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First Page: Unnamed Historical

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***

Whirling gowns and masks flashed by, sparkling in the candlelight, a riot of sumptuous jewel-toned colour. Wide, flounced skirts rustled, echoed by the hard-soled click of dress shoes and the zip of folding fans being unfurled. Laughter and the murmur of polite conversation flittered like Springtime butterflies through the groups of bodies, poised and elegant with carefully sharpened tongues and guarded secrets.

James adjusted his mask, ever-present of his need to be anonymous at this most prestigious of balls. The Lady Whitington had made it clear he was to attend when he had called a fortnight ago and begged off for Parliamentary business.

“Nonsense!” She had exclaimed. “You will come, and you will have fun. You can’t mourn forever, James.”

He thought briefly on the irony that indeed even though he had arrived at the ball, he was hiding behind the domino strapped uncomfortably to his head. The sequins and beading itched ferociously, but he let it be. A small price to pay to make his appearance, then leave before the night was too late, and the gambling tables too full. He had just been fussed over by Lady Whitington, who was exuberantly happy he had chosen to make an appearance, and exclaimed that the ladies would be happy for some new variety in dance partner. she had fiddled with his lapel, and kissed him soundly on the cheek.

Dancing was the last thing he wanted to do.

Several ladies glided by, giving him glances of interest and curiosity, then whispering to themselves as they passed him. How was it that he was here, alone, forced into socialization during the Season by way of a masked soirée? he knew obligation and guilt had won out over stubborn pride, and Lady Whitington had been adamant. He sighed and wound his way to the refreshments, receiving an elegant crystal tumbler with a splash of whisky. He stood by the cart, and sipped.

Tedious.

The small quartet in the corner of the room began to play, the red-faced pianoforte player already sweating with the heat that many bodies in a small ballroom could give. He watched as they began what sounded like an ancient minuet and he sighed again, expecting the inevitable. He would have to show some fortitude and ask someone to dance, and deal with the patterned, stiff footsteps he now abhored.

Truthfully he used to love it, but that was before. Before everything.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

28 Comments

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  2. Danielle D
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 05:59:56

    I’m a reader and so far what I read I liked.

  3. Maili
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 06:05:12

    I quite like it. Descriptive, odd, and interesting enough for me to read on for a bit.

    Do keep an eye on the US/restoftheworld spelling/usage issue, though. This page has a mixture, e.g. colour (the world but US), whisky (US/IR), socialization (US), dress shoes (US), fortnight (UK), etc.

  4. Maili
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 06:07:00

    Er, that’s unless the author is Canadian. I think Canada has both as well as their own?

  5. joanne
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 06:57:00

    I would like it a great deal more if it started with your “Dancing was the last thing he wanted to do”.
    There your hero is presented to the reader, we see where he is and what he’s wearing and how he feels. That line drew me in just when I was about to stop reading.

    Before that there are too many descriptions without any action – but I prefer a more minimalist beginning so take that opinion with a grain of salt.

    Thank you for putting your work here and much good luck!

  6. sao
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 07:00:16

    First, never, ever tell us that your scene is tedious. There’s a danger we might agree. Why should I turn the page to read more of it?

    James is pushed around by Lady Whittington. She “made it clear” he had to come. She was “adamant.” Yet, he doesn’t know her well enough to call her by her first name. That suggested to me that he was weak-willed.

    Add to this that it will require fortitude to dance and him wondering why he is forced into socialization via a ball and I get a weak guy brooding over the past. He just isn’t looking heroic to me.

    Heros control their actions. You could turn this all around by suggesting he was resigned to dancing and socializing, that he knew it was the price to pay to cheer up his depressed, but beloved sister/aunt/stepmother, Lady Whitington. That he chose this, wasn’t forced into it.

    There were too many mistakes for a first page. You need to review the rules on capitalization, including subtleties, like springtime.

    Also remember that a pronoun refers to the last named noun of the same gender, meaning it’s the red-faced piano player watching as they began the minuet.

  7. query1
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 07:46:20

    When I read the word tedious I thought why yes I understand completely because I dislike passive, whiny, bored narrators.

    Get us closer to this character, right now he’s observations are removed and don’t feel ‘real’ given the told-to-us characterization. I’d suggest giving him a character to interact with sooner.

    Please vary the pacing. These sentences go on and on and don’t match the narrator. There’s no way that the first paragraph came from this man. More shorter sentence intertwined with a FEW long ones.

