Booking Through Thursday: History

Given the choice, which do you prefer? Real history? Or historical fiction? (Assume, for the purposes of this discussion that they are equally well-written and engaging.)

Between two equally well-written and engaging books, I would have to go with the historical fiction.

History books cannot, in good faith, get too far into the minds of their subjects on their own. In the best cases, the subject has left plenty of letters and other vital debris that the author can use to reconstruct them. But we’ll never truly know the motivation. I love history, do not get me wrong–as a geek, there’s nothing funner than coming up with theories and backing them up, while trying to work around the evidence against you.

But historical fiction doesn’t have that setback. The author knows their characters in a piece of historical fiction inside and out, no matter who they are based on or who they are from history. I imagine the historical Anne Boleyn is different from Philippa Gregory’s astoundingly shrewd Anne Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl, but Gregory’s Boleyn is downright compelling.

There are other advantages–historical fiction usually attempts to tell a good story on top of an exploration of the time period, to be different from a history book. However, that is the main reason I prefer historical fiction.

Due to bizarre schedules in my family, we’re celebrating Christmas tonight, so… Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and happy holidays to all!

7 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: History

  1. Merry Christmas to you!! And you hit it on the head… TOBG by Gregory is vastly erroneous; yet that is the one novel responsible for my Tudor passion in the first place. And.. It’s called Historical fiction for a reason!

  2. I also thought of The Other Boleyn Girl when i was writing my post, though i didn’t mention it. I like historical fiction because even if we can’t know what real historical figures thought or said, so many other parts of the setting, like clothes and food and customs, are known and can be brought to life through the book.

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