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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

We Have Your Historical Fiction, Judgment Free


I get teased a lot at home over my chronic intake of Regency fiction and Masterpiece period dramas. But in my defense, my passion for light-hearted historical fiction has taken me down some unusual avenues. I recently found myself up at a shockingly late hour, immersed in Richard Holmes’ biography of the victor of Waterloo, Wellington: The Iron Duke.

Military history is not at all my usual thing, and I’ve never had a great interest in the Napoleonic Wars. As any good lover of Jane Austen knows, however, Regency fiction is littered with half-pay officers and veterans of battles from Salamanca to Waterloo.

When I realized Bernard Cornwell’s classic fiction Sharpe series covered this same territory, I decided to give it a try. I found myself completely caught up in the exploits of roguish officer Richard Sharpe and his relationship with Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington. Once finished, I couldn’t wait to see how much of the series was true. Realizing how skillfully Cornwell wove his imaginary character into the actual events and people of the time kept me engaged in a biography that might not otherwise have caught my interest.

So, if you’re caught up in a fluffy historical novel, hold your head high and let your curiosity wander. You never know where it might take you.

--Rebecca Wolff, Centreville Regional Library

1 comment:

Mr Cullen said...

I like Cornwell. I read a Wall Street Journal interview with him last year. I thought this was an interesting take on his books:

As a writer of historical fiction, Bernard Cornwell has produced at least one book every year for more than three decades. What accounts for his extraordinary output? For one thing, he says, “I’m not writing literature.” Literature tackles life’s big questions, while “my books are about killing people."