If You Enjoy Historical Fiction, Check Out Edward Rutherfurd
Rutherfurd's eight (soon to be nine) bestsellers have something for everyone.
Rutherfurd's first book, Sarum: The Novel of England, was published in 1987 and became an international bestseller. The novel spans a time period of close to 10,000 years, starting with prehistoric Britain in 7500 BC. It is thorough, well researched, and has a compelling story. It would have to, otherwise, no one would get through the 1145 pages! This work set the standard for all Rutherfurd books that would follow, and each is as compelling as the next. Below is a synopsis of each of his novels after Sarum, concluding with China which was released earlier this year.
Russka: The Novel of Russia (1991) - This novel spans a period of 1,800 years and includes key historical figures such as Genghis Khan, Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and the Bolsheviks.
London (1997) - London covers the period from 54 B.C. through 1997. He includes Julius Caesar, Geoffrey Chaucer, Henry VIII, William Shakespeare, and Pocahontas, as well as other fictional characters that drive the story. Many critics have noted that this work is similar in style to James Mitchner, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his first fiction work, Tales of the South Pacific.
The Forest (2000) - Here Rutherfurd focuses on southwest England from the period of approximately 1099 to the present. This is an excellent companion to Sarum, and focuses on the New Forest, a historically significant locale full of mystery, smuggling, and witchcraft.
Dublin: Foundation (2004) titled The Princes of Ireland: The Dublin Saga in North America - This book covers the period of AD 430 through 1533. The novel features Saint Patrick, Brian Boru, Strongbow, King John of England, and other historical figures.
Ireland: Awakening (2006) titled The Rebels of Ireland: The Dublin Saga in North America - The second book in this set follows the story of the clans from the first novel. The characters live through the Cromwellian period, the Protestant Ascendancy, the Famine, Easter Rising, and the Irish Free State.
New York (2009) - This exciting work covers the birth of the new capital of the West. Rutherfurd covers the arrival of the first Dutch and other European colonists in the 17th century up through the time of publishing in 2009.
Paris: A Novel (2013) - Paris follows six families, includes two timelines, and shows a map of old Paris. It covers a period of 1261 to 1968. The historical detail is intriguing, though some critics found it wanting in the areas of plot and character development. (True lovers of historical fiction; however, will probably appreciate the research and detail.)
China (2021) - Rutherfurd's latest work is lengthy like his others but covers a relatively shorter time period. The story begins in 1839, with a central focus on the opium trade. The book was released in May and it currently has 1,790 ratings on Amazon, with an overall 4.5 stars. Some say that this book is a little different from his others (my mother being the primary source for this comment), but most hard-core Rutherfurd fans have rated it 5 stars.
Overall, Rutherfurd has met with some criticism for not producing successful works of literature, meaning that his storylines and characters could be stronger. However, most critics agree that his research is "flawless." His historical detail is fascinating.
These are great books to consider as gifts for the readers in your life. They are also great for a cozy weekend, or a lovely escape from holiday festivities!
If you decide to read Rutherfurd's work, we would love to hear from you in the comments!
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