European Royalty discussion

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Other Discussions > What do you think of made up history in your historical novels?

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message 1: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 696 comments Interesting thread going on over at Amazon if anyone wants to jump in or we can talk about it here,

http://www.amazon.com/tag/historical%...


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 378 comments I hate to say this, but "it depends."

On historical novels about the ancient world, for example, the history we do have is like a jigsaw puzzle in many cases. If it's a matter of creative putting the pieces together, and especially with an author's note, I usually don't have a problem with it.

On the more modern period, where we often know a great deal more, I'm usually less flexible.

But in almost all cases I like an author's note.


message 3: by Aimee (new)

Aimee | 11 comments I agree with Susanna, I have been known to get rather militant when an author takes too much liberty with well known historical facts. To the point that I steer totally away from fiction about historical characters I am too familar with. (Could not bring my self to read The Other Boleyn Girl)

However, if they take historical mysteries and "solve them" with fiction or write "what if" books, I have no troble with those. As a matter of fact I find thoses books facinating.




message 4: by April Ann (last edited Jan 29, 2009 01:13PM) (new)

April Ann (bloomer) | 83 comments It depends on how much I know about the history! For instance, I loved Anya Seton's The Winthrop Woman because it was exceedingly accurate! I never had the thought...."that's not right".

However, if I was reading a novel of say..... Ancient Rome or the Vikings...I wouldn't know if it was accurate or not.

Probably what is most important, as with any novel, is good writing. (Not saying that I can write, I just don't like to read bad writing, which is why I don't write!)


message 5: by Donald (new)

Donald (donroc) | 49 comments The major historical facts should not be altered (except in speculative HF clearly labeled as such), but gaps in the lives of the famous can be filled by the author, especially motives and thoughts of the characters if there is nothing written to contradict.

I understand there is an international best-seller set in Barcelona in the 14th century, and the author includes the Spanish Inquisition, which was founded in the mid-15th century. That would be a wall-banger for me.

Now, if an author has the wrong bird in a locale, I would not notice or care if I was told about it.


It is always the story and characters that matter most, with the exception of flagrant distortion of historical facts and events.


message 6: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Moody | 544 comments I can't say I'm a purist in my Historical Fiction - if I were, I suppose I'd just read historical NON-fiction.

What I definitely don't like, though, are when real, well documented people (kings, queens, mistresses, etc.) are used as characters and the events that they participate in are false. Obviously not small things, like a dinner, but trips, tournaments, etc - events that are important to the story should be historically documented.


message 7: by Barbara (last edited Feb 06, 2009 05:34PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 143 comments I do like the comments people have been making on the 'liberties' taken with historical events and personnel . I especially liked Donald's comments on the wall-bangery nature of moving the Spanish Inquistion to another century!
I was just thinking that I am probably more lenient when it comes to movies - though I find it really hard to come at Elizabeth 1st and Mary Queen of Scots meeting as they had happen in so many film and TV depictions. Even the wonderful Helen Mirren series, great theatre though it is.
I do take other's point though about the extent to which one actually knows that details (or more) are wrong.
I confess, for eg, to absolutely loving Gladiator, though a friend who is knowledgable about the period was spluttering with indignation. I think I care more, in film, when the costumes and hair and accents/language are grossly anachronistic. Hollywood just cannot bear women's hair not to be contemporary. And as for anyone's teeth being authentically medieval or whatever .......


message 8: by Maryse (new)

Maryse (belle_maryse) | 4 comments Hi, I'm new here and I must confess, I haven't read most of the newer Historical fiction titles out there. Anyway, I don't mind small creative liberties as long as it's not glaringly wrong. Speculating on relationships of certain individuals, for instance, is part of the story and is fine by me. I 'm less lenient, however, regarding the events and time line (as Donald pointed out with the Spanish inquisitions) -- that would be just too distracting for me, especially if I'm familiar with the facts.


message 9: by Jenn (new)

Jenn (jenn_reed) | 19 comments As most will probably note from my participation on similar threads in other groups, I don't mind "gapping" when it moves the plot forward and there's no historical evidence to the contrary, however, if I'm more intimately familiar with a time period right down to the material culture and personalities of major players on the political circuit, I'm less tolerant; Invented love affairs, etc...

I fully agree with Donald, moving an event from one century to another, definitely a wall banger.

Historical movies like "Kingdom of Heaven". Good, but too PC and a lot of liberal play with history.

Braveheart....don't get me started. ;)



message 10: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Welcome to the group Maryse!


message 11: by Maryse (new)

Maryse (belle_maryse) | 4 comments Thanks, Sara :)


message 12: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidiodell) | 7 comments Can I join the group too?? I guess I'm a little late on this, but I want to echo the fact that adding information when there is no known info, and its plausible, is totally fine with me, as is of course, adding conversation and thoughts of the characters when we obviously can't be privy to that in most cases, esp. the farther back we go in history. I actually really enjoy historical fiction for this fact, I like having stories completed, even if I know it might not be true, I like thinking that it could be true. :)

I can't believe a historical fiction author would change the time of the Spanish inquisition. That would make me want to rip the book in half, screaming profanity. (I kid, but really I would be very put off, and never read that author again). Then again, I'm not a historian by profession, just by love, so I admit I might not catch everything, just the major stuff.
And I did love Gladiator which would have been a different story if it was a book, but Hollywood is Hollywood, and I take all those movies with grain of salt. I actually enjoy pointing out where they've gone wrong, kind of like a source of sick pleasure I suppose. :) Although, while I do enjoy it it makes me angry knowing that ignorant people watching it will actually think its history when it is clearly purely fiction based loosely on fact. Ok, I'll stop ranting now. . . :)


message 13: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Welcome to the group Heidi! Ha ha, there's no lateness to these threads. I actually love it when older threads get resurrected by newer people because I tend to forget about them! Feel free to comment to your heart's content in any of the threads in this group (even the older group read discussions if you feel like it).


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

well as far as im not aware of the real facts (which is probably all the time) i don't mind it!its fun to check later & criticize the book later. heheheh!!


message 15: by Cathie (new)

Cathie | 38 comments And then, who's to say that something isn't fact. History sometimes is a matter of what the historians want to believe and there may be many other theories, i.e. Dorothy Dunnett's King Hereafter about MacBeth (the real one, not the one Shakespeare incorporated into his work). But then, how do we know that Shakespeare didn't have it right? Or that Lady Dunnett isn't right? There are many theories about Richard III, but no one will ever know the actual facts. Sometimes we need to rely on our best judgment and realize that there may be a split decision between readers. I also have read books where the author made the mistake of putting something into the wrong century or the wrong date and it did pull me out of the story at first. I accepted that it was a mistake by the author and continued reading and it turned out fine for me.


message 16: by Laura (new)

Laura | 99 comments I'm coming a little to this one as well...

I once had a history professor that stated that history is how to tell lies as if they were true. When reading history (non-fiction), you like to think that what you are reading has been well researched and is factual. Unfortunately, unless you were there, there is no way to know all of the details of what really happened. Even if you were present, what you witness is going to be distorted by your personal feelings and impressions. When I read historical fiction, I keep those thoughts in mind. If it is a good story that keeps me interested I'm going to be a little more forgiving if some of the facts have been changed, especially if the author admits what they have done and why. If the story is not that interesting or I don't find it believable, I tend to be less forgiving.


message 17: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 696 comments Well said Laura. It really comes down to the story at times doesn't it? I know in Kathryn in the Court of Six Queens is inaccurate as all get out, but the story is so damn good who cares? And a mediocre story sends me nit picking more than I might otherwise.


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