im-a-weekly-geekThe Weekly Geeks topic is historical fiction, with an interesting choice of questions to consider. But the more I contemplated it,  the more I realised that it’s not quite as straightforward an issue to comment on as I had thought.

My relationship to historical fiction has changed over the years; in my teens I really enjoyed Jean Plaidy (especially her series on (surprise, surprise) Mary Queen of Scots and Catherine de Medici), but as I studied more history (that’s what my degree is, after all) I pulled away from reading fiction set in the period I was most interested in – the sixteenth century. And that’s because the little things, the niggly not quite right stuff, the playing about with the facts for dramatic purposes began to annoy me more and more.

So most of the historical fiction I read is in the crime genre, particularly the Victorian period and even more particularly anything vaguely reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes.

But if you asked me to pick the one historical novel that really impressed me and that I have gone back to more than once, then I would have to say Katherine by Anya Seton. A huge, sprawling, romantic blockbuster of a novel which had a huge impact, and I say that as someone who doesn’t do romance at all. I first read it when I was fifteen and fell in love then and there with John of Gaunt, and nothing I’ve learned about him since has changed my mind.

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