Friday, August 23, 2013

Why are readers drawn to historical works?

Many reasons exist for why readers are hopelessly attracted to historical fiction. Getting back to the basics—our roots—seems to be the most common.

What inspired our ancestors to emigrate or how did family traditions begin? Where did I get brown eyes and curly hair? Why did my great grandmother celebrate Celtic holidays or speak French fluently?

These are questions my friends have asked. With a little research, they found answers. But who wants the journey to end there?

Hundreds of history books exist. Wonderful resources we can use to piece together the places and people we’re intimately connected to.

As a person with a restless mind, I always craved more than straight facts. I wanted to see the events through the lens of the people who experienced history first-hand. Historical fiction provides endless opportunities for readers to live in those fantastical moments. Is there anything more exciting?

Pick a century or culture. Follow the events of a birth of a nation or religion. Taste the foods and wear the costumes. Fight the wars or dream their dreams.
I ‘m never satisfied with a linear link. The possibilities in historical works are endless. After all, is historical fiction really that far from the truth?

I think technology and modern thinking has stripped us of some of the values we miss most. In historicals, we’re able to catch glimpses. I’m not saying modern-day heroes don’t exist. But there’s something extraordinary about an 11th century Viking avenging the death of his kinsman or presiding over criminal/civil cases in his court.

It’s a mixed up world out there. I prefer the clarity of the past. Call me a dreamer, but I know I’m not alone. That’s what inspired me to read, and now write, historical fiction. There’s magic on those pages, and valuable lessons to be learned.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it… George Santayana.

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Lynn Lovegreen said...

I have learned as much about history from novels as I have from classes or nonfiction! :-)

DeNise said...

I agree with Lynn, those little tid-bits of history that rarely make into a classroom seem so much more interesting in a novel. I enjoyed your post.

Angelina Barbin said...

Great post. Sometimes trying to find the answer to a question can lead you to a riveting story.