Day: December 1, 2023

7 Essential Elements of Historical Fiction You Can’t Put Down7 Essential Elements of Historical Fiction You Can’t Put Down

7 Essential Elements of Historical Fiction You Can’t Put Down

In a well written work of historical fiction, readers can transcend into a different time. The seven essential elements of historical fiction are character, dialogue, setting, theme, conflict and world building.

Readers are drawn to stories that make history feel relevant to their lives today. From a sweeping tale of 12th century England to the struggles of civil rights in the 1960s.

1. The Four Winds

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and Great Alone, this is an epic novel of hope and heroism set against the ravages of the Dust Bowl. It tells the tale of Elsa Martinelli, a devoted mother who must choose between fighting for her land and her family or moving west to California for work and hope.

Kristin Hannah masterfully creates the heart-wrenching atmosphere of the times: dust storms so thick you can’t see across your yard, and families packing up to move west in desperation.

2. Loyalty

Historical fiction can be an amazing way to explore themes like family, war, purpose, and loyalty. But how do you immerse your readers in the setting of your novel?

Sometimes cultural norms hinder protagonists from fulfilling their ambitions or claiming agency. How do the characters in Loyalty overcome these obstacles? What are the important scenes that shaped their journeys?

3. The House at the End of the Road

Three cousins visiting their grandmother discover an old house at the end of the road. They’re afraid it’s haunted but then they meet Mr. Peterson and learn to love his house full of odd things.

A dazzlingly kaleidoscopic portrait of Harlem. This page-turning novel explores the wounds of progress, the sacrifices of love, and the difficulty of defining home. A must-read.

4. The Last King of Scotland

Despite being fictional, The Last King of Scotland draws on real-life events to create an engaging story that will leave you wondering. It also highlights the dangers of unchecked power.

Foden presents Garrigan’s memoirs from his cottage in Scotland, and he sometimes interjects what he is thinking into the narrative. This helps the reader to see how the terrible events he describes could be seen from different perspectives.

5. The English Patient

The English Patient focuses on the convergent lives of four dissimilar people at an abandoned Italian villa during World War II. The novel examines themes of nationhood and identity in its characters.

The book’s narrative structure resists a traditional chronological order and uses multiple voices to present the story. Its collage-like structure mirrors the way the eponymous patient pieced together his history through personal anecdotes and the writings of other authors.

6. The Last of the Mohicans

Despite its cartoon characters, sentimentality, and view of Native American culture that would be considered racist by modern standards, this is a pretty good adventure yarn. The writing is absorbing and the story moves along quickly.

The Last of the Mohicans focuses on two societies forced into contact in the 1757 French and Indian War. The sisters Cora and Alice Munro are accompanied by Natty Bumppo (Hawk-eye), a white woodsman, and his two loyal Mohican companions, Chingachgook and Uncas.

7. The Underground Railroad

From prize-winning author Colson Whitehead, this gritty literary historical fiction thrills. As kinetic as it is profound, it depicts the terrifying experiences of Cora and Caesar in their bid for freedom from the brutal antebellum South.

Whitehead rewrote history, transforming the metaphorical Underground Railroad (the network of black and white abolitionists who ferried runaway slaves, famously led by Harriet Tubman) into an actual train. This blurs the line between history and magic realism, but the result is compelling.

8. The Odyssey

This ancient Greek epic by Homer is a masterpiece of storytelling. It’s about different social structures, including a father-son relationship and the conflict between Penelope’s suitors and Odysseus.

It follows the king of Ithaca, Odysseus, on his long return home after the ten-year war at Troy. The story is told through a series of conversations and speeches. Odysseus’ adventures take place over a long time, which gives the reader a deeper understanding of human nature.

9. The Last King of Scotland

In this book, Neema Shah re-creates the world of Ugandan Asian immigrants who escaped persecution for a new life in Britain. It is a luminous, heartbreaking story.

When Ross Poldark returns home from the American Civil War, his joy is short-lived in this captivating period drama. This series features powerful performances from the likes of Forest Whitaker and Timothy Spall. This gripping historical fiction has been called a “stunning achievement”.

10. The House at the End of the Road

A sweeping family saga set in a time of changing politics and shifting alliances.

Meet Phillipe Charboneau, the illegitimate son and unrecognized heir of the Duke of Kentland. He leaves his homeland in search of the New World, where he is forced to question his identity and his allegiances. This gripping novel brings 17th century England to life.

Lead yourself back to the main page