In Memory of Historical Novelist: Diana Norman

Diana Norman, who died Jan 27th, was my favorite writer when it comes to historical fiction. She had a way with words that no one can ever emulate. Her research, from what I’ve read, was meticulous. The way she used that research to recreate the time period was awesome. I don’t know anyone who writes like that. Her peers considered her an “expert” on 12th Century history and she admired “Henry II.” I can vouch for the last part having read her Adelia Aguilar books that featured a woman pathologist working for King Henry II in 12th Century England.

She loved bringing Henry II to life for us. I anticipated every scene she put him in because he almost always stole every scene he was in. She’d made King Henry II this larger than life hero even while history says he was a villain. But, you couldn’t help falling in love with King Henry but then she had a way with creating the most memorable, quiet heroes. Henry King remains my favorite hero from The Vizard Mask alongside Archibald Cameron from Blood Royal. She wrote this great first line:

Pen­i­tance Hurd and the Plague arrived in Lon­don on the same day from The Vizard Mask

Why did I love Ms. Norman’s books? Well, first of all, I’m a history buff. Love reading about other time periods other than my own. Second, her books are fast paced and laced with time period details that engages readers. Her words transported you to that time period like no other writer I know. She knew how to assimilate information from her research into her stories without it feeling like an info dump. Her novels never felt like a lecture. Readers have complained about her using anachronistic language in her books but she’s often defended that with saying that it was done for better clarity. Her heroines were always smart, tough and well ahead of their time. Her heroes were memorable.

I remember the first book I read by her. Jayne introduced me to her. The book was, “A Catch of Consequence” (2002). I went on to locate her older titles that are still out of print (that cost a fortune) and read “The Vizard Mask” (1994), Blood Royal (1998) followed by her current titles that should still be in print, A Catch of Consequence and Taking Liberties (2003). I’m fearful that her earlier stories will be forever lost. I was hoping that one day her earlier titles would be reprinted so that readers who haven’t read her before will discover why so many of us loved her work so much. I’d buy whatever titles that are in print now if you’re interested in reading her. Diana Norman was a great storyteller who loved writing in her area of expertise. She also wrote suspense and did an excellent job with City of Shadows (2006), a stand alone mystery title that’s set in Germany. Diana Norman’s voice in the world will be greatly missed.

Bibliography

Fitzempress’ Law (1980)
King of the Last Days (1981)
The Morning Gift (1985)
Daughter of Lir (1988)
Pirate Queen (1991)
The Vizard Mask (1994)
Shores of Darkness (1996)
Blood Royal (1998)
A Catch of Consequence (2002)
Taking Liberties (2003)
The Sparks Fly Upward (2006)

writing as Ariana Franklin:
City of Shadows (2006)
The Mistress of the Art of Death (2007)
The Serpent’s Tale (2008) / The Death Maze UK
Grave Goods (2009) / Relics of the Dead UK
A Murderous Procession (2010) / The Assassin’s Prayer UK

non-fiction titles:

Terrible Beauty: A Life of Constance Markievicz, 1868-1927
Road from Singapore
The Stately Ghosts of England

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One Response to In Memory of Historical Novelist: Diana Norman

  1. Oh that’s a blow. I didn’t know she’d died. A wonderful writer to be sure.

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