History as a series of interconnected stories written by authors who have probably done as much rese
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I was amazed by how much I learned again. I've also been browsing through the "The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval England". However, I'd read a page or 2 of it and then return avidly to Follet's book. What a painless, fulfilling, exciting way to learn about Medieval England! What is history but a study of the character and events in the lives of the people who lived it.
Chapter two of the Oxford begins with the followiing sentence: "History has often taken shape with the tellikng of tales." I think authors who understand that history is in the details and who have researched primary and secondary sources and then bring thei considerable writing skills to the subject are far more fun and educational to the reader than a historian who often write about facts not about feelings.
Follet's writing about the murder of Becket at the end of the book was far more powerful than anything I'd read about it before.
Can anyone suggest other fiction/nonfiction books written about medieval England with similar impact? My TBR pile is getting wobbly.
Bookworm, aka waltbrow
Not so much.
Along with a few other historians, I find the Alison Weir books to be very engaging, well researched, and annotated well. Most recently I have read Eleanor of Aquitaine, and just purchased Queen Isabella by the same author about Edward II's wife. I haven't found many engaging texts when dealing with Medieval and Renaissance individuals, but Weir seems to make the interactions worth reading. I am a Renaissance Lit (Early Modern period) scholar, and I still go back to her Elizabeth I over and over again.
I'd like to defend academia. I'm not sure how old you are, LyriqueTragedy, but when I mentioned to my advisor in history that I had become interested through historical fiction, he was pleased and said that was where history got most of its students.
I also think that the Alison Weir books are a wonderful read. I think that anything that makes history come alive and illustrates history in - dare I say it - an artistic rather than pure intellectual way, is very worth while. I think Weir is one of the best at engaging the lay person - I found her more enjoyable that Antonia Fraser, by way of comparison. I also enjoyed Jane Dunn, and her book, Elizabeth and Mary : cousins, rivals, queens (she also wrote a rather good book on Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell, which is a subject of interest to me, but not perhaps this thread).
I think that the academics distrust 'artistic' or 'readablility' in history because of the risk of misrepresentation of the facts or false expansion of the truth.
However, when actually considered, history can never be a completely factual representation, as it relies on the future scholars interpretation of the facts, coloured by the politics and social values of the day.
I once read that the profiles of famous people, such as nobles and leaders, is often 'created' or expanded by the succeeding generations to promote their own causes. The absolute truth is never completely clear. A case in point may be Richard the Lionheart.
Perhaps manipulation of history will happen less now with the advent of widely spread information - the internet and popular journalism in the past few decades. But I think that our history must be partially considered an art form of the succeeding generations!?!
I can't think of any other historical fiction that was as satisfying... There are Edward Rutherfurd's books of course, but I can't remember anything from the ones I've read. In fact, I can't even remember specifically which ones they were.