This book examines and explains the obsession with history in the contemporary British novel. It frames these "historical" novels as expressions of narrative desire, highlighting the reciprocal relationship between a desire to disclose and to rid ourselves of anxieties elicited by the past. Scrutinizing representative novels from Byatt, McEwan and Rushdie, contemporary fiction is revealed as capable of advocating a viable ethical stance and as a form of authentic commentary. Our anxieties often exist in response to what might be perceived as the oppression or eradication of values, whether this is through the modern repudiation of Victorian principles (Byatt), the Western rethinking of Enlightenment narratives in light of the Holocaust (McEwan), or pluralism threatened by religious fundamentalism (Rushdie). Each of these novelists differentially employs postmodern artifice, sometimes as a way to reject the notion of historical construction, sometimes to advocate for it, but always to bring us closer to what the author believes are significant values and truths, rather than relativism. The representative qualities of these novels serve to highlight themes, concerns, and anxieties present in many of the works of each author and by extension those of their contemporaries.