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Blogger Book Nook #9: Time Machine

book club historical fiction

Another month means another Blogger Book Nook prompt! If you're not familiar with the Blogger Book Nook by now, BBN is a blogger's reading group set up by myself and my good friend Tabitha from What Tabitha Loves. Each month, we put together a new reading prompt to challenge our members to read something a little bit different! Themes in the past have ranged from Books On Screen to Judging a Book By Its Cover. During May, Tabitha and I encouraged our readers to take journey back in time to experience the world of historical fiction! Our challenge for this month was to fire up the TARDIS and pick a read that’s set in the past - whether it’s as early as the 90’s or a trip back to an ancient world. As always, our prompt is accompanied by a series of questions for our readers to turn their books into blog posts. We reveal a new prompt and the associated questions at the start of each month on our Facebook group, which is always open to new members, should you like to join in!

Yet again we had a fantastic number of people getting involved with last month's reading prompt, Murder In the Library. I enjoyed reading every single post and seeing the huge variety of books chosen! A huge thanks goes out to these fabulous Book Nookers for participating: Hels, Abbie, Zoe, Joanna, Emma, Gemma, Rebecca, Fleur, and Steph. I really hope they'll all continue to join in in the future. Now, let's dive in to May's questions!

Q1) If you could time travel either to the past or the future, which would you pick and why?

Definitely the past! However, I might have to travel back in time as a man (or at least in disguise) as in many of the eras I'd most like to visit, it wouldn't be much fun to be there as a woman! Seeing the future might be a bit scary and I'm not sure that I could return to the present day without trying to change it, the temptation would be too much! Therefore, the past it would have to be for me.

historical fiction michael chabon book group

Q2) Historical novels aren’t always accurate in their details - is this something that bothers you? Why / why not?

Anyone hoping for a 100% accurate representation of history in a novel is never going to be satisfied because so many more details are needed for a successful novel than could ever be historically verified. History was undoubtedly shaped by many unrecorded conversations, private meetings and clandestine events that a historian could never have written down, so it's understandable that a bit of creative lisence is taken with historical fiction. Any subtle inaccuracies don't bother me tooooo much but if something is massively out of place it's a bit jarring and can ruin the magic of the story.

Q3) Is there one specific historical era that especially interests you? What novels set in that time would you recommend?

A better question for me might be: "Is there a historical era that DOESN'T interest you?" because then my answer would be shorter! The ancient worlds of Greece and Rome hold the greatest allure for me but that hasn't really translated into me reading much fiction set in this time, and I'm not sure why that's the case! I do love watching TV shows set in this era though, even if they're comedic ones such as Plebs - I laugh so much every time I watch it! Spartacus is another such show which is so bad it's good! In terms of books, I've heard good things about The Song of Achilles which is set in ancient Greece, so I think I will have to give that one a try.

history fiction novel book club gentlemen road

Q4) Which historical figure (fictional or real!) would you most like to have dinner with?

Now this isn't *technically* dinner but I would absolutely love to meet Jay Gatsby and attend one of his famous parties in The Great Gatsby! If you've read my recent 6 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me post, you'll know that I'm not normally much of a partygoer, big groups of people aren't really my jam, but I would definitely make an exception for a soirée like this! I just love 1920's Flapper fashions so any chance I get to don a fringed dress and feathers is one I would sieze with both hands!

Q5) Do you find historical fiction an appealing genre? Why / why not?

Historical fiction is one of my all time faves! When I was a teenager, I read pretty much everything Philippa Gregory had ever written - her novels set in the time of Henry VIII brought me so much joy. I loved how well-rounded and real her characters were, I was truly immersed in Henry's court and felt every emotion along with the protagonists. Being an ancient history / archaeology student for so many years is definitely part of the reason why I love historical fiction so much, it is very nice to take a break from the textbook world of history and immerse yourself in the fantastical version of the past for a while. So long as you don't try to quote The Other Boleyn Girl as a source in an exam, you'll be fine!

gentlemen road historical fiction book club

Mini Review: Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon

I'm not going to lie, the first thing that attracted my to this book was the gorgeous cover. And can you blame me? It's beautiful! My boyfriend was also browsing through the local library with me when I picked out this book, and he told me that he'd heard excellent things about it, so into my bag it went. Because this edition of the book doesn't have a blurb on the back, just a short quote, I looked up some reviews of it prior to reading, just to see what was in store for me. I read quite a few very mixed reviews, some which slated the writing style as excessively verbose, and others which absolutely loved it, so I had no real idea whether I was going to enjoy it or not! While it is true that, in places, sentences are very long and very *flowery* (if that makes sense) and I did find myself having to re-read a few of these sentences to ensure that I'd understood them correctly, I did enjoy this book.

The story follows Amram and his compatriot Zelikman on their adventures through the land of Khazaria (modern day Turkey) at around AD950. The pair unwittingly become the guardians of Filaq, a fugitive Khazar prince whose family was murdered in a coup. Amram and Zelikman take on the task of restoring Filaq to his rightful position and undergo many trials and tribulations along the way, including but not limited to war elephants, stealthy clandestine rescue missions, and the faking of a death! I won't spoil it by telling you how it ends, but I will say that this book has many twists that you don't see coming. When you first meet Amram and Zelikman in the first chapter, their true relationship takes you by surprise and when Filaq's true identity is revealed about halfway through, I guarantee that you'll be as shocked as I was at the revelation. The book is very skillfully written and it is the perfect historical adventure!

What are you reading at the moment? Are you a fan of historical fiction? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time,

A x

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