception of Milton's most famous poem, Paradise Lost. Traitor Angels is out May 3, 2016. Review copy from Edelweiss. 

The Wives of Henry VIII: 
Fatal Throne is a collection of stories by seven authors about the wives of Henry VIII. I honestly loved them all, but some of my favorites were Candace Fleming's story about Katherine of Aragon, Jennifer Donnelly's story about Anne of Cleves, and Linda Sue Park's Catherine Howard tale. I will freely admit that I am the prime audience for a collection like this. I'm an historian. I'm fascinated by the Tudors, I've been to Hampton Court, and I love period dramas. That said, several of these stories are just beautifully written and so captivating stylistically. My plan was to read one story between other reads, but I was so engrossed I ended up reading them all back-to-back. Out May 1, 2018. Review copy from NetGalley.

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