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a problem with perception

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Kveto from Prague
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a problem with perception

Post by Kveto from Prague » Tue December 16th, 2008, 9:40 pm

im wondering if anyone else has this problem. when a friend asked me what kind of books i read i replied "historical fiction". he instantly smiled and said "bodice-rippers, eh?" I awkwardly weighed whether i should try to explain or not.

the perception of historical fiction seems very much overshadowed by the perseption of "bodice rippers" as the standard historical fiction. anyone on this board knows there are many categories of hist fic, only a segment of which would fit that description. not that im trying to cast aspersions on that type (ive tried one or two, not for me, but i can see how it might appeal to others).

my main question is why is hist fic so defined by this perseption? why has this small portion of the genre claimed the non-historical fiction fans ideas? and what can we do to enlighten the uninformed?

to use an analogy that may or may not pertain, its not like if someone says they like to read sci-fi i say "oh, a trekkie, eh?" and harumph them.

once again, no disrespect toward fans of "bodice-rippers". they just arent my personal cup of tea.

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boswellbaxter
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Post by boswellbaxter » Tue December 16th, 2008, 10:15 pm

One explanation might be that at least in the US, until fairly recently, historical fiction was marketed in covers that looked like those for romance novels--even if there was no romantic element in the novel or even a very slight one. There are Jean Plaidy paperbacks from the 1980's I feel quite silly carrying around because of "clutch covers" showing a studly male embracing a ravishing female with flowing tresses.
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Kasthu
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Post by Kasthu » Wed December 17th, 2008, 1:15 am

Thinking back to books like Kathleen Winsor's Forever Amber and Anya Seton's Katherine, I know that those books were definitely looked down upon back then as bodice rippers/ romances. Even Gone With the Wind was sometimes seen as merely a bodice ripper--they were published in the 1930s, '40s and '50s when even those midly erotic sex scenes were seen as scandalous. And the modern-day reprint covers of such books tend to reflect that.

Speaking of bodice-ripper covers, has anyone seen the mockup for Silent on the Moor and the mm paperback of Silent in the Sanctuary?

Ash
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Post by Ash » Wed December 17th, 2008, 1:18 am

One of my favorite all time books is There Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman. But I hesitated getting it because of the bodice ripper cover. I hate to think how many other people have put off good reads because of that.

I have no trouble explaining the type of HF I love, and would probably give said person a recommendation or two or seven....Yes some people have the bodice ripper thing in their heads, probably the same people who think all sci fi is robots and space ships and all fantasy is unicorns, knights and magic. Genres are great in scope; there really isn't a way to pin down just what they are, unless you have examples to show.

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boswellbaxter
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Post by boswellbaxter » Wed December 17th, 2008, 1:35 am

[quote=""Kasthu""]
Speaking of bodice-ripper covers, has anyone seen the mockup for Silent on the Moor and the mm paperback of Silent in the Sanctuary?[/quote]

Got a link?
Susan Higginbotham
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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Wed December 17th, 2008, 1:38 am

I belong to the Romantic Novelists Association in the UK - a very broad church. Some of my best friends write romantic fiction - across the board. and all of us are sick to death of being clobbered for the genres we write. It's not just historical fiction that gets tarred with the perjurative brush. Journalists and readers with their noses in the air will bandy about phrases such as 'bodice ripper' and 'trashy romance' and 'Mills & Boon' in a very disparaging way if the word 'romantic fiction' is mentioned. It's slack, lazy journalism and literary snobbery. When I have said to taxi drivers in London that I write historical fiction, I've had the 'bodice ripper' remark cast in my direction out of their ignorance. I've also had the 'Barbara Cartland' card played when I said I was going to the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards at the Savoy Hotel. That would be the year Philippa Gregory won the award with The Other Boleyn Girl. I don't think you're ever going to get away from it because the prejudice is just too easy and people have to poke fun at something. No one clobbers Bernard Cornwell for writing action novels or Sansom for writing murders. (or not very often). Grrrr..... :mad:
And now I think I'd better go to bed before I become even less coherent! :o
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Carine
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Post by Carine » Wed December 17th, 2008, 7:02 am

Yes, there is a lot of ignorence especially about historical fiction. But if anyone says things to me in a mocking way like that about historical fiction I just hit them back by mocking their ignorence !! :D

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diamondlil
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Post by diamondlil » Wed December 17th, 2008, 8:48 am

[quote=""boswellbaxter""]Got a link?[/quote]

Here's a link for the new covers
My Blog - Reading Adventures

All things Historical Fiction - Historical Tapestry


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Madeleine
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Post by Madeleine » Wed December 17th, 2008, 11:36 am

I agree about the "bodice ripper" tag, but the illustrations on many HF book covers don't exactly do a lot to dispel that label; nice as they are, they still shout "historical romance" even if the actual story isn't just about a romance!

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boswellbaxter
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Post by boswellbaxter » Wed December 17th, 2008, 2:10 pm

[quote=""diamondlil""]Here's a link for the new covers[/quote]

Thanks! Nothing like copping a feel!
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