Hard to argue with the last paragraph in my opinion.
Originally posted on Writing Historical Novels:
The past really is a foreign country, and they really do do things differently there. Yet it has also been said that the first person you meet when you travel abroad is yourself. We read and write historical fiction to experience our own time and our own selves from another angle, and sometimes a more revealing one, to find out the constants in human nature, as well as the variables.
When Rose Tremain wanted to write about 1980s Britain, she wrote Restoration, about the court of Charles II. When I wanted to conjure up the last, pre-digital generation of photojournalists for The Mathematics of Love I shared their story with the first stirrings of photography 150 years earlier. It’s because of this dual nature of historical fiction – the way it embodies now as well as then – that I want to suggest that the ultimate kind of novel is the historical novel.
As philosopher and novelist Richard Kearney puts it, in all narrative, from the most rigorous history writing to the most fantastical fairy tale, the storyteller works with bits and pieces of experience from their own world: things the listeners know, and things handed on by others from past and present. The storyteller spins the bits and pieces to tell a tale ‘as if it really happened’ and shed a new light on the real world. A novel, it’s been said, ‘is the memories we don’t have’.