I was doing some research recently into which historical fiction novels are recognized as being the best of all time – the books that every budding historical fiction author and reader should have read. Of course there is no definitive list – such a thing can and should only ever be a matter of opinion. I found lists on the Telegraph site, Publisher’s Weekly, and of course Goodreads has several reader-curated list- as well.
The most reference one however seemed to be a list published by the Guardian/Observer back in 2012. Here’s what they have:
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
- Romola by George Eliot
- The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
- Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
- Pure by Andrew Miller
- The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
- I, Claudius by Robert Graves
- Property by Valerie Martin
- The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker
I have to confess that I have only read War and Peace, Wolf Hall, I, Claudius and the first of The Regeneration Trilogy – so no idea about the others. I think given that this is the Guardian its quite a literary fiction based list. I’d agree with these 4 titles that I know being on the list for sure, but I think for pure entertainment value I would have to add The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas well. But also what about Tale of Two Cities by Dickens?
What about you? What else should be on the list – please comment below – I’d love to hear what you think.