I’ll second [name_f]Jane[/name_f] [name_f]Eyre[/name_f] and [name_m]Jonathan[/name_m] Strange and Mr Norrell as great matches for you.
I love everything by [name_u]Austen[/name_u] — imo the best writer in the [name_f]English[/name_f] language — but she’s very much a realist and not a romantic, in either the literary (Wuthering Heights) or modern (love story) use of the word romantic (despite what the movie adaptations make of her). But if you want her totally hilarious, mockumentary of a take down of wild-eyed romanticism, read [name_u]Love[/name_u] and Friendship, a book she wrote as a teen (her juvenilia) and never published. It’s extremely caddy, biting, and ridiculous in ways she never allows her adult fiction to be. It’s parts [name_f]Alice[/name_f] in Wonderland too.
For books with a strong moral vision, read: 1984, Animal Farm, [name_u]Brave[/name_u] [name_u]New[/name_u] World, The Giver. If any of these were assigned to you in school, and lost there lustre, I’d give a second chance, as they’re each quite powerful.
For [name_f]Alice[/name_f]-like books, [name_u]Jasper[/name_u] Fforde has a few hilariously mixed up, abstract, and imaginitive series. The Nursery Crimes books toss all your favourite fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters into a blender. And the [name_m]Thursday[/name_m] Next series, starting with The [name_f]Eyre[/name_f] Affair, blend characters from across fiction.
[name_u]Douglas[/name_u] [name_m]Adams[/name_m] also captures the spirit of [name_f]Alice[/name_f] in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the [name_f]Galaxy[/name_f], which not only is extremely funny but also a classic you’re going to have to read one day.
Now it’s my turn.
I’m looking for a book like:
• [name_m]Poul[/name_m] [name_u]Anderson[/name_u]‘s The High Crusade — a space romp in which aliens visit earth in the 1300’s, and are hilariously defeated by medievals with almost no tech.
• [name_u]Connie[/name_u] [name_m]Willis[/name_m]’ [name_m]Black[/name_m] Out / All Clear and The Doomsday Book — powerful, gripping, very historically grounded, time travel adventures that explore deep themes, the former set in WW|| [name_f]England[/name_f], and the latter set in 1300’s plague [name_f]England[/name_f].
• C. [name_m]Walter[/name_m] [name_m]Hodges[/name_m] The Namesake and The [name_u]Marsh[/name_u] [name_m]King[/name_m] — children’s historical fiction, set in the time of [name_m]King[/name_m] [name_m]Alfred[/name_m], beautifully moving and impactful. Made Alfred one of my favourite characters in history, and gives tremendous hope for the future in even the darkest periods (in this case, the Viking invasion of England and destruction of everything).
• [name_f]Rosemary[/name_f] Suitcliff’s The [name_u]Eagle[/name_u] of the Ninth series and The Armourer’s House — the former set during the decline of [name_m]Roman[/name_m] [name_m]Britain[/name_m], and the latter in Elizabethan [name_f]England[/name_f], both extremely well written young adult fiction, bringing those worlds to life.
• [name_f]Jill[/name_f] [name_m]Patton[/name_m] [name_m]Walsh[/name_m]'s A Parcel of Patterns — set in a small town in 1660’s [name_f]England[/name_f], that goes into voluntary isolation when someone contracts the plague. So moving.
• And I’ll include one more, though it’s not quite as good as the others above, I very much loved reading a work of historical fiction set in the ancient world — Joanne Williamson’s Hittite Warrior — children’s historical fiction, exploring 1200BC.
Well… when I started writing this list, I had no intention to just list historical fiction. But I guess that’s where I’m at at the moment.
Trying to pull the threads together — I like seriously thoughtful, immersive historical fiction. It can be a seriously funny, sci-fi romp like The High Crusade or tear your heart out grief inducing like The Doomsday Book or A Parcel of Patterns.