Historical Romance has always been my escape. Well, at least it has since I discovered them at the age of sixteen. It was a bit eye opening as well since I was rather naive (innocent) about many things back then. However, Historical Romances are still my escape, knowing that no matter what happens, whether I laugh or cry, or my knuckles turn white from holding the book so hard at an intense scene, I know at the end there will be a happy ending. I can sigh, put it away and just feel good. Sometimes the book stays with me and if the author has done exceptionally well, I want to continue reading the hero and heroine’s story.
Historical Fiction, on the other hand does not always leave me with the same feelings. I finished The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory this weekend. I pretty much knew how some of this story was going to end, at least for Anne. You would have had to live under a rock all of your life not to know Queen Anne Boleyn was executed by her husband, Kind Henry VIII. But, the book wasn’t so much about her execution. It was the story told from Mary’s perspective, Anne’s older sister, of her family and their life in the court of King Henry VIII, from the time the Mary was just about 14 (already married by the way), and what happened in the years that followed. I did not know her brother, George, was executed the day before Anne.
This book has stayed with me since I finished it, but not in the way a Romance does. I find myself wondering what went on in the mind of Katherine of Aragon while her husband carried on openly with mistresses in the court, and when she failed to provide the necessary male heir. Or, what was in Anne’s mind as she walked toward the executioner’s block? Or George's for that matter. Did either one of them regret decisions they made along the way? Did they lay blame with their uncle and father who used them as pawns to further the family and earn favoritism at court? These were very real people and not fictional characters where everything that happened to them within the pages of the book was pretend.
I’ve not read much Historical Fiction but I do want to read more. I understand there are some with regard to Queen Marie Antoinette that interest me. One the other hand, I may put them off for a bit, given the ending would be somewhat similar, just for different reasons.
If I am looking for escapism and a sigh at the happy ending, I will look for a Romance. If I want to be intrigued and maybe learned something new (even though it is fiction there is fact woven in), I will pick up Historical Fiction.
Do you prefer Historical Fiction over Historical Romance? Why do you prefer one over the other? If you read Historical Fiction, what would you recommend my next read be?
Amy De Trempe
Duchess of Decency