Historical Fiction

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When someone says “Historical Fiction” my mind thinks of books written about Rome, Egypt, India, and other ancient civilizations. Maybe that’s what Historical Fiction is to most people. Yet, the simplest definition of historical fiction is that it is writing that is set in the past, before the author's lifetime and experience, but there's much more to it than that. Historical Fiction makes a point of conveying a serious respect for historical accuracy and detail, and its intention, beyond providing reading pleasure, is to enhance the reader's knowledge of past events, lives, and customs. When you sit down to read a book you generally think that the author knows what he/she is talking about and when it comes to Historical Fiction there is an even more burning need for a wealth of accurate historical detail. Many readers derive a great deal of knowledge about history from Historical Fiction novels because many people, myself included, don't respond to the often-dry style of history textbooks or biographies. Integrating historical information into the story helps the book flow better and it also keeps the reader interested. Indu Sundaresan, for example, illustrates the life and times of Empress Nur Jahan, in The Twentieth Wife (2003) and The Feast of Roses (2004) by presenting the politics, personalities, and power struggles of fifteenth and sixteenth-century India. As the reader follows Nur Jahan from her childhood to her reign as a Mughal empress, Sundaresan deftly blends historical events and details of the period into the character's life experiences, creating a wonderfully complete story. On the other hand if the author “drops” large sections of history in the midst of the plot it makes the reader feel overwhelmed and it makes the story seem broken and fragmented. If you read a book in which the characters seem almost too good to be true then your book is probably not a historical novel. People who read Historical Fiction expect authenticity in the portrayal of...
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