Anya Seton gave me a love of well-written romance mixed with superbly wrought history. Katherine, especially, was definitive for me. I recently gave a copy of all her books to my daughter who is a devotee of all things Anne Boleyn and English queens and mistresses who conquer, mostly themselves.
Jacqueline Winspear writes a beautifully wrought series about a British nurse in World War I who becomes a detective and savant. Maisie Dobbs is every woman who survives tragedy and makes herself a better person for it. This interest in Winspear's World War I series complements my own fascination with it. Foremost among the non-fiction I prize is Niall Ferguson's The Pity of War and the memoir by VAD nurse Vera Brittain, Testament of Youth.
An author of mysteries myself, I prize those authors who give the reader the best of their talents and their research into forensics and procedurals for the period. Minette Walters, also British, writes complex mysteries. And Elizabeth George, an American who writes startlingly accurate mysteries set in Britain, always gives me a rush of excitement with her finely drawn characterizations. Do let's add Ariana Franklin, also British (am I on a kick here?) who pens a marvelous medieval mystery series set in Henry II's reign about a Spanish woman trained in medicine at Salamanca--and who becomes Henry's Mistress in the Art of Death. I am into her third in the series as I write...and applauding both women's talents!
What books do you treasure?
I would love to hear.