In my (meager) spare time I’ve turned to historical fiction as something I can read between breaks and as bedtime reading. I’ve read a few historical books in the past, such as Gone With the Wind, The Perilous Gard, Fever 1793…I don’t know if A Tree Grows in Brooklyn can be counted as historical fiction. I especially like books with main characters as heroines, or girls with noble standing, such as those in Carolyn Meyer’s books; she writes about feminine powers such as Catherine d’Medici and Queen Elizabeth I (I read these two books last year, when my interest about them was piqued in Euro), but Carolyn Meyer’s books aren’t extremely well-written, and don’t cast a vivid setting. I guess I’ve only dabbled in historical fiction. I haven’t read the “classics” such as Memoirs of a Geisha, or To Kill a Mockingbird. But I have read two history-capturing and adequately written books. They are

Where Have All the Flowers Gone? and Standing in the Light.

Granted, they’re

  1. Dear America books, and
  2. what my little sister got from the library,

but they weren’t watered down for younger ages or anything. The Dear America books are all in diary-form; the two I read weren’t impeccably good writing, but they captured the setting of the time and the narrator’s voice. Where Have All the Flowers Gone? records a teenage girl’s worries as her brother fights at Khe-Sanh in the Vietnam War. After reading this, I wanted to know about the Vietnam War. The other book related the capture of a girl by the Lenape Indians during the French and Indian War. I was drawn in by the compelling way Indians view nature and life, and I saw the war from their point of view.

.from fantasticfiction.

What I like about these books is that they have a summary about the time period in the back of the book. I learned about the Walking Purchase – or more aptly, the Extravagant Day’s Walk, when colonists cheated Indians in a “treaty” of acquiring the amount of land they could walk in a day and a half. The colonists cleared the forests and employed fast runners to “walk” the distance, and got sixty miles, instead of thirty. If told to me in a history class, I would have been passably interested, dulled down by the notes and facts we’d have to take along with that information. But since this information was accompanied by a narrative, by a girl with a voice and emotions, I wanted to know more about the events that surrounded her story. If the fundamental purpose of a historical fiction is to pique the reader’s interest for that time period, then these books have succeeded.