One of the best things about reading is that it allows you to “see” and experience different places without ever leaving the comfort of your favorite chair. Not only does reading work as an airplane, but it also works as a time machine, allowing your mind to visit various points and moments in history.
I don’t often read historical fiction, but I recently started reading one historical fiction novel that I cannot put down. I love it so much (although I’m only half way through it right now), that I wanted to share it with you. What is this book, you ask? This historical fiction read is Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton, which takes us back in time to 1958 Havana, Cuba during the revolution. It always seems like a large amount of historical fiction novels are written around the great Wars of WWI and WWII, which is why reading this novel, which not only transports me back in time to a historical event that I’m not too familiar with but also do a setting that I haven’t read much of, fascinates me.
So today I would like to ask you, library readers, what is your favorite setting to travel back in time to? Tell us below in the comments and tell us the title of your favorite historical novel! We’re always looking for great suggestions to add to our to-read lists!
Here’s the favorite historical settings of novels fellow staff members of the Livingston Public Library adore:
Katie, Head of Adult Services & Acquisitions: I love the time of the Romanovs. I would in no way want to live there and am not glorifying it, but it was such a tragic, dark and fascinating time. I would recommend The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming.
Joe, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian: I haven’t read many historical novels, but I do have a few favorites: A Tale of Two Cities, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Geek Love. I’m not sure I’d want to actually travel to any of the time periods in those books, though. When I daydream about time traveling, I usually think about going to Paris in the 1920s to party with the flappers & the surrealists. Or to New York in the mid-1970s so I could see the Ramones, the Talking Heads, and Blondie play CBGB. While I’ve read many non-fiction books set during those eras, I have yet to find any good historical novels about them.
Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian: I think one of my favorite time periods for a historical novel is the time of pre-independence India and the struggle against the British Raj. Though it was well covered in history class in school in India, I think fictional narratives will bring the time period and the main leaders, activists and milestones of the movement alive and give a different perspective.
One of my favorite titles is “Palace of Illusions” –this is a historical novel set in India that takes us back to the time of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata, a time that is half-history, half-myth, and wholly magical. The novel is a rendition of the Hindu epic Mahabharata as told from Draupadi’s (Panchaali’s) viewpoint, namely, that of a woman living in a patriarchal world. Through her narrator Panchaali, the wife of the legendary five Pandavas brothers, Divakaruni gives us a rare feminist interpretation of an epic story.
-Jessica, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian