I have lots of unread books filling up my bookshelves but what I really want it historical fiction with deeply engaging characters that I care about, want to meet and am a little bit in love with. My three best reads have been A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel, As Meat Loves Salt by…
According to tags, I think we’re the two people who care about As Meat Loves Salt the most on Tumblr and, if you look at my pic you might guess that A Place of Greater Safety is in my top 5, so I have a few recs for you. I’ve pasted them in from my blog because it’s almost 1 am and I want to go to bed, so sorry if the blurbs seem a little impersonal. I’ve got a bunch more, if you like:
Winston Graham, The Poldark Novels
This is it, the best literary saga you’ve never heard of, although you or your parents probably saw the war crime that was the Poldark TV series in the 1970s. What was it about the 70s that everyone still needed perms and apricot blush, even if they were meant to be in the 18th century? ANYWAY. This series of twelve (get on it) novels spanning 1783-1820 tells the story of a Cornish family and their friends/acquaintances/enemies from the mundane all the way up to the tragic in such affecting prose that you’ll dream of fierce sunsets. Some contenders here for best lit boyfriends of all time in Ross Poldark and Valentine Warleggan. This series is actually perfect, even if there is major character death, so don’t get too comfy with these people no matter how much you love them. True to the setting, Graham is brutal.
Jude Morgan, Passion
Three of the Romantic poets (Byron, Shelley and Keats) and the women who loved them - much less frothy than either the title or cover art suggests. Notable for the most sympathetic portrayal of Byron around, hence no rage blackouts for me. Byron’s sister Augusta Leigh and Mary Godwin are so fleshed out that they start to feel like good friends with bad judgment. Once you’ve read it, vacation packing lists will never be the same.
John T. Fuller, When the Music Stops
Here is someone doing something wrong, knowing it is wrong and doing it anyway because he can’t help himself, because the pull of another person is just too compelling. You can almost feel the swings of Dr. Daniel Archer’s moral ambivalence and self-disgust as he treats the mute Mr. White in a Victorian asylum. As Archer’s carefully constructed defenses start to erode, you’ll come to want the wrong thing to happen, too.
Heather Domin, Allegiance
William Young in a Scottish, (!) badly scarred (!) MI5 operative assigned to infiltrate what just might be the friendliest cell of a burgeoning IRA in 1920s Dublin. So far, his approach to his work has been a sort of emotionless coasting that insulates him from any attachments. Guess what? That’s going to be a problem now due to a certain pair of grey eyes (and attached body). Raises difficult questions about duty and whether loyalty can be bestowed without being earned. Also, hot relations on/near broken glass.