Books that Transport You to Another Time
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The Memoirs of Cleopatra: A Novel - Margaret George
This most famous Queen of Egypt was often vilified by the Romans as an evil seductress but in this book Cleopatra tells her side of the story, it starts with Cleopatra's memories of early childhood and her ascension of the throne through her affairs with Julius Ceasar and Mark Antony up to her untimely suicide.
London: The Novel - Edward Rutherfurd
This book tells the history of the city of London by following the fortunes of several different fictional families, it starts with the invasion of Julius Ceasar and goes up into modern times.
The Other Boleyn Girl - Philippa Gregory
Mary Boleyn becomes the lover of King Henry VIII through the political manipulations of her family until her sister Anne catches the king's eye and she is forced to step aside so Anne can maneuver to become queen.
The Queen's Fool - Philippa Gregory
Hannah is a young Jewish girl who disguises herself as a boy after she and her father come to England to escape the Inquisition in Spain, when Sir Robert Dudley discovers her true gender and that she occasionally has visions, he takes her to the court of Queen "Bloody" Mary Tudor to be the queen's fool but palace intrigue and the political machinations of the future Queen Elizabeth make life at court dangerous.
The Virgin's Lover - Philippa Gregory
Shortly after she ascends the throne, Queen Elizabeth starts a torrid affair with Sir Robert Dudley, who has an ulterior motive to become King, but to do that he must find a way to put aside his neglected and long-suffering wife Amy.
Girl with a Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier_II
Griet is a teenage girl who must leave her home to work as a maid at the house of the famous Dutch painter Jan Vermeer where she must contend with Vermeer's jealous wife, his controlling mother, and bratty children; eventually Griet ends up assisting Vermeer in his painting and they start to develop feelings for each other-which inflames his wife's jealousy even more-and becomes the model for Vermeer's painting "Girl with a Pearl Earring".
The Alienist - Caleb Carr
Set in New York during the late 1800's, journalist John Moore narrates how he and his friend Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a psychologist, or alienist, in nineteenth century lingo, must follow the trail of a serial killer who is murdering young male prostitutes.
The Angel of Darkness - Caleb Carr
In the sequel to "The Alienist" the story is told by another of Kreizler's crew, young delinquent Stevie. When the baby girl of a Spanish diplomat is kidnapped Kreizler and his gang must find her before the already high tensions between Spain and the U.S. explode, but the clues start to suggest that this is no ordinary kidnapping and the investigators are trying to catch a ruthless murderess who will stop at nothing to elude them.
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
Sayuri is only nine years old when she is sold by her impoverished father to a geisha house, set in pre-WWII Japan, Sayuri is taken from her small fishing village to Kyoto where she will eventually become one of the most famous geisha in Japan. But the road to geisha celebrity isn't easy, when she first comes to the geisha house she is treated little better than a slave, she is abused by the owners of the geisha house, Granny and Mother, and must wait on the houses' top geisha, the vicious Hatsumomo, who is always finding ways to get Sayuri in trouble. What keeps Sayuri going through all these hardships is her love for the Chairman, a business man whose small act of kindness pushes her to become a geisha.
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister: A Novel - Gregory Maguire
A retelling of the Cinderella story told by Iris Fisher the "ugly stepsister" of the title, who along with her sister Ruth and mother Margarethe who has come to 17th century Holland after fleeing England where they find a place to live with a painter. When a wealthy merchant named Van den Meer comes to commission a portrait of his beautiful daughter Clara, Margarethe sees an opportunity to advance, so the Fishers go to live in the Van den Meer household as servants, but when Lady Van den Meer dies Margarethe marries the widower and Clara goes to work as the maid.
Cold Mountain: A Novel - Charles Frazier
Set during the last days of the Civil War, Inman is a Confederate soldier who after being wounded in the battle of Petersburg decides to desert the cause and walk to his hometown of Cold Mountain S.C. so he can be with his sweetheart Ada, his journey is long and arduous and he has many obstacles to hurtle to get home, at the same time Inman is heading home, Ada who was raised as a genteel Southern belle with no practical knowledge of things must struggle to survive after her father dies.
The Princes of Ireland: The Dublin Saga (Rutherfurd, Edward)... - Edward Rutherfurd
This fictionalized history of Ireland starts in the days of the Druids and tells of lovers Deirdre and Conall who flee from the Irish king who wants to marry Deirdre and goes through events like Saint Patrick coming to convert the Irish pagans, the Viking invasion, and how England got it's hold on Ireland.
