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The Sunday Salon

It’s been a busy week here. On Thursday night I went to see Sharon Kay Penman read from and discuss Devil’s Brood, which has recently come out in paperback. She read a couple of passages from the book, and then talked a little bit about how she lost the manuscript for The Sunne in Splendour. She’d spent four years writing it, and it’s amazing to think that she couldn’t even write again fro five years after the loss of the MS. Then, apparently, she just sat down one day and started to write again. I’m certainly glad she did! And other famous authors who have lost manuscripts or documents over the years include CW Gortner, Ernest Hemingway, Pearl Buck (in a fire; she never wrote again), and TE Lawrence.

Then she talked about historical fiction in general, and the importance of being historically accurate when writing about historical events, especially historical people. Those of us who read historical fiction have probably often come across instances where the characters are way too modern for the setting; what SKP calls the “Plantagenets in Pasadena” syndrome. She also had a number of good things to say about the novels of Elizabeth Chadwick. Later, SKP opened the floor for questions. I wanted to take my copies of her books to the reading to have her sign them, but apparently the bookstore doesn’t allow authors to sign books that weren’t purchased at that store. Humph.

Speaking of historical fiction, because I read and review so much of it on my blog, I’ve created an index of historical fiction reviews, which can be found here (there’s also a link to it on the sidebar of the blog). It's arranged by era and then century with the later stuff. It was also pretty interesting to me to see what I’ve read and reviewed—I tend to be heavier on medieval and Victorian fiction, but I’ve read next to nothing set in ancient Egypt, Greece, or Rome. If you have any suggestions, let me know!

As for what’s been read this week, I’ve read Tears of Pearl, by Tasha Alexander, and Shields of Pride, by Elizabeth Chadwick. I’m currently on to In a Dark Wood Wandering, by Hella Haasse, about the French royal family in the late 14th and early 15th century during the reign of Charles VI. It’s a dense novel, and taking me a bit extra time to read, but I’m enjoying it very much. As for what I read in July as a whole, I read a total of 13 books--the same number as in June. All in all a very satisfactory month in terms of reading.

So what did you read this week?


Michelle said…
Wow. Spending four years writing a book to then lose the manuscript sounds horrific. Definately sounds like an interesting author event.

I don't read much historical fiction. I always thinking that maybe I should but then am unsure where to start.
Danielle said…
I've read some of Sharon Kay Penman's books--it's been a while though, so I should see what's new out there. How horrible to lose a manuscript. I can't even handle it when I lose a short post so I would be devastated! I'm totally envious that you've already got a copy of the new Tasha Alexander--I'm looking forward to it. I've gotten review copies of her books before, but I'm not sure she's with the same publisher. I'm trying to not take review copies since I have a few to catch up with on LT, but I think I might bend the rules for hers! :) And I'm happy to hear good things about Elizabeth Chadwick as I just got my first book by her that I can't wait to start! I think most of my historical fiction reading tends to be from the WWI and WWII era lately. And this week I've been working on the Susanna Kearsely novel you saw as well as an Agatha Christie mystery and a Rosamunde Pilcher novel.
Meghan said…
I'm so jealous that you got to see Sharon Kay Penman! She is a wonderful author and I can tell from getting to know her a little online that she must be wonderful in person.

I think I'd stop writing if I lost my manuscript. (I don't have one, but theoretically). Just thinking about pouring in all that effort only to lose it all is devastating.

Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm
S. Krishna said…
I've only read one book by Sharon Kay Penman, but I definitely want to read more! That's so cool you got to meet her!
debnance said…
I've read one Penman book and it was such a great story that I immediately put several others on my wishlist....I received one for a gift, but it has sat on my TBR for years. Must check it out again.
Marg said…
I would suggest Michelle Moran's books for an Egyptian setting.

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