And welcome to my tour stop.
Today Sophia Bennett stops by, and once you are done reading you probably will add 5 more books to your TBR, just as I did. I have a penchant for historical novels, probably to make up for all the history I did not learn when I was younger, even if it is only fiction. I hope you enjoy this list.
My Top 5 Historical Novels by Sophia Bennett!
As anyone knows who has followed my writing for the last eight years – I write YA contemporary. I’ve written about the death of Yves Saint Laurent, controversy at the Oscars, the breakup of a huge band (*cough* 1D *cough*), and trying to stop an arms deal after the Arab Spring. I write about brave young people surviving in the crazy modern world.
And then Stripes offered me the chance to write about art history. My first reaction was ‘Art? Yes yes yes! Gimme!’ My second reaction was ‘History? Scary. Think of all that research.’
Reader, I did it. I did it for the love of art – Following Ophelia is set in the world of the Pre-Raphaelites – and the best bit was the research. Did you know that Chelsea was full of little market gardens in 1857, or that the roads were sprinkled with sand? Did you know that dresses came in two parts and you had to hook your skirt to your bodice, once you’d put on your massive crinoine hoop? Did you know that junior maids started their day cleaning out the family slops (in buckets) before settling down to cleaning the grates? Or that the Pre-Raphaelites liked to paint with pure pigments, which is what made their colours so bright?
History is awesome. I’ve learned so much. I adored living in the best and worst of mid-Victorian London for six months while I was writing. A scary place, but maybe not quite as scary as the world in 2016.
I hadn’t thought to write it myself before, but I’ve always loved history in books. Here are five of my favourites – most of which I read in my teens.
- The Children of the New Forest, by Captain Marryat. Thrilling adventures of Cavalier children struggling to stay hidden and survive in a Roundhead world. I’m a costume freak, so happily pictured myself in all those rich silk Cavalier gowns. One of my favourite books growing up.
- The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy. A bold, reckless heroine. Revolutionary Paris. Spies. Hello? Perfect.
- The Prince and the Pauper, by Mark Twain. I’m also a sucker for the Tudors. This story perfectly captured for me the contrast between the pampered royals in their palaces and the struggle to stay alive in the London slums. Plus it’s a brilliant idea: the prince struggling to get back to his rightful place, and meanwhile discovering the miseries his people are suffering. And the pauper trying to cope with palace life meanwhile. Love it.
- The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer. Writer friends suggested this. Several said it was their favourite historical book. If you like a Regency romp, this is one of the best. Sophy is young, willful, clever and very, very rich, with a menagerie of animals in tow, an absent father and strong ideas about what’s best for everyone around her. You’ll root for her as she takes on and transforms the family she stays with. But you know she’ll probably be OK.
- I, Claudius, by Robert Graves. Going much further back in time now, to the astonishing greed and cruelty of life at the top of the Roman Empire. Robert Graves had me on the edge of my seat. Who was going to be poisoned next? What was so amazing was that it was all true.
Thanks for having me, Chouett!
You are very welcome Sophia
If you want to know about Sophia’s latest title and the chance to WIN a copy, just follow the tweet!!