The Beginner’s Guide to Historical Fiction

While all of us read fiction, fantasy and biographies regularly, seldom do we venture historical fiction. Historical fiction is usually based in the tumultuous and scandalous periods of time, telling us a story that may or may not be true. After all, history is written from a biased point of view.

  1. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Set in the 20th century, this is a story of Chiyo Sakamoto, a nine year old girl, who was sold to a geisha house. Geishas are traditional entertainers who act as hostesses. They are skilled artists in dance and music. What I absolutely loved about this book was that it let me peek into the highly guarded and elusive world of Japanese geisha. It offered me an small insight into the culture of our Eastern most culture.

2. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

As a former colony of British, we Indians are eternally fascinated by the British Royals and their history. This book take you back to the life of 16th-century aristocrat Mary Boleyn, the sister of Anne Boleyn, of whom little is known. Inspired by the life of Mary, Gregory depicts the annulment of one of the most significant royal marriages in English history (that of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon) and conveys the urgency of the need for a male heir to the throne. Much of the history is highly distorted in her account. Nevertheless, the scandal around which the book is built is highly fascinating.

3. The Century Trilogy by Ken Follet

I was introduced to this trilogy by a bibliophile friend of mine and it had me hooked. This trilogy is about the 20th century with the focus on the World War I, World War II and the Cold War. Written from the perspective of commoners living in different countries, we get an opportunity to see how the political crisis and subsequent disasters unfolded.

4. Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh

Set in the most tumultuous and violent periods of Indian freedom struggle and the partition, it not only portrays the politics surrounding the decision but also the deep rooted cultural and social structure during the forties. It is set in a fictional village, but while reading, you will definitely get Goosebumps.


5. The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan

The story takes us to 16th century Mughal India, about the journey of a remarkable woman that would later in her life play a great role in the ruling of one of India’s greatest emperor, Jahangir, or formerly known as Prince Salim. Indu’s skills for describing the most trivial things in great detail has the ability to strike us with jealousy of what she is gifted with.

So what are you waiting for? Go, grab a book and lose yourself in the world of history, culture and politics! 😀

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