5 Historical Favourites that Illuminate Today’s Issues

Some novels linger long after their initial impact. Many of those have something profound to say about today: the lives we live, the celebrities of our time, the politics and issues we’re facing. Looking back on my ‘year of reading’ blog posts, many novels stand out for how they illuminate today’s issues.

The Mountain of Light by Indu Sundarasan – brings back thoughts of the impact of colonialism as well as racism on societies.

The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear – the impact of war and the desire to protect loved ones from the suffering that ensues both on the battlefront and the home front.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton – from a review I wrote for the Washington Independent Review of Books: “The themes Burton explores are as relevant today as they were long ago: the corrupting influence of power; the way greed obscures truth; how being different threatens the mainstream; religious tyranny; the many paths to love; a woman’s place in society; and men as the makers of the worlds we live in.”

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – a runaway best seller with a movie adaptation in 2023. This novel still lingers in my mind. Doerr explores themes of love, power, destiny, heroism, hope, coming of age, death, loss, patriotism, redemption. Phew! These themes resonate widely in today’s world as does the central conflict of WWII – autocracy vs democracy.

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks – I’m a fan of Geraldine Brooks and this novel stands out for me not only because of its biblical setting, but also for its portrayal of King David a beloved king who becomes a murderous tyrant. We can look around the globe and see similar figures ruling, or hoping to rule, many countries.

We can read history books but with historical fiction we gain critical insight into the people of the past and their motivations. And we can see clear parallels with today.

Which novels linger in your mind?

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY. There’s a SUBSCRIBE function on the right hand side of the page. PS: MY NEW NOVEL THAT WAS THEN IS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel is THE ADMIRAL’S WIFE, a dual timeline set in Hong Kong. Mary’s other novels, PARIS IN RUINS, TIME AND REGRET, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.

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2 Responses

  1. You’ve given me a couple to add to my TBR list. Thank you! Novels that linger with me include “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis. Written in 1935, it seems to be the exact playlist Trump is following to dismantle democracy in the US. Isabelle Allende’s “A Long Petal of the Sea” also explores how democracies can switch to dictatorships (and sometimes back) in a relatively short time. I wrote about both books at https://temafrank.com/is-democracy-in-danger/

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