The Contemporary British Historical Novel: Representation, Nation, Empire

Written by Mariadele Boccardi
Review by Ann Oughton


This ‘first full-length study of a genre that has had increasing critical attention and popular appeal at the turn of the twenty-first century,’ discusses the success of the historical novel over the last forty years. The author offers detailed analyses of thirteen novels including John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Lindsay Clarke’s The Chymical Wedding, Ahdaf Soueif’s, The Map of Love and James Robertson’s Joseph Knight. Along with others, these novels are used to illustrate in turn the themes of tradition and renewal, romance of the past, empire and politics, political engagement and the romance of withdrawal. With a comprehensive bibliography and excellent index this critical analysis extends the understanding and increasing debate: of the origins and development of historical fiction in respect of national identity in the aftermath of loss of empire.