Victorian Romance Novel Fans discussion

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Book Chat > Can a Historical Romance Have Too Much History

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 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) (Gatadelafuente) | 736 comments Mod
We were talking about 'wallpaper historicals.' I think a historical romance novel can be way too thin on the historical aspects. What about the other way around? Can a historical romance be so stuffed with history that it's a turnoff?

What do you think?


message 2: by FlibBityFLooB (last edited Nov 30, 2009 05:46AM) (new)

FlibBityFLooB Interesting question. In general, I would classify that type of book as historical fiction (with a romance in it) as opposed to Historical romance.

I love the historical aspects, so it's hard for me to imagine a book with too much history in it.

Do you have any examples you can think of that go that direction?


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) (Gatadelafuente) | 736 comments Mod
I'm just curious (and trying to generate some discussion on the group). I haven't read too many historical romances rich on detail that I didn't like. So I can't really give any examples. I'm sure that some of the other members can.

I'd rather a book have too much history than not enough, as long as the romance is really good and keeps my interest. If I don't care about the characters, it's not the fault of the history that I didn't enjoy the book.

One thing I would say I stay away from is when an author writes a historical romance out of a real life character, and you know that they didn't have a good end in their life.

For instance, that book The Conqueror that came out several years ago. I can't remember who it was about. Attila, maybe? I haven't read it, but it didn't seem very romantic to me according to the storyline.


message 4: by new_user (new)

new_user Hmmm, I think too much history is only noticeable when the characters or romance are really spare. Then a reader gets resentful that she had to swim through all the other stuff, LOL. There should be a payoff! ;) I like history-- though not so much in Victorian novels because it's the same social studies textbook blurb again and again or trivia.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) (Gatadelafuente) | 736 comments Mod
The Conqueror was about Alexander the Great. I believe Judith E. French wrote it.

I don't know why I'm so into Victoriana. It was kind of a dreary, hypocritical time, but it is favored time period of mine when it comes to fiction.

I think that's one of the reason why I love Lisa Kleypas' Victorian novels so much. She really uses the backdrop so well and ties it into the romance and the fictional story, almost as a secondary character, but it doesn't upstage the romance, IMHO.


message 6: by Debbie (new)

Debbie (halfpint66) | 12 comments As much as I do love historicals, too much history can overshadow the romance and interaction between characters. I want more character interaction than anything else in anything I read.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) (Gatadelafuente) | 736 comments Mod
I can see where you're coming from, Debbie.


message 8: by new_user (new)

new_user It was an interesting time period. :) I think it's because there are lot of familiar elements -it kind of seems like the beginning to our current age- and at the same time we have some distance from other elements enough to enjoy them. If that was vague enough... LOL.


message 9: by Julianna (new)

Julianna (AuthorJuliannaD) | 71 comments Being the history lover that I am, I'm not sure that I would say there can be too much history in a romance novel, and if it gets to that point, I tend to agree with FlibBityFLooB. Then it would become historical fiction to me rather than historical romance. I think a lot of it can depend on the author too. Some authors have a real knack for weaving the historical details seamlessly into the story and making it stimulating and intriguing without allowing the romance to suffer, while others have such a dry delivery it bogs down the entire story for me.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) (Gatadelafuente) | 736 comments Mod
new_user wrote: "It was an interesting time period. :) I think it's because there are lot of familiar elements -it kind of seems like the beginning to our current age- and at the same time we have some distance fro..."

--That makes absolute sense to me. I think that's a major part of why I like the Victorian age so much.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) (Gatadelafuente) | 736 comments Mod
Julie (Mom2lnb) wrote: "Being the history lover that I am, I'm not sure that I would say there can be too much history in a romance novel, and if it gets to that point, I tend to agree with FlibBityFLooB. Then it would be..."

--You are making a lot of sense.

I appreciate everyone's comments so far. I hope some writers tune in to get some feedback on this.


message 12: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) To me, it's vital to set your story correctly. I know that I find myself tremendously irritated as a reader when I come across some detail in historical fiction/romance that I know to be inaccurate. It causes me to take the reader far less seriously.

I actually re-wrote part of my novel after I realized that I had neglected to mention a fairly significant historical event that took place in the environs and time frame of my plot. I felt that it was crucial to creating the right atmosphere to include the event, even if it was just mentioned in passing.


message 13: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) (last edited Dec 07, 2009 03:27PM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) (Gatadelafuente) | 736 comments Mod
Your attention to detail is appreciated by us historical romance (and history) buffs, Sharon. :)


message 14: by Christy (new)

Christy Stewart (ChristyLeighStewart) I am so bored by history (unless it's a Hitler-Was-Gay/A-Mason kind of documentary) so things can easily moved into TOO much history for me. Naming a year in the begining is a little much for me at times...


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) (Gatadelafuente) | 736 comments Mod
I'm lazy, so I like when they give a year. Usually I can figure approximately what period it's in by the dress, the events occuring, etc.

I don't know why, I'm a history geek. I love it!


message 16: by new_user (new)

new_user I like history too. I'm always a little wary when the author decides to include famous figures from a period directly in the story though. That's a fine line.


message 17: by FlibBityFLooB (new)

FlibBityFLooB Queen Victoria makes an appearance in SOULLESS. I wasn't expecting that!


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) (Gatadelafuente) | 736 comments Mod
Most over-used historical figure in a romance.....Drumroll.....

Prince Albert.

Prince Henry II shows up a lot, too!


message 19: by Christy (new)

Christy Stewart (ChristyLeighStewart) FlibBityFLooB wrote: "Queen Victoria makes an appearance in SOULLESS. I wasn't expecting that!"

That surprised me as well!

But sadly, I'm so dumb that's when I was all 'Oh, so this is Victorian?'



 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) (Gatadelafuente) | 736 comments Mod
I still need to read Soulless. Soon!


message 21: by Pamela(AllHoney) (last edited Apr 27, 2012 06:39AM) (new)

Pamela(AllHoney) (pamelap) I think there can be too much history in a romance novel. I love enough to give me the feel of the era and the lifestyles of the times but I think if there is too much history going on then I'll feel like I'm reading a history book instead of my romance. For example, if the story is set during a war and there are paragraphs after paragraphs going on about this battle or that or has pages of who was doing what in the government or the "setting of the stage" takes up more time than the actual romance then its too much.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) (Gatadelafuente) | 736 comments Mod
That's a good way of gauging if there is too much history, Pamela. I agree!


UniquelyMoi ~ 1-Click RockChick I need me some romance!!! That's why I read. I want to be swept away by a Highland Laird or a crazy alpha vampire who thinks my blood smells like honey.... I want to immerse myself in this kind of world where love is the driving factor.


message 24: by Pamela(AllHoney) (new)

Pamela(AllHoney) (pamelap) Yep, Dhes is on the right track ☺


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads) (Gatadelafuente) | 736 comments Mod
I too am a sucker for a great love story, no matter what setting.


message 26: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Metz I missed some of the earlier discussion so I went back and read it. I agree that it can be a hard thing to balance. If you/the author doesn't do enough research and add enough details to make the setting and time period come alive, then it can kill the story. Bad information can also kill the story -- especially for people who really know that time period or subject.

The opposite is true as well. Sometimes they get so excited over all the info they got that they want to include it all. Honestly - there is no need to include all those details. It bogs a story down to the point where you wonder whether you're reading a novel or getting a history lesson.

It doesn't just happen with historical information either. Sometimes a writer does a book with birds, quilting, cats, or classic cars as a theme and you get more info than you ever wanted to know about that subject. ;o)

It's hard work. So we should appreciate those who do a fantastic job all the more.


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