Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thursday Threads: I Can't Believe I've Never Read...

It's Thursday again, and that means that it's time for another question as part of our ongoing Thursday Threads series. This week, we pose an interesting question:

What classic of historical fiction have you never read?

I know that "classic" can be a loaded term, and that it can mean different things to different readers, so interpret this question as you like. Here are our responses:

Marg: A few years ago now one of my reading and blogging New Year's Resolutions was to finally read one of Dorothy Dunnett's historical fiction novels. That's right, I gave myself a whole year to do it, and I still haven't managed to! I know that when I do finally get to it, I will love her books, and fall in love with the characters and so much more. I know these things! I really do!  I just haven't. Bad historical fiction fan!
My big question is do I start with The Lymond Chronicle or the House of Niccolo or do I go with the standalone King Hereafter?
As an aside, I have read one of her Johnson Johnson mysteries which I thought was fun, but a bit dated now.

Julie: The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Kelly: I know it is not classic in the sense that it is “very old” but I have always regretted that I still have yet to read All Quiet on the Western Front. I really like books about WWI and WWII; so this is a typical must-read for me that has been on my TBR pile for ages and I still haven’t cracked the spine. A friend even sent me a copy as a gift. I could also share Marg’s answer. One day I will get to them!

Nanette: There are a lot of classic historical novels--both older and more recent--that I haven't read. Among them: 
  • Katherine by Anya Seton (the only Seton I've ever read is The Winthrop Woman, which I enjoyed but didn't love)
  • The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (I made it about one disc into the audiobook version)
  • I, Claudius by Robert Graves (this is odd, because I love books set in ancient Rome)
  • Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor (I believe this was the Fifty Shades of Grey of its era)
  • The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber (once again, I started this but didn't finish it)
  • and finally, and perhaps most embarrassingly: I've never finished anything by Sharon Kay Penman. I started When Christ and His Saints Slept, and I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but I put it down and never picked it up.
As part of my blogging for Historical Tapestry, I'm going to remedy some of these gaps in my reading experience. Starting in late October, I'll be posting reviews of some of these classics, beginning with Anya Seton's Katherine. Since most of my unread classics are of the epic variety, I can't guarantee that I'll read more than a few a year, but I'm determined to get these books read!


  1. Of all above, I've only read The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I couldn't put that one down and as it is very long, by husband felt much neglected!

  2. I have to say it again...I just love this new layout!

    Nanette, you really must read Pillars and Crimson Petal! Two of my favorites. Don't feel bad about Penman. I own most of her books and haven't picked one up yet. *hangs head in shame* I started Forever Amber for a read-a-long I was co-hosting a few months ago and still have yet to finish...for shame!

    Marg, I have most of Dunnett's books as well. Have not cracked a one!

  3. I haven't read Pillars either! Really, really need to do that. I expect I would love it if I ever read it!

    Nanette and Michelle, Penman is fabulous! I probably wouldn't start with WCAHSS though. I would either start with Here Be Dragons or Sunne in Splendour! Katherine and Forever Amber were both really good books too!

  4. While it isn't really historical fiction and more fiction that's historical, so I think that count. I've never read Pride & Prejudice, or really anything else by Jane Austen.

    1. Shoshanah, I only read my first Jane Austen book last year! Must read another one soon.

  5. I actually feel pleased with myself that I've read or tried most of these, although I'm sure there are gaps in my reading that are different from those of you ladies.

    Marg, I tried Dorothy Dunnett and really did not get on with the book of hers I read, although I can't remember the name now.

    Nanette, you must read Sharon Kay Penman! I struggled with I, Claudius, though ancient Rome has never really been my favorite time period.

  6. Oh my, I loved "Katherine" and everything by Sharon Kay Penman! "Here Be Dragons" was my first and my favorite. "Forever Amber" is great fun.

    I've never read "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" ... yeah, I know...

    I keep trying to read Dorothy Dunnett's "The Game of Kings" and I just can't. I've started it four times!