Posted by: jeannineatkins | January 2, 2009

What Does Historical Fiction Need?

For you lovers of historical fiction, I hope you’ll read the lovely review of Joyce Moyer Hostetter’s book Healing Water at Not just to celebrate well-deserved praise for Joyce’s novel, but I think Betsy Bird articulates some of the important things she looks for in historical fiction. For instance, she writes, “This title works because if you set out to write a book about a historical moment and the main character walks around thinking, “Gee, what a significant time I live in,” you have yourself a pretty dull piece of work. Healing Water, on the other hand, focuses on something a lot of kids can identify with; Friendship, betrayal, loneliness, and moral complicity.”

I’ll want to look at this again, but now I need to get ready to walk the paths of history instead of writing about it. At least that’s why I’m going to Rome, and my girls, too, (Steph calls me Mama J.) though they’re more about the fashion and boy-on-Vespa fantasy than ancientness. I guess some of that collides, and all three of us are about the pasta. So here’s hoping for fun pulling together the joy and cool companions and many layers of the past. I hope to post some pictures to make my husband happy (no boys on Vespas, honey, I’ll keep them on leashes). Everyone on LJ seems so on all roll with good resolutions, I kind of hate to take a break, but I’ll be joining you in writerliness next week! And lifting a cappuccino to you all where maybe Keats wrote a few poems near the Spanish Steps.



  1. Ooh, Rome is one of my favorite cities ever! Enjoy!

  2. Wowsie! Going to Rome? Do have a wonderful time and enjoy the ancientness. I am slightly green. Never been to Italy, myself.
    Thanks for calling attention to the review!
    Safe travels!

  3. Thanks! We hope some of the Christmas decorations are still up!

  4. Thanks, Joyce. It should be quite a first mother-daughter trip to Europe — sticking to one city, though, but should speak to the art historian in her!
    I love that review! One of these days I hope to blog about the book. I have a small stack of books I have been meaning to go over and write about, hopefully now in spring when my teaching load is lighter.

  5. Thanks, Jenn!

  6. I’m sure I will enjoy it when you have the time!
    I’m impressed with your ability to combine teaching, writing, & blogging. And more, I’m sure.

  7. Have a wonderful trip!
    Mother daughter trips are great!
    Savor Rome and all the great pasta! =)
    Thanks for the link to the review — you’re right in that it gives writers an idea of what to look for in their histoical fiction novels.

  8. Husband & I were just talking about this last night. I love figuring this stuff out (or trying to!)
    You’re going to have a great time. And boy-on-Vespa photos are probably fine, as long as dad isn’t seeing daughter-on-Vespa-WITH-boy!! Have a wonderful, wonderful trip.

  9. Ahhhh–a mother, daughter trip to Rome! Sounds wonderful! My daughter and I did a week in England a few years ago and had a blast. Can’t wait to see your pictures. Have fun!

  10. Have a wonderful trip. We’ll look forward to hearing all about it when you get back.

  11. Welcome Home!
    We hope that you and “the girls” had a great trip to Rome! Trusting that you enjoyed many Rome adventures and are probably feeling jet/time lags at the moment, look forward to checking in on your new blog entries when you can!

  12. Re: Have a wonderful trip!
    We did have fun — enjoying each other, Rome, and pasta. I’m glad you found the review useful!

  13. A week in England — sound great! We did have fun in Rome. I’ll try to post some pictures in the next few days — just said goodbye to daughter who was saying we should do London next! “Mom, while there are still theaters.”
    Glad to see you had a happy new year!

  14. Had fun, though I did miss LJ. I read some old posts and seems like you’ve had a very constructive week! Yay!

  15. Re: Welcome Home!
    Yup, we had fun, and now I am pretty jet lagged, and just got back from driving Em to the airport to LA. She was in charge of camera, but said she’d try to send me some pics in the next day or two, and I’ll get up some words and pictures.
    Peter had fun seeing you, even if you didn’t eat enough Christmas cookies!

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