What If–I’m a rebel?

Pat here!

A couple of weeks ago, Jo wrote: (link) “So, what do you think about this? If, let’s say, the Japanese6f36
had  a thriving fiction market for books set in America, with American characters, but those characters followed Japanese social patterns and values, would it bother you?”

She was concerned about Americans imposing their self-made-man philosophies on English historical characters.  Since most of the historical romances I’ve read recently tend to be about dukes and earls, I haven’t seen a lot of the noble boot-strap heroes, but I’ll assume they’re still out there somewhere. 

My concern, however, was the question about imposing the values of other countries and times on historically different cultures, and after I gave it some thought, I don’t think I have a huge problem with it–unless we have Ashlee winking at the duke in 1790 and whispering "c’mon, dude."  I think the intelligent juxtaposition of cultures could be mind broadening, or at least, eye-opening, and this is, after all, is one of the virtues of fiction.  History is history, of course.  If we’re writing romance and not alternative history, then we ought to stick with historical facts where feasible.  But why not experiment with imposing the reader’s culture on the characters of people in another time and country? Wouldn’t it help the reader to better perceive differences by comparing and contrasting?

Besides, it’s not as if fictional people are historical fact, or that we can impose our assumptions of what people were like “back then” on the world as a whole.  My assumption is that—despite Covered_wagon
culture—people are people everywhere.  We can generalize and say the English aristocracy in the Regency were a self-satisfied lot not driven by ambition or interested in exploring new worlds, but that’s not to say there weren’t a few adventurers eager to make their fortunes the old-fashioned way.  And maybe, in general, Americans in the 19th century west were driven people pulling themselves out of poverty through working the land, but who is to say that there weren’t some just as hide bound by generational legacies as the Japanese? 

MysticriderIn fact, I’ve more or less deliberately imposed current events and issues on historical ones with the Mystic Series, then invented an imaginary island to play them out on, so obviously, I don’t have a problem with fooling around with reality. <G>  I think that’s the whole fun of fiction—saying “what if?” 

It’s historical fact that the over-taxed, over-worked bourgeoisie of revolutionary France aided and goaded the destitute and enslaved poor to rebel against the decadent aristocracy. That’s the reality. If I want to create a middle-class heroine who supports the revolution (this is in the beginning, before heads begin to roll), then even though she could be accused of having a modern mind, I’m still sticking with historical reality because  women were some of the major instigators of the revolution.  I give my heroine the same emotions as any woman when part of her family is imprisoned and endangered.  I don’t think I’m imposing my modern beliefs on her when I have her bribe the jailer.  I can assume that most women of the time period would have left the problem to their men, but in this case, my heroine’s father is out of town, so I don’t think I’m going too far outside of reality to have her send the butler out with a bribe.

Of course, I’m hoping by laying down that ground of reality, the reader will buy into the hero from a foreign land who gallops in and tries to save the imprisoned king while rescuing the heroine andCount_von_fersen
reclaiming the sacred cup that my heroine has used as bribe.  I doubt seriously any Frenchman of the  time would have attempted such magical feats—but a Swiss one did attempt to save the king (that’s Count von Fersen on the right).  So, again, there are levels of reality, and I think as long as we’re dealing with human nature, that we have a lot of leeway. And while we may personally perceive a time and place as clinging to a certain structure—as long as people are involved, we cannot say every person within that spectrum would behave the same. And a good story will use those differences to create conflict.

Admittedly, I’m pretty open minded (to the point of having no mind at all sometimes!), but what matters is how readers think since they’re the ones buying the books.  So let’s hear it—how far out on a limb do you think we can go with our characters?  Does a Regency romance character have to adhere to Proposal
Heyer’s view of the world for you to be happy?  Is it outlandish to think an Englishwoman of the late 18th century might admire American freedom if she’s living a confining life?  And doesn’t throwing this kind of kink into a character —forcing them to contemplate something life-changing—create the substance of a story? Or would you prefer simply throwing in an unexpected love interest as world shaking enough?

And because I just received a huge stack of MYSTIC RIDER author copies hot off the presses, and I’m wondering how I’ll get rid of them all, I’ll have Sherrie draw a name from commenters posting before midnight Pacific coast time on Thursday evening.  So, fire away!

225 thoughts on “What If–I’m a rebel?”

  1. I think we have to put reality behind us at every turn. Even reality shows aren’t real. If we dwelled on the “real,” we’d never set foot out the door in total despair. I’m not knocking the wonder of life, but there is so much that is not wonderful. So in historical fiction, anything probably goes, except Ashlee.
    I adore, adore, adore Heyer, but she wrote in the 20th century, far from the time she depicted so marvelously. Who knows what liberties she took. *ducking now from rabid Heyeristas*
    Pat, this post was, as ever, so thought-provoking. I love to wake up to the Wenches!

    Reply
  2. I think we have to put reality behind us at every turn. Even reality shows aren’t real. If we dwelled on the “real,” we’d never set foot out the door in total despair. I’m not knocking the wonder of life, but there is so much that is not wonderful. So in historical fiction, anything probably goes, except Ashlee.
    I adore, adore, adore Heyer, but she wrote in the 20th century, far from the time she depicted so marvelously. Who knows what liberties she took. *ducking now from rabid Heyeristas*
    Pat, this post was, as ever, so thought-provoking. I love to wake up to the Wenches!

    Reply
  3. I think we have to put reality behind us at every turn. Even reality shows aren’t real. If we dwelled on the “real,” we’d never set foot out the door in total despair. I’m not knocking the wonder of life, but there is so much that is not wonderful. So in historical fiction, anything probably goes, except Ashlee.
    I adore, adore, adore Heyer, but she wrote in the 20th century, far from the time she depicted so marvelously. Who knows what liberties she took. *ducking now from rabid Heyeristas*
    Pat, this post was, as ever, so thought-provoking. I love to wake up to the Wenches!

    Reply
  4. I think we have to put reality behind us at every turn. Even reality shows aren’t real. If we dwelled on the “real,” we’d never set foot out the door in total despair. I’m not knocking the wonder of life, but there is so much that is not wonderful. So in historical fiction, anything probably goes, except Ashlee.
    I adore, adore, adore Heyer, but she wrote in the 20th century, far from the time she depicted so marvelously. Who knows what liberties she took. *ducking now from rabid Heyeristas*
    Pat, this post was, as ever, so thought-provoking. I love to wake up to the Wenches!

    Reply
  5. I think we have to put reality behind us at every turn. Even reality shows aren’t real. If we dwelled on the “real,” we’d never set foot out the door in total despair. I’m not knocking the wonder of life, but there is so much that is not wonderful. So in historical fiction, anything probably goes, except Ashlee.
    I adore, adore, adore Heyer, but she wrote in the 20th century, far from the time she depicted so marvelously. Who knows what liberties she took. *ducking now from rabid Heyeristas*
    Pat, this post was, as ever, so thought-provoking. I love to wake up to the Wenches!

    Reply
  6. Pat 🙂
    I don’t think you’re a rebel at all. I think you’re creative enough to build your world of characters within the real world of a specific time period and it works. Sucked me in, anyway 😉 I think if one is writing in a historical setting, the facts as we know them about that time and place should be important to the writer but the characters, the scenarios, the plot, unless based on real people where facts are everything, are fiction. Period. The reader needs to remember that and if the author can build her world within those parameters realistically enough for me to accept and embrace it, that writer has done exactly what she/he set out to do. Given me a story I can happily lose myself in and for a brief time, live in those moments.
    Honestly, if I wanted to read strict, exact history, I have a library full of textbooks. Dry, boring textbooks. I don’t want that. I want to read something that comes alive in my hands.
    You all do that so very well 🙂 Thanks!

    Reply
  7. Pat 🙂
    I don’t think you’re a rebel at all. I think you’re creative enough to build your world of characters within the real world of a specific time period and it works. Sucked me in, anyway 😉 I think if one is writing in a historical setting, the facts as we know them about that time and place should be important to the writer but the characters, the scenarios, the plot, unless based on real people where facts are everything, are fiction. Period. The reader needs to remember that and if the author can build her world within those parameters realistically enough for me to accept and embrace it, that writer has done exactly what she/he set out to do. Given me a story I can happily lose myself in and for a brief time, live in those moments.
    Honestly, if I wanted to read strict, exact history, I have a library full of textbooks. Dry, boring textbooks. I don’t want that. I want to read something that comes alive in my hands.
    You all do that so very well 🙂 Thanks!

    Reply
  8. Pat 🙂
    I don’t think you’re a rebel at all. I think you’re creative enough to build your world of characters within the real world of a specific time period and it works. Sucked me in, anyway 😉 I think if one is writing in a historical setting, the facts as we know them about that time and place should be important to the writer but the characters, the scenarios, the plot, unless based on real people where facts are everything, are fiction. Period. The reader needs to remember that and if the author can build her world within those parameters realistically enough for me to accept and embrace it, that writer has done exactly what she/he set out to do. Given me a story I can happily lose myself in and for a brief time, live in those moments.
    Honestly, if I wanted to read strict, exact history, I have a library full of textbooks. Dry, boring textbooks. I don’t want that. I want to read something that comes alive in my hands.
    You all do that so very well 🙂 Thanks!

    Reply
  9. Pat 🙂
    I don’t think you’re a rebel at all. I think you’re creative enough to build your world of characters within the real world of a specific time period and it works. Sucked me in, anyway 😉 I think if one is writing in a historical setting, the facts as we know them about that time and place should be important to the writer but the characters, the scenarios, the plot, unless based on real people where facts are everything, are fiction. Period. The reader needs to remember that and if the author can build her world within those parameters realistically enough for me to accept and embrace it, that writer has done exactly what she/he set out to do. Given me a story I can happily lose myself in and for a brief time, live in those moments.
    Honestly, if I wanted to read strict, exact history, I have a library full of textbooks. Dry, boring textbooks. I don’t want that. I want to read something that comes alive in my hands.
    You all do that so very well 🙂 Thanks!

    Reply
  10. Pat 🙂
    I don’t think you’re a rebel at all. I think you’re creative enough to build your world of characters within the real world of a specific time period and it works. Sucked me in, anyway 😉 I think if one is writing in a historical setting, the facts as we know them about that time and place should be important to the writer but the characters, the scenarios, the plot, unless based on real people where facts are everything, are fiction. Period. The reader needs to remember that and if the author can build her world within those parameters realistically enough for me to accept and embrace it, that writer has done exactly what she/he set out to do. Given me a story I can happily lose myself in and for a brief time, live in those moments.
    Honestly, if I wanted to read strict, exact history, I have a library full of textbooks. Dry, boring textbooks. I don’t want that. I want to read something that comes alive in my hands.
    You all do that so very well 🙂 Thanks!

    Reply
  11. Hi Pat, Thousands of ordinary people immigrated from England,Ireland, Scotland to seek better lives in the USA and Australia, South Africa! Etc.
    Among them were thousands of women, 2 sisters Catherine and Bridget travelled from Kings County in Ireland in 1853 to Australia, Catherine could read! She married Thomas Henry Miller from Boston,his uncle Samuel Haven owned a Shipping Company.
    Women of that era must have wanted more freedom. To risk their lives traveling thousands of miles in dangerous ships and conditions would have needed strong motives, I think more freedom would have been one of them!
    Cheers Carol.

    Reply
  12. Hi Pat, Thousands of ordinary people immigrated from England,Ireland, Scotland to seek better lives in the USA and Australia, South Africa! Etc.
    Among them were thousands of women, 2 sisters Catherine and Bridget travelled from Kings County in Ireland in 1853 to Australia, Catherine could read! She married Thomas Henry Miller from Boston,his uncle Samuel Haven owned a Shipping Company.
    Women of that era must have wanted more freedom. To risk their lives traveling thousands of miles in dangerous ships and conditions would have needed strong motives, I think more freedom would have been one of them!
    Cheers Carol.

    Reply
  13. Hi Pat, Thousands of ordinary people immigrated from England,Ireland, Scotland to seek better lives in the USA and Australia, South Africa! Etc.
    Among them were thousands of women, 2 sisters Catherine and Bridget travelled from Kings County in Ireland in 1853 to Australia, Catherine could read! She married Thomas Henry Miller from Boston,his uncle Samuel Haven owned a Shipping Company.
    Women of that era must have wanted more freedom. To risk their lives traveling thousands of miles in dangerous ships and conditions would have needed strong motives, I think more freedom would have been one of them!
    Cheers Carol.

    Reply
  14. Hi Pat, Thousands of ordinary people immigrated from England,Ireland, Scotland to seek better lives in the USA and Australia, South Africa! Etc.
    Among them were thousands of women, 2 sisters Catherine and Bridget travelled from Kings County in Ireland in 1853 to Australia, Catherine could read! She married Thomas Henry Miller from Boston,his uncle Samuel Haven owned a Shipping Company.
    Women of that era must have wanted more freedom. To risk their lives traveling thousands of miles in dangerous ships and conditions would have needed strong motives, I think more freedom would have been one of them!
    Cheers Carol.

    Reply
  15. Hi Pat, Thousands of ordinary people immigrated from England,Ireland, Scotland to seek better lives in the USA and Australia, South Africa! Etc.
    Among them were thousands of women, 2 sisters Catherine and Bridget travelled from Kings County in Ireland in 1853 to Australia, Catherine could read! She married Thomas Henry Miller from Boston,his uncle Samuel Haven owned a Shipping Company.
    Women of that era must have wanted more freedom. To risk their lives traveling thousands of miles in dangerous ships and conditions would have needed strong motives, I think more freedom would have been one of them!
    Cheers Carol.

    Reply
  16. The least realistic view, I think, is that women in the past were all docile creatures who accepted the constraints on their actions imposed by law and society. (I suspect the Wife of Bath was far more common than Patient Griselda.) More realistic would be women who acknowledged the constraints and worked around them to do what they needed or wanted to do.
    I only get annoyed when chracters seem to pretend that those constraints do not exist, that a young woman in 1810 could behave like a character from Sex and the City and suffer no consequences.

    Reply
  17. The least realistic view, I think, is that women in the past were all docile creatures who accepted the constraints on their actions imposed by law and society. (I suspect the Wife of Bath was far more common than Patient Griselda.) More realistic would be women who acknowledged the constraints and worked around them to do what they needed or wanted to do.
    I only get annoyed when chracters seem to pretend that those constraints do not exist, that a young woman in 1810 could behave like a character from Sex and the City and suffer no consequences.

    Reply
  18. The least realistic view, I think, is that women in the past were all docile creatures who accepted the constraints on their actions imposed by law and society. (I suspect the Wife of Bath was far more common than Patient Griselda.) More realistic would be women who acknowledged the constraints and worked around them to do what they needed or wanted to do.
    I only get annoyed when chracters seem to pretend that those constraints do not exist, that a young woman in 1810 could behave like a character from Sex and the City and suffer no consequences.

    Reply
  19. The least realistic view, I think, is that women in the past were all docile creatures who accepted the constraints on their actions imposed by law and society. (I suspect the Wife of Bath was far more common than Patient Griselda.) More realistic would be women who acknowledged the constraints and worked around them to do what they needed or wanted to do.
    I only get annoyed when chracters seem to pretend that those constraints do not exist, that a young woman in 1810 could behave like a character from Sex and the City and suffer no consequences.

    Reply
  20. The least realistic view, I think, is that women in the past were all docile creatures who accepted the constraints on their actions imposed by law and society. (I suspect the Wife of Bath was far more common than Patient Griselda.) More realistic would be women who acknowledged the constraints and worked around them to do what they needed or wanted to do.
    I only get annoyed when chracters seem to pretend that those constraints do not exist, that a young woman in 1810 could behave like a character from Sex and the City and suffer no consequences.

    Reply
  21. “But why not experiment with imposing the reader’s culture on the characters of people in another time and country? Wouldn’t it help the reader to better perceive differences by comparing and contrasting?”
    Not if the reader doesn’t realise what’s being done. What you’re proposing is, in effect, a time travel romance, but one in which the characters aren’t explicitly said to be time-travelling. As you say, it could be an interesting way to think about how we, as modern people, might cope in other societies. But if the whole of the fictional society is made up of “time-travelling” characters, then it’s going to end up as little more than modern characters in fancy dress, which wouldn’t “help the reader to better perceive differences by comparing and contrasting” because there wouldn’t be much to compare or contrast the characters with.
    I actually think it’s more difficult and challenging for readers (and authors) to really get inside the mindset of someone from a different society, to try to understand their society the way they’d see it and to appreciate that their belief systems may well have had a great deal of internal consistency. That, I think, challenges the reader in a different way. It challenges the reader to think about her own prejudices and preconceptions, her own mindset, and perhaps helps her understand that, although she may think she is right in the way she perceives the world, others may also have thought they were right in their very different perceptions/interpretations of what is morally correct, what makes life worth living etc.
    “My assumption is that—despite culture—people are people everywhere.”
    Yes, but culture plays a huge part in how we think about ourselves and our place in the world. If you’d been born and lived in the Middle Ages and knew about the theory of the humours, for example, you wouldn’t think of someone as “having depression” (i.e. something external which is a “mental health” problem and which can be treated), but might classify them as “a melancholic” (i.e. this is their natural state). Or you might have been taught that too much sex dries men out (whereas women were thought to be prone to being sexually insatiable). And you might have rather different ideas from a modern American woman about arranged marriage, class structures, public torture and execution etc. And if you lived at a time when very high numbers of women died in childbirth, and lots of children died in infancy, I think that would give you a rather different attitude to pregnancy and motherhood. Living with the constant threat of fatal illness which would be nearly impossible to treat would also give you a rather different perspective on life and death, I think.
    “Is it outlandish to think an Englishwoman of the late 18th century might admire American freedom if she’s living a confining life?”
    But were all American women living a free life? Wouldn’t it have depended on their religious beliefs and social class? And not all 18th-century English women were lacking in freedom. It really depends on how you define “freedom” of course, but Lady Hester Stanhope went travelling, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire was notorious for her gambling, had a lover and was very politically active and there were lots of other English women in that period who didn’t live sedate lives.
    Also, on the issue of freedom, in the 18th-century the song Rule, Britannia! became extremely popular. The last verse identified Britain as the land of freedom:
    The Muses, still with freedom found,
    Shall to thy happy coast repair:
    Blest isle! with matchless beauty crown’d,
    And manly hearts to guard the fair.
    “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
    Britons never will be slaves.”
    I wonder how many people singing that song would have thought of America as the “land of the free”?

