'During my research into historical fiction for children and young adult readers I came across a range of texts that relied on a living or lived experience of history to frame the historical story. These novels were similar to the time-slip narrative; however, not all examples used the traditional convention of time-slippage. I wanted to bundle these novels together - 'time-slip' novels included - as examples of 'living history' narratives because they appeared from the outset as a distinct literary form requiring particular reading strategies.
These texts, which I will refer to as Living history novels, require readers to align uncritically with modern perception. Readers are persuasively invited to assume that the modern characters' perception of the past is authentic because it has been formed by a lived experience of history. In Living history novels, readers are positioned to perceive both the strengths and weaknesses of past and present times, ultimately reconciling the two in a present that faces chronologically forwards. Modern focalising characters in Living history fiction place modern perception in a superior relationship to that of the past.
This sub-genre of historical novels is distinctive in its strong and consistent modern character focalisation and point of view. The Living history novel creates a confluence of past and present, be it physically or psychically. Characters are variously conveyed from a generalised present, or past, to an explicit historical period or event. The Living history novel is distinctive in its intense character introversion, quest journey and self-discovery. The most important outcome of the living history experience is that characters learn something significant about themselves. Because the story is about the modern character's quest and self realisation, the past is consistently perceived from their point of view. Modern characters are transported in time and readers are only rarely invited to see the past from a past point of view' (Author's abstract).