    How can someone be anonymous and yet have the hostess fussing over them? Sorry, he’s not anonymous anymore. Everyone, who’s anyone knows exactly who he is. And the excuse about Parliamentary business would’ve been a hopelessly worthless one since business and negotiations are done at prestigious social events.

    And if he’s truly that depressed why did he make a social call two weeks ago in the first place? Wouldn’t he have had the invitation already? If he didn’t want to go to this event, then why visit someone who’s going to strong arm you? And in order to strong armed either the person is more powerful than you are or they have an emotional hold over you? Why not let us see this Lady Whitington in action?

    Sorry this one isn’t for me. I’m not interested in reading a passive lead and the author hasn’t displayed enough control with the writing for me to continue onto the next page.

  8. romsfuulynn
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 08:14:14

    a long loose hooded cloak usually worn with a half mask as a masquerade costume | a half mask worn over the eyes with a masquerade costume.

    Depending on the era it might have more decoration, but in a historical the mask generally would be plain.

  9. Sarah Frantz
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 08:29:38

    He’s unlikely to get whiskey in the dancing room of a private party.

    You start by saying he needs to be anonymous, then contradict that all the way through the rest of the excerpt.

    A domino is a cloak, not the mask. They invariably go together, but a domino is unlikely to be strapped to someone’s head.

    If it really is a full-on ball, it’s not just going to have an overworked quartet in the corner of the room. There will be many more musicians than that and one of them will NOT be a pianoforte player.

    The details are as important as the characters in a historical novel. I’d be rolling my eyes and putting the book back after the first page on details alone.

    But I also agree with everything @query1 and @sao said about the hero as well.

  10. DS
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 08:40:32

    I think my post was eaten by the spam filter. But that’s OK because others brought up the point– the domino strapped to his head and the whiskey.

    But I was also wondering about the click of hard sole shoes and the fans zipping that apparently can be heard over the conversation and music.

  11. Marianne McA
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 09:57:40

    The word ‘zip’ strikes me as a bit modern – may well be of the period in actuality, but it read a bit anachronistically. It’s not the sort of thing I’d notice mid-book, but in a scene-setting sentence, I might. Also, the masks sparkling threw me: it was hard to imagine. Maybe if there was a word in describing why the masks sparkle – bejewelled masks, or whatever?
    (Sequins sounds a bit modern too: though I don’t know why I think that. Might just be rampant Heyer-itis…)

    Also ‘ever-present’ sounds wrong to my ear. (Ever aware or ever conscious perhaps?) And I didn’t realy understand why if everyone was cloaked and masked the ladies would be particularly looking at him. You might need to explain that further – because he’s on his own? because of Lady Whitington’s reaction? because he’s very tall?

    That’s all very nit-picky – it seems like the sort of book I enjoy reading, and I hope it gets published.

  12. okbut
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 10:09:51

    “James adjusted his mask, ever-present of his need to be anonymous”

    might that be ‘conscious of his need to stay anonymous’ instead?

    As first person POV, a man who does not want to be present at a function… would hardly notice the sounds of the ball, the colours and the elegant gathering. Not enough to write a first paragraph on the topic.

    Lots of stark contradictions here.

  13. evie byrne
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 10:22:28

    A slight quibble with this comment:

    “James is pushed around by Lady Whittington…Yet, he doesn't know her well enough to call her by her first name. That suggested to me that he was weak-willed.”

    I think it more to the point that Lady W. should not be calling him James. Use of first names was reserved for nearest family, or very close childhood friends. Even husbands and wives didn’t necessarily use first names, esp. in public.

    It’s entirely proper for him to call her Lady W. She might be able to call him James if, say, she knew him from a small child and was very close to his family. I can imagine a pushy old bat taking that liberty. So that usage didn’t stick out for me as a big problem. But properly, she’d adopt a more formal usage, too.

    And actually I don’t mind that he lets her push him around. There’s nothing wrong with him being a little confused and dopey at the start, particularly if he’s depressed.

    I do think though that this first page sort of says the same thing many times, and that makes it read slow. You could condense all that information you’ve given here into half the space (or less) and the beginning of the book would be better for it.

    What’s my take-away from this entire first page?: He’s at a ball and he’s bereaved.
    That idea could be crafted into an opening sentence or paragraph, and after that you could get on with the fun stuff.

