Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Favorite Historical Fiction Novel

So, normally this is where I would put The Queen's Fool or The Constant Princess, but since we're talking about Gregory... pretty much all week, I'll pick another book that I absolutely adore.

The Kitchen Boy is one in a series of three about the Romanov's.  This one is probably the most heartbreaking, because it's about the fall of the Romanov family (if you know anything about the Romanov's, that whole story is tragic.)

The book takes place from the point of view of a kitchen boy, that serves the Romanov family.  When the book starts, the Romanovs are already in custody in the small house that they were killed in.  Robert Alexander does an amazing job of portraying all of the Romanovs and you can tell that he's really done his homework on the time period.  (I know; I've read a bunch on the family and the tragedy and a lot of what he writes matches up.)

I'm not going to spoil anything, but the end of his book is where he takes the most creative license.  I also like it because (before 2007) it could have been entirely plausible.  So it's not SO far from the original story that I don't believe it could happen, but I know that it didn't.

It's a good story, and entirely hopeful, which I feel you need in a story as tragic as this one.

The Clan of the Cave Bear cover.jpg

While we all know that I (and Cassy) love Holocaust fiction, we just talked about that during Cold Mountain week when we discussed our favorite war books, so my pick for favorite historical fiction goes... pre-historical.

Jean M. Auel published the six books of the Earth's Children series between 1980 and 2011, starting with Clan of the Cave Bear and ending with Land of the Painted Caves. The series follows a woman named Ayla in prehistoric Earth. Every book was meticulously researched; Auel is noteworthy for her commitment to her research, corresponding with experts and traveling extensively to visit actual ruins and artifacts.

Every book in the series is rather thick, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that large expanses of the narrative are eaten up by detailed descriptions of landscapes, flora and fauna, etc. This can get tedious, but it's beautifully written and if you have the patience for it, it's really fascinating stuff, particularly if you keep in mind that it's all as factual as it gets, based on in-depth research and all the evidence we have (or had at the time Auel wrote each book).


  1. Was The Kitchen Boy the inspiration for the Dreamworks movie "Anastasia?" Just wondering.

    I also love historical fiction, so its hard to pick just one. Gregory's books are probably my favorites. Now, the question is, do you define historical fiction as fiction about a real life family/event, or fiction about a time period where the story is totally made up but details about the time period (such as clothing, language, character values etc) are based one truth? If the latter is correct then I must include Atonement and The Girl With the Pearl Earing as my other favorite books.

    1. CONGRATULATIONS ANNAPEG88!!! You just won a secret contest you didn't even know you were entering! That was our 200th comment! There will be more details in a special Sunday post this weekend.

      I'll have to leave the first question to Cassy (I'm not entirely sure I've even seen Anastasia, and I haven't read The Kitchen Boy) but about defining historical fiction, my post tomorrow will deal with that in a little more detail.

    2. I don't think so. Especially because Anastasia was about, well, Anastasia and The Kitchen Boy deals with Maria (the body that was ACTUALLY missing.)

      Also, Anastasia was 1997 and The Kitchen Boy was 2004.

      I'm pretty sure Anastasia was based on that chick in the '80s that everyone thought was Anastasia.

    3. Also, Girl With The Pearl earring is not that different from The Queen's Fool (that painting, the painter DO exist, as does the girl in the painting, they just made up what they thought the story behind the painting was.)

      I would consider The Queen's Fool historical fiction, so The Girl With The Pearl Earring must be too.