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Pet Hate in hf

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MaggieSt
Newbie
Currently reading: The Ill-Made Kinght
Interest in HF: Family history sparked my first interest but the further back I went the more I became interested in Medieval England.
Favorite HF book: Cornwell's series last kingdom series
Preferred HF: Anglo Saxon England
Location: Australia

Pet Hate in hf

Postby MaggieSt » Mon July 23rd, 2018, 6:43 am

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.

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Mythica
Bibliophile
Preferred HF: European and American (mostly pre-20th century)
Location: Colorado
Contact:

Re: Pet Hate in hf

Postby Mythica » Wed July 25th, 2018, 3:30 pm

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.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Re: Pet Hate in hf

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Wed July 25th, 2018, 3:41 pm

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'.

SGM
Compulsive Reader

Re: Pet Hate in hf

Postby SGM » Thu July 26th, 2018, 2:00 pm

Regency gentlemen sitting in pubs and drinking pints.
Currently reading - Emergence of a Nation State by Alan Smith

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Mythica
Bibliophile
Preferred HF: European and American (mostly pre-20th century)
Location: Colorado
Contact:

Re: Pet Hate in hf

Postby Mythica » Wed August 1st, 2018, 1:10 am

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.


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