How History Becomes Story

by Rachel Baker on October 8, 2014

The other day, I wrote about possibly adding a couple of books to my bookstack next year that ‘novelize a novelist’s life’. Today, I’m sharing a post which highlights three novels that reshape factual events into fiction. I’ve not heard of these books and will probably add at least Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez to my stack.

How History Becomes Story – Three Novels.

History is written by the victors, Winston Churchill famously said. Fortunately for readers, story does not obey the same constraints. Fiction lets us explore many different perspectives, including that of the vanquished, the heterodox, the peculiar, or the deviant. Historical novels, in particular, allow us to relive the past without the neatness of history, and with all the complexity of the present. But how do novelists take history and turn it into story? What choices do they face in trying to transform real people into people of paper? In addition to creating complex characters, choosing an original and convincing point of view, and building a good plot, historical novelists must also transport us into another era, with its specific social norms, its cultural mood, and, above all, its idiosyncratic language. Here are three novels that successfully transform fact into fiction.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to Become a Patron or to follow on Twitter.

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