Bookish Discussions

Historical Fiction Recommendations

We all know I’m a lover of historical fiction. If I’m not reading a Victorian classic, I’m reading a book set in the Victorian period.

I thought I’d talk through some of my favourite historical fictions – I’m trying to branch these out a little and not repeat myself (but, of course, I would 100% recommend The Familiars and The King’s Witch).

The Conviction of Cora Burns

I read this one recently and absolutely loved it. 415b1d93-10d8-492f-8cb3-1785edafce11-5760f2bf-f2dd-49d2-9c87-dc962a783a43

Birmingham, 1880s. Born in a goal and grew up in a workhouse, Cora has always struggled to control the violence inside her. Where can Cora’s life possibly take her when she released from her prison?

I really loved this. A brilliant book which looks at insanity and psychology from a Victorian perspective. Is insanity hereditary? or is it a reaction to our surroundings? Nature vs. nurture? Mix this with photography, and how multiple likeness can show a similar trait in criminals, you’ve got a fantastic book that examines social and cultural issues of a Victorian industrial city.

The Confessions of Frannie Langton

A servant and former slave is accused of murdering her employer and his wife in this gripping and intense read that moves from a Jamaican sugar plantation to the streets of Georgian London.

Confessions was such a compelling read. Sara Collins really knows how to write a story. I think what makes this one so unique is the slave narrative. It was interesting to examine how being a slave affected the psyche of someone their whole life – it raises question of guilt and revenge and justice. It was a sensitive and emotional story of a working-class black woman in Georgian England.

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2019 in Books: Favourite Reads II


…okay, so I’m back with part II of my favourite 2019 reads. Let’s save the introduction and get straight into it!

I read Sara Collins’ The Confessions of Frannie Langton and *loved* it. This is yet another historical fiction murder mystery (but just before the Victorian period, haha, but very close). It’s 1826 and crowds gather to watch Frannie’s trial for murder. The testimonies are damning – slave, whore, seductress – and they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth.

I liked this for multiple reasons: it tackled class issues, racial issues, LGBTQ+ issues in a society that cared very little for these groups. It raised some very interesting questions, like “what constitutes as a criminal?”, “when should someone feel guilty?” and “can some actions be justified?”. It was a very thought-provoking book. I just had some difficulties with the F/F romance – not a lot of chemistry between the two.

So next is the heartbreaking non-fiction by Jeremy Dronfield: The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz. Gustav and Fritz Kleinmann, father and son, have managed to survive the Holocaust together, only being separated for a few years in between. Dronfield, relying on extensive research and family history, has traced the story of these two men and has brought it before us.

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Reading Update #4:


I’m back to chat about books!

I’ve read quite a bit since I last updated you.

I finished The Corset and loved it! It was a deeply compelling novel exploring the complexities of guilt, class and psychology. Laura Purcell managed to weave a brilliant story of two women, of different classes, overcoming the prejudices against each other to root out the truth of a traumatic event in Ruth Butterham’s life. It’s definitely become a new favourite, and I’m very eager to read Purcell’s new novel: Bone China.

After that I started on Lucy Jones’ Foxes Unearthed: A Story of Love and Loathing in Modern Britain. This is a non-fiction looking at the contradicting perception on foxes in society from the early 18th century to now. Some people love the fox; whereas some hate it. Jones explores the two opposing views, looking at how society have come to view the animal from urban areas to rural, from literature to parliament. It was a very insightful book about my favourite animal – the need to protect it overpowers me!

I picked up George Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four after this and was… well… quite disappointed. My classic reading slump *might* be to blame, but this didn’t impress me all that much. I found part II increeeeedibly boring and I wasn’t completely invested in the character’s story-line. It did spark up a good discussion on dystopias though – why are dystopias so believable?

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