I would suggest that a majority of us will read a historical story at some time in our lives. Some of those stories may be of relatively recent history such as the 20th century wars that generates many books both fact and fiction. Others may be from further away in history as in Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series. Whatever your personal preference there seems to be something for almost everyone in this genre.
The very first historical novel I read was I Claudius by Robert Graves which I devoured while selling ice cream as a holiday job. It opened the door for me to consider other such novels.
My next historical adventure will be the Wolf of the Plains by Conn Iggulden a tale of 13th century Genghis Khan.
I have produced a blog on historical novels without mentioning the classics such as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre or Sense and Sensibility. Quite deliberate as we are all familiar with that leg of the genre. Lots to read.
This is an “autobiography’”of Claudius, the fourth emperor of Rome, set between 24BC and AD54. Author Graves was inspired to write it after it emerged that Claudius really was an historian, and is thought to have penned a lost biography. However, Graves has studied the period closely and although the story is fictional, it’s a great starting point if you’re curious about Roman history. Claudius is plagued by illness, and he’s often shunted out of the way by his ambitious family, but this positions him perfectly as an observer who is close enough to the action to see what people are prepared to do for power. It’s measured and mature, but with enough shocking moments to make you gasp.
Victoria – Daisy GoodwinAssuming you watched the recent TV adaptation of the novel, you’ll know that Goodwin’s Queen is a million miles away from the traditional representation of the starchy matriarch who refused to be amused by anything. This is the story of a young woman’s quest for independence and true love, and how she learns to rule by using her heart and her head. Goodwin read Victoria’s diaries in order to become closer to the monarch. Even if you’re familiar with the events of the Victorian period, and the Queen’s reign, this novel will inspire you to revisit the era and consider her life in a fresh light.