The Nature of Monsters - Clare Clark
This story opens in 1666 during the great fire of London, a pregnant woman trying who manages to escape the fire later gives birth to a baby who has a red birthmark on his face, it is believed at the time that this was caused by maternal impression, the theory that if a woman sees a frightening image while she is pregnant it will disfigure the baby in some way. Flash forward to 1718, Eliza Tally is sixteen, pregnant, and unmarried, when she is sent to work as a maid for Grayson Black, an apothecary, so the baby's father can avoid a scandal. While working with another maid, the slow-witted Mary, Eliza starts to realize that Mr. Black has her there so he can perform nefarious experiments to her and her unborn child.
Roma: The Novel of Ancient Rome - Steven Saylor_III
This tells the story of Rome by following the histories of two different families, and begins when Rome is nothing more than an outpost for nomadic salt traders. It continues on as Rome grows to be the most powerful city in the ancient world, through the rule of the kings and the founding of the republic and gives realistic interpretations to the legends of Romulas and Remus and goes up to the assassination of Julius Ceasar and Augustus' subsequent rise to power.
Pilate's Wife: A Novel of the Roman Empire - Antoinette May
This tells the story of Claudia Procula, the wife of Pontius Pilate who is mentioned in the Bible as having tried to get her husband to stop the execution of Jesus, but this book has really little to do with Jesus until the end, so if your looking for Bible fiction this is the wrong book. It starts with Claudia as a child, traveling around the Roman Empire with her extended family as an army brat and how she has to deal with nasty relatives such as her cousin Caligula, the Empress Livia and her son the depraved Tiberius. Claudia also has prophetic visions which leads her to her her true love, a gladiator named Holton but she ends up marrying Pontius Pilate, meets Jesus of Nazareth and will try a desperate plan to save his life.
The Autobiography Of Henry VIII - Margaret George
The life of King Henry VIII, told in autobiographical style, from his childhood as an overlooked "second son" who becomes heir after his older brother dies to his infamous marriages, this is Henry's life as he would want to tell it, but there are notes from his fool Will Somers who humorously puts in his two cents whenever Henry strays from the truth.
The Birth of Venus: A Novel - Sarah Dunant
Set in Florence during the Renaissance, the daughter of a wealthy merchant becomes intrigued with the young painter who comes to live with her family while he is painting a mural in their chapel, she wants to be a painter too, but in a time where women lived sheltered lives until they were married off, she has little time to exercise her talent.
Dark Angels: A Novel - Karleen Koen
Restoration England is the setting for this story about an ambitious young women names Alice Verney. Alice returns to England after serving as a lady-in-waiting in France for two years, she has grand plans of becoming a duchess by snagging a man old enough to be her grandfather. But returning to the court of Charles II, where intrigue and even murder is rife will throw her plans in disarray.
Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
This classic book about one of literature's most beloved orphans was one of my favorites when I was a kid. When Marilla Cuthbert decides to bring an orphan to Green Gables she expects a healthy young boy that will be able to help her brother Matthew with the farm work, instead she gets a scrawny, talkative girl named Anne. Shy Matthew takes a liking to Anne immediately but Marilla thinks she is more trouble than she is worth until even she is won over.
Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
The classic story about Scarlett O'Hara, a spoiled and self-absorbed southern belle living in Georgia before the Civil War. A sweeping epic that really brings the Old South before and after the war to life.
The Memoirs of Helen of Troy: A Novel - Amanda Elyot
Helen of Troys' life from childhood to the Trojan War that was supposedly started because of her.
Queen of Camelot - Nancy McKenzie
Guinevere starts out life as the daughter of a minor pagan king and only through sheer chance becomes engaged to King Aurthur, interesting retelling of the Camelot legend.
Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome - Robert Harris
Tells the story of the famous Roman orator Cicero's early career as told by his slave Tiro.
Forever Amber (Rediscovered Classics) - Kathleen Winsor
Amber goes from being commoner to mistress of the king in Restoration-era England.
Mistress of the Art of Death - Ariana Franklin
Great novel set in medieval England about Adela who is a doctor from Sicily.Though the times being what they were she has to conceal her profession while she tries to solve a series of brutal murders of children.
The Serpent's Tale (Mistress of the Art of Death)... - Ariana Franklin
The sequel to "Mistress of the Art of Death", this time Adela has to solve the murder of one of the mistresses of the king.
Pompeii: A Novel - Robert Harris
About the lives of mostly fictional characters living in the days leading up to and during the eruption of Vesuvius.
The Dante Club: A Novel - Matthew Pearl
A fictional story using real historical writers like Longfellow and Oliver Wendall Holmes who are trying to stop a killer basing his murders on the punishments in Dante's "Inferno" in post-Civil War Boston.
I love historical novels and here are some of the best ones I have read so far.
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