  14. job
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 10:41:03

    The opening gives us some insight into the protagonist’s character. It’s a colorful scene and it sets the tone and the social context. All of that is good.
    .
    But I feel as though I’ve met this extraordinarily handsome man many times before. He’s the one who comes unwillingly to the party, who broods, and who has all the ladies sighing over him.
    .
    I’d feel happier if he were planning to steal the silverware or if he had to get away early to watch an eclipse of the moon.
    .
    Small technical point
    – could you write the scene entirely in simple past tense? Could you keep us in the here-and-now of the story and not zip away to those actions the POV character is not engaged in right at the moment?
    .
    I found myself distracted by several awkwardnesses in the language. I have a couple small questions about historical detail.
    .
    Shoes that tap, wide, flounced skirts, and the word ‘sequin’, which is late C19, would seem to put this well after 1840. Victorian.
    (If I’m wrong about the setting, the details have to be adjusted.)
    .
    I don’t associate the minuet with Victorian balls. Is this just my ignorance speaking?
    .
    Unless this is a masquerade, the sequined mask seems unlikely. (Why would someone seeking to be anonymous choose a gaudy mask?)
    .
    As Sarah Frantz said — probably no whisky in a ballroom. I can’t see a ‘cart’ in there either. Whisky might be available in some other room in the house, but not the ballroom.
    .
    A Couple few niggles below. This is all small stuff. Easily fixable.
    .
    Whirling gowns and masks flashed by, sparkling in the candlelight, a riot of sumptuous jewel-toned colour.
    – Would the masks be colorful? Or would they be black?

    .
    the hard-soled click of dress shoes
    – The click of hard-soled dress shoes or, more probably, the click of heels.
    .
    the groups of bodies, poised and elegant with carefully sharpened tongues
    – Technically, a body has a tongue that could be sharpened. But it feels like an odd image. ‘People’, ‘the fashionable’ ‘ladies’ could all be felicitously substituted for ‘bodies’.
    .
    James adjusted his mask, ever-present of his need to be anonymous
    – ever aware of his need
    .

    The Lady Whitington had made
    – Lady Whitington had made
    And I do think of cats at this point.
    .

    and begged off for Parliamentary business.
    – Would they hold business meetings at night?

    .
    A small price to pay to make his appearance, then leave before the night was too late,
    – Before it was too late. Before midnight. Before it got too late. Before it was too late at night.
    .
    and the gambling tables too full.
    – Presumably the table is at some men’s club or gambling establishment.
    The problem here is . . . would men be unable to play because the tables were too full.
    .
    be happy for some new variety in dance partner.
    – for some variety in dance partner. For new dance partners.
    ‘A new variety’ of dance partner implies he is very novel indeed.
    .
    Several ladies glided by, giving him glances of interest and curiosity, then whispering to themselves as they passed him.
    – I’d remove either the ‘glided by’ or the ‘passed by’ as iterative.
    – I’d use ‘whispered to each other’ to make clear they were not, in fact, whispering to themselves.
    .
    How was it that he was here, alone, forced into socialization during the Season by way of a masked soirée?
    – you probably mean ‘socializing’. ‘Socialization’ is something else.
    – You might want to check when the word ‘socialize’ started meaning ‘to mingle sociably’ rather its older meaning of ‘to make fit for society’.
    .
    –’forced . . . by way of,’
    Forced to mingle sociably at this masked ball. Forced out of his seclusion at this. Forced to pretend to be sociable at this.
    .
    The small quartet in the corner of the room
    – The quartet in the corner of the room
    .
    Each of these niggles is tiny in itself. But there seem to be a number of them.

  15. FunnyGirl
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 10:46:33

    I agree with Joanne that this might start with “Dancing was the last thing he wanted to do.” The first paragraph reads 100% like a female POV to me. Are these the springtime fripperies that a man would really wax eloquent about in his own head? Especially when he doesn’t want to be there? The rest of the scene reads completely differently. Get closer to your character and bring us inside his head. It sounds like his circumstances are more interesting than sentence after sentence of swirling whatnots.

  16. Miss Moppet
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 10:52:20

    I think this is a great place to start the story. Masquerades have such plot potential, which is why they were so popular in 18th and early 19th century fiction. Also, I’m intrigued as to why your character is in mourning. But that’s not enough to make me turn the page because this seems overwritten, not well enough researched and doesn’t have enough of a hook.

    Overwritten: I agree with Joanne that ‘Dancing was the last thing he wanted to do’ would be a great first sentence. It tells us where we are and sets up two questions: why doesn’t he want to dance and what is he doing at the ball if he doesn’t want to dance?

