Many moons ago when I read Ken Follett’s ‘Pillars of the Earth’. I fell in love with the historical fiction romance genre. From then on I was scouring bookshops and library shelves to feed my addiction, reading through one author at a time. I loved being drawn back through the centuries into another time and place, whether it be the throng of a brutal medieval battle, dining in a great hall partaking in a royal feast, behind the bed curtains of a marital sanctuary or listening to the whispers of political and religious intrigue. I was always fascinated and shocked at how easily people could betray one another, even those closest to them.
The monarchs of Britain are an interesting bunch to say the least. Only a few spring to mind that I could say were truly honourable and dedicated to the service of their country and its people. Greed, gluttony and womanising poisoned quite a few, murder was the only option for a crown rival, and we won’t speak about the other lows that some stooped too.
It’s intriguing to read of the conflicts between the monarchy and the church – how many times a King had the threat of excommunication hung above his head by the word of the Pope. Or the power struggles of Parliament and Monarch, ending in execution for poor old Charles I who was defiant till the end.
Noble women were marital pawns and their husbands were selected for political and monetary advantage. They were betrothed at a tender age and expected to do their wifely duties. Any woman that succumbed to temptation before marriage brought shame to the family honour and was disowned. That was unless the man was the King.
The historical detail written by authors in historical romance novels varies considerably. Some are fairly light and focus on relationships while others strive for rich historic authenticity.
There are also some brilliant historical romance movies and TV screenplays available. Having read all of the Classics like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights as a teenager it is great to see the BBC adaptations. Braveheart would have to be one of my all time favourite movies and The Tudors is a magnificent historical series.
I have put together a top ten list of favourite historical fiction-romance books and film.
1. Here Be Dragons (Welsh Trilogy) by Sharon Penman
2. Braveheart – Movie
3. The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman
4. Lord of the White Castle by Elizabeth Chadwick
5. Excalibur – Movie
6. The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory
7. The Conquest by Elizabeth Chadwick
8. The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
9. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
10. The Tudors – TV Series
Would love to hear your favourites?