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Carolly Erickson

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Miss Moppet
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Post by Miss Moppet » Wed September 9th, 2009, 12:00 am

I read CE's biography of Marie Antoinette, at a time when I read every new biography of MA as it came out - a few have slipped by my radar since then. As I recall there was nothing wrong with it, not brilliant, not terrible either.

Since hearing that her novel about MA included MA and Fersen making a flying visit to Sweden, her fiction has been on my list of books to avoid...and I'll avoid this too. But I like the sound of the Reay Tannahill book and possibly Immortal Queen.

Does she at least explain in the author's note that MQS didn't go to the papal court etc?

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Post by Chatterbox » Wed September 9th, 2009, 12:06 am

Erm nope, she notably avoided that particular episode in her author's note. But she did say that nobody could know whether or not her scenario of Darnley's murder was the right one, that what really happened to Bothwell could be challenged, etc. So the glaring omission of this other stuff in the author's note - hi folks, i just thought it would be fun to invent a trip for her -- was what sent my anger into high enough gear that I sat down & wrote this. that, plus reading reviews that applauded it. Gah.

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Post by Miss Moppet » Wed September 9th, 2009, 12:21 am

[quote=""Chatterbox""]Erm nope, she notably avoided that particular episode in her author's note. But she did say that nobody could know whether or not her scenario of Darnley's murder was the right one, that what really happened to Bothwell could be challenged, etc. So the glaring omission of this other stuff in the author's note - hi folks, i just thought it would be fun to invent a trip for her -- was what sent my anger into high enough gear that I sat down & wrote this. that, plus reading reviews that applauded it. Gah.[/quote]

:mad: That is appalling!!!

It's worse than no author's note at all. Because she's implied anything not mentioned is historical fact. People who don't know much about MQS (and there are people who saw Marie Antoinette without knowing she ended up beheaded, ditto for TOBG) are going to think this is all true.

I'm not against what she did as such. I don't particularly want to read the book but I wouldn't say it's unacceptable. After all, people take greater liberties with historical characters in fantasy and science fiction.

The difference is...it's fantasy or science fiction. The reader knows from the start that it's not based on fact. With a historical novel, 'entertainment' or not, there's an assumption that it is.

I wonder does the omission mean she's a bit uncomfortable with it herself?

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Post by Chatterbox » Wed September 9th, 2009, 12:34 am

Exactly my point. By omission, by focusing her invented story around a real life person, she implies that it is history. I can just seeing having a discussion one day with someone who has read this book and insists that the basic facts in it are true. It is just so disrespectful to the real people, to history, to readers... for that matter, to other historical novelists. I ended this feeling strongly that she was both lazy and just as monomaniacal about commercial potential as any Danielle Steele or James Patterson. But at least the latter are honest about what they do. If she weren't lazy, she could have crafted a fascinating and imaginative story about, say, a one-time lady in waiting to Mary. Look at what Poesie Graeme Edwards did -- she took more liberties with the facts than I personally care for, flavored it with a lot of really explicit sex that had not much to do with the plot after a while, and set up some improbable plot twists. But it was not nearly as bothersome as this, because at the core it was very clear what she was doing. Her characters may have been unlikely to do some of the things they were seen doing, but we didn't see, say, Elizabeth Woodville dressing up in men's clothing and going on pilgrimage to Jerusalem to atone for being a witch. That's the level of invented narrative in this book.

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Post by Miss Moppet » Wed September 9th, 2009, 1:29 am

[quote=""Chatterbox""]I ended this feeling strongly that she was both lazy and just as monomaniacal about commercial potential as any Danielle Steele or James Patterson. But at least the latter are honest about what they do. [/quote]

Getting off the point, but after reading the Vickie Bane and Lorenzo Benet biography of Danielle Steel (fascinating) I came to the conclusion she is very sincere about her fiction and has (unlike Patterson) produced it all herself. She just happens to be one of those people who finds that what they like best to write sells in truckloads. (Full disclosure: DS was my favourite writer when I was 14, but I only find her stuff from the 80s readable now.)

