Recently, I noticed the obituary of Sharon Kay Penman in the New York Times. I was rather shocked. Somehow, in my mind, I thought (hoped) she would be with us, writing excellent novels about the Middle Ages, forever.
The breadth of historical fiction is what I love to read or watch. Romantic lightweights help me relax, action-adventure gets me fired up with ideas for storylines. Often, these take (many) liberties with the historical facts. Not so Sharon Kay Penman. She stuck to them like glue. Not mindlessly though, for she would adapt when new insights emerged. The way she managed to build and weave her story with the facts and the surrounding void, and still make the actors and settings come alive, is nothing short of phenomenal. To me, she is so high on that pedestal with the likes of Bernard Cornwell and Nigel Tranter.
She wrote about the medieval period after the Viking Age, and that’s why this isn’t a full essay on this site. But if you are interested after reading this, check out her book list here. Or her last op-ed on the History News Network.