“I am not a fan of historical fiction that is sloppy in its research or is dishonest about the real history.” - Kate Mosse.
Sometimes it’s difficult to read historical fiction because of inaccuracies.
Historical romance requires a little bending of the truth, a little glossing over regarding the sheer awfulness of life back a few centuries.
I like feisty heroines, but in historical novels they can’t be too outrageous. As recently as the 1960s, women were still required to be ladies. Even British suffragettes had certain standards. So, if you want an interesting, sympathetic heroine, someone a modern woman can identify with, a little exaggeration is required. But a writer needs to try and work within the parameters enforced by the social mores of the era in which the story is set.
There’s a Queensland author who writes historicals with Australian settings. She’s very popular overseas, particularly in Germany. I’ve read two of her books. That’s all I could handle. Too many historical innaccuracies. Simple errors. For instance, the use of photography in newspapers in the nineteenth century (or, rather, non-use). Women in places on Australian racecourses where they were not allowed to be back then.
We all make mistakes. No doubt one day I’ll be taken to task about something in my historical romance, The Heart Has Its Reasons, and I certainly forgive an author one or two minor inaccuracies, even when they take me out of the story and I have a big hissy fit out of all proportion to the author’s offence. An entertaining historical I read recently had an error regarding distance between places near Sydney. It was a no-brainer for me. I grew up in a town between these two sites, went to school near one of them. Believe me, back in the nineteenth century it would have been quite a hike to get from one to the other, even on a horse. But that was the only error I detected, and I’ve read some of this author’s other books and enjoyed them. If they had factual errors, I’m ignorant of the fact.
I think part of the problem is that we authors can never fully relax into a story. We’re always in critical editing mode. It takes an outstanding author to take us into their world, enjoy the story, and ignore the mechanics of their writing.
I’ve recently been immersed in the novels of Lisa Kleypas. She writes contemporary stories that are beautifully crafted, but it’s her historicals that really resonate with me. No detectable research errors either, and she’s so good I can even ignore the Americanisms she allows to creep in. Her books are set in England, in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. If you love historical romance, I highly recommend her work.
Currently I’m rewriting a fantasy story for children. It’s set in a parallel medieval world with a vaguely European setting. I can make things up. Design my own dragons and unicorns. But there’s still research. Weaponry. Armour. Castles. Clothing. No need to strictly adhere to medieval reality, but a certain veracity is required.
Back to it!
The Heart Has Its Reasons is available for ORDER by clicking this link https://www.bronwynhouldsworth.com/books