The reading and judging for the Historical Writers’ Association Gold Crown for Fiction 2019 is pretty much over now. I have read this many books in roughly three months. Here they are. I can’t tell you anything about them yet so here is a picture of them with their backs turned to give you an idea of bulk.

HWA Prize

Roughly 96 works of historical fiction.

And I will shortly be resuming business as usual. Although I have to say I seem to have forgotten what that is. Then this fell out of a newspaper and it reminded me that it’s Pride month. I love Pride month and I was reminded of this:

first pride

Oh yes…

In my day you just rocked up to Embankment, attached yourself to a group of fearsome drag queens and crossed your fingers. Now you have to have a ticket. Is that better or worse? Certainly inconvenient if you decide you want to go at the last minute. Anyway, I thought I’d do a bit of queer reading. There aren’t many queer characters in historical fiction and I feel a bit of a yearning for community. But I’m also a bit fictioned-out so Queer non-fiction here I come. These look a bit tasty don’t you think?

Pride month books

Book list for Pride Month

It’s a bit Gertrude Stein heavy admittedly, which may not bode well. Here’s a message from her at the beginning of her Selected Writings:

“I always wanted to be historical, from almost a baby on, I felt that way about it …”

I wonder how she’d have felt after reading 96 historical fiction novels? Historical? Or like me, simply hysterical.

I should be going back to work on my current novel but after all that reading I have no idea how to relate to it. Who was the person who wrote these 99,000 words? Would my book make a long list? Short list? Neither? Oh God, why bother. I think I’ll go and buy myself some geraniums instead and take some of these books (25 since you ask) to the charity shop.

My apologies to those of you whose blogs I usually follow and comment on. I hope to be functioning a bit better on that front in the coming weeks. Well, on all fronts actually. Maybe Gertrude will sort me out. If you’ve read any good LGBTQI non-fiction (or fiction) recently let me know and I’ll add it to my list.


  1. Welcome back Victoria! I can’t believe how much you’ve read, that is several massive stacks there. I’m terrible at reading non-fiction so I’ve no recommendations I can pass on, but I think you definitely deserve to let your hair down at Pride after all that hard work (and/or sit in the sun contemplating your geraniums) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Madame Bibi I think it will be geranium contemplation – one white, one red. You read an impressive number of novellas I saw. Nice and short novellas. Some of the ones we had to read were real Moby Dicks. Do readers expect that now? I suppose if I hadn’t been reading 96 books i wouldn’t have minded so much!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sure I read somewhere that publishers actively encourage these door stoppers. As a novella lover I’m hoping the reduced attention spans we’re all supposed to be getting from social media will mean this fashion changes!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Welcome Back!
    What an achievement!
    Do you feel a changed person?
    I have absolutely no doubt that Gertrude will sort you out. I love her! She totally changed my view on writing style.
    And once again, Congratulations on competing such a task! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do feel changed by it. It was very intense. I’ve been feeling a bit spaced out actually but I keep throwing your cards and today I threw balance and so went for a walk in the park to get some of that lovely green!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ‘A bit spaced out’ – I would be on another planet completely!
    I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I admire you so much for doing this. Did you have any qualms before you said yes to this undoubted honour?

    I’m so glad you are still using the cards. Thank you. I also think walking and grounding yourself after this cerebral and imagination smorgasbord will be a brilliant thing to do. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I definitely had qualms. I have qualms whenever I feel flattered by something because experience warns me that being flattered is not a good basis for making decisions! But I also thought it would be a very interesting experience. It was more intense than I could possibly have imagined. There was also of course the whole ‘who am I to judge’ aspect of it. Easier if you’re not a writer of course. because you’re not so aware of how hard it is to write!

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    • Hello there! It comes down to roughly a book a day. So I read a great deal! The whoppers took longer. I’m not that keen on very long books and not just because I was having to get through them. Length doesn’t make them better. We had a chart in which we could all rate the books and leave short comments as we went along and so there was a degree of cross-fertilization of opinion as we were doing it. That helped. I suppose also books that I love I have no problem remembering. those tend to stick. Send both our love to you and Sue!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s a lot of books! I enjoy reading historical fiction, but usually I read some contemporary fiction/mysteries/literary fiction in between historical ones to air out my brain a bit. I did just finish reading The Summer Country by Lauren Willig, set in England (a little) but mostly Barbados in the 1800s. It was a great read, and I learned a lot about sugar plantations and slavery in that country.
    Glad you’re back, and looking forward to your July blog post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Pam I’m reading non-fiction now for a while! I’ve just finished Boys in Zinc which is interviews with Russian soldiers and their families about the 79-89 war in Afghanistan by Svetlana Alexievich. It’s brilliant and in many ways reminds me of Michael Herr’s book on the Vietnam war, Despatches. Thank you for the welcome back!

      Liked by 1 person

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