    I like your first sentence, just not as a first sentence. Sentences 2 and 3 seemed overblown to me. For example, a clicking sound can’t be an echo of a rustling sound. A sound can only be echoed by itself.

    Not well enough researched: ditto to what everyone else has said on this point so far. Aileen Ribiero has some useful info on masquerade costumes in her Dress in Eighteenth Century Europe, 1715-89 and The Art of Dress: Fashion in England and France, 1750-1820. I’m not sure when serving trolleys/carts came into existence but I suspect late in the 19th century at the earliest.

    Not enough of a hook: the information about Lady W persuading James to turn up is repeated several times (we only need it once) and then James thinks the ball is tedious. Well, it is, because the story isn’t going anywhere. Whatever is going to happen at the ball, we need to move on to it. Will James meet cute with the heroine? Will he be kidnapped in a North by Northwest type instance of mistaken identity (bit difficult if Lady W greeted him loudly by name)? Is he moonlighting as a spy and HAD to come to the party because he’s meeting a contact there? In that case he/she would probably identify themselves by a sign, like tapping their mask, rather than dress – you couldn’t say “I’ll be the nun” because there might be lots of nuns. Maybe he gets a shock when the signal he’s expecting comes from a woman? Or perhaps Lady W is his beloved sister and this is the first party she’s thrown since her marriage (which would give him a motive to come and make him look like a good brother rather than weak) – but then he catches her flirting with a masked stranger who turns out to be his best friend…Whatever the action is, it needs to start by the bottom of the page.

    Best of luck and thanks for posting.

  17. hapax
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 11:12:20

    While I agree with every nitpick mentioned in the comments above (and those little details, like clothing and shoes and liquor ARE crucial, don’t get me wrong) …

    … I still liked it, and would keep reading.

    Why? Because the contrast between a grieving hero (it does read as if he’s bereaved, pleasepleaseplease don’t let him be just bored) and the artificial gaiety of the masquerade is just that compelling.

    Polish it up, and I think you’re on to something good.

  18. Lynne Connolly
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 11:44:53

    Main comments – I’m not really getting a feel for a specific period in this piece. Modernisms and generic descriptions makes it hard to tell the period, so I made an educated guess. Start with a date in italics. That sets the picture nicely, maybe “London, spring 1765″ or something like that.

    I’m also a bit bored with James’s grief so far. I don’t know what caused it, so I don’t care, except that he’s moping around a ballroom like a wet weekend. There are some seeming pov hops, like the first para, and the bit about what the ladies are saying, unless he can hear them, and in that case it might be better to put it in dialogue.

    To sharpen up the scene, maybe find some pictures of ladies from the appropriate era, describe two of them, and have James overhear a whispered conversation. Something like that, to ground the piece. Make something happen.

    I’m assuming this is Georgian, because of the reference to masks and fans and wide skirts. That would make it pre-1780, or thereabouts. If I’m wrong, apologies, but it’s difficult to tell.

    Quibbles:
    “dress shoes” is an Americanism.
    “have fun” sounds modern.

    He can’t be completely anonymous at a private ball. Everyone knew everyone else in this period, and he couldn’t get in without being recognized.

    He won’t wear a domino unless it’s a masked ball. A domino is a cloak and attached mask, and is usually plain (see the paintings by Francesco Guardi for good examples).

    Why is it ‘ironic’ that he wears a mask to a masked ball?
    Not “The Lady Whitington,” just “Lady Whitington.”
    No lapels on 18th century coats.
    Are the ladies whispering to themselves or to each other? (sounds a bit like Prufrock!)
    “socialization” is a 19th century word. Safe to use (but ugly, IMO) after around 1830.

    No whisky commercially available until the 1840′s (whiskey is a later spelling, and refers to a whiskey not made in Scotland. Also unlikely that strong spirits would be served neat at a ball. They’d be in punch, or they’d be wine).

    No refreshment “cart.” The drinks would be in a separate room, with elegant nibbles.
    Not sure about the word “soiree” especially in this context. It’s a 19th century word used for small gatherings and parties, not a full-out ball. It deserves checking.

    There’s a great etymology dictionary online that most editors use.
    Word usage can do a huge amount to set period, and that includes syntax as well as actual words. The best way to get it to come naturally is to read widely in this period. Read the novels your characters would have read (and books like “Tom Jones” and “Roderick Random” are wonderful reads anyway), read the papers and journals and the words will flow better.

    Pianofortes were unusual and primitive forms