Carol Williams, historical fiction, colonial America
The writer Jean Cocteau once descriped the fiction that he produced as "des mensonges vrais." If we agree that his description is apt, that indeed all fiction consists of true lies, then historical fiction might be considered a special genre , since it tries to blend true lies with genuine truths. Attempting to present simultaneously both the historical truth and a fictional narrative that brings that truth to life is a less straightforward task than it might seem, because the novelist and the historian must write at cross-purposes: the former is concerned with the story of individual lives, the latter with the story of the times. Some novels most successful at conveying the feel of a historic moment - The Red Badge of Courage comes to mind - make no attempt to include self-consciously historical details. Crane supplies neither the name nor the location of the battle that tests his protagonist, yet the reader comes away with the illusion of historical truth. Most historical novels include at least some historical facts, and some include so many that they read more like histories than novels . Carol Williams has written three novels of colonial America which manage , for the most part , to do justice to both individual experience and history. These three books , which are titled The Switzers, Brightness Remembered, and By Wonders and By War, relate the saga of a Swiss immigrant family in South Carolina from 1756 through 1781.
"Review Essay: Reflections on Three Novels of Carol Williams,"
Swiss American Historical Society Review: Vol. 38
, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/sahs_review/vol38/iss1/3