A historical novel is set more than fifty years in the past, and based on research rather than personal experience (so an autobiographical novel set during the author's childhood isn't considered historical fiction). These novels usually draw heavily on historical detail; plot and characterization emphasize and reflect the time period, and famous historical figures often appear as well.
The story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known...of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect--a man divided in his soul...of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame... and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state and brother against brother. A spellbinding epic tale of ambition, anarchy, and absolute power set against the sprawling medieval canvas of twelfth-century England.
In a small town in Canada, Clara Callan reluctantly takes leave of her sister, Nora, who is bound for New York. It's a time when the growing threat of fascism in Europe is a constant worry, and people escape from reality through radio and the movies. Meanwhile, the two sisters -- vastly different in personality, yet inextricably linked by a shared past -- try to find their places within the complex web of social expectations for young women in the 1930s.
First in the series, the novel establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, R.N., and Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon and intelligence agent, against a thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars and all the details of a life aboard a warship faultlessly rendered.