Guest post from Caroline Lawrence – Author of The P.K.Pinkerton Mysteries

Today we have a guest post from Caroline Lawrence…


I write historical fiction books because it’s the closest thing to having a time machine. My favourite part of writing is when I get lost in the world and the characters seem real. My favourite moments in reading are when authors transport me to other times and places.

Here are my top ten favourite books/series suitable for kids or YA readers.

1. The Last of the Wine by Mary Renault – Classical Athens (c. 430 – 400 BC)
A magnificent tale of a boy growing up in Classical Athens. This book changed my life because it made me realize how fascinating history could be. Mary Renault is the Queen of Historical Fiction. She is my idol.

2. Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian – Nelson’s Navy (early 1800’s)
If Mary Renault is the Queen, then Patrick O’Brian is the King of historical fiction. Almost as fluent in Greek as in Latin and most fluent in the language of ships and sailing, he is another one of my idols. My husband and I knew we were ‘meant to be’ on our first date 20 years ago when we both named his Aubrey/Maturin series as our favourite books of the moment. My husband often says, ‘In Patrick O’Brian, a storm is more exciting than a battle, and a dinner party can be more entertaining than either of those.’ Master and Commander is the first of a 20-book series.

3. True Grit by Charles Portis – Wild West (late 1800s in America)
This is one of my top books of all time.
Mattie Ross — deadpan, devout and determined — is one of the great heroines of any period, and she’s only 14. Both movie versions were good, but this better than both rolled up together. ‘Fill your hands’ with it!

4. The Once and Future King by T.H. White – Arthurian England – (c. 500 CE)
There are lots of fab books about Arthur (like those of Kevin Crossley-Holland and Philip Reeve) but this one will always have a very special place in my heart. It is pure magic.

5. Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter – Roman Egypt (early 1st century CE)
Deliciously descriptive account of what it might have been like for Cleopatra’s beautiful daughter Selene (“moon” in Greek) growing up in Augustan Rome. Full of romance and intrigue.

6. The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliffe – Roman Britain (c. 100 CE)
Densely-written evocative depiction of Britain in the Roman period. Colder, grittier and with more blue woad than my Roman Mysteries series.

7. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder – American Pioneer West (late 1800s)
Nothing like the sentimental TV series, these stories are vividly-told, clear-eyed reminiscences of a pioneer girl. Moving, quietly dramatic and humbling. Oh, how I love them.

8. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley – Post-war Britain (1950s)
Are the 1950’s historical? If so, then I must include the Flavia De Luce mysteries. These are huge fun with tons of detail and a spunky, mischievous, chemistry-loving heroine you’ll either love or loathe. Personally I love her, and not just because she’s also called Flavia.

9. Goodnight Mister Tom by Michel Magorian – WWII (1939-1941)
Powerful and moving story about how a poor boy from London blossoms when he is sent to the country to stay with a reclusive farmer named Tom. The story deals with such powerful topics as guilt, creativity, bereavement and faith, while depicting wartime England with satisfying attention to detail.

10. Books by my fellow History Girls with whom I blog. I didn’t want to choose just one or two as they are all so great. Here are the ones they themselves would recommend:
The Great Pyramid Robbery by Katherine Roberts – Ancient Egypt (2500 BC)
The Dream Master by Theresa Breslin – Ancient Egypt meets modern world
Halo by Zizou Corder – Classical Athens (c. 440-30 BC)
Warriors of Alavna by N M Browne – Roman and Celtic Britain (first century CE)
Warrior King by Sue Purkiss – Alfred the Great (9th century CE)
Blood Red Horse by K.M. Grant – Third Crusade (late 1100s)
Dark Angels (US The Shadow Hunt) by Katherine Langrish – Medieval England (c.1190 – 1200)
VIII by H.M. Castor – Tudor (first half 16th century)
David by Mary Hoffman Renaissance Florence (1501-4)
Road to London by Barbara Mitchelhill – Shakespeare’s London (1599)
A Nest of Vipers by Catherine Johnson – Queen Anne’s London (early 1700s)
The Girl in the Mask by Marie-Louise Jensen – Georgian (early 1700s)
Pirates! by Celia Rees – Pirates in the 1700s
Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-Archer – Georgian (1763)
The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding – late 18th century
Lizzie’s Wish by Adèle Geras – Victorian England (second half of the 1800s)
Talina in the Tower by Michelle Lovric – Victorian Venice (1867)
Johnny Swanson by Eleanor Updale – Between the Wars (1929)
Saving Rafael by Leslie Wilson – Nazi Germany (1935-1944)

To celebrate the release of Caroline’s latest book and the second in The P.K.Pinkerton Mysteries; The Case of the Good Looking Corpse, we have one copy to give away. Retweet this post or leave a comment to enter. Open to UK residents only. Closes 30th June 2012 at 5pm.