Top positive review
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Insight, practical advice and help with sources: A jolly good buy
on 9 February 2014
I enjoyed this book and found it thought provoking, interesting and a good source for both on and offline research resources.
It is probably worth reiterating the point made in the blurb that the first section of the book is based on reflections about the genre and a short history of historical fiction. If you're expecting top tips on writing your book, keep calm - they're coming up, but not yet.
I have to admit that at about 70 pages in I did rather lose concentration as Xenophon of Athens isn't entirely my bag and neither is Medieval Iceland. (Shallow perhaps, so I should say I'm not a complete nitwit and do have a history degree - I just prefer more recent eras, that's all).
Anyway, for me, the book really comes alive in Part 2 where there are views on writing historical fiction from around thirty novelists, including Margaret Atwood, Tracy Chevalier, Sarah Dunant, Katherine McMahon etc. (Each gets a couple of pages). Absorbing reading and lots to provoke thought re what kind of historical novelist one wants to be. (I particularly liked Michel Faber on this).
The final part of the book is also excellent - heaps of source suggestions which are really helpful, and then reader friendly bullets on how to get going, keep going and finish your novel. This is the practical bit.
In my view it all works very well. You could turn straight to the how to draft a plot section but I would suggest start at the beginning (I'm hardly being revolutionary here), soak up and settle into the historical mind set, feel inspired by the authors featured, and then crack on with the advice and tips at the end.