    Reply
  22. “But why not experiment with imposing the reader’s culture on the characters of people in another time and country? Wouldn’t it help the reader to better perceive differences by comparing and contrasting?”
    Not if the reader doesn’t realise what’s being done. What you’re proposing is, in effect, a time travel romance, but one in which the characters aren’t explicitly said to be time-travelling. As you say, it could be an interesting way to think about how we, as modern people, might cope in other societies. But if the whole of the fictional society is made up of “time-travelling” characters, then it’s going to end up as little more than modern characters in fancy dress, which wouldn’t “help the reader to better perceive differences by comparing and contrasting” because there wouldn’t be much to compare or contrast the characters with.
    I actually think it’s more difficult and challenging for readers (and authors) to really get inside the mindset of someone from a different society, to try to understand their society the way they’d see it and to appreciate that their belief systems may well have had a great deal of internal consistency. That, I think, challenges the reader in a different way. It challenges the reader to think about her own prejudices and preconceptions, her own mindset, and perhaps helps her understand that, although she may think she is right in the way she perceives the world, others may also have thought they were right in their very different perceptions/interpretations of what is morally correct, what makes life worth living etc.
    “My assumption is that—despite culture—people are people everywhere.”
    Yes, but culture plays a huge part in how we think about ourselves and our place in the world. If you’d been born and lived in the Middle Ages and knew about the theory of the humours, for example, you wouldn’t think of someone as “having depression” (i.e. something external which is a “mental health” problem and which can be treated), but might classify them as “a melancholic” (i.e. this is their natural state). Or you might have been taught that too much sex dries men out (whereas women were thought to be prone to being sexually insatiable). And you might have rather different ideas from a modern American woman about arranged marriage, class structures, public torture and execution etc. And if you lived at a time when very high numbers of women died in childbirth, and lots of children died in infancy, I think that would give you a rather different attitude to pregnancy and motherhood. Living with the constant threat of fatal illness which would be nearly impossible to treat would also give you a rather different perspective on life and death, I think.
    “Is it outlandish to think an Englishwoman of the late 18th century might admire American freedom if she’s living a confining life?”
    But were all American women living a free life? Wouldn’t it have depended on their religious beliefs and social class? And not all 18th-century English women were lacking in freedom. It really depends on how you define “freedom” of course, but Lady Hester Stanhope went travelling, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire was notorious for her gambling, had a lover and was very politically active and there were lots of other English women in that period who didn’t live sedate lives.
    Also, on the issue of freedom, in the 18th-century the song Rule, Britannia! became extremely popular. The last verse identified Britain as the land of freedom:
    The Muses, still with freedom found,
    Shall to thy happy coast repair:
    Blest isle! with matchless beauty crown’d,
    And manly hearts to guard the fair.
    “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
    Britons never will be slaves.”
    I wonder how many people singing that song would have thought of America as the “land of the free”?

    Reply
  23. “But why not experiment with imposing the reader’s culture on the characters of people in another time and country? Wouldn’t it help the reader to better perceive differences by comparing and contrasting?”
    Not if the reader doesn’t realise what’s being done. What you’re proposing is, in effect, a time travel romance, but one in which the characters aren’t explicitly said to be time-travelling. As you say, it could be an interesting way to think about how we, as modern people, might cope in other societies. But if the whole of the fictional society is made up of “time-travelling” characters, then it’s going to end up as little more than modern characters in fancy dress, which wouldn’t “help the reader to better perceive differences by comparing and contrasting” because there wouldn’t be much to compare or contrast the characters with.
    I actually think it’s more difficult and challenging for readers (and authors) to really get inside the mindset of someone from a different society, to try to understand their society the way they’d see it and to appreciate that their belief systems may well have had a great deal of internal consistency. That, I think, challenges the reader in a different way. It challenges the reader to think about her own prejudices and preconceptions, her own mindset, and perhaps helps her understand that, although she may think she is right in the way she perceives the world, others may also have thought they were right in their very different perceptions/interpretations of what is morally correct, what makes life worth living etc.
    “My assumption is that—despite culture—people are people everywhere.”
    Yes, but culture plays a huge part in how we think about ourselves and our place in the world. If you’d been born and lived in the Middle Ages and knew about the theory of the humours, for example, you wouldn’t think of someone as “having depression” (i.e. something external which is a “mental health” problem and which can be treated), but might classify them as “a melancholic” (i.e. this is their natural state). Or you might have been taught that too much sex dries men out (whereas women were thought to be prone to being sexually insatiable). And you might have rather different ideas from a modern American woman about arranged marriage, class structures, public torture and execution etc. And if you lived at a time when very high numbers of women died in childbirth, and lots of children died in infancy, I think that would give you a rather different attitude to pregnancy and motherhood. Living with the constant threat of fatal illness which would be nearly impossible to treat would also give you a rather different perspective on life and death, I think.
    “Is it outlandish to think an Englishwoman of the late 18th century might admire American freedom if she’s living a confining life?”
    But were all American women living a free life? Wouldn’t it have depended on their religious beliefs and social class? And not all 18th-century English women were lacking in freedom. It really depends on how you define “freedom” of course, but Lady Hester Stanhope went travelling, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire was notorious for her gambling, had a lover and was very politically active and there were lots of other English women in that period who didn’t live sedate lives.
    Also, on the issue of freedom, in the 18th-century the song Rule, Britannia! became extremely popular. The last verse identified Britain as the land of freedom:
    The Muses, still with freedom found,
    Shall to thy happy coast repair:
    Blest isle! with matchless beauty crown’d,
    And manly hearts to guard the fair.
    “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
    Britons never will be slaves.”
    I wonder how many people singing that song would have thought of America as the “land of the free”?

    Reply
  24. “But why not experiment with imposing the reader’s culture on the characters of people in another time and country? Wouldn’t it help the reader to better perceive differences by comparing and contrasting?”
    Not if the reader doesn’t realise what’s being done. What you’re proposing is, in effect, a time travel romance, but one in which the characters aren’t explicitly said to be time-travelling. As you say, it could be an interesting way to think about how we, as modern people, might cope in other societies. But if the whole of the fictional society is made up of “time-travelling” characters, then it’s going to end up as little more than modern characters in fancy dress, which wouldn’t “help the reader to better perceive differences by comparing and contrasting” because there wouldn’t be much to compare or contrast the characters with.
    I actually think it’s more difficult and challenging for readers (and authors) to really get inside the mindset of someone from a different society, to try to understand their society the way they’d see it and to appreciate that their belief systems may well have had a great deal of internal consistency. That, I think, challenges the reader in a different way. It challenges the reader to think about her own prejudices and preconceptions, her own mindset, and perhaps helps her understand that, although she may think she is right in the way she perceives the world, others may also have thought they were right in their very different perceptions/interpretations of what is morally correct, what makes life worth living etc.
    “My assumption is that—despite culture—people are people everywhere.”
    Yes, but culture plays a huge part in how we think about ourselves and our place in the world. If you’d been born and lived in the Middle Ages and knew about the theory of the humours, for example, you wouldn’t think of someone as “having depression” (i.e. something external which is a “mental health” problem and which can be treated), but might classify them as “a melancholic” (i.e. this is their natural state). Or you might have been taught that too much sex dries men out (whereas women were thought to be prone to being sexually insatiable). And you might have rather different ideas from a modern American woman about arranged marriage, class structures, public torture and execution etc. And if you lived at a time when very high numbers of women died in childbirth, and lots of children died in infancy, I think that would give you a rather different attitude to pregnancy and motherhood. Living with the constant threat of fatal illness which would be nearly impossible to treat would also give you a rather different perspective on life and death, I think.
    “Is it outlandish to think an Englishwoman of the late 18th century might admire American freedom if she’s living a confining life?”
    But were all American women living a free life? Wouldn’t it have depended on their religious beliefs and social class? And not all 18th-century English women were lacking in freedom. It really depends on how you define “freedom” of course, but Lady Hester Stanhope went travelling, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire was notorious for her gambling, had a lover and was very politically active and there were lots of other English women in that period who didn’t live sedate lives.
    Also, on the issue of freedom, in the 18th-century the song Rule, Britannia! became extremely popular. The last verse identified Britain as the land of freedom:
    The Muses, still with freedom found,
    Shall to thy happy coast repair:
    Blest isle! with matchless beauty crown’d,
    And manly hearts to guard the fair.
    “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
    Britons never will be slaves.”
    I wonder how many people singing that song would have thought of America as the “land of the free”?

    Reply
  25. “But why not experiment with imposing the reader’s culture on the characters of people in another time and country? Wouldn’t it help the reader to better perceive differences by comparing and contrasting?”
    Not if the reader doesn’t realise what’s being done. What you’re proposing is, in effect, a time travel romance, but one in which the characters aren’t explicitly said to be time-travelling. As you say, it could be an interesting way to think about how we, as modern people, might cope in other societies. But if the whole of the fictional society is made up of “time-travelling” characters, then it’s going to end up as little more than modern characters in fancy dress, which wouldn’t “help the reader to better perceive differences by comparing and contrasting” because there wouldn’t be much to compare or contrast the characters with.
    I actually think it’s more difficult and challenging for readers (and authors) to really get inside the mindset of someone from a different society, to try to understand their society the way they’d see it and to appreciate that their belief systems may well have had a great deal of internal consistency. That, I think, challenges the reader in a different way. It challenges the reader to think about her own prejudices and preconceptions, her own mindset, and perhaps helps her understand that, although she may think she is right in the way she perceives the world, others may also have thought they were right in their very different perceptions/interpretations of what is morally correct, what makes life worth living etc.
    “My assumption is that—despite culture—people are people everywhere.”
    Yes, but culture plays a huge part in how we think about ourselves and our place in the world. If you’d been born and lived in the Middle Ages and knew about the theory of the humours, for example, you wouldn’t think of someone as “having depression” (i.e. something external which is a “mental health” problem and which can be treated), but might classify them as “a melancholic” (i.e. this is their natural state). Or you might have been taught that too much sex dries men out (whereas women were thought to be prone to being sexually insatiable). And you might have rather different ideas from a modern American woman about arranged marriage, class structures, public torture and execution etc. And if you lived at a time when very high numbers of women died in childbirth, and lots of children died in infancy, I think that would give you a rather different attitude to pregnancy and motherhood. Living with the constant threat of fatal illness which would be nearly impossible to treat would also give you a rather different perspective on life and death, I think.
    “Is it outlandish to think an Englishwoman of the late 18th century might admire American freedom if she’s living a confining life?”
    But were all American women living a free life? Wouldn’t it have depended on their religious beliefs and social class? And not all 18th-century English women were lacking in freedom. It really depends on how you define “freedom” of course, but Lady Hester Stanhope went travelling, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire was notorious for her gambling, had a lover and was very politically active and there were lots of other English women in that period who didn’t live sedate lives.
    Also, on the issue of freedom, in the 18th-century the song Rule, Britannia! became extremely popular. The last verse identified Britain as the land of freedom:
    The Muses, still with freedom found,
    Shall to thy happy coast repair:
    Blest isle! with matchless beauty crown’d,
    And manly hearts to guard the fair.
    “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
    Britons never will be slaves.”
    I wonder how many people singing that song would have thought of America as the “land of the free”?

    Reply
  26. For me, I try to make my characters as “English” (or French, or upper-class New York, depending on the setting–and depending on their social background) as possible because the conflict is automatically rendered superficial if say, that British earl doesn’t view life through his position of extraordinary privilege. I sometimes feel the imposing of middle-class American values on upper-class/aristocratic characters devalues their very status. Just write books about comfortably wealthy middle-class people.

    Reply
  27. For me, I try to make my characters as “English” (or French, or upper-class New York, depending on the setting–and depending on their social background) as possible because the conflict is automatically rendered superficial if say, that British earl doesn’t view life through his position of extraordinary privilege. I sometimes feel the imposing of middle-class American values on upper-class/aristocratic characters devalues their very status. Just write books about comfortably wealthy middle-class people.

    Reply
  28. For me, I try to make my characters as “English” (or French, or upper-class New York, depending on the setting–and depending on their social background) as possible because the conflict is automatically rendered superficial if say, that British earl doesn’t view life through his position of extraordinary privilege. I sometimes feel the imposing of middle-class American values on upper-class/aristocratic characters devalues their very status. Just write books about comfortably wealthy middle-class people.

    Reply
  29. For me, I try to make my characters as “English” (or French, or upper-class New York, depending on the setting–and depending on their social background) as possible because the conflict is automatically rendered superficial if say, that British earl doesn’t view life through his position of extraordinary privilege. I sometimes feel the imposing of middle-class American values on upper-class/aristocratic characters devalues their very status. Just write books about comfortably wealthy middle-class people.

    Reply
  30. For me, I try to make my characters as “English” (or French, or upper-class New York, depending on the setting–and depending on their social background) as possible because the conflict is automatically rendered superficial if say, that British earl doesn’t view life through his position of extraordinary privilege. I sometimes feel the imposing of middle-class American values on upper-class/aristocratic characters devalues their very status. Just write books about comfortably wealthy middle-class people.

    Reply
  31. Humm…interesting questions. As I reader I would like to think I am pretty much open to anything as long as it is convincing and well written (even though there is a limit and as a historian there are a few things I just can’t take.) I’d like to quote as example a recent release To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt where the heroine falls in love with an eccentric American in late 18th century. I read many reviewers address the fact that they disliked the heroine because of her very English/Posh views about the “colonials” but to me, that sounded so very real and historically accurate. Another good example of a sheltered heroine that comes across a life changing situation is The Duke of Shadows. The first part of the book is set in India during the Indian revolt of 1857 and she is caught up in the violence of everything and that changes her views of the world completely. It is an amazing romance novel , quite heavy but still very romantic.
    So yes, I like realistic novels but I can also very much enjoy the stories where the unexpected love interest is enough to make the world shake! Julia Quinn’s newest is a perfect example of a light, fluff novel. Thoroughly satisfying.

    Reply
  32. Humm…interesting questions. As I reader I would like to think I am pretty much open to anything as long as it is convincing and well written (even though there is a limit and as a historian there are a few things I just can’t take.) I’d like to quote as example a recent release To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt where the heroine falls in love with an eccentric American in late 18th century. I read many reviewers address the fact that they disliked the heroine because of her very English/Posh views about the “colonials” but to me, that sounded so very real and historically accurate. Another good example of a sheltered heroine that comes across a life changing situation is The Duke of Shadows. The first part of the book is set in India during the Indian revolt of 1857 and she is caught up in the violence of everything and that changes her views of the world completely. It is an amazing romance novel , quite heavy but still very romantic.
    So yes, I like realistic novels but I can also very much enjoy the stories where the unexpected love interest is enough to make the world shake! Julia Quinn’s newest is a perfect example of a light, fluff novel. Thoroughly satisfying.

    Reply
  33. Humm…interesting questions. As I reader I would like to think I am pretty much open to anything as long as it is convincing and well written (even though there is a limit and as a historian there are a few things I just can’t take.) I’d like to quote as example a recent release To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt where the heroine falls in love with an eccentric American in late 18th century. I read many reviewers address the fact that they disliked the heroine because of her very English/Posh views about the “colonials” but to me, that sounded so very real and historically accurate. Another good example of a sheltered heroine that comes across a life changing situation is The Duke of Shadows. The first part of the book is set in India during the Indian revolt of 1857 and she is caught up in the violence of everything and that changes her views of the world completely. It is an amazing romance novel , quite heavy but still very romantic.
    So yes, I like realistic novels but I can also very much enjoy the stories where the unexpected love interest is enough to make the world shake! Julia Quinn’s newest is a perfect example of a light, fluff novel. Thoroughly satisfying.

    Reply
  34. Humm…interesting questions. As I reader I would like to think I am pretty much open to anything as long as it is convincing and well written (even though there is a limit and as a historian there are a few things I just can’t take.) I’d like to quote as example a recent release To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt where the heroine falls in love with an eccentric American in late 18th century. I read many reviewers address the fact that they disliked the heroine because of her very English/Posh views about the “colonials” but to me, that sounded so very real and historically accurate. Another good example of a sheltered heroine that comes across a life changing situation is The Duke of Shadows. The first part of the book is set in India during the Indian revolt of 1857 and she is caught up in the violence of everything and that changes her views of the world completely. It is an amazing romance novel , quite heavy but still very romantic.
    So yes, I like realistic novels but I can also very much enjoy the stories where the unexpected love interest is enough to make the world shake! Julia Quinn’s newest is a perfect example of a light, fluff novel. Thoroughly satisfying.

    Reply
  35. Humm…interesting questions. As I reader I would like to think I am pretty much open to anything as long as it is convincing and well written (even though there is a limit and as a historian there are a few things I just can’t take.) I’d like to quote as example a recent release To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt where the heroine falls in love with an eccentric American in late 18th century. I read many reviewers address the fact that they disliked the heroine because of her very English/Posh views about the “colonials” but to me, that sounded so very real and historically accurate. Another good example of a sheltered heroine that comes across a life changing situation is The Duke of Shadows. The first part of the book is set in India during the Indian revolt of 1857 and she is caught up in the violence of everything and that changes her views of the world completely. It is an amazing romance novel , quite heavy but still very romantic.
    So yes, I like realistic novels but I can also very much enjoy the stories where the unexpected love interest is enough to make the world shake! Julia Quinn’s newest is a perfect example of a light, fluff novel. Thoroughly satisfying.