[quote=""Chatterbox""]If she weren't lazy, she could have crafted a fascinating and imaginative story about, say, a one-time lady in waiting to Mary. [/quote]

Yes, which I'd much rather read than a flight-of-fancy thing about MQS herself. But MQS is one of those 'marquee names' - so yes, I agree with you, CE is in it for the money!

And that's just sad. Being in mergers & acquisitions for the money - understandable (till your firm goes bankrupt and you end up standing on the pavement with a cardboard box). Being in historical fiction for the money - oh dear.

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Post by Chatterbox » Wed September 9th, 2009, 2:06 am

Ha! Just read your comment about being in it for the money like an M&A banker immediately after having written the following in chapter 9 of the never-ending Wall Street book:

"Overall, the outlook for bank profits to remain at their current levels, much less continue to set record after record, looks rather bleak, at least by the standards of anyone who had enjoyed the last three decades of robust growth and lavish bonuses. That would include pretty much anyone doing business on Wall Street today. “I got into this business to get rich, to make a pile,” said one still-furious investment banker who remains unemployed after a decade earning seven-figure compensation packages from one of the now-defunct firms."

I agree that DS is probably sincere about what she does. Otherwise it woudl show. It's odd; James Patterson gets such vile reviews and yet he still is selling & getting published. There must be a silent majority out there who adore his books. I'd rather read Harlan Coben.

What worries me is that CE may actually believe that it's OK to pull this kind of trick on readers. Oddly, that would bother me more than her doing so out of blatant self interest.

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Post by Miss Moppet » Wed September 9th, 2009, 2:30 am

[quote=""Chatterbox""]Ha! Just read your comment about being in it for the money like an M&A banker immediately after having written the following in chapter 9 of the never-ending Wall Street book:

"Overall, the outlook for bank profits to remain at their current levels, much less continue to set record after record, looks rather bleak, at least by the standards of anyone who had enjoyed the last three decades of robust growth and lavish bonuses. That would include pretty much anyone doing business on Wall Street today. “I got into this business to get rich, to make a pile,” said one still-furious investment banker who remains unemployed after a decade earning seven-figure compensation packages from one of the now-defunct firms."

[/quote]

I think even bankers, who have lived their lives on the basis that the market is God, are going to find it difficult to accept how much less their services are going to be worth, if wanted at all. I worked in M&A for two years, and everyone I knew was working for the money. There were dedicated people - there was one guy who took a day off only to come back in to join his colleagues on their coffee break and chat about synergies or whatever - but none of them would have been willing to work the hours and make the sacrifices they did for less money. I was only a PA, and even I was in it for the money, because I was earning more than a 22 year old could anywhere else - more than the graduate trainees, because I got overtime - and I could use my own little bonus to furnish my flat.

I'm glad to be out of it but it's going to be so interesting to see how it all shakes down. Look forward to reading the book when it's out!

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The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots

Post by Misfit » Wed September 30th, 2009, 2:55 pm

Well I just started this Monday (reading while doing cardio) and so far it's pretty damn bad. I haven't got to the stuff CB's mentioned but so far in the prologue we see Bothwell witnessing Mary's execution and then running off to Africa or something to tell Mary's tale to the world.

Oh, and Bothwell's nickname for her even before they do the hurdy gurdy?

Orange Blossom :eek: :eek:

That's bad enough, but what makes it worse is the writing. Pure drivel.
At home with a good book and the cat...
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Post by princess garnet » Wed September 30th, 2009, 7:52 pm

[quote=""Miss Moppet""]I read CE's biography of Marie Antoinette, at a time when I read every new biography of MA as it came out - a few have slipped by my radar since then. As I recall there was nothing wrong with it, not brilliant, not terrible either.[/quote]

I've also read it. For a time, it was out of print.

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Post by love_uk » Wed September 30th, 2009, 8:17 pm

[quote=""sweetpotatoboy""]I had never heard this expression. I understood the meaning from the context - but had to look it to be sure![/quote]

Dear SPB,

Here is a helpful website for idioms for future reference:

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/Say+Uncle

:)
Joan

My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter. ~Thomas Helm

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