10 books to add to your reading list in November
Published November 12, 2017•by Andrew Marvell Best in Category:
“The most important thing to remember about reading (or writing) fiction,” wrote critic Harold Bloom in 1962, “is that it is supposed to be a record of life, and not a record of someone’s life.”
Indeed, fiction, in the modern world, is the life of its authors. That is why, when it comes to the writing of historical fiction, literary scholars and critics are rightly (if sometimes incorrectly) dismissive of the idea that, for writers of historical fiction, the present is less important than the past or the future. Indeed, some of these writers, such as John le Carré, are so committed to their characters’ survival in all their complex, shifting forms that they can never put the passage of time in the place of their stories’ events.
In keeping with this commitment, and having reviewed many of the great books that have been published this year, I would like to suggest a dozen or so novels to add to your reading list in November. I have omitted most of the works of non-fiction that feature historical characters, such as the first two volumes of Ken Follet’s The Book of Kings and Jonathan Scott’s The Devil’s Own.
The last of these novels, The Devil’s Own by Jonathan Scott, tells the story of the life of Thomas More, the medieval Archbishop of Canterbury who, in opposition to James I, who became England’s King in 1603, and who was known for his passionate support of the church, is forced to flee England and spend his final years in Rome. In doing so, he became the country’s first Protestant martyr.
Though there are many scenes of this story in historical plays by Shakespeare, it is not really part of the literary or theatrical canon. That is why, like The Last of the Flambards, it is probably best experienced as an evening at the