    Reply
  36. As long as I understand why the characters are going far out on a limb – I have an idea of their motivation (or at least trust there is a good reason if it has to be cryptic for storytelling reasons) – I’ll happily go along for the ride.
    Re: Does a Regency character have to follow Heyer’s rules?
    While I’ve not read much Heyer (perhaps one or two), I do think there is a general, accepted Regency world in most romance novels. I’d like to think that I’m openminded to accept a good story that doesn’t completely accept that whole world – but I do wonder if somehow I find those stories a bit offputting at some level.
    For example, I love Madeline Hunter, but it took me awhile to warm up to her 19th-century-set stories. They were “close” to the Regency in time, but they never had that “regency feel” that I was used to in the majority of the historical romances I read.
    I hesitated to say the above because I want to support variety in historical romance. I can think of regency-set stories that did not feel like a typical regency novel, and I still really enjoyed them.

    Reply
  37. As long as I understand why the characters are going far out on a limb – I have an idea of their motivation (or at least trust there is a good reason if it has to be cryptic for storytelling reasons) – I’ll happily go along for the ride.
    Re: Does a Regency character have to follow Heyer’s rules?
    While I’ve not read much Heyer (perhaps one or two), I do think there is a general, accepted Regency world in most romance novels. I’d like to think that I’m openminded to accept a good story that doesn’t completely accept that whole world – but I do wonder if somehow I find those stories a bit offputting at some level.
    For example, I love Madeline Hunter, but it took me awhile to warm up to her 19th-century-set stories. They were “close” to the Regency in time, but they never had that “regency feel” that I was used to in the majority of the historical romances I read.
    I hesitated to say the above because I want to support variety in historical romance. I can think of regency-set stories that did not feel like a typical regency novel, and I still really enjoyed them.

    Reply
  38. As long as I understand why the characters are going far out on a limb – I have an idea of their motivation (or at least trust there is a good reason if it has to be cryptic for storytelling reasons) – I’ll happily go along for the ride.
    Re: Does a Regency character have to follow Heyer’s rules?
    While I’ve not read much Heyer (perhaps one or two), I do think there is a general, accepted Regency world in most romance novels. I’d like to think that I’m openminded to accept a good story that doesn’t completely accept that whole world – but I do wonder if somehow I find those stories a bit offputting at some level.
    For example, I love Madeline Hunter, but it took me awhile to warm up to her 19th-century-set stories. They were “close” to the Regency in time, but they never had that “regency feel” that I was used to in the majority of the historical romances I read.
    I hesitated to say the above because I want to support variety in historical romance. I can think of regency-set stories that did not feel like a typical regency novel, and I still really enjoyed them.

    Reply
  39. As long as I understand why the characters are going far out on a limb – I have an idea of their motivation (or at least trust there is a good reason if it has to be cryptic for storytelling reasons) – I’ll happily go along for the ride.
    Re: Does a Regency character have to follow Heyer’s rules?
    While I’ve not read much Heyer (perhaps one or two), I do think there is a general, accepted Regency world in most romance novels. I’d like to think that I’m openminded to accept a good story that doesn’t completely accept that whole world – but I do wonder if somehow I find those stories a bit offputting at some level.
    For example, I love Madeline Hunter, but it took me awhile to warm up to her 19th-century-set stories. They were “close” to the Regency in time, but they never had that “regency feel” that I was used to in the majority of the historical romances I read.
    I hesitated to say the above because I want to support variety in historical romance. I can think of regency-set stories that did not feel like a typical regency novel, and I still really enjoyed them.

    Reply
  40. As long as I understand why the characters are going far out on a limb – I have an idea of their motivation (or at least trust there is a good reason if it has to be cryptic for storytelling reasons) – I’ll happily go along for the ride.
    Re: Does a Regency character have to follow Heyer’s rules?
    While I’ve not read much Heyer (perhaps one or two), I do think there is a general, accepted Regency world in most romance novels. I’d like to think that I’m openminded to accept a good story that doesn’t completely accept that whole world – but I do wonder if somehow I find those stories a bit offputting at some level.
    For example, I love Madeline Hunter, but it took me awhile to warm up to her 19th-century-set stories. They were “close” to the Regency in time, but they never had that “regency feel” that I was used to in the majority of the historical romances I read.
    I hesitated to say the above because I want to support variety in historical romance. I can think of regency-set stories that did not feel like a typical regency novel, and I still really enjoyed them.

    Reply
  41. As always, our readers present so many cogent arguments that I wish we could sit down in a big room and discuss them. I actually agree with everything said, and I’m really not being a mental lightweight when I say that. I would like to argue a few points but it would take another column or two. “G”
    I completely agree that an author cannot ignore the factual restraints of history. (No Ashlees dissing the king, please!) And I suspect the great majority of any population will be happy with the status quo and believe whatever propaganda they’ve been fed or believe there’s little they can do to change things.
    But if the author acknowledges the rules, shows how the character breaks them, then shows the result, wouldn’t that work?
    And Michelle, I think you may be addressing a matter of “voice.” Can’t say for certain but Madeline has what I can only call a “heavy” voice well suited for detailed historicals. Whereas most Regency readers were brought up on the light, witty banter of early category Regencies. Even Austen keeps her voice light except when catastrophe strikes. So we expect Regencies to flow frothily, as it were. “G”
    Laura, I’m certainly not arguing the use of correct language to reflect the historical era. I think I was just musing on attitude and philosophy. And you’re right that–done well–forcing a character to stay within the philosophy of a time period opens the reader’s eyes to the limitations of that time period. But there were always people who thought outside those boundaries, and showing how they came to be that way and how it changes the world around them can also change perspectives. It’s All Good!

    Reply
  42. As always, our readers present so many cogent arguments that I wish we could sit down in a big room and discuss them. I actually agree with everything said, and I’m really not being a mental lightweight when I say that. I would like to argue a few points but it would take another column or two. “G”
    I completely agree that an author cannot ignore the factual restraints of history. (No Ashlees dissing the king, please!) And I suspect the great majority of any population will be happy with the status quo and believe whatever propaganda they’ve been fed or believe there’s little they can do to change things.
    But if the author acknowledges the rules, shows how the character breaks them, then shows the result, wouldn’t that work?
    And Michelle, I think you may be addressing a matter of “voice.” Can’t say for certain but Madeline has what I can only call a “heavy” voice well suited for detailed historicals. Whereas most Regency readers were brought up on the light, witty banter of early category Regencies. Even Austen keeps her voice light except when catastrophe strikes. So we expect Regencies to flow frothily, as it were. “G”
    Laura, I’m certainly not arguing the use of correct language to reflect the historical era. I think I was just musing on attitude and philosophy. And you’re right that–done well–forcing a character to stay within the philosophy of a time period opens the reader’s eyes to the limitations of that time period. But there were always people who thought outside those boundaries, and showing how they came to be that way and how it changes the world around them can also change perspectives. It’s All Good!

    Reply
  43. As always, our readers present so many cogent arguments that I wish we could sit down in a big room and discuss them. I actually agree with everything said, and I’m really not being a mental lightweight when I say that. I would like to argue a few points but it would take another column or two. “G”
    I completely agree that an author cannot ignore the factual restraints of history. (No Ashlees dissing the king, please!) And I suspect the great majority of any population will be happy with the status quo and believe whatever propaganda they’ve been fed or believe there’s little they can do to change things.
    But if the author acknowledges the rules, shows how the character breaks them, then shows the result, wouldn’t that work?
    And Michelle, I think you may be addressing a matter of “voice.” Can’t say for certain but Madeline has what I can only call a “heavy” voice well suited for detailed historicals. Whereas most Regency readers were brought up on the light, witty banter of early category Regencies. Even Austen keeps her voice light except when catastrophe strikes. So we expect Regencies to flow frothily, as it were. “G”
    Laura, I’m certainly not arguing the use of correct language to reflect the historical era. I think I was just musing on attitude and philosophy. And you’re right that–done well–forcing a character to stay within the philosophy of a time period opens the reader’s eyes to the limitations of that time period. But there were always people who thought outside those boundaries, and showing how they came to be that way and how it changes the world around them can also change perspectives. It’s All Good!

    Reply
  44. As always, our readers present so many cogent arguments that I wish we could sit down in a big room and discuss them. I actually agree with everything said, and I’m really not being a mental lightweight when I say that. I would like to argue a few points but it would take another column or two. “G”
    I completely agree that an author cannot ignore the factual restraints of history. (No Ashlees dissing the king, please!) And I suspect the great majority of any population will be happy with the status quo and believe whatever propaganda they’ve been fed or believe there’s little they can do to change things.
    But if the author acknowledges the rules, shows how the character breaks them, then shows the result, wouldn’t that work?
    And Michelle, I think you may be addressing a matter of “voice.” Can’t say for certain but Madeline has what I can only call a “heavy” voice well suited for detailed historicals. Whereas most Regency readers were brought up on the light, witty banter of early category Regencies. Even Austen keeps her voice light except when catastrophe strikes. So we expect Regencies to flow frothily, as it were. “G”
    Laura, I’m certainly not arguing the use of correct language to reflect the historical era. I think I was just musing on attitude and philosophy. And you’re right that–done well–forcing a character to stay within the philosophy of a time period opens the reader’s eyes to the limitations of that time period. But there were always people who thought outside those boundaries, and showing how they came to be that way and how it changes the world around them can also change perspectives. It’s All Good!

    Reply
  45. As always, our readers present so many cogent arguments that I wish we could sit down in a big room and discuss them. I actually agree with everything said, and I’m really not being a mental lightweight when I say that. I would like to argue a few points but it would take another column or two. “G”
    I completely agree that an author cannot ignore the factual restraints of history. (No Ashlees dissing the king, please!) And I suspect the great majority of any population will be happy with the status quo and believe whatever propaganda they’ve been fed or believe there’s little they can do to change things.
    But if the author acknowledges the rules, shows how the character breaks them, then shows the result, wouldn’t that work?
    And Michelle, I think you may be addressing a matter of “voice.” Can’t say for certain but Madeline has what I can only call a “heavy” voice well suited for detailed historicals. Whereas most Regency readers were brought up on the light, witty banter of early category Regencies. Even Austen keeps her voice light except when catastrophe strikes. So we expect Regencies to flow frothily, as it were. “G”
    Laura, I’m certainly not arguing the use of correct language to reflect the historical era. I think I was just musing on attitude and philosophy. And you’re right that–done well–forcing a character to stay within the philosophy of a time period opens the reader’s eyes to the limitations of that time period. But there were always people who thought outside those boundaries, and showing how they came to be that way and how it changes the world around them can also change perspectives. It’s All Good!

    Reply
  46. Very thought-provoking post! I think that I am fairly open-minded and accepting as I read a book as long as the plot and characters are convincing. I read to be entertained, not to have a lesson in history. So if a story sways a little from actual historical events and customs that is OK with me.

    Reply
  47. Very thought-provoking post! I think that I am fairly open-minded and accepting as I read a book as long as the plot and characters are convincing. I read to be entertained, not to have a lesson in history. So if a story sways a little from actual historical events and customs that is OK with me.

    Reply
  48. Very thought-provoking post! I think that I am fairly open-minded and accepting as I read a book as long as the plot and characters are convincing. I read to be entertained, not to have a lesson in history. So if a story sways a little from actual historical events and customs that is OK with me.

    Reply
  49. Very thought-provoking post! I think that I am fairly open-minded and accepting as I read a book as long as the plot and characters are convincing. I read to be entertained, not to have a lesson in history. So if a story sways a little from actual historical events and customs that is OK with me.

    Reply
  50. Very thought-provoking post! I think that I am fairly open-minded and accepting as I read a book as long as the plot and characters are convincing. I read to be entertained, not to have a lesson in history. So if a story sways a little from actual historical events and customs that is OK with me.

    Reply
  51. I say it’s FICTION people! You can have characters doing whatever you want them to and as long as you make it interesting, I’m hooked! I think most folks reading these days are looking to escape the bleakness of their lives, so get them hooked on a good story and poof, it doesn’t matter if the Japanese Geisha girl is sassy! 🙂 Just my opinion – I’m not a literary critic by any means.

    Reply
  52. I say it’s FICTION people! You can have characters doing whatever you want them to and as long as you make it interesting, I’m hooked! I think most folks reading these days are looking to escape the bleakness of their lives, so get them hooked on a good story and poof, it doesn’t matter if the Japanese Geisha girl is sassy! 🙂 Just my opinion – I’m not a literary critic by any means.

    Reply
  53. I say it’s FICTION people! You can have characters doing whatever you want them to and as long as you make it interesting, I’m hooked! I think most folks reading these days are looking to escape the bleakness of their lives, so get them hooked on a good story and poof, it doesn’t matter if the Japanese Geisha girl is sassy! 🙂 Just my opinion – I’m not a literary critic by any means.

    Reply
  54. I say it’s FICTION people! You can have characters doing whatever you want them to and as long as you make it interesting, I’m hooked! I think most folks reading these days are looking to escape the bleakness of their lives, so get them hooked on a good story and poof, it doesn’t matter if the Japanese Geisha girl is sassy! 🙂 Just my opinion – I’m not a literary critic by any means.

    Reply
  55. I say it’s FICTION people! You can have characters doing whatever you want them to and as long as you make it interesting, I’m hooked! I think most folks reading these days are looking to escape the bleakness of their lives, so get them hooked on a good story and poof, it doesn’t matter if the Japanese Geisha girl is sassy! 🙂 Just my opinion – I’m not a literary critic by any means.

    Reply
  56. As long as the characters seem to fit the story and plot then I don’t think about their accuracy for the time they are set in. What bothers me is when a character doesn’t work and then maybe it’s because they don’t really belong in that setting.

    Reply
  57. As long as the characters seem to fit the story and plot then I don’t think about their accuracy for the time they are set in. What bothers me is when a character doesn’t work and then maybe it’s because they don’t really belong in that setting.

    Reply
  58. As long as the characters seem to fit the story and plot then I don’t think about their accuracy for the time they are set in. What bothers me is when a character doesn’t work and then maybe it’s because they don’t really belong in that setting.

    Reply
  59. As long as the characters seem to fit the story and plot then I don’t think about their accuracy for the time they are set in. What bothers me is when a character doesn’t work and then maybe it’s because they don’t really belong in that setting.

    Reply
  60. As long as the characters seem to fit the story and plot then I don’t think about their accuracy for the time they are set in. What bothers me is when a character doesn’t work and then maybe it’s because they don’t really belong in that setting.

    Reply
  61. ooo, lots of rebels trampling on hallowed fields today! Of course, Becky, now you leave me wondering if satisfied people prefer historical accuracy and people with bleak lives simply want escape. “G” Could be a whole ‘nuther discussion there.
    I think Maureen may have a point. We can stretch our characters slightly outside their comfortable boundaries, but if we push them too far, we stretch credulity too far. Good thought.

    Reply
  62. ooo, lots of rebels trampling on hallowed fields today! Of course, Becky, now you leave me wondering if satisfied people prefer historical accuracy and people with bleak lives simply want escape. “G” Could be a whole ‘nuther discussion there.
    I think Maureen may have a point. We can stretch our characters slightly outside their comfortable boundaries, but if we push them too far, we stretch credulity too far. Good thought.

    Reply
  63. ooo, lots of rebels trampling on hallowed fields today! Of course, Becky, now you leave me wondering if satisfied people prefer historical accuracy and people with bleak lives simply want escape. “G” Could be a whole ‘nuther discussion there.
    I think Maureen may have a point. We can stretch our characters slightly outside their comfortable boundaries, but if we push them too far, we stretch credulity too far. Good thought.

    Reply
  64. ooo, lots of rebels trampling on hallowed fields today! Of course, Becky, now you leave me wondering if satisfied people prefer historical accuracy and people with bleak lives simply want escape. “G” Could be a whole ‘nuther discussion there.
    I think Maureen may have a point. We can stretch our characters slightly outside their comfortable boundaries, but if we push them too far, we stretch credulity too far. Good thought.

    Reply
  65. ooo, lots of rebels trampling on hallowed fields today! Of course, Becky, now you leave me wondering if satisfied people prefer historical accuracy and people with bleak lives simply want escape. “G” Could be a whole ‘nuther discussion there.
    I think Maureen may have a point. We can stretch our characters slightly outside their comfortable boundaries, but if we push them too far, we stretch credulity too far. Good thought.

    Reply
  66. Tal, that would be great, but before we go I really need to take off this pesky bodice and put on the pair of the stable boy’s breeches and shirt that I borrowed from him earlier.

    Reply
  67. Tal, that would be great, but before we go I really need to take off this pesky bodice and put on the pair of the stable boy’s breeches and shirt that I borrowed from him earlier.

    Reply
  68. Tal, that would be great, but before we go I really need to take off this pesky bodice and put on the pair of the stable boy’s breeches and shirt that I borrowed from him earlier.

    Reply
  69. Tal, that would be great, but before we go I really need to take off this pesky bodice and put on the pair of the stable boy’s breeches and shirt that I borrowed from him earlier.

    Reply
  70. Tal, that would be great, but before we go I really need to take off this pesky bodice and put on the pair of the stable boy’s breeches and shirt that I borrowed from him earlier.

