Monday, May 14, 2012

The ten best historical novels

The Observer books editor William Skidelsky came up with a list of the ten best historical novels, including:
The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s final novel - published in 1995, five years before her death - dramatises the life of 18th-century German aristocrat Friederich von Hardenberg, otherwise known as the Romantic poet Novalis. It centres on his love, in his early 20s, for Sophie von Kühn, who is only 12 when he falls for her. (They become engaged but she dies of tuberculosis two years later.) Like all Fitzgerald’s novels, The Blue Flower is slim, and is full of shifting perspectives and brief impressionistic scenes. It’s regarded by many as her finest work, but didn’t make the 1995 Booker shortlist - a decision some see as inexplicable.
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Blue Flower is one of Andrew Miller's top ten historical novels, Diana Quick's six best books, Sebastian Faulks' forty recommended books, and appears on Kate Blackwell's list of five books distinguished by sheer originality of language and unique vision.

--Marshal Zeringue