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Pet Hate in hf

Posted: Mon July 23rd, 2018, 6:43 am
by MaggieSt
Hi everyone, thought I might put a question out there. What are some of the things you hate to read in historical fiction? Is it the poor research, dialogue, phrases etc. Would love to know your thoughts.

Re: Pet Hate in hf

Posted: Wed July 25th, 2018, 3:30 pm
by Mythica
Dialogue is important but it doesn't need to sound super authentically historical, it just needs to be void of any noticeably modern words or phrases. In fact, some authors try to hard to make it sound historical and it actually just comes off as forced and hokey.

For me, there are certain specific tropes that bother me. I get so sick of the plucky daughter who objects to an arranged married. I don't necessarily expect her to go happily, but she can be upset, scared, etc about it without "objecting" or refusing to go through with it. I don't see that as "strong", just unrealistic. A strong woman in history would accept the fate she has no control over and make the best of it, no matter how distasteful the match is to her.

Also, as a genealogist I get soooo tired of the myth about immigrants to the US having their names forcibly changed at Ellis Island by ignorant immigration officers. It's not true, for so many reasons. I won't go into it but if you just google it, there dozens of articles about how it's a myth.

Re: Pet Hate in hf

Posted: Wed July 25th, 2018, 3:41 pm
by MLE (Emily Cotton)
My pet hate is the issue of sex. Modern authors very frequently have people copulating with no thought of the biological consequences. Sex = babies. Back then, EVERYBODY knew this, although apparently it doesn't show up on many a modern writer's brainscan. When there often isn't enough to eat for 6-8 months in a given decade, babies and their mothers without solid support go hungry, and then they die of whatever little thing comes along because their immune systems are compromised by poor nutrition. (So no, they don't 'starve' to death as in a city under siege, but they die just the same.) This was a problem for widows and women who were abandoned, but for someone who bore an illegitimate child--well, they might just as well sign its death warrant.
Sex meant that. To everyone.
So although hormones raged as much as in the present day, there was a LOT more restraint practiced.
Also, from parish and grave records, it looks like across Europe from 1300-1800, the death rate from pregnancy and related causes was 18-20%. In other words, once a female was of bearing age, sex was more likely to kill her than anything else.
Which is why a convent wasn't such a terrible choice for a young woman.

Just sayin'.

Re: Pet Hate in hf

Posted: Thu July 26th, 2018, 2:00 pm
by SGM
Regency gentlemen sitting in pubs and drinking pints.

Re: Pet Hate in hf

Posted: Wed August 1st, 2018, 1:10 am
by Mythica
MLE (Emily Cotton) wrote:My pet hate is the issue of sex. Modern authors very frequently have people copulating with no thought of the biological consequences. Sex = babies. Back then, EVERYBODY knew this, although apparently it doesn't show up on many a modern writer's brainscan. When there often isn't enough to eat for 6-8 months in a given decade, babies and their mothers without solid support go hungry, and then they die of whatever little thing comes along because their immune systems are compromised by poor nutrition. (So no, they don't 'starve' to death as in a city under siege, but they die just the same.) This was a problem for widows and women who were abandoned, but for someone who bore an illegitimate child--well, they might just as well sign its death warrant.
Sex meant that. To everyone.
So although hormones raged as much as in the present day, there was a LOT more restraint practiced.
Also, from parish and grave records, it looks like across Europe from 1300-1800, the death rate from pregnancy and related causes was 18-20%. In other words, once a female was of bearing age, sex was more likely to kill her than anything else.
Which is why a convent wasn't such a terrible choice for a young woman.

Just sayin'.
All so very, very true, but of course it did still happen. I have an Italian ancestor born about 1771 who was a foundling, probably born out of wedlock. His records say "parents unknown" and his surname was "la Casasanta" meaning "the holy house" because he was left at the church. Another ancestor born earlier (probably around 1720) also has the la Casasanta surname and probably a foundling - I don't have any records saying her parents are unknown, but given the surname, it's a likely assumption. Then I have another Italian ancestor who had at least four children out of wedlock (this was later, in the mid 1800s), never named the father and the children took her surname, so I'm thinking she was either a prostitute or someone's mistress. Finally, yet another Italian ancestor had a child out of wedlock in the late 1800s. The father was absent because he was in the Carabiniere - when he returned, they left town and lived together yet didn't get married until she was pregnant with the second child! Sometimes I wish I could write well enough to write some of these stories.

But I agree that the attitude towards it is often wrongly portrayed in fiction. It's one thing for it to happen, it's another thing for it to happen without any concern at any point for the consequences.

Re: Pet Hate in hf

Posted: Fri November 16th, 2018, 2:46 am
by Margaret
I'm with Mythica on the
plucky daughter who objects to an arranged marriage.
When a novel opens with that, I know the whole thing is going to be one cliché after another. It's much more interesting, I think, to explore what happens in an arranged marriage, anything from the couple growing to love each other to either the wife or the husband deciding they've had enough of a very bad situation and finding a way out (often out of the frying pan into the fire).

And maybe it's my age showing, but I'm tired of novels about teenagers (mostly - there are some wonderful exceptions).

Re: Pet Hate in hf

Posted: Thu December 6th, 2018, 2:18 am
by Mythica
Here's one that annoys me about titles: the amount of historical novels that are titled "The such-and-such's daughter/wife". Okay, I know that in history, women are generally degraded to being defined by their nearest male relation, usually father or husband. But do we really need to perpetuate that today? Even if I didn't have a problem with the principle, the sheer number of times I see it is just annoying. Call it something more creative for crying out loud.

Re: Pet Hate in hf

Posted: Thu December 6th, 2018, 5:05 am
by Margaret
the amount of historical novels that are titled "The such-and-such's daughter/wife"
Yes, there are a lot of these! I do understand that a novel about the wife or daughter of a very famous man may attract more readers if titled "Attila's Wife" rather than "Kreka." But there's a lot of HF with titles like "The Admiral's Daughter" etc. Seems like in the course of a novel like that, the daughter is likely to do something exciting in her own right that could be referenced in the title. "Crossing Oceans" or something like that.

Re: Pet Hate in hf

Posted: Fri December 7th, 2018, 9:58 am
by Madeleine
I'm fed up with "girl! and "wife" being used in titles in general fiction, it's everywhere now. Enough! It's beginning to smack of laziness as well.

Re: Pet Hate in hf

Posted: Tue December 11th, 2018, 5:12 am
by Margaret
"girl! and "wife" being used in titles
I wonder how much of this is generated by agents, editors and publishers rather than the author. When I was trying to sell one of my own manuscripts, my agent suggested a title change. In my case, changing the title was a very good idea. But I can imagine there may be times when an agent or publisher insists on a title change driven by the belief that a book will sell better with a different title, even though the title may be more cliched than one the author would have preferred.