    Reply
  71. +JMJ+
    Pat, I find that it only really bothers me when I think I hear the author grinding a modern political axe in the background. For instance, one of the female characters in Ken Follet’s “Pillars of the Earth” is such a modern-day feminist that I couldn’t believe that so few people were calling Follet out for it.
    Another Historical that’s a good example of that is “Crossed” by Nicole Something-or-other. At least she admitted in her Author’s Note that she thought the Fourth Crusade made a great parallel to what is currently happening between Western powers and the Middle East, and that the message of her novel for modern readers is, “Leave God out of it.” For me, that just makes it a novel-length, thinly-disguised allegory.
    I remember being really nervous while reading Jo’s “Lord of Midnight”, which has the heroine’s father proving his charge against the king on his own body. It’s very easy for us post-Enlightenment readers to roll our eyes at the idea that God will take sides in a duel to the death, just to decide a political point, but that was not how the Medievals thought. So I was incredibly relieved at how Jo resolved that without making the characters bounce seven hundred years forward in time! =)

    Reply
  72. +JMJ+
    Pat, I find that it only really bothers me when I think I hear the author grinding a modern political axe in the background. For instance, one of the female characters in Ken Follet’s “Pillars of the Earth” is such a modern-day feminist that I couldn’t believe that so few people were calling Follet out for it.
    Another Historical that’s a good example of that is “Crossed” by Nicole Something-or-other. At least she admitted in her Author’s Note that she thought the Fourth Crusade made a great parallel to what is currently happening between Western powers and the Middle East, and that the message of her novel for modern readers is, “Leave God out of it.” For me, that just makes it a novel-length, thinly-disguised allegory.
    I remember being really nervous while reading Jo’s “Lord of Midnight”, which has the heroine’s father proving his charge against the king on his own body. It’s very easy for us post-Enlightenment readers to roll our eyes at the idea that God will take sides in a duel to the death, just to decide a political point, but that was not how the Medievals thought. So I was incredibly relieved at how Jo resolved that without making the characters bounce seven hundred years forward in time! =)

    Reply
  73. +JMJ+
    Pat, I find that it only really bothers me when I think I hear the author grinding a modern political axe in the background. For instance, one of the female characters in Ken Follet’s “Pillars of the Earth” is such a modern-day feminist that I couldn’t believe that so few people were calling Follet out for it.
    Another Historical that’s a good example of that is “Crossed” by Nicole Something-or-other. At least she admitted in her Author’s Note that she thought the Fourth Crusade made a great parallel to what is currently happening between Western powers and the Middle East, and that the message of her novel for modern readers is, “Leave God out of it.” For me, that just makes it a novel-length, thinly-disguised allegory.
    I remember being really nervous while reading Jo’s “Lord of Midnight”, which has the heroine’s father proving his charge against the king on his own body. It’s very easy for us post-Enlightenment readers to roll our eyes at the idea that God will take sides in a duel to the death, just to decide a political point, but that was not how the Medievals thought. So I was incredibly relieved at how Jo resolved that without making the characters bounce seven hundred years forward in time! =)

    Reply
  74. +JMJ+
    Pat, I find that it only really bothers me when I think I hear the author grinding a modern political axe in the background. For instance, one of the female characters in Ken Follet’s “Pillars of the Earth” is such a modern-day feminist that I couldn’t believe that so few people were calling Follet out for it.
    Another Historical that’s a good example of that is “Crossed” by Nicole Something-or-other. At least she admitted in her Author’s Note that she thought the Fourth Crusade made a great parallel to what is currently happening between Western powers and the Middle East, and that the message of her novel for modern readers is, “Leave God out of it.” For me, that just makes it a novel-length, thinly-disguised allegory.
    I remember being really nervous while reading Jo’s “Lord of Midnight”, which has the heroine’s father proving his charge against the king on his own body. It’s very easy for us post-Enlightenment readers to roll our eyes at the idea that God will take sides in a duel to the death, just to decide a political point, but that was not how the Medievals thought. So I was incredibly relieved at how Jo resolved that without making the characters bounce seven hundred years forward in time! =)

    Reply
  75. +JMJ+
    Pat, I find that it only really bothers me when I think I hear the author grinding a modern political axe in the background. For instance, one of the female characters in Ken Follet’s “Pillars of the Earth” is such a modern-day feminist that I couldn’t believe that so few people were calling Follet out for it.
    Another Historical that’s a good example of that is “Crossed” by Nicole Something-or-other. At least she admitted in her Author’s Note that she thought the Fourth Crusade made a great parallel to what is currently happening between Western powers and the Middle East, and that the message of her novel for modern readers is, “Leave God out of it.” For me, that just makes it a novel-length, thinly-disguised allegory.
    I remember being really nervous while reading Jo’s “Lord of Midnight”, which has the heroine’s father proving his charge against the king on his own body. It’s very easy for us post-Enlightenment readers to roll our eyes at the idea that God will take sides in a duel to the death, just to decide a political point, but that was not how the Medievals thought. So I was incredibly relieved at how Jo resolved that without making the characters bounce seven hundred years forward in time! =)

    Reply
  76. I understand romance readers don’t like allegory (as does Jo!). But there are similarities in history that can be used without forcing characters out of time and place. Most readers won’t even notice the parallel, but if they get something out of the history, that’s all good, isn’t it? The whole point of using historical fact would be so we could learn our history, and why shouldn’t we learn how history effects us?
    Now preaching…don’t get me started!

    Reply
  77. I understand romance readers don’t like allegory (as does Jo!). But there are similarities in history that can be used without forcing characters out of time and place. Most readers won’t even notice the parallel, but if they get something out of the history, that’s all good, isn’t it? The whole point of using historical fact would be so we could learn our history, and why shouldn’t we learn how history effects us?
    Now preaching…don’t get me started!

    Reply
  78. I understand romance readers don’t like allegory (as does Jo!). But there are similarities in history that can be used without forcing characters out of time and place. Most readers won’t even notice the parallel, but if they get something out of the history, that’s all good, isn’t it? The whole point of using historical fact would be so we could learn our history, and why shouldn’t we learn how history effects us?
    Now preaching…don’t get me started!

    Reply
  79. I understand romance readers don’t like allegory (as does Jo!). But there are similarities in history that can be used without forcing characters out of time and place. Most readers won’t even notice the parallel, but if they get something out of the history, that’s all good, isn’t it? The whole point of using historical fact would be so we could learn our history, and why shouldn’t we learn how history effects us?
    Now preaching…don’t get me started!

    Reply
  80. I understand romance readers don’t like allegory (as does Jo!). But there are similarities in history that can be used without forcing characters out of time and place. Most readers won’t even notice the parallel, but if they get something out of the history, that’s all good, isn’t it? The whole point of using historical fact would be so we could learn our history, and why shouldn’t we learn how history effects us?
    Now preaching…don’t get me started!

    Reply
  81. I think Laura brings up some valid points and if I were taking a class on romance, I might very well pay absolute attention to those points.
    But when I read a romance novel, I want to be so caught up in it that I’m left breathless at the end. If I’m so concerned about every little snippet of the historical aspect of the story, if I cannot believe because the character is so well written that he/she really *could* step outside those social/political/economic boundaries to strive for something better, regardless of that goal, if I can’t see past those boundaries to the characters themselves, then the author has not written the characters with enough depth to make me ‘believe’ they could have existed somewhere in times past nor will she/he keep my interest so that the book falls by the wayside.
    I’ve read the occasional romance novel when the Hn wears the stable boy’s clothing and for a legitimate reason. I can’t imagine that no woman during earlier times didn’t want to try on a pair of breeches or wish they had the freedom alloted when wearing them.
    Though I’m not ‘old’, I remember wearing jeans at a time when there was no such thing as ‘women’s’ jeans. If I chose to wear them, the only choices I had were men’s. Built for a man, by a man, with none of the curves or flattering butt lifts so many have these days. I still wore them. Rebel? Maybe, but then, my lifestyle was not the cute dresses and patent leather shoes.
    Why does the fictional character need to be so very different from that? There are no absolutes in life, be it the 21st century or the 17th century. If an author is going to write characters that suck us in, they need to be as ‘human’ as possible and that includes all the idiosyncrasies that have been a part of humanity for eons…

    Reply
  82. I think Laura brings up some valid points and if I were taking a class on romance, I might very well pay absolute attention to those points.
    But when I read a romance novel, I want to be so caught up in it that I’m left breathless at the end. If I’m so concerned about every little snippet of the historical aspect of the story, if I cannot believe because the character is so well written that he/she really *could* step outside those social/political/economic boundaries to strive for something better, regardless of that goal, if I can’t see past those boundaries to the characters themselves, then the author has not written the characters with enough depth to make me ‘believe’ they could have existed somewhere in times past nor will she/he keep my interest so that the book falls by the wayside.
    I’ve read the occasional romance novel when the Hn wears the stable boy’s clothing and for a legitimate reason. I can’t imagine that no woman during earlier times didn’t want to try on a pair of breeches or wish they had the freedom alloted when wearing them.
    Though I’m not ‘old’, I remember wearing jeans at a time when there was no such thing as ‘women’s’ jeans. If I chose to wear them, the only choices I had were men’s. Built for a man, by a man, with none of the curves or flattering butt lifts so many have these days. I still wore them. Rebel? Maybe, but then, my lifestyle was not the cute dresses and patent leather shoes.
    Why does the fictional character need to be so very different from that? There are no absolutes in life, be it the 21st century or the 17th century. If an author is going to write characters that suck us in, they need to be as ‘human’ as possible and that includes all the idiosyncrasies that have been a part of humanity for eons…

    Reply
  83. I think Laura brings up some valid points and if I were taking a class on romance, I might very well pay absolute attention to those points.
    But when I read a romance novel, I want to be so caught up in it that I’m left breathless at the end. If I’m so concerned about every little snippet of the historical aspect of the story, if I cannot believe because the character is so well written that he/she really *could* step outside those social/political/economic boundaries to strive for something better, regardless of that goal, if I can’t see past those boundaries to the characters themselves, then the author has not written the characters with enough depth to make me ‘believe’ they could have existed somewhere in times past nor will she/he keep my interest so that the book falls by the wayside.
    I’ve read the occasional romance novel when the Hn wears the stable boy’s clothing and for a legitimate reason. I can’t imagine that no woman during earlier times didn’t want to try on a pair of breeches or wish they had the freedom alloted when wearing them.
    Though I’m not ‘old’, I remember wearing jeans at a time when there was no such thing as ‘women’s’ jeans. If I chose to wear them, the only choices I had were men’s. Built for a man, by a man, with none of the curves or flattering butt lifts so many have these days. I still wore them. Rebel? Maybe, but then, my lifestyle was not the cute dresses and patent leather shoes.
    Why does the fictional character need to be so very different from that? There are no absolutes in life, be it the 21st century or the 17th century. If an author is going to write characters that suck us in, they need to be as ‘human’ as possible and that includes all the idiosyncrasies that have been a part of humanity for eons…

    Reply
  84. I think Laura brings up some valid points and if I were taking a class on romance, I might very well pay absolute attention to those points.
    But when I read a romance novel, I want to be so caught up in it that I’m left breathless at the end. If I’m so concerned about every little snippet of the historical aspect of the story, if I cannot believe because the character is so well written that he/she really *could* step outside those social/political/economic boundaries to strive for something better, regardless of that goal, if I can’t see past those boundaries to the characters themselves, then the author has not written the characters with enough depth to make me ‘believe’ they could have existed somewhere in times past nor will she/he keep my interest so that the book falls by the wayside.
    I’ve read the occasional romance novel when the Hn wears the stable boy’s clothing and for a legitimate reason. I can’t imagine that no woman during earlier times didn’t want to try on a pair of breeches or wish they had the freedom alloted when wearing them.
    Though I’m not ‘old’, I remember wearing jeans at a time when there was no such thing as ‘women’s’ jeans. If I chose to wear them, the only choices I had were men’s. Built for a man, by a man, with none of the curves or flattering butt lifts so many have these days. I still wore them. Rebel? Maybe, but then, my lifestyle was not the cute dresses and patent leather shoes.
    Why does the fictional character need to be so very different from that? There are no absolutes in life, be it the 21st century or the 17th century. If an author is going to write characters that suck us in, they need to be as ‘human’ as possible and that includes all the idiosyncrasies that have been a part of humanity for eons…

    Reply
  85. I think Laura brings up some valid points and if I were taking a class on romance, I might very well pay absolute attention to those points.
    But when I read a romance novel, I want to be so caught up in it that I’m left breathless at the end. If I’m so concerned about every little snippet of the historical aspect of the story, if I cannot believe because the character is so well written that he/she really *could* step outside those social/political/economic boundaries to strive for something better, regardless of that goal, if I can’t see past those boundaries to the characters themselves, then the author has not written the characters with enough depth to make me ‘believe’ they could have existed somewhere in times past nor will she/he keep my interest so that the book falls by the wayside.
    I’ve read the occasional romance novel when the Hn wears the stable boy’s clothing and for a legitimate reason. I can’t imagine that no woman during earlier times didn’t want to try on a pair of breeches or wish they had the freedom alloted when wearing them.
    Though I’m not ‘old’, I remember wearing jeans at a time when there was no such thing as ‘women’s’ jeans. If I chose to wear them, the only choices I had were men’s. Built for a man, by a man, with none of the curves or flattering butt lifts so many have these days. I still wore them. Rebel? Maybe, but then, my lifestyle was not the cute dresses and patent leather shoes.
    Why does the fictional character need to be so very different from that? There are no absolutes in life, be it the 21st century or the 17th century. If an author is going to write characters that suck us in, they need to be as ‘human’ as possible and that includes all the idiosyncrasies that have been a part of humanity for eons…

    Reply
  86. Theo, you said it, perfectly.
    Also, as far as Heyer’s Regency and other aspects of the Romance Regency World, I believe I remember a post where there was a discussion of social mores in the Georgian Era and the Victorian and the point being made that the Regency falls in the middle.
    There are some plots that are harder to justify than others. I am thinking specifically of the virginal aristocratic heroine who goes out to be ruined on purpose. There had better be an extremely compelling reason put forth, or I have to put on my “pure fantasy” goggles.
    And gritty history for happy people vs. fantasy for the discontent? There may be some truth to this. I, for instance, always watch the depressing Oscar movies on DVD in summer, while saving the light and frothy summer stuff for the dark of winter. I definitely read fiction for escape.
    Of course, I also read serious history or philosophy on the beach, because if I read a Romance, I’ll be so engrossed, I’ll miss the beauty of the beach!

    Reply
  87. Theo, you said it, perfectly.
    Also, as far as Heyer’s Regency and other aspects of the Romance Regency World, I believe I remember a post where there was a discussion of social mores in the Georgian Era and the Victorian and the point being made that the Regency falls in the middle.
    There are some plots that are harder to justify than others. I am thinking specifically of the virginal aristocratic heroine who goes out to be ruined on purpose. There had better be an extremely compelling reason put forth, or I have to put on my “pure fantasy” goggles.
    And gritty history for happy people vs. fantasy for the discontent? There may be some truth to this. I, for instance, always watch the depressing Oscar movies on DVD in summer, while saving the light and frothy summer stuff for the dark of winter. I definitely read fiction for escape.
    Of course, I also read serious history or philosophy on the beach, because if I read a Romance, I’ll be so engrossed, I’ll miss the beauty of the beach!

    Reply
  88. Theo, you said it, perfectly.
    Also, as far as Heyer’s Regency and other aspects of the Romance Regency World, I believe I remember a post where there was a discussion of social mores in the Georgian Era and the Victorian and the point being made that the Regency falls in the middle.
    There are some plots that are harder to justify than others. I am thinking specifically of the virginal aristocratic heroine who goes out to be ruined on purpose. There had better be an extremely compelling reason put forth, or I have to put on my “pure fantasy” goggles.
    And gritty history for happy people vs. fantasy for the discontent? There may be some truth to this. I, for instance, always watch the depressing Oscar movies on DVD in summer, while saving the light and frothy summer stuff for the dark of winter. I definitely read fiction for escape.
    Of course, I also read serious history or philosophy on the beach, because if I read a Romance, I’ll be so engrossed, I’ll miss the beauty of the beach!

    Reply
  89. Theo, you said it, perfectly.
    Also, as far as Heyer’s Regency and other aspects of the Romance Regency World, I believe I remember a post where there was a discussion of social mores in the Georgian Era and the Victorian and the point being made that the Regency falls in the middle.
    There are some plots that are harder to justify than others. I am thinking specifically of the virginal aristocratic heroine who goes out to be ruined on purpose. There had better be an extremely compelling reason put forth, or I have to put on my “pure fantasy” goggles.
    And gritty history for happy people vs. fantasy for the discontent? There may be some truth to this. I, for instance, always watch the depressing Oscar movies on DVD in summer, while saving the light and frothy summer stuff for the dark of winter. I definitely read fiction for escape.
    Of course, I also read serious history or philosophy on the beach, because if I read a Romance, I’ll be so engrossed, I’ll miss the beauty of the beach!

    Reply
  90. Theo, you said it, perfectly.
    Also, as far as Heyer’s Regency and other aspects of the Romance Regency World, I believe I remember a post where there was a discussion of social mores in the Georgian Era and the Victorian and the point being made that the Regency falls in the middle.
    There are some plots that are harder to justify than others. I am thinking specifically of the virginal aristocratic heroine who goes out to be ruined on purpose. There had better be an extremely compelling reason put forth, or I have to put on my “pure fantasy” goggles.
    And gritty history for happy people vs. fantasy for the discontent? There may be some truth to this. I, for instance, always watch the depressing Oscar movies on DVD in summer, while saving the light and frothy summer stuff for the dark of winter. I definitely read fiction for escape.
    Of course, I also read serious history or philosophy on the beach, because if I read a Romance, I’ll be so engrossed, I’ll miss the beauty of the beach!

    Reply
  91. Pat asked…” So let’s hear it—how far out on a limb do you think we can go with our characters?”
    As far as the limb will carry them… 🙂
    What a great post Prof. Pat! And I’ve really enjoyed the discussion too.
    For what it’s worth, here’s my two cents. I agree that people are people and we have always thought outside the box. All one has to do is read the magazines and pamphlets from the Georgian and Regency eras to see that. Ideas were in the thousands, opinions were absurdly varied and just as contested. Much like today, except news traveled slower and they “talked funny.”
    Anyway, what causes the preverbal limb to break in my mind is when characters show up with knowledge and things they shouldn’t have. A Regency buck with buttons down his shirt? The brave heroine tying off a bleeder while worrying about the germs on her hands? Writing believably against any historic stage is as much about what to put in a novel as it is about what to leave out.
    As for women and their choices… historically the fairer sex has always stepped up to do what needed doing including conversing with a talking snake… even if the effort didn’t turn out so well.

