Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lovin' the Historicals

After my mom and I met for our annual Christmas tea at The English Rose Tea Room, I started thinking about my love for all things historical, especially Victoriana.

What is it about historical novels that appeals to me? What appeals to you?

Not being self-analytical, I have to say: I dunno.

Maybe it’s the fact that the past is fixed. We know what happened (well, we mostly know what happened), so we don’t have to worry about it.

Maybe it’s the fact that novels let us enjoy the lushness of the past without having to experience the bad parts (using chamber pots, not bathing for weeks, and having lice. Eww).

I love reading about beautiful clothes I’ll never wear and exquisite parties I’ll never attend. I love riding through Hyde Park in a landau, racing over the Scottish highlands on horseback, living in a mansion like Blenheim palace, without having to worry about how cold it really was. (When I visited elegant eighteenth-century palaces in Germany, I always froze my butt off).

(This is Blenheim, BTW.)

I love the satin ball gowns, ropes of diamonds, and above-the-elbow gloves, and I’m always happy it’s not me stuck inside the corset and bustle.

That’s not to say I don’t like to see the less elegant side of the past. The historicals I like best don't gloss over the hardships people experienced. I like characters to come from all walks of life (not just the aristocrats).

I’m also not married to one time period. I like Regencies, Victorians, medievals, stories set in the ancient world and the United States. I also like historicals set in non-Anglo countries and ones that blend cultures, like Bonnie Vanak’s Egyptian Victorians.

I was thinking this morning that after I finish the Victorian series I just started (the first book, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, is already up at Amazon [a little BSP there]), I might try something else, like contemporaries or rom. sus.

Then I imagined a world in which I didn’t write historicals, and I screamed! No, no, no, no! Whatever else I write (I currently also write my other love, paranormals/urban fantasy), I will always write historicals! I have to.

But enough about me. How about you? What is it that makes you grab a historical romance and glom it?


Terri December 19, 2008 at 3:34 AM  

I love going back in history. Yes, I know what happened over all but not the nitty gritty of one person's life. If the books is written well, I'm transported to another time where anything is possible, kind of like fantasy.

Anyway, I have a degree in history and love reading about how people lived, worked and loved. It annoys me when someone throws something really historically incorrect in a story but if kept in context, I love reading of what might have been. Of course, I also enjoy reading real people's dairies and history too.

I generally read historical placed in Europe or the US. Africa and the middle East are on the bottom of my list of where I want to read about. The Far East and South American are more on a case by case basis. I think part of that is too many authors just throwing characters in locales that they like and are interested in but not taking the time to really get into the history and social aspects of the country. What was happening in China was not happening in Japan or Korea. (End of rant.)


Linda Banche December 20, 2008 at 8:16 AM  

I can't find romance in the present. Cell phones and day jobs are not romantic, no matter how much you dress them up with fantasy or the paranormal. I want the past, where I can gloss over the bad details, and I know there were a lot of them. I wouldn't care to live in the past, but I want to read about it. And my favorite era is the Regency. I never stray far.

Genella deGrey December 23, 2008 at 11:55 AM  

Fun post! (Yes, I'm a little late. I just completed my latest manuscript and then landed a migraine. Ugh.)

I love historicals because it takes me away from the present day and all its related stresses.

It would be very tough to live without our modern conveniences - especially the hygiene - but they did it, and we are all here as a result.

I've worn a corset and bustle dozens of times - Everyone has to understand that if your tailor is knowledgeable, your fit will be perfect. My costumer is a genius in that respect. No, you can't run foot races or give yourself a pedicure while in one . . . . :)

I am always very comfortable in my corset - I feel more feminine while trussed up than in any other thing I wear. And it does amazing things for my cleavage. ;)

Just think – what would historical people think of . . .
Over-population and sitting in traffic for hours on end with said people.
Air pollution
Electromagnetic smog
Plastic surgery
Chemo therapy
Reality TV (lol)

They’d be horrified.

And I’m always reminded by my other-half who is a history major; as far as western civilization goes, Greeks and Romans have been bathing for thousands of years. Bathing was not invented in the twentieth century. Throughout history it was a personal decision weather to bathe or not.

Author of clean dirty – lol

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner December 23, 2008 at 9:02 PM  

The Vikings were pretty regular bathers, too. Romans, yeah, were into grooming quite a bit.

There's a medieval text, the Romance of the Rose, which includes advice to a young man who wants to go wooing, including washing and cleaning under his fingernails. :-)

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