So I’m reading Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian right now. Which is a tale-within-a-tale wherein the daughter of a disappeared historian recreates the journey her father took in his investigation of the Vlad Dracula legends all over Turkey, Bulgarian, Austria, Hungary, etc. Everyone in the story is clever and a literary or history aficionado, and everyone has a friend who has a primary source letter, access to an archive, or other special info on the historical times of Dracula. It’s quite history dense in a way that reminds me of reading Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose, another historical literary mystery hunt. Or, in some ways, Foucault’s Pendulum more, because in the act of investigating history they are both changing the way it acts upon the world now and unearthing secrets from the past that are awakened in violent and scary ways.
It also kind of reminds me of reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things in the way that it is dense, packed with information and history for the love of history’s sake, and features a young female character coming into her own power and understanding of males in the world.
So The Historian is great. But it’s definitely something juicy and dense and you need to be in the right geeky frame of mind to immerse yourself in history that way.