    Reply
  92. Pat asked…” So let’s hear it—how far out on a limb do you think we can go with our characters?”
    As far as the limb will carry them… 🙂
    What a great post Prof. Pat! And I’ve really enjoyed the discussion too.
    For what it’s worth, here’s my two cents. I agree that people are people and we have always thought outside the box. All one has to do is read the magazines and pamphlets from the Georgian and Regency eras to see that. Ideas were in the thousands, opinions were absurdly varied and just as contested. Much like today, except news traveled slower and they “talked funny.”
    Anyway, what causes the preverbal limb to break in my mind is when characters show up with knowledge and things they shouldn’t have. A Regency buck with buttons down his shirt? The brave heroine tying off a bleeder while worrying about the germs on her hands? Writing believably against any historic stage is as much about what to put in a novel as it is about what to leave out.
    As for women and their choices… historically the fairer sex has always stepped up to do what needed doing including conversing with a talking snake… even if the effort didn’t turn out so well.

    Reply
  93. Pat asked…” So let’s hear it—how far out on a limb do you think we can go with our characters?”
    As far as the limb will carry them… 🙂
    What a great post Prof. Pat! And I’ve really enjoyed the discussion too.
    For what it’s worth, here’s my two cents. I agree that people are people and we have always thought outside the box. All one has to do is read the magazines and pamphlets from the Georgian and Regency eras to see that. Ideas were in the thousands, opinions were absurdly varied and just as contested. Much like today, except news traveled slower and they “talked funny.”
    Anyway, what causes the preverbal limb to break in my mind is when characters show up with knowledge and things they shouldn’t have. A Regency buck with buttons down his shirt? The brave heroine tying off a bleeder while worrying about the germs on her hands? Writing believably against any historic stage is as much about what to put in a novel as it is about what to leave out.
    As for women and their choices… historically the fairer sex has always stepped up to do what needed doing including conversing with a talking snake… even if the effort didn’t turn out so well.

    Reply
  94. Pat asked…” So let’s hear it—how far out on a limb do you think we can go with our characters?”
    As far as the limb will carry them… 🙂
    What a great post Prof. Pat! And I’ve really enjoyed the discussion too.
    For what it’s worth, here’s my two cents. I agree that people are people and we have always thought outside the box. All one has to do is read the magazines and pamphlets from the Georgian and Regency eras to see that. Ideas were in the thousands, opinions were absurdly varied and just as contested. Much like today, except news traveled slower and they “talked funny.”
    Anyway, what causes the preverbal limb to break in my mind is when characters show up with knowledge and things they shouldn’t have. A Regency buck with buttons down his shirt? The brave heroine tying off a bleeder while worrying about the germs on her hands? Writing believably against any historic stage is as much about what to put in a novel as it is about what to leave out.
    As for women and their choices… historically the fairer sex has always stepped up to do what needed doing including conversing with a talking snake… even if the effort didn’t turn out so well.

    Reply
  95. Pat asked…” So let’s hear it—how far out on a limb do you think we can go with our characters?”
    As far as the limb will carry them… 🙂
    What a great post Prof. Pat! And I’ve really enjoyed the discussion too.
    For what it’s worth, here’s my two cents. I agree that people are people and we have always thought outside the box. All one has to do is read the magazines and pamphlets from the Georgian and Regency eras to see that. Ideas were in the thousands, opinions were absurdly varied and just as contested. Much like today, except news traveled slower and they “talked funny.”
    Anyway, what causes the preverbal limb to break in my mind is when characters show up with knowledge and things they shouldn’t have. A Regency buck with buttons down his shirt? The brave heroine tying off a bleeder while worrying about the germs on her hands? Writing believably against any historic stage is as much about what to put in a novel as it is about what to leave out.
    As for women and their choices… historically the fairer sex has always stepped up to do what needed doing including conversing with a talking snake… even if the effort didn’t turn out so well.

    Reply
  96. Is it outlandish to think an Englishwoman of the late 18th century might admire American freedom if she’s living a confining life?
    I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    Reply
  97. Is it outlandish to think an Englishwoman of the late 18th century might admire American freedom if she’s living a confining life?
    I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    Reply
  98. Is it outlandish to think an Englishwoman of the late 18th century might admire American freedom if she’s living a confining life?
    I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    Reply
  99. Is it outlandish to think an Englishwoman of the late 18th century might admire American freedom if she’s living a confining life?
    I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    Reply
  100. Is it outlandish to think an Englishwoman of the late 18th century might admire American freedom if she’s living a confining life?
    I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    Reply
  101. What you’re proposing is, in effect, a time travel romance, but one in which the characters aren’t explicitly said to be time-travelling. As you say, it could be an interesting way to think about how we, as modern people, might cope in other societies.
    Hey, that sort of reminded me of this show called “Life on Mars”. There is this modern, Englsih cop who suddenly finds himself in the 70s. And boy, how much the world has changed in just few decades.

    Reply
  102. What you’re proposing is, in effect, a time travel romance, but one in which the characters aren’t explicitly said to be time-travelling. As you say, it could be an interesting way to think about how we, as modern people, might cope in other societies.
    Hey, that sort of reminded me of this show called “Life on Mars”. There is this modern, Englsih cop who suddenly finds himself in the 70s. And boy, how much the world has changed in just few decades.

    Reply
  103. What you’re proposing is, in effect, a time travel romance, but one in which the characters aren’t explicitly said to be time-travelling. As you say, it could be an interesting way to think about how we, as modern people, might cope in other societies.
    Hey, that sort of reminded me of this show called “Life on Mars”. There is this modern, Englsih cop who suddenly finds himself in the 70s. And boy, how much the world has changed in just few decades.

    Reply
  104. What you’re proposing is, in effect, a time travel romance, but one in which the characters aren’t explicitly said to be time-travelling. As you say, it could be an interesting way to think about how we, as modern people, might cope in other societies.
    Hey, that sort of reminded me of this show called “Life on Mars”. There is this modern, Englsih cop who suddenly finds himself in the 70s. And boy, how much the world has changed in just few decades.

    Reply
  105. What you’re proposing is, in effect, a time travel romance, but one in which the characters aren’t explicitly said to be time-travelling. As you say, it could be an interesting way to think about how we, as modern people, might cope in other societies.
    Hey, that sort of reminded me of this show called “Life on Mars”. There is this modern, Englsih cop who suddenly finds himself in the 70s. And boy, how much the world has changed in just few decades.

    Reply
  106. It seems to me that remembering where a person “comes from” helps the writer to grow them through the story. So, maybe you do impose your own “consciousness” on your characters. No matter how learned you are about the history of something, you will always see it through the filters of your own time. If your heroine comes from a privileged background and suddenly she has to survive without servants, etc., then you get to watch her grow and mature. Isn’t that a lot of what romance is about? Watching two people grow and mature into a couple, sometimes from very distinct and divergent backgrounds?

    Reply
  107. It seems to me that remembering where a person “comes from” helps the writer to grow them through the story. So, maybe you do impose your own “consciousness” on your characters. No matter how learned you are about the history of something, you will always see it through the filters of your own time. If your heroine comes from a privileged background and suddenly she has to survive without servants, etc., then you get to watch her grow and mature. Isn’t that a lot of what romance is about? Watching two people grow and mature into a couple, sometimes from very distinct and divergent backgrounds?

    Reply
  108. It seems to me that remembering where a person “comes from” helps the writer to grow them through the story. So, maybe you do impose your own “consciousness” on your characters. No matter how learned you are about the history of something, you will always see it through the filters of your own time. If your heroine comes from a privileged background and suddenly she has to survive without servants, etc., then you get to watch her grow and mature. Isn’t that a lot of what romance is about? Watching two people grow and mature into a couple, sometimes from very distinct and divergent backgrounds?

    Reply
  109. It seems to me that remembering where a person “comes from” helps the writer to grow them through the story. So, maybe you do impose your own “consciousness” on your characters. No matter how learned you are about the history of something, you will always see it through the filters of your own time. If your heroine comes from a privileged background and suddenly she has to survive without servants, etc., then you get to watch her grow and mature. Isn’t that a lot of what romance is about? Watching two people grow and mature into a couple, sometimes from very distinct and divergent backgrounds?

    Reply
  110. It seems to me that remembering where a person “comes from” helps the writer to grow them through the story. So, maybe you do impose your own “consciousness” on your characters. No matter how learned you are about the history of something, you will always see it through the filters of your own time. If your heroine comes from a privileged background and suddenly she has to survive without servants, etc., then you get to watch her grow and mature. Isn’t that a lot of what romance is about? Watching two people grow and mature into a couple, sometimes from very distinct and divergent backgrounds?

    Reply
  111. I do have to ask the readers who have no interest in authentic historical settings. Why do you bother to read historicals at all? Why not just read fantasy?

    Reply
  112. I do have to ask the readers who have no interest in authentic historical settings. Why do you bother to read historicals at all? Why not just read fantasy?

    Reply
  113. I do have to ask the readers who have no interest in authentic historical settings. Why do you bother to read historicals at all? Why not just read fantasy?

    Reply
  114. I do have to ask the readers who have no interest in authentic historical settings. Why do you bother to read historicals at all? Why not just read fantasy?

    Reply
  115. I do have to ask the readers who have no interest in authentic historical settings. Why do you bother to read historicals at all? Why not just read fantasy?

    Reply
  116. As a farther note, by “fantasy” I mean something like Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series, with all sorts of quasi-medieval settings, but since she created the world, she can add any customs or attitudes she wants to.

    Reply
  117. As a farther note, by “fantasy” I mean something like Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series, with all sorts of quasi-medieval settings, but since she created the world, she can add any customs or attitudes she wants to.

    Reply
  118. As a farther note, by “fantasy” I mean something like Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series, with all sorts of quasi-medieval settings, but since she created the world, she can add any customs or attitudes she wants to.

    Reply
  119. As a farther note, by “fantasy” I mean something like Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series, with all sorts of quasi-medieval settings, but since she created the world, she can add any customs or attitudes she wants to.

    Reply
  120. As a farther note, by “fantasy” I mean something like Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series, with all sorts of quasi-medieval settings, but since she created the world, she can add any customs or attitudes she wants to.

    Reply
  121. I totally agree that Laura makes some excellent points that no good writer can ignore. At the same time, it is historical fact that some women wore pants and disguised themselves as men when the occasion required, so I’m not gonna turn up my nose at a heroine in pants if it’s done right. As several people have pointed out, it’s all in the reality of the motivation–which has to be grounded in historical reality.
    Minna, I’m not familiar with the program, but yeah, that kind of juxtaposition fascinates me. Maybe I should write time travel!
    And Virginia, that brings up your comment–I do read fantasy, but space ships and weird medieval worlds aren’t the same as a person we perceive as just like us in a world that could be ours. IMO, anyway. And I don’t think anyone has said they’re not interested in historical settings. The question is that not everyone has the in-depth knowledge of history to know if a setting is wrong, so they’re inclined to accept the H/H’s actions if they’re properly motivated, according to that reader’s perspective. Which is where the real tricky part comes in! Since we all bring our own perspectives to a book, an author has to be careful of what is jarring and what isn’t. I suspect if I put the true historical reality into my books, 90% of my readers would go ewwwwww and drop the book like a hot potato. “G”

    Reply
  122. I totally agree that Laura makes some excellent points that no good writer can ignore. At the same time, it is historical fact that some women wore pants and disguised themselves as men when the occasion required, so I’m not gonna turn up my nose at a heroine in pants if it’s done right. As several people have pointed out, it’s all in the reality of the motivation–which has to be grounded in historical reality.
    Minna, I’m not familiar with the program, but yeah, that kind of juxtaposition fascinates me. Maybe I should write time travel!
    And Virginia, that brings up your comment–I do read fantasy, but space ships and weird medieval worlds aren’t the same as a person we perceive as just like us in a world that could be ours. IMO, anyway. And I don’t think anyone has said they’re not interested in historical settings. The question is that not everyone has the in-depth knowledge of history to know if a setting is wrong, so they’re inclined to accept the H/H’s actions if they’re properly motivated, according to that reader’s perspective. Which is where the real tricky part comes in! Since we all bring our own perspectives to a book, an author has to be careful of what is jarring and what isn’t. I suspect if I put the true historical reality into my books, 90% of my readers would go ewwwwww and drop the book like a hot potato. “G”

    Reply
  123. I totally agree that Laura makes some excellent points that no good writer can ignore. At the same time, it is historical fact that some women wore pants and disguised themselves as men when the occasion required, so I’m not gonna turn up my nose at a heroine in pants if it’s done right. As several people have pointed out, it’s all in the reality of the motivation–which has to be grounded in historical reality.
    Minna, I’m not familiar with the program, but yeah, that kind of juxtaposition fascinates me. Maybe I should write time travel!
    And Virginia, that brings up your comment–I do read fantasy, but space ships and weird medieval worlds aren’t the same as a person we perceive as just like us in a world that could be ours. IMO, anyway. And I don’t think anyone has said they’re not interested in historical settings. The question is that not everyone has the in-depth knowledge of history to know if a setting is wrong, so they’re inclined to accept the H/H’s actions if they’re properly motivated, according to that reader’s perspective. Which is where the real tricky part comes in! Since we all bring our own perspectives to a book, an author has to be careful of what is jarring and what isn’t. I suspect if I put the true historical reality into my books, 90% of my readers would go ewwwwww and drop the book like a hot potato. “G”

    Reply
  124. I totally agree that Laura makes some excellent points that no good writer can ignore. At the same time, it is historical fact that some women wore pants and disguised themselves as men when the occasion required, so I’m not gonna turn up my nose at a heroine in pants if it’s done right. As several people have pointed out, it’s all in the reality of the motivation–which has to be grounded in historical reality.
    Minna, I’m not familiar with the program, but yeah, that kind of juxtaposition fascinates me. Maybe I should write time travel!
    And Virginia, that brings up your comment–I do read fantasy, but space ships and weird medieval worlds aren’t the same as a person we perceive as just like us in a world that could be ours. IMO, anyway. And I don’t think anyone has said they’re not interested in historical settings. The question is that not everyone has the in-depth knowledge of history to know if a setting is wrong, so they’re inclined to accept the H/H’s actions if they’re properly motivated, according to that reader’s perspective. Which is where the real tricky part comes in! Since we all bring our own perspectives to a book, an author has to be careful of what is jarring and what isn’t. I suspect if I put the true historical reality into my books, 90% of my readers would go ewwwwww and drop the book like a hot potato. “G”

    Reply
  125. I totally agree that Laura makes some excellent points that no good writer can ignore. At the same time, it is historical fact that some women wore pants and disguised themselves as men when the occasion required, so I’m not gonna turn up my nose at a heroine in pants if it’s done right. As several people have pointed out, it’s all in the reality of the motivation–which has to be grounded in historical reality.
    Minna, I’m not familiar with the program, but yeah, that kind of juxtaposition fascinates me. Maybe I should write time travel!
    And Virginia, that brings up your comment–I do read fantasy, but space ships and weird medieval worlds aren’t the same as a person we perceive as just like us in a world that could be ours. IMO, anyway. And I don’t think anyone has said they’re not interested in historical settings. The question is that not everyone has the in-depth knowledge of history to know if a setting is wrong, so they’re inclined to accept the H/H’s actions if they’re properly motivated, according to that reader’s perspective. Which is where the real tricky part comes in! Since we all bring our own perspectives to a book, an author has to be careful of what is jarring and what isn’t. I suspect if I put the true historical reality into my books, 90% of my readers would go ewwwwww and drop the book like a hot potato. “G”

    Reply
  126. Well, I’ll chime in with Virginia.
    I read historicals because they are historicals. I do NOT want to read contemporaries (I do read a few). And I want the historical detail. There are differences between the Regency and the Victorian era, for example, and a story set in the Regency shouldn’t sound like a Victorian tale, and vice versa.
    No one writing historicals will go so far as to have their characters use cell phones, but too many (and I read over 100 romances a year, mainly Regencies), sound too contemporary for my taste. I think the detail helps makes the period real. And I love a book full of lots of details about the era.
    If I wanted a “real” Regency, I would read Jane Austen. Some liberties are fine. To echo other posters, these books are fiction, and I want a rousing good tale, too. But I don’t want one that sounds like something out of today’s newspaper.

    Reply
  127. Well, I’ll chime in with Virginia.
    I read historicals because they are historicals. I do NOT want to read contemporaries (I do read a few). And I want the historical detail. There are differences between the Regency and the Victorian era, for example, and a story set in the Regency shouldn’t sound like a Victorian tale, and vice versa.
    No one writing historicals will go so far as to have their characters use cell phones, but too many (and I read over 100 romances a year, mainly Regencies), sound too contemporary for my taste. I think the detail helps makes the period real. And I love a book full of lots of details about the era.
    If I wanted a “real” Regency, I would read Jane Austen. Some liberties are fine. To echo other posters, these books are fiction, and I want a rousing good tale, too. But I don’t want one that sounds like something out of today’s newspaper.

    Reply
  128. Well, I’ll chime in with Virginia.
    I read historicals because they are historicals. I do NOT want to read contemporaries (I do read a few). And I want the historical detail. There are differences between the Regency and the Victorian era, for example, and a story set in the Regency shouldn’t sound like a Victorian tale, and vice versa.
    No one writing historicals will go so far as to have their characters use cell phones, but too many (and I read over 100 romances a year, mainly Regencies), sound too contemporary for my taste. I think the detail helps makes the period real. And I love a book full of lots of details about the era.
    If I wanted a “real” Regency, I would read Jane Austen. Some liberties are fine. To echo other posters, these books are fiction, and I want a rousing good tale, too. But I don’t want one that sounds like something out of today’s newspaper.

    Reply
  129. Well, I’ll chime in with Virginia.
    I read historicals because they are historicals. I do NOT want to read contemporaries (I do read a few). And I want the historical detail. There are differences between the Regency and the Victorian era, for example, and a story set in the Regency shouldn’t sound like a Victorian tale, and vice versa.
    No one writing historicals will go so far as to have their characters use cell phones, but too many (and I read over 100 romances a year, mainly Regencies), sound too contemporary for my taste. I think the detail helps makes the period real. And I love a book full of lots of details about the era.
    If I wanted a “real” Regency, I would read Jane Austen. Some liberties are fine. To echo other posters, these books are fiction, and I want a rousing good tale, too. But I don’t want one that sounds like something out of today’s newspaper.

