We asked Elizabeth Kostova if she really likes historical fiction. She said sure, but "there's a lot of sloppily written historical fiction. It's a commercial genre, so I understand why serious readers would be wary." We asked her to recommend three historical novels for people who normally turn their noses up at such titles:
"The Name of the Rose"
By Umberto Eco
Harvest Books, $15.95, 536 pages
"If you like a really good mystery, it's fantastically researched, but a very erudite novel, and you really want to know who the killer is. I read it many times when I was writing "The Historian." It's proof you can write a mystery that's extremely literary, and historical."
By A.S. Byatt
Vintage, $15.95, 576 pages
"A bit of a mystery, but a wonderful love story with a lot of great research."
"A Tale of Two Cities"
By Charles Dickens
Qualitas Classics, $11.95, 420 pages
"This sounds weird, but it is a historical novel. He wrote it 70 years after the French Revolution and it's a great melodramatic page turner. He also does something every good historical novelist does, which is he makes the details of that world incredibly real. He doesn't just talk about a cap, he talks about the roughness of the cap. You can see and feel the time he is writing about."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times