Today's Prompt: We're focusing on the historical fiction genre, including any and all of it's subgenres: mystery, suspense, romance, science fiction, etc.
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I was introduced to historical fiction in my freshman year in high school. I loved to read and I read all kinds of different things but I just never got around to the historical fiction genre. Then my teacher assigned us the task of reading historical fiction and I was lost. We had two weeks to read a book (at least 300 pages) and write a report about it. The Monday it was due -- I was still lost and the teacher “invited” me to stay after class to discuss my failure.
Maybe she felt sorry for me or maybe she saw something in me that I didn’t even know was there, but she gave me a second chance. She gave me a list of five books, told me to choose one, and said that I would be required to give her an oral report of the book that next Friday.
Friday? Four days to read a book and prepare a report? No way. Nope, I’m getting an F on this one.
Tuesday - I went to the library and looked at a couple of the books on her list. Nothing intrigued me so I went to the park to play.
Wednesday - I went to the library and looked at the other books on her list and nothing intrigued me. Oh, wait, that one book looked kinda okay. It was Beat to Quarters by C. S. Forester so I checked it out.
Thursday - Um, I have to make a report about this silly thing tomorrow so maybe I should read it. Oops, we had a pick-up baseball game that afternoon and I didn’t get around to it. I think I’m facing another F in that class.
Friday - On the bus ride to school, I scanned through the book, picked up a couple of phrases that Forester used and tried to figure out how I might turn that into something better than an F.
Second period passed with no problems and I thought I was home free until the bell rang and the teacher called me over. “Did you read that book?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I lied.
“Give me your oral report about it.”
This was the first time I figured out that I could fake out a teacher. I had never played whist, but my parents had taught me bridge and I could figure out what was happening so I said, “The captain playing whist with his officers before the battle was a nice touch.” Her eyes lit up.
“I think I should read the previous books because there’s some kind of relationship implied between Hornblower and Bush.” Her eyes got brighter.
“I’ve sailed before (that was a lie) and I really liked the way Forester dealt with the various ship-handling techniques.”
She was beaming as she asked me, “What did you think of the final battle?”
I scowled; I looked at the ceiling; I looked at the floor; I hadn’t read that. “I’m not sure it was realistic.”
She canted her head to the side and asked, “What about the final scene dealing with El Supremo’s death?”
Who? I think I might have missed something when I was scanning through the book. I temporized by saying (pretty truthfully), “I actually thought that was unnecessary and I skipped over much of it.”
I guess I did okay because she gave me a B on my report and made sure that I realized I would have had an A if I had done it on time.
The result - C. S. Forester is one of my favorite authors and I’ve read everything he’s ever written.