Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Historical fiction

I don't know what it is with me, but nearly everything I read, buy or browse, is historical fiction. It may be a historical mystery, but, it is historical fiction nonetheless. My question is why do I enjoy reading historical fiction more than fiction that was written years ago. Case in point...I like reading Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. One of my favorite authors and certainly one of, if not my favorite, literary characters. However, I don't have a need to read all the stories. But then I read one of the books in Laurie King's Mary Russell series, or one of Nicholas Meyer's books and I can't wait to read the next. The styles are akin to Doyle's. The characters are either about Holmes or his fictitious wife Mary Russell or even Doyle himself. To my amateur understanding, there is no real discernible difference between the "real Holmes" and the historical fiction Holmes. Maybe it's best to read them at the same time.

With that being said, I'm reading Laurie King's A Letter of Mary and Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet. The King book is book 3 in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series and of course, A Study in Scarlet is the first Doyle story to feature Holmes.

You've been in Afghanistan I presume?


Anonymous said...

Curious that you say you don't need to read all the stories. Almost all of the original Holmes stories by Conan Doyle are excellent, though A Study in Scarlet is one of the weaker ones. There is a list of the best Sherlock Holmes stories from a 1999 poll of Sherlockian experts that offers some guidance.

As to Holmes stories by other authors (pastiches), the Laurie King and Nick Meyer books are some of the better ones. You might also read the Solar Pons stories by August Derleth or the Exploits of the Sherlock Holmes by John Dickson Carr and Adrian Conan Doyle.

And just last month a new Holmes story by Lyndsay Faye called Dust and Shadows came out, and it is very good indeed, mixing Jack the Ripper with a style quite close to the original Conan Doyle.

Liquid Thoughts said...

Hi Anon, thank you for visiting the blog.

I guess what I meant about not having to read all of the originals was that I don't feel the urge to immediately read the next story in line. For the life of me I can't explain it.

As for A Study in Scarlet, though it may not be regarded as one of Doyle's best Holmes stories, I enjoy and continue to reread it because I am fascinated with the beginning of Holmes and the Holmes and Watson relationship.

I do intend to pick up the Carr and Adrian Doyle books in the near future. And I hadn't heard of the Faye book, but just looked it up and looks great. It's an immediate addition to my TBR.

Iliana said...

Wait, you didn't tell us if you went to see Carlos Ruiz Zafon! I must know :)

I'm a big fan of historical fiction and historical mysteries too. Have you read any by Maureen Jennings? Those are set in late 1800s Canada. So good. I've read three in the series and have a couple more waiting for me.

Mike B. said...

Iliana, I can't believe I have to admit this, but I didn't make it to see Carlos. Instead, I went to see a friend at work who gave me a huge collection of childrens books and met another friend for a couple of drinks. Another missed opportunity to meet a favorite writer of mine. Sometimes life gets in the way and I always try to prioritize friends and family in front of books. (Even if I sometimes don't like to admit it.)

Ella said...

The Holmes stories don't really build on each other the way King's Holmes novels do. You have to read them in order, whereas Doyle's stories rarely refer to each other. So I can totally understand how you feel about them, although I'll take Doyle's Holmes over anyone else's.

If you haven't read Laurie King's other mysteries, they're very good...not that I can remember any titles for you, but the ones set in San Francisco are excellent.

Danielle said...

I've really enjoyed the Laurie King novels and as I always say about the authors I like...I really must get back to them. I've only read one Doyle book, which I really liked, but strangely I feel more compelled to read Laurie King's novels at the moment--I think because I like Mary Russell so much. I, too, love historical fiction and it probably makes up most of my reading (mysteries and novels).

Liquid Thoughts said...

Ella and Danielle, it's nice to know that I'm not alone when it comes to reading Holmes and Holmes pastiche. Regardless of my reading habits, I'm obsessed with reading Holmes stories. Luckily there seem to be countless books for me to get my hands on.