Historical Fiction Preference Meme

On my travels through Blogger this week, I’ve been seeing a Women’s Fiction Meme popping up on a number of sites. (It seems to have started here.) As it was geared mainly toward readers of romance novels, I’ve adapted it for historical fiction. Join in, all and sundry!

Straight Historical, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Historical Romance, or Time Travel?
Straight. I’ll occasionally venture into a historical mystery or a historical romance if it’s set in a time I’m particularly interested in, though.

Historical Figures as Main Characters or Purely Fictional Characters in Historical Settings as Main Characters?
Overwhelmingly, I prefer historical figures.

Hardback, Trade Paperback, or Mass Market Paperback?
I’ll buy a new book in hardback if it’s one I’ve really been looking forward to; otherwise, I’ll wait for the paperback (usually a trade). With used books, I’ll buy whatever’s available.

Philippa Gregory or Margaret George?
Hard to say. I really enjoyed Gregory’s last novel, and I really enjoyed George’s Henry VIII and Mary, Queen of Scots novels.

Amazon or Brick and Mortar?
Amazon, since most of the books I buy are either used or hard to find in brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Bernard Cornwell or Sharon Penman?
Sharon Penman. I haven’t read Bernard Cornwell’s books yet, though; one of these days.

Barnes & Noble or Borders?
Barnes and Noble, although since a Borders opened near my house, I’ve been spending more time there than I used to.

First Historical Novel You Ever Remember Reading?
As a good Southern girl, I naturally have to say Gone With the Wind.

Alphabetize by Author, Alphabetize by Title, or Random?
I don’t alphabetize, but when I rearranged my bookshelves this summer, I made a conscious effort to categorize my books by author, which is a vast improvement over the haphazard system I had before.

Keep, Throw Away, or Sell?
If I like a book, I’ll keep it. If I don’t, I’ll donate it to the library or to a thrift store. The only books I’ve thrown away are those that are falling apart.

Jean Plaidy or Norah Lofts?
I’ve enjoyed Norah Lofts’ books, but on the whole I’ll take Plaidy.

Read with Dust Jacket or Remove It?
Remove it if I’m toting it around a lot; keep it on if it’s not traveling off my end table.

Stop Reading When Tired or at Chapter Breaks?
Chapter breaks or section breaks, or whenever I get interrupted.

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?
”It was a dark and stormy night,” I guess. Nothing like hopping into the middle of the action.

Buy or Borrow?
Buy, unless it’s popular enough to be at my library and I’m not sure it’ll be a keeper. If I end up liking it, I’ll probably buy it.

Posie Graeme-Evans or Pamela Kaufman?

Based on skimming and on reviews by others with similar tastes, neither, I’m afraid.

Buying Choice: Book Reviews, Recommendations, or Browsing?
Browsing, mostly, but I pay attention to reviews and recommendations also. If it’s a subject I’m really interested in (e.g., Edward II), I may buy it without any of the above.

Dorothy Dunnett or Anya Seton?
Well, I’ve read one book by Anya Seton (the ubiquitous Katherine), which is more than I can say for Dorothy Dunnett. I suspect on the whole that I might prefer Dunnett if I ever got the long stretches of time to read her books properly.

Tidy Ending or Cliffhanger?
Tidy ending, tied up in a big bow.

Sticking Close to Known Historical Fact, or Using Historical Fact as Wallpaper?
Sticking close to known facts. The only place I like wallpaper is on walls.

Morning Reading, Afternoon Reading or Nighttime Reading?
Mostly afternoon, because I do most of my reading at lunch and while waiting for my kids.

Series or Standalone?

Favorite Book of Which Nobody Else Has Heard?
I thought Mary Ellen Johnson’s The Lion and the Leopard (about a fictional bastard brother of Edward II) was very well written. It seems to have been that author’s only novel, unless she’s written under other names.

12 thoughts on “Historical Fiction Preference Meme”

  1. Agree that The Lion and the Leopard was very good, a great example of how an author can mix historical and fictional characters and remain true to the known facts – and also create a compelling story.

    I’d be interested to know if the author has written anything else under another name.

  2. Not to put too fine a point on it.. but I exist only to see the next Bernard Cornwell … Definitely more my speed than many others.. give me a shield wall and I’m a happy Nan.

    Blue Lady Tavern blog this week is about 7 year old twins.

  3. Interesting adaptation! I may have a go at this, if you don’t mind – I saw the original doing the rounds but a lot of it went over my head.

  4. Susan Higginbotham

    Marg, enjoyed yours! Carla, look forward to seeing yours.

    Nan, I really do need to read me some Cornwell one of these days. He’s going to be a guest of honor at the Historical Novel Society’s North American conference this June. I’m looking forward to hearing his talk.

    Alianore, I agree about The Lion and the Leopard for the reasons you mention. I thought all of the characters were very well drawn, too.

  5. Ok, I played, too.

    I like Dunnett, but there’s something to a shieldwall, indeed. I like me some good action, and I can be sure to get it in Cornwell’s books.

  6. I’ve just come over from Gabriele’s blog. Great meme – I think I’ll have a go too, if you don’t mind.

  7. Susan Higginbotham

    Marie, thanks for stopping by! Looking forward to seeing your answers.

    Daphne and Gabriele, thanks for playing!

  8. Margaret Evans Porter

    I was slightly acquainted with Mary Ellen Johnson during my Colorado years, at the time she sold her historical. That’s how I happened to read her novel.

    I last saw her at one of the last writers’ conferences I attended in CO (this was about 15 years ago!). If I recall correctly, she had explored writing mystery or some sort of contemporary fiction. With what outocome, I never knew.

    Nice to see her mentioned!

  9. Fuzzy History

    I recently found Mary Ellen Johnson’s The Lion and the Leopard at a book sale. Looking for information about it, I came across your post. I’m glad to hear it’s well-written, so I think I’ll keep it.

    You may be interested to know that Johnson wrote one other book. In 1997, she self-published The Murder of Jacob, which is about her experiences as an investigator (an inexperienced one at that) in the murder trial of Jacob Ind. Ind was 15 when he hired someone to kill his parents. Johnson apparently became somewhat zealously involved in the case. You can read about it here. She is now the director of the Pendulum Foundation in Colorado.

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