Historical fiction, done well, is a doubly fun reading experience. I generally don’t read much historical fiction, but over last Christmas vacation I read a mystery/detective novel set in 11th century Japan by I.J. Parker, Island of Exiles.
The details of Japanese life of this period are so vividly woven into the story that it was as if I had been transported into this amazing new world in my entirety. I’m eagerly waiting when I have a chance to read an earlier book in the series that is already sitting in the pile on my desk. (These are not kid’s books, nor necessarily appropriate for young adult either, which are the genres that I usually comment on).
Why the sudden musings about historical fiction? This morning I read an excellent review at Caribousmom of a book by Michelle Moran, Cleopatra’s Daughter. This novel explores the life of Selene, one of the ill-fated twins born to Cleopatra and Marc Antony. The cast of characters immediately brought I, Claudius, by Robert Graves to mind. From the review, it appears that Moran has studied her history well, providing ample detailed material to provide sufficient context for the reader to understand the times. But Caribousmom points out that these details are so well integrated into the story itself that they are almost superfluous.
It really sounds like a great read. Michelle Moran is a popular author of other historical novels set in mysterious ancient Egypt. She’s got a background in archeology and doubtless the appreciation ancient worlds and mastery of detail she’s known for have aided her story telling.