    Reply
  130. Well, I’ll chime in with Virginia.
    I read historicals because they are historicals. I do NOT want to read contemporaries (I do read a few). And I want the historical detail. There are differences between the Regency and the Victorian era, for example, and a story set in the Regency shouldn’t sound like a Victorian tale, and vice versa.
    No one writing historicals will go so far as to have their characters use cell phones, but too many (and I read over 100 romances a year, mainly Regencies), sound too contemporary for my taste. I think the detail helps makes the period real. And I love a book full of lots of details about the era.
    If I wanted a “real” Regency, I would read Jane Austen. Some liberties are fine. To echo other posters, these books are fiction, and I want a rousing good tale, too. But I don’t want one that sounds like something out of today’s newspaper.

    Reply
  131. I’ve heard they are going to make an American version of Life on Mars, too.
    I suspect if I put the true historical reality into my books, 90% of my readers would go ewwwwww and drop the book like a hot potato. “G”
    I suppose it would depend on how much reality the reader wants. But, I have this book about the history of habits (it covered pretty much EVERYTHING) and if I want to read THAT much reality I’d probably look for a bit different type of book.

    Reply
  132. I’ve heard they are going to make an American version of Life on Mars, too.
    I suspect if I put the true historical reality into my books, 90% of my readers would go ewwwwww and drop the book like a hot potato. “G”
    I suppose it would depend on how much reality the reader wants. But, I have this book about the history of habits (it covered pretty much EVERYTHING) and if I want to read THAT much reality I’d probably look for a bit different type of book.

    Reply
  133. I’ve heard they are going to make an American version of Life on Mars, too.
    I suspect if I put the true historical reality into my books, 90% of my readers would go ewwwwww and drop the book like a hot potato. “G”
    I suppose it would depend on how much reality the reader wants. But, I have this book about the history of habits (it covered pretty much EVERYTHING) and if I want to read THAT much reality I’d probably look for a bit different type of book.

    Reply
  134. I’ve heard they are going to make an American version of Life on Mars, too.
    I suspect if I put the true historical reality into my books, 90% of my readers would go ewwwwww and drop the book like a hot potato. “G”
    I suppose it would depend on how much reality the reader wants. But, I have this book about the history of habits (it covered pretty much EVERYTHING) and if I want to read THAT much reality I’d probably look for a bit different type of book.

    Reply
  135. I’ve heard they are going to make an American version of Life on Mars, too.
    I suspect if I put the true historical reality into my books, 90% of my readers would go ewwwwww and drop the book like a hot potato. “G”
    I suppose it would depend on how much reality the reader wants. But, I have this book about the history of habits (it covered pretty much EVERYTHING) and if I want to read THAT much reality I’d probably look for a bit different type of book.

    Reply
  136. it’s an interesting question, and, it seems to me, the fact of even asking it is significant given how history is riddled with examples of cultures that not only didn’t ask the question, but if they had, would roundly have insisted that ‘everyone else’ needed their culture because after all it was best. so more power to you for exploring it as a person and an author.
    it reminds of a recent read in a very different genre, ann aguirre’s ‘grimspace’, which includes a scene where the heroine visits a world where the dominant life-form is amphibian and speculates on the appropriateness (is that a word?) of projecting humanoid thoughts and values onto other lifeforms. it was a fascinating concept.

    Reply
  137. it’s an interesting question, and, it seems to me, the fact of even asking it is significant given how history is riddled with examples of cultures that not only didn’t ask the question, but if they had, would roundly have insisted that ‘everyone else’ needed their culture because after all it was best. so more power to you for exploring it as a person and an author.
    it reminds of a recent read in a very different genre, ann aguirre’s ‘grimspace’, which includes a scene where the heroine visits a world where the dominant life-form is amphibian and speculates on the appropriateness (is that a word?) of projecting humanoid thoughts and values onto other lifeforms. it was a fascinating concept.

    Reply
  138. it’s an interesting question, and, it seems to me, the fact of even asking it is significant given how history is riddled with examples of cultures that not only didn’t ask the question, but if they had, would roundly have insisted that ‘everyone else’ needed their culture because after all it was best. so more power to you for exploring it as a person and an author.
    it reminds of a recent read in a very different genre, ann aguirre’s ‘grimspace’, which includes a scene where the heroine visits a world where the dominant life-form is amphibian and speculates on the appropriateness (is that a word?) of projecting humanoid thoughts and values onto other lifeforms. it was a fascinating concept.

    Reply
  139. it’s an interesting question, and, it seems to me, the fact of even asking it is significant given how history is riddled with examples of cultures that not only didn’t ask the question, but if they had, would roundly have insisted that ‘everyone else’ needed their culture because after all it was best. so more power to you for exploring it as a person and an author.
    it reminds of a recent read in a very different genre, ann aguirre’s ‘grimspace’, which includes a scene where the heroine visits a world where the dominant life-form is amphibian and speculates on the appropriateness (is that a word?) of projecting humanoid thoughts and values onto other lifeforms. it was a fascinating concept.

    Reply
  140. it’s an interesting question, and, it seems to me, the fact of even asking it is significant given how history is riddled with examples of cultures that not only didn’t ask the question, but if they had, would roundly have insisted that ‘everyone else’ needed their culture because after all it was best. so more power to you for exploring it as a person and an author.
    it reminds of a recent read in a very different genre, ann aguirre’s ‘grimspace’, which includes a scene where the heroine visits a world where the dominant life-form is amphibian and speculates on the appropriateness (is that a word?) of projecting humanoid thoughts and values onto other lifeforms. it was a fascinating concept.

    Reply
  141. “it is historical fact that some women wore pants and disguised themselves as men when the occasion required, so I’m not gonna turn up my nose at a heroine in pants if it’s done right.”
    Yes, I’d agree with that. And heroines disguised as men could also be found in literature (there are plenty of them in Shakespeare’s plays, for example) so it’s not as though the concept would be a totally alien one. But it’s the “doing it right” that can be tricky.
    “I say it’s FICTION people! You can have characters doing whatever you want them to and as long as you make it interesting, I’m hooked!”
    I think different people are interested by different things, and so expect different things when they pick up a work of historical fiction. Some are wanting the emphasis to be on the historical part i.e. they want the author to set the fiction in a context which is as close to the historically accurate as possible. Of course, there are all sorts of different kinds of “accuracy.” I’d distinguish, for example, between emotional accuracy (i.e. historically plausible attitudes), political accuracy (making sure that you’ve not invented a spare Duke or plots that didn’t happen), an an almost archeological level of accuracy (in which the writer describes people’s diseases, the utensils they use), and linguistic accuracy. I’m sure there are others. My point is that not all authors will even want to be “accurate” on all these different levels, and not all readers (even those looking for “historical accuracy”) will necessarily expect it.
    The novels which are sometimes called “wallpaper” historicals can be fun, emotionally absorbing etc, but they’re more likely to be what I’d think of as a kind of “time travel” in which one may often encounter characters with modern attitudes. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but because it’s not the same as the other kind of historical it may appeal to a different group of readers (or the same readers when they’re in a different mood and are prepared for a different experience).
    “If an author is going to write characters that suck us in, they need to be as ‘human’ as possible and that includes all the idiosyncrasies that have been a part of humanity for eons…”
    Yes, but for all that we’re all human, I do think we’re affected by our cultural context. I’m constantly reminded of this, in fact, when I read romances written by American authors but set in the UK with British characters, because to me there’s almost always something distinctively American about them. Do American readers not feel there’s something different in general about romances written by UK authors and romances written by US ones? It could just be that the turns of phrase keep reminding me of the authors’ nationality, but I think quite often there are subtle differences in attitudes too.

    Reply
  142. “it is historical fact that some women wore pants and disguised themselves as men when the occasion required, so I’m not gonna turn up my nose at a heroine in pants if it’s done right.”
    Yes, I’d agree with that. And heroines disguised as men could also be found in literature (there are plenty of them in Shakespeare’s plays, for example) so it’s not as though the concept would be a totally alien one. But it’s the “doing it right” that can be tricky.
    “I say it’s FICTION people! You can have characters doing whatever you want them to and as long as you make it interesting, I’m hooked!”
    I think different people are interested by different things, and so expect different things when they pick up a work of historical fiction. Some are wanting the emphasis to be on the historical part i.e. they want the author to set the fiction in a context which is as close to the historically accurate as possible. Of course, there are all sorts of different kinds of “accuracy.” I’d distinguish, for example, between emotional accuracy (i.e. historically plausible attitudes), political accuracy (making sure that you’ve not invented a spare Duke or plots that didn’t happen), an an almost archeological level of accuracy (in which the writer describes people’s diseases, the utensils they use), and linguistic accuracy. I’m sure there are others. My point is that not all authors will even want to be “accurate” on all these different levels, and not all readers (even those looking for “historical accuracy”) will necessarily expect it.
    The novels which are sometimes called “wallpaper” historicals can be fun, emotionally absorbing etc, but they’re more likely to be what I’d think of as a kind of “time travel” in which one may often encounter characters with modern attitudes. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but because it’s not the same as the other kind of historical it may appeal to a different group of readers (or the same readers when they’re in a different mood and are prepared for a different experience).
    “If an author is going to write characters that suck us in, they need to be as ‘human’ as possible and that includes all the idiosyncrasies that have been a part of humanity for eons…”
    Yes, but for all that we’re all human, I do think we’re affected by our cultural context. I’m constantly reminded of this, in fact, when I read romances written by American authors but set in the UK with British characters, because to me there’s almost always something distinctively American about them. Do American readers not feel there’s something different in general about romances written by UK authors and romances written by US ones? It could just be that the turns of phrase keep reminding me of the authors’ nationality, but I think quite often there are subtle differences in attitudes too.

    Reply
  143. “it is historical fact that some women wore pants and disguised themselves as men when the occasion required, so I’m not gonna turn up my nose at a heroine in pants if it’s done right.”
    Yes, I’d agree with that. And heroines disguised as men could also be found in literature (there are plenty of them in Shakespeare’s plays, for example) so it’s not as though the concept would be a totally alien one. But it’s the “doing it right” that can be tricky.
    “I say it’s FICTION people! You can have characters doing whatever you want them to and as long as you make it interesting, I’m hooked!”
    I think different people are interested by different things, and so expect different things when they pick up a work of historical fiction. Some are wanting the emphasis to be on the historical part i.e. they want the author to set the fiction in a context which is as close to the historically accurate as possible. Of course, there are all sorts of different kinds of “accuracy.” I’d distinguish, for example, between emotional accuracy (i.e. historically plausible attitudes), political accuracy (making sure that you’ve not invented a spare Duke or plots that didn’t happen), an an almost archeological level of accuracy (in which the writer describes people’s diseases, the utensils they use), and linguistic accuracy. I’m sure there are others. My point is that not all authors will even want to be “accurate” on all these different levels, and not all readers (even those looking for “historical accuracy”) will necessarily expect it.
    The novels which are sometimes called “wallpaper” historicals can be fun, emotionally absorbing etc, but they’re more likely to be what I’d think of as a kind of “time travel” in which one may often encounter characters with modern attitudes. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but because it’s not the same as the other kind of historical it may appeal to a different group of readers (or the same readers when they’re in a different mood and are prepared for a different experience).
    “If an author is going to write characters that suck us in, they need to be as ‘human’ as possible and that includes all the idiosyncrasies that have been a part of humanity for eons…”
    Yes, but for all that we’re all human, I do think we’re affected by our cultural context. I’m constantly reminded of this, in fact, when I read romances written by American authors but set in the UK with British characters, because to me there’s almost always something distinctively American about them. Do American readers not feel there’s something different in general about romances written by UK authors and romances written by US ones? It could just be that the turns of phrase keep reminding me of the authors’ nationality, but I think quite often there are subtle differences in attitudes too.

    Reply
  144. “it is historical fact that some women wore pants and disguised themselves as men when the occasion required, so I’m not gonna turn up my nose at a heroine in pants if it’s done right.”
    Yes, I’d agree with that. And heroines disguised as men could also be found in literature (there are plenty of them in Shakespeare’s plays, for example) so it’s not as though the concept would be a totally alien one. But it’s the “doing it right” that can be tricky.
    “I say it’s FICTION people! You can have characters doing whatever you want them to and as long as you make it interesting, I’m hooked!”
    I think different people are interested by different things, and so expect different things when they pick up a work of historical fiction. Some are wanting the emphasis to be on the historical part i.e. they want the author to set the fiction in a context which is as close to the historically accurate as possible. Of course, there are all sorts of different kinds of “accuracy.” I’d distinguish, for example, between emotional accuracy (i.e. historically plausible attitudes), political accuracy (making sure that you’ve not invented a spare Duke or plots that didn’t happen), an an almost archeological level of accuracy (in which the writer describes people’s diseases, the utensils they use), and linguistic accuracy. I’m sure there are others. My point is that not all authors will even want to be “accurate” on all these different levels, and not all readers (even those looking for “historical accuracy”) will necessarily expect it.
    The novels which are sometimes called “wallpaper” historicals can be fun, emotionally absorbing etc, but they’re more likely to be what I’d think of as a kind of “time travel” in which one may often encounter characters with modern attitudes. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but because it’s not the same as the other kind of historical it may appeal to a different group of readers (or the same readers when they’re in a different mood and are prepared for a different experience).
    “If an author is going to write characters that suck us in, they need to be as ‘human’ as possible and that includes all the idiosyncrasies that have been a part of humanity for eons…”
    Yes, but for all that we’re all human, I do think we’re affected by our cultural context. I’m constantly reminded of this, in fact, when I read romances written by American authors but set in the UK with British characters, because to me there’s almost always something distinctively American about them. Do American readers not feel there’s something different in general about romances written by UK authors and romances written by US ones? It could just be that the turns of phrase keep reminding me of the authors’ nationality, but I think quite often there are subtle differences in attitudes too.

    Reply
  145. “it is historical fact that some women wore pants and disguised themselves as men when the occasion required, so I’m not gonna turn up my nose at a heroine in pants if it’s done right.”
    Yes, I’d agree with that. And heroines disguised as men could also be found in literature (there are plenty of them in Shakespeare’s plays, for example) so it’s not as though the concept would be a totally alien one. But it’s the “doing it right” that can be tricky.
    “I say it’s FICTION people! You can have characters doing whatever you want them to and as long as you make it interesting, I’m hooked!”
    I think different people are interested by different things, and so expect different things when they pick up a work of historical fiction. Some are wanting the emphasis to be on the historical part i.e. they want the author to set the fiction in a context which is as close to the historically accurate as possible. Of course, there are all sorts of different kinds of “accuracy.” I’d distinguish, for example, between emotional accuracy (i.e. historically plausible attitudes), political accuracy (making sure that you’ve not invented a spare Duke or plots that didn’t happen), an an almost archeological level of accuracy (in which the writer describes people’s diseases, the utensils they use), and linguistic accuracy. I’m sure there are others. My point is that not all authors will even want to be “accurate” on all these different levels, and not all readers (even those looking for “historical accuracy”) will necessarily expect it.
    The novels which are sometimes called “wallpaper” historicals can be fun, emotionally absorbing etc, but they’re more likely to be what I’d think of as a kind of “time travel” in which one may often encounter characters with modern attitudes. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but because it’s not the same as the other kind of historical it may appeal to a different group of readers (or the same readers when they’re in a different mood and are prepared for a different experience).
    “If an author is going to write characters that suck us in, they need to be as ‘human’ as possible and that includes all the idiosyncrasies that have been a part of humanity for eons…”
    Yes, but for all that we’re all human, I do think we’re affected by our cultural context. I’m constantly reminded of this, in fact, when I read romances written by American authors but set in the UK with British characters, because to me there’s almost always something distinctively American about them. Do American readers not feel there’s something different in general about romances written by UK authors and romances written by US ones? It could just be that the turns of phrase keep reminding me of the authors’ nationality, but I think quite often there are subtle differences in attitudes too.

    Reply
  146. I think I’m seeing where some of you are coming from, and as always, Laura stated it well that the “wallpaper” or “time travel” romances may be emotionally absorbing but not necessarily what someone likes who prefers being grounded in reality. Makes life difficult for writers!
    I think it would be difficult for me to comment about the subtle differences between British and American writers. I grew up absorbing British writers. They’re part of atomic makeup, I believe. I will catch the phrases in an Irish author faster than I will a British author. So I’m no fair judge there.
    I really stopped in here to leave this quote because the discussion of reality of situations made me laugh:
    In the opinion of Dave Barry, columnist for the Washington Post, (the funniest headline) would be from the Petersburg (Va.) Progressive-Index, over a story about a mishap during the 2001 Bike Week gathering of motorcyclists in Florida. The headline, which was sent by an alert reader Mary Ellen Lloyd, says: “Skydiver lands on beer vendor at women’s cole-slaw wrestling event.”
    I’d like to write that scene sometime!

    Reply
  147. I think I’m seeing where some of you are coming from, and as always, Laura stated it well that the “wallpaper” or “time travel” romances may be emotionally absorbing but not necessarily what someone likes who prefers being grounded in reality. Makes life difficult for writers!
    I think it would be difficult for me to comment about the subtle differences between British and American writers. I grew up absorbing British writers. They’re part of atomic makeup, I believe. I will catch the phrases in an Irish author faster than I will a British author. So I’m no fair judge there.
    I really stopped in here to leave this quote because the discussion of reality of situations made me laugh:
    In the opinion of Dave Barry, columnist for the Washington Post, (the funniest headline) would be from the Petersburg (Va.) Progressive-Index, over a story about a mishap during the 2001 Bike Week gathering of motorcyclists in Florida. The headline, which was sent by an alert reader Mary Ellen Lloyd, says: “Skydiver lands on beer vendor at women’s cole-slaw wrestling event.”
    I’d like to write that scene sometime!

    Reply
  148. I think I’m seeing where some of you are coming from, and as always, Laura stated it well that the “wallpaper” or “time travel” romances may be emotionally absorbing but not necessarily what someone likes who prefers being grounded in reality. Makes life difficult for writers!
    I think it would be difficult for me to comment about the subtle differences between British and American writers. I grew up absorbing British writers. They’re part of atomic makeup, I believe. I will catch the phrases in an Irish author faster than I will a British author. So I’m no fair judge there.
    I really stopped in here to leave this quote because the discussion of reality of situations made me laugh:
    In the opinion of Dave Barry, columnist for the Washington Post, (the funniest headline) would be from the Petersburg (Va.) Progressive-Index, over a story about a mishap during the 2001 Bike Week gathering of motorcyclists in Florida. The headline, which was sent by an alert reader Mary Ellen Lloyd, says: “Skydiver lands on beer vendor at women’s cole-slaw wrestling event.”
    I’d like to write that scene sometime!

    Reply
  149. I think I’m seeing where some of you are coming from, and as always, Laura stated it well that the “wallpaper” or “time travel” romances may be emotionally absorbing but not necessarily what someone likes who prefers being grounded in reality. Makes life difficult for writers!
    I think it would be difficult for me to comment about the subtle differences between British and American writers. I grew up absorbing British writers. They’re part of atomic makeup, I believe. I will catch the phrases in an Irish author faster than I will a British author. So I’m no fair judge there.
    I really stopped in here to leave this quote because the discussion of reality of situations made me laugh:
    In the opinion of Dave Barry, columnist for the Washington Post, (the funniest headline) would be from the Petersburg (Va.) Progressive-Index, over a story about a mishap during the 2001 Bike Week gathering of motorcyclists in Florida. The headline, which was sent by an alert reader Mary Ellen Lloyd, says: “Skydiver lands on beer vendor at women’s cole-slaw wrestling event.”
    I’d like to write that scene sometime!

    Reply
  150. I think I’m seeing where some of you are coming from, and as always, Laura stated it well that the “wallpaper” or “time travel” romances may be emotionally absorbing but not necessarily what someone likes who prefers being grounded in reality. Makes life difficult for writers!
    I think it would be difficult for me to comment about the subtle differences between British and American writers. I grew up absorbing British writers. They’re part of atomic makeup, I believe. I will catch the phrases in an Irish author faster than I will a British author. So I’m no fair judge there.
    I really stopped in here to leave this quote because the discussion of reality of situations made me laugh:
    In the opinion of Dave Barry, columnist for the Washington Post, (the funniest headline) would be from the Petersburg (Va.) Progressive-Index, over a story about a mishap during the 2001 Bike Week gathering of motorcyclists in Florida. The headline, which was sent by an alert reader Mary Ellen Lloyd, says: “Skydiver lands on beer vendor at women’s cole-slaw wrestling event.”
    I’d like to write that scene sometime!

    Reply
  151. “Do American readers not feel there’s something different in general about romances written by UK authors and romances written by US ones? It could just be that the turns of phrase keep reminding me of the authors’ nationality, but I think quite often there are subtle differences in attitudes too.
    Posted by: Laura Vivanco ”
    Oh, gosh, yes, and it isn’t just a matter of vocabulary such as elevator/lift.
    Sometimes I see it even more strongly in the contemporaries set in the US but written by Australian or New Zealand authors. For example, there was the one in which the author had a personal advertisement appearing on the front page of the Washington Post …!
    One thing I’ve noticed is that Australian-area authors often use “step” in regard to siblings where an American would clearly use “half” (the individuals share one parent). Stephanie Laurens did that in A Secret Love for Alathea Morwellan and the children of her father’s second marriage.
    A less subtle difference that I’ve noticed is that English authors hardly ever make the heroine from what we might call the middle-middle class; she’s all too often for my taste either gentry fallen upon hard times or from an utterly Dickensian background.
    But even English authors mess up the title thing. In a recent contemporary, when the hero’s father was knighted, his stepmother became, alas, “Lady Firstname” rather than “Lady Surname.”

    Reply
  152. “Do American readers not feel there’s something different in general about romances written by UK authors and romances written by US ones? It could just be that the turns of phrase keep reminding me of the authors’ nationality, but I think quite often there are subtle differences in attitudes too.
    Posted by: Laura Vivanco ”
    Oh, gosh, yes, and it isn’t just a matter of vocabulary such as elevator/lift.
    Sometimes I see it even more strongly in the contemporaries set in the US but written by Australian or New Zealand authors. For example, there was the one in which the author had a personal advertisement appearing on the front page of the Washington Post …!
    One thing I’ve noticed is that Australian-area authors often use “step” in regard to siblings where an American would clearly use “half” (the individuals share one parent). Stephanie Laurens did that in A Secret Love for Alathea Morwellan and the children of her father’s second marriage.
    A less subtle difference that I’ve noticed is that English authors hardly ever make the heroine from what we might call the middle-middle class; she’s all too often for my taste either gentry fallen upon hard times or from an utterly Dickensian background.
    But even English authors mess up the title thing. In a recent contemporary, when the hero’s father was knighted, his stepmother became, alas, “Lady Firstname” rather than “Lady Surname.”

    Reply
  153. “Do American readers not feel there’s something different in general about romances written by UK authors and romances written by US ones? It could just be that the turns of phrase keep reminding me of the authors’ nationality, but I think quite often there are subtle differences in attitudes too.
    Posted by: Laura Vivanco ”
    Oh, gosh, yes, and it isn’t just a matter of vocabulary such as elevator/lift.
    Sometimes I see it even more strongly in the contemporaries set in the US but written by Australian or New Zealand authors. For example, there was the one in which the author had a personal advertisement appearing on the front page of the Washington Post …!
    One thing I’ve noticed is that Australian-area authors often use “step” in regard to siblings where an American would clearly use “half” (the individuals share one parent). Stephanie Laurens did that in A Secret Love for Alathea Morwellan and the children of her father’s second marriage.
    A less subtle difference that I’ve noticed is that English authors hardly ever make the heroine from what we might call the middle-middle class; she’s all too often for my taste either gentry fallen upon hard times or from an utterly Dickensian background.
    But even English authors mess up the title thing. In a recent contemporary, when the hero’s father was knighted, his stepmother became, alas, “Lady Firstname” rather than “Lady Surname.”

    Reply
  154. “Do American readers not feel there’s something different in general about romances written by UK authors and romances written by US ones? It could just be that the turns of phrase keep reminding me of the authors’ nationality, but I think quite often there are subtle differences in attitudes too.
    Posted by: Laura Vivanco ”
    Oh, gosh, yes, and it isn’t just a matter of vocabulary such as elevator/lift.
    Sometimes I see it even more strongly in the contemporaries set in the US but written by Australian or New Zealand authors. For example, there was the one in which the author had a personal advertisement appearing on the front page of the Washington Post …!
    One thing I’ve noticed is that Australian-area authors often use “step” in regard to siblings where an American would clearly use “half” (the individuals share one parent). Stephanie Laurens did that in A Secret Love for Alathea Morwellan and the children of her father’s second marriage.
    A less subtle difference that I’ve noticed is that English authors hardly ever make the heroine from what we might call the middle-middle class; she’s all too often for my taste either gentry fallen upon hard times or from an utterly Dickensian background.
    But even English authors mess up the title thing. In a recent contemporary, when the hero’s father was knighted, his stepmother became, alas, “Lady Firstname” rather than “Lady Surname.”

    Reply
  155. “Do American readers not feel there’s something different in general about romances written by UK authors and romances written by US ones? It could just be that the turns of phrase keep reminding me of the authors’ nationality, but I think quite often there are subtle differences in attitudes too.
    Posted by: Laura Vivanco ”
    Oh, gosh, yes, and it isn’t just a matter of vocabulary such as elevator/lift.
    Sometimes I see it even more strongly in the contemporaries set in the US but written by Australian or New Zealand authors. For example, there was the one in which the author had a personal advertisement appearing on the front page of the Washington Post …!
    One thing I’ve noticed is that Australian-area authors often use “step” in regard to siblings where an American would clearly use “half” (the individuals share one parent). Stephanie Laurens did that in A Secret Love for Alathea Morwellan and the children of her father’s second marriage.
    A less subtle difference that I’ve noticed is that English authors hardly ever make the heroine from what we might call the middle-middle class; she’s all too often for my taste either gentry fallen upon hard times or from an utterly Dickensian background.
    But even English authors mess up the title thing. In a recent contemporary, when the hero’s father was knighted, his stepmother became, alas, “Lady Firstname” rather than “Lady Surname.”

    Reply
  156. Yes, Laura’s right. By changing a few minor details, a lot of today’s historicals can fit into any era. Some of them are fun, but I want more meat.

    Reply
  157. Yes, Laura’s right. By changing a few minor details, a lot of today’s historicals can fit into any era. Some of them are fun, but I want more meat.

    Reply
  158. Yes, Laura’s right. By changing a few minor details, a lot of today’s historicals can fit into any era. Some of them are fun, but I want more meat.

    Reply
  159. Yes, Laura’s right. By changing a few minor details, a lot of today’s historicals can fit into any era. Some of them are fun, but I want more meat.

    Reply
  160. Yes, Laura’s right. By changing a few minor details, a lot of today’s historicals can fit into any era. Some of them are fun, but I want more meat.

    Reply
  161. Yes, but Virginia, that’s what I mean by making those historical facts that are easily checked, correct. The Washington post was founded in 1877. Easy to research so one doesn’t make that kind of mistake. However, would your average reader bother to check that, or even think about it? Probably not regardless of the country they live in. Especially not if the characters were enthralling enough to make the background just that, the background, and not another character in the story.
    Perhaps I’m the wrong kind of reader because I might scoff if the travel time is off between London and Edinburgh when they’re in a specific kind of carriage, but I read the historical romance for the romance first. As long as the historical aspects aren’t blatantly incorrect and so many that they can’t be overcome, and the story is character driven enough to make me forget most everything else, then I’m a happy camper. If I get bogged down in more historical fact than what the characters are doing, then I think the author has missed the point of the word ‘romance’ in a novel.
    I read an author once who was so into the clothing her heroine wore, I was treated to a description of each individual hook and lace…it took three pages to get through and that was the end of that book for me! Historically accurate? Most assuredly. Interesting? For the first paragraph, but the other two and a half pages? Not on your life.

    Reply
  162. Yes, but Virginia, that’s what I mean by making those historical facts that are easily checked, correct. The Washington post was founded in 1877. Easy to research so one doesn’t make that kind of mistake. However, would your average reader bother to check that, or even think about it? Probably not regardless of the country they live in. Especially not if the characters were enthralling enough to make the background just that, the background, and not another character in the story.
    Perhaps I’m the wrong kind of reader because I might scoff if the travel time is off between London and Edinburgh when they’re in a specific kind of carriage, but I read the historical romance for the romance first. As long as the historical aspects aren’t blatantly incorrect and so many that they can’t be overcome, and the story is character driven enough to make me forget most everything else, then I’m a happy camper. If I get bogged down in more historical fact than what the characters are doing, then I think the author has missed the point of the word ‘romance’ in a novel.
    I read an author once who was so into the clothing her heroine wore, I was treated to a description of each individual hook and lace…it took three pages to get through and that was the end of that book for me! Historically accurate? Most assuredly. Interesting? For the first paragraph, but the other two and a half pages? Not on your life.

    Reply
  163. Yes, but Virginia, that’s what I mean by making those historical facts that are easily checked, correct. The Washington post was founded in 1877. Easy to research so one doesn’t make that kind of mistake. However, would your average reader bother to check that, or even think about it? Probably not regardless of the country they live in. Especially not if the characters were enthralling enough to make the background just that, the background, and not another character in the story.
    Perhaps I’m the wrong kind of reader because I might scoff if the travel time is off between London and Edinburgh when they’re in a specific kind of carriage, but I read the historical romance for the romance first. As long as the historical aspects aren’t blatantly incorrect and so many that they can’t be overcome, and the story is character driven enough to make me forget most everything else, then I’m a happy camper. If I get bogged down in more historical fact than what the characters are doing, then I think the author has missed the point of the word ‘romance’ in a novel.
    I read an author once who was so into the clothing her heroine wore, I was treated to a description of each individual hook and lace…it took three pages to get through and that was the end of that book for me! Historically accurate? Most assuredly. Interesting? For the first paragraph, but the other two and a half pages? Not on your life.

    Reply
  164. Yes, but Virginia, that’s what I mean by making those historical facts that are easily checked, correct. The Washington post was founded in 1877. Easy to research so one doesn’t make that kind of mistake. However, would your average reader bother to check that, or even think about it? Probably not regardless of the country they live in. Especially not if the characters were enthralling enough to make the background just that, the background, and not another character in the story.
    Perhaps I’m the wrong kind of reader because I might scoff if the travel time is off between London and Edinburgh when they’re in a specific kind of carriage, but I read the historical romance for the romance first. As long as the historical aspects aren’t blatantly incorrect and so many that they can’t be overcome, and the story is character driven enough to make me forget most everything else, then I’m a happy camper. If I get bogged down in more historical fact than what the characters are doing, then I think the author has missed the point of the word ‘romance’ in a novel.
    I read an author once who was so into the clothing her heroine wore, I was treated to a description of each individual hook and lace…it took three pages to get through and that was the end of that book for me! Historically accurate? Most assuredly. Interesting? For the first paragraph, but the other two and a half pages? Not on your life.

    Reply
  165. Yes, but Virginia, that’s what I mean by making those historical facts that are easily checked, correct. The Washington post was founded in 1877. Easy to research so one doesn’t make that kind of mistake. However, would your average reader bother to check that, or even think about it? Probably not regardless of the country they live in. Especially not if the characters were enthralling enough to make the background just that, the background, and not another character in the story.
    Perhaps I’m the wrong kind of reader because I might scoff if the travel time is off between London and Edinburgh when they’re in a specific kind of carriage, but I read the historical romance for the romance first. As long as the historical aspects aren’t blatantly incorrect and so many that they can’t be overcome, and the story is character driven enough to make me forget most everything else, then I’m a happy camper. If I get bogged down in more historical fact than what the characters are doing, then I think the author has missed the point of the word ‘romance’ in a novel.
    I read an author once who was so into the clothing her heroine wore, I was treated to a description of each individual hook and lace…it took three pages to get through and that was the end of that book for me! Historically accurate? Most assuredly. Interesting? For the first paragraph, but the other two and a half pages? Not on your life.

    Reply
  166. Oh, and I have a couple of friends who have step-siblings (not half) who are American to the bone so I’m not sure something like that works so much as speaking of the loo as opposed to the lady’s room…
    There’s a fine line there that sometimes gets crossed inadvertently. It happens. I’m willing to accept a certain amount though, for the sake of the characters, if they’re strong enough.

    Reply
  167. Oh, and I have a couple of friends who have step-siblings (not half) who are American to the bone so I’m not sure something like that works so much as speaking of the loo as opposed to the lady’s room…
    There’s a fine line there that sometimes gets crossed inadvertently. It happens. I’m willing to accept a certain amount though, for the sake of the characters, if they’re strong enough.

    Reply
  168. Oh, and I have a couple of friends who have step-siblings (not half) who are American to the bone so I’m not sure something like that works so much as speaking of the loo as opposed to the lady’s room…
    There’s a fine line there that sometimes gets crossed inadvertently. It happens. I’m willing to accept a certain amount though, for the sake of the characters, if they’re strong enough.

    Reply
  169. Oh, and I have a couple of friends who have step-siblings (not half) who are American to the bone so I’m not sure something like that works so much as speaking of the loo as opposed to the lady’s room…
    There’s a fine line there that sometimes gets crossed inadvertently. It happens. I’m willing to accept a certain amount though, for the sake of the characters, if they’re strong enough.

    Reply
  170. Oh, and I have a couple of friends who have step-siblings (not half) who are American to the bone so I’m not sure something like that works so much as speaking of the loo as opposed to the lady’s room…
    There’s a fine line there that sometimes gets crossed inadvertently. It happens. I’m willing to accept a certain amount though, for the sake of the characters, if they’re strong enough.

    Reply
  171. There have always been exceptions to the norm for any era; what bothers me in many current regency historical writers’ books is that they don’t seem to know that their ass-kicking sexually adventurous cross dressing and occasionally foulmouthed heroines *were* most probably exceptions. An author can play Doctor Who and plant a 21st century woman in the 18th century if she wants, but she’d better know what the 18th century was really like, or she just betrays her ignorance … or her greed.

    Reply
  172. There have always been exceptions to the norm for any era; what bothers me in many current regency historical writers’ books is that they don’t seem to know that their ass-kicking sexually adventurous cross dressing and occasionally foulmouthed heroines *were* most probably exceptions. An author can play Doctor Who and plant a 21st century woman in the 18th century if she wants, but she’d better know what the 18th century was really like, or she just betrays her ignorance … or her greed.

    Reply
  173. There have always been exceptions to the norm for any era; what bothers me in many current regency historical writers’ books is that they don’t seem to know that their ass-kicking sexually adventurous cross dressing and occasionally foulmouthed heroines *were* most probably exceptions. An author can play Doctor Who and plant a 21st century woman in the 18th century if she wants, but she’d better know what the 18th century was really like, or she just betrays her ignorance … or her greed.

    Reply
  174. There have always been exceptions to the norm for any era; what bothers me in many current regency historical writers’ books is that they don’t seem to know that their ass-kicking sexually adventurous cross dressing and occasionally foulmouthed heroines *were* most probably exceptions. An author can play Doctor Who and plant a 21st century woman in the 18th century if she wants, but she’d better know what the 18th century was really like, or she just betrays her ignorance … or her greed.

    Reply
  175. There have always been exceptions to the norm for any era; what bothers me in many current regency historical writers’ books is that they don’t seem to know that their ass-kicking sexually adventurous cross dressing and occasionally foulmouthed heroines *were* most probably exceptions. An author can play Doctor Who and plant a 21st century woman in the 18th century if she wants, but she’d better know what the 18th century was really like, or she just betrays her ignorance … or her greed.

    Reply
  176. I have to say my pet hate in a historical is the use of the word.
    Secondguess.
    [Origin: 1945–50]dictionary.com
    I moment I read this word in a Medieval novel (romance) it jarred, and now my brain has some sort of alert, the word was in a Victorian novel (romance) I just finished.
    Cheers Carol

    Reply
  177. I have to say my pet hate in a historical is the use of the word.
    Secondguess.
    [Origin: 1945–50]dictionary.com
    I moment I read this word in a Medieval novel (romance) it jarred, and now my brain has some sort of alert, the word was in a Victorian novel (romance) I just finished.
    Cheers Carol

    Reply
  178. I have to say my pet hate in a historical is the use of the word.
    Secondguess.
    [Origin: 1945–50]dictionary.com
    I moment I read this word in a Medieval novel (romance) it jarred, and now my brain has some sort of alert, the word was in a Victorian novel (romance) I just finished.
    Cheers Carol

    Reply
  179. I have to say my pet hate in a historical is the use of the word.
    Secondguess.
    [Origin: 1945–50]dictionary.com
    I moment I read this word in a Medieval novel (romance) it jarred, and now my brain has some sort of alert, the word was in a Victorian novel (romance) I just finished.
    Cheers Carol

    Reply
  180. I have to say my pet hate in a historical is the use of the word.
    Secondguess.
    [Origin: 1945–50]dictionary.com
    I moment I read this word in a Medieval novel (romance) it jarred, and now my brain has some sort of alert, the word was in a Victorian novel (romance) I just finished.
    Cheers Carol

    Reply
  181. In regard to the below, the question isn’t when the Washington Post was founded, because the book was a contemporary:
    “Sometimes I see it even more strongly in the contemporaries set in the US but written by Australian or New Zealand authors. For example, there was the one in which the author had a personal advertisement appearing on the front page of the Washington Post …!”
    Rather, it’s that the Post would never have a personal advertisement on the front page. It’s devoted to national and international news stories. Classified ads come in a separate internal section. And part of the plot of that romantic suspense **depended** upon h placing the ad, other h seeing it, and responding.

    Reply
  182. In regard to the below, the question isn’t when the Washington Post was founded, because the book was a contemporary:
    “Sometimes I see it even more strongly in the contemporaries set in the US but written by Australian or New Zealand authors. For example, there was the one in which the author had a personal advertisement appearing on the front page of the Washington Post …!”
    Rather, it’s that the Post would never have a personal advertisement on the front page. It’s devoted to national and international news stories. Classified ads come in a separate internal section. And part of the plot of that romantic suspense **depended** upon h placing the ad, other h seeing it, and responding.

    Reply
  183. In regard to the below, the question isn’t when the Washington Post was founded, because the book was a contemporary:
    “Sometimes I see it even more strongly in the contemporaries set in the US but written by Australian or New Zealand authors. For example, there was the one in which the author had a personal advertisement appearing on the front page of the Washington Post …!”
    Rather, it’s that the Post would never have a personal advertisement on the front page. It’s devoted to national and international news stories. Classified ads come in a separate internal section. And part of the plot of that romantic suspense **depended** upon h placing the ad, other h seeing it, and responding.

    Reply
  184. In regard to the below, the question isn’t when the Washington Post was founded, because the book was a contemporary:
    “Sometimes I see it even more strongly in the contemporaries set in the US but written by Australian or New Zealand authors. For example, there was the one in which the author had a personal advertisement appearing on the front page of the Washington Post …!”
    Rather, it’s that the Post would never have a personal advertisement on the front page. It’s devoted to national and international news stories. Classified ads come in a separate internal section. And part of the plot of that romantic suspense **depended** upon h placing the ad, other h seeing it, and responding.

    Reply
  185. In regard to the below, the question isn’t when the Washington Post was founded, because the book was a contemporary:
    “Sometimes I see it even more strongly in the contemporaries set in the US but written by Australian or New Zealand authors. For example, there was the one in which the author had a personal advertisement appearing on the front page of the Washington Post …!”
    Rather, it’s that the Post would never have a personal advertisement on the front page. It’s devoted to national and international news stories. Classified ads come in a separate internal section. And part of the plot of that romantic suspense **depended** upon h placing the ad, other h seeing it, and responding.

    Reply
  186. Laura–borrowing the stable boy’s shirt and breeches? Is THAT why you were rolling around naked in the hayloft with him?
    And I find a useful approach to all fiction is Ted Johnstone’s Law (named after an L.A. SF fan who coined it): “Disbelief should be suspended, but not hanged by the neck until dead.”

    Reply
  187. Laura–borrowing the stable boy’s shirt and breeches? Is THAT why you were rolling around naked in the hayloft with him?
    And I find a useful approach to all fiction is Ted Johnstone’s Law (named after an L.A. SF fan who coined it): “Disbelief should be suspended, but not hanged by the neck until dead.”

    Reply
  188. Laura–borrowing the stable boy’s shirt and breeches? Is THAT why you were rolling around naked in the hayloft with him?
    And I find a useful approach to all fiction is Ted Johnstone’s Law (named after an L.A. SF fan who coined it): “Disbelief should be suspended, but not hanged by the neck until dead.”

    Reply
  189. Laura–borrowing the stable boy’s shirt and breeches? Is THAT why you were rolling around naked in the hayloft with him?
    And I find a useful approach to all fiction is Ted Johnstone’s Law (named after an L.A. SF fan who coined it): “Disbelief should be suspended, but not hanged by the neck until dead.”

    Reply
  190. Laura–borrowing the stable boy’s shirt and breeches? Is THAT why you were rolling around naked in the hayloft with him?
    And I find a useful approach to all fiction is Ted Johnstone’s Law (named after an L.A. SF fan who coined it): “Disbelief should be suspended, but not hanged by the neck until dead.”

    Reply
  191. “borrowing the stable boy’s shirt and breeches? Is THAT why you were rolling around naked in the hayloft with him?”
    Tal, I am a romance heroine, therefore I will only lose my virginity with the hero. The stable-boy is not at all rakish, nor is he hard, broad-shouldered and narrow-hipped. He does not have a hawkish glare or walk with panther-like grace. It should therefore be quite clear that he cannot be the hero in disguise.
    I hope this explanation will ensure my reputation remains spotless for at least another few pages (i.e. until I’m caught in a compromising situation with the hero while dressed as a man and acting as his valet because this is the only way that I think I can retrieve the forged papers which implicate my brother in a traitorous plot!)

    Reply
  192. “borrowing the stable boy’s shirt and breeches? Is THAT why you were rolling around naked in the hayloft with him?”
    Tal, I am a romance heroine, therefore I will only lose my virginity with the hero. The stable-boy is not at all rakish, nor is he hard, broad-shouldered and narrow-hipped. He does not have a hawkish glare or walk with panther-like grace. It should therefore be quite clear that he cannot be the hero in disguise.
    I hope this explanation will ensure my reputation remains spotless for at least another few pages (i.e. until I’m caught in a compromising situation with the hero while dressed as a man and acting as his valet because this is the only way that I think I can retrieve the forged papers which implicate my brother in a traitorous plot!)

    Reply
  193. “borrowing the stable boy’s shirt and breeches? Is THAT why you were rolling around naked in the hayloft with him?”
    Tal, I am a romance heroine, therefore I will only lose my virginity with the hero. The stable-boy is not at all rakish, nor is he hard, broad-shouldered and narrow-hipped. He does not have a hawkish glare or walk with panther-like grace. It should therefore be quite clear that he cannot be the hero in disguise.
    I hope this explanation will ensure my reputation remains spotless for at least another few pages (i.e. until I’m caught in a compromising situation with the hero while dressed as a man and acting as his valet because this is the only way that I think I can retrieve the forged papers which implicate my brother in a traitorous plot!)

    Reply
  194. “borrowing the stable boy’s shirt and breeches? Is THAT why you were rolling around naked in the hayloft with him?”
    Tal, I am a romance heroine, therefore I will only lose my virginity with the hero. The stable-boy is not at all rakish, nor is he hard, broad-shouldered and narrow-hipped. He does not have a hawkish glare or walk with panther-like grace. It should therefore be quite clear that he cannot be the hero in disguise.
    I hope this explanation will ensure my reputation remains spotless for at least another few pages (i.e. until I’m caught in a compromising situation with the hero while dressed as a man and acting as his valet because this is the only way that I think I can retrieve the forged papers which implicate my brother in a traitorous plot!)

    Reply
  195. “borrowing the stable boy’s shirt and breeches? Is THAT why you were rolling around naked in the hayloft with him?”
    Tal, I am a romance heroine, therefore I will only lose my virginity with the hero. The stable-boy is not at all rakish, nor is he hard, broad-shouldered and narrow-hipped. He does not have a hawkish glare or walk with panther-like grace. It should therefore be quite clear that he cannot be the hero in disguise.
    I hope this explanation will ensure my reputation remains spotless for at least another few pages (i.e. until I’m caught in a compromising situation with the hero while dressed as a man and acting as his valet because this is the only way that I think I can retrieve the forged papers which implicate my brother in a traitorous plot!)

    Reply
  196. +JMJ+
    Pat, I’m replying (a little late) to this comment you left:
    ***
    I understand romance readers don’t like allegory (as does Jo!). But there are similarities in history that can be used without forcing characters out of time and place. Most readers won’t even notice the parallel, but if they get something out of the history, that’s all good, isn’t it? The whole point of using historical fact would be so we could learn our history, and why shouldn’t we learn how history effects us?
    Now preaching…don’t get me started!
    ***
    Well, my point was that the allegorical book I was trying out *did* force the characters out of time and place, in order to fit the modern agenda. *rueful grin*
    Then there was the fact that I think the author drew the wrong history lesson from the era–but that’s just personal now. *non-rueful grin*

    Reply
  197. +JMJ+
    Pat, I’m replying (a little late) to this comment you left:
    ***
    I understand romance readers don’t like allegory (as does Jo!). But there are similarities in history that can be used without forcing characters out of time and place. Most readers won’t even notice the parallel, but if they get something out of the history, that’s all good, isn’t it? The whole point of using historical fact would be so we could learn our history, and why shouldn’t we learn how history effects us?
    Now preaching…don’t get me started!
    ***
    Well, my point was that the allegorical book I was trying out *did* force the characters out of time and place, in order to fit the modern agenda. *rueful grin*
    Then there was the fact that I think the author drew the wrong history lesson from the era–but that’s just personal now. *non-rueful grin*

    Reply
  198. +JMJ+
    Pat, I’m replying (a little late) to this comment you left:
    ***
    I understand romance readers don’t like allegory (as does Jo!). But there are similarities in history that can be used without forcing characters out of time and place. Most readers won’t even notice the parallel, but if they get something out of the history, that’s all good, isn’t it? The whole point of using historical fact would be so we could learn our history, and why shouldn’t we learn how history effects us?
    Now preaching…don’t get me started!
    ***
    Well, my point was that the allegorical book I was trying out *did* force the characters out of time and place, in order to fit the modern agenda. *rueful grin*
    Then there was the fact that I think the author drew the wrong history lesson from the era–but that’s just personal now. *non-rueful grin*

    Reply
  199. +JMJ+
    Pat, I’m replying (a little late) to this comment you left:
    ***
    I understand romance readers don’t like allegory (as does Jo!). But there are similarities in history that can be used without forcing characters out of time and place. Most readers won’t even notice the parallel, but if they get something out of the history, that’s all good, isn’t it? The whole point of using historical fact would be so we could learn our history, and why shouldn’t we learn how history effects us?
    Now preaching…don’t get me started!
    ***
    Well, my point was that the allegorical book I was trying out *did* force the characters out of time and place, in order to fit the modern agenda. *rueful grin*
    Then there was the fact that I think the author drew the wrong history lesson from the era–but that’s just personal now. *non-rueful grin*

    Reply
  200. +JMJ+
    Pat, I’m replying (a little late) to this comment you left:
    ***
    I understand romance readers don’t like allegory (as does Jo!). But there are similarities in history that can be used without forcing characters out of time and place. Most readers won’t even notice the parallel, but if they get something out of the history, that’s all good, isn’t it? The whole point of using historical fact would be so we could learn our history, and why shouldn’t we learn how history effects us?
    Now preaching…don’t get me started!
    ***
    Well, my point was that the allegorical book I was trying out *did* force the characters out of time and place, in order to fit the modern agenda. *rueful grin*
    Then there was the fact that I think the author drew the wrong history lesson from the era–but that’s just personal now. *non-rueful grin*

    Reply
  201. But, Laura, don’t you realize that the spymaster who told you that the hero had the forged papers is himself the villain who forged them? And he’s told the hero that his “valet” is a French spy and ordered him to strangle you and toss your body in the Thames, for the sake of the country?
    And the only person who know the truth (because he is himself a French spy and was hiding in the priest’s hole opening off the villain’s library and heard the whole thing) is the erstwhile stable-boy?

    Reply
  202. But, Laura, don’t you realize that the spymaster who told you that the hero had the forged papers is himself the villain who forged them? And he’s told the hero that his “valet” is a French spy and ordered him to strangle you and toss your body in the Thames, for the sake of the country?
    And the only person who know the truth (because he is himself a French spy and was hiding in the priest’s hole opening off the villain’s library and heard the whole thing) is the erstwhile stable-boy?

    Reply
  203. But, Laura, don’t you realize that the spymaster who told you that the hero had the forged papers is himself the villain who forged them? And he’s told the hero that his “valet” is a French spy and ordered him to strangle you and toss your body in the Thames, for the sake of the country?
    And the only person who know the truth (because he is himself a French spy and was hiding in the priest’s hole opening off the villain’s library and heard the whole thing) is the erstwhile stable-boy?

    Reply
  204. But, Laura, don’t you realize that the spymaster who told you that the hero had the forged papers is himself the villain who forged them? And he’s told the hero that his “valet” is a French spy and ordered him to strangle you and toss your body in the Thames, for the sake of the country?
    And the only person who know the truth (because he is himself a French spy and was hiding in the priest’s hole opening off the villain’s library and heard the whole thing) is the erstwhile stable-boy?

    Reply
  205. But, Laura, don’t you realize that the spymaster who told you that the hero had the forged papers is himself the villain who forged them? And he’s told the hero that his “valet” is a French spy and ordered him to strangle you and toss your body in the Thames, for the sake of the country?
    And the only person who know the truth (because he is himself a French spy and was hiding in the priest’s hole opening off the villain’s library and heard the whole thing) is the erstwhile stable-boy?

    Reply
  206. he’s told the hero that his “valet” is a French spy and ordered him to strangle you and toss your body in the Thames, for the sake of the country?
    I’m not supposed to know that, because I’m TSTL and I can’t work this sort of thing out by myself. But I’m sure it’ll provide lots of angst for the hero if he falls in love with me (a) while he thinks I’m male and (b) while he thinks I’m a spy.

    Reply
  207. he’s told the hero that his “valet” is a French spy and ordered him to strangle you and toss your body in the Thames, for the sake of the country?
    I’m not supposed to know that, because I’m TSTL and I can’t work this sort of thing out by myself. But I’m sure it’ll provide lots of angst for the hero if he falls in love with me (a) while he thinks I’m male and (b) while he thinks I’m a spy.

    Reply
  208. he’s told the hero that his “valet” is a French spy and ordered him to strangle you and toss your body in the Thames, for the sake of the country?
    I’m not supposed to know that, because I’m TSTL and I can’t work this sort of thing out by myself. But I’m sure it’ll provide lots of angst for the hero if he falls in love with me (a) while he thinks I’m male and (b) while he thinks I’m a spy.

    Reply
  209. he’s told the hero that his “valet” is a French spy and ordered him to strangle you and toss your body in the Thames, for the sake of the country?
    I’m not supposed to know that, because I’m TSTL and I can’t work this sort of thing out by myself. But I’m sure it’ll provide lots of angst for the hero if he falls in love with me (a) while he thinks I’m male and (b) while he thinks I’m a spy.

    Reply
  210. he’s told the hero that his “valet” is a French spy and ordered him to strangle you and toss your body in the Thames, for the sake of the country?
    I’m not supposed to know that, because I’m TSTL and I can’t work this sort of thing out by myself. But I’m sure it’ll provide lots of angst for the hero if he falls in love with me (a) while he thinks I’m male and (b) while he thinks I’m a spy.

    Reply
  211. Well, Laura, since homosexuality is still a capital crime in England, he’ll just have to run off to France with you.
    And what is the role of the Duchess in all this?
    Say! That stable-boy–he’s taller than we thought, and his profile seems more hawklike. His shoulders are wider when he stands up straight, and he has a panther-like glare and a hawkish walk (or something). Do you suppose…..

    Reply
  212. Well, Laura, since homosexuality is still a capital crime in England, he’ll just have to run off to France with you.
    And what is the role of the Duchess in all this?
    Say! That stable-boy–he’s taller than we thought, and his profile seems more hawklike. His shoulders are wider when he stands up straight, and he has a panther-like glare and a hawkish walk (or something). Do you suppose…..

    Reply
  213. Well, Laura, since homosexuality is still a capital crime in England, he’ll just have to run off to France with you.
    And what is the role of the Duchess in all this?
    Say! That stable-boy–he’s taller than we thought, and his profile seems more hawklike. His shoulders are wider when he stands up straight, and he has a panther-like glare and a hawkish walk (or something). Do you suppose…..

    Reply
  214. Well, Laura, since homosexuality is still a capital crime in England, he’ll just have to run off to France with you.
    And what is the role of the Duchess in all this?
    Say! That stable-boy–he’s taller than we thought, and his profile seems more hawklike. His shoulders are wider when he stands up straight, and he has a panther-like glare and a hawkish walk (or something). Do you suppose…..

    Reply
  215. Well, Laura, since homosexuality is still a capital crime in England, he’ll just have to run off to France with you.
    And what is the role of the Duchess in all this?
    Say! That stable-boy–he’s taller than we thought, and his profile seems more hawklike. His shoulders are wider when he stands up straight, and he has a panther-like glare and a hawkish walk (or something). Do you suppose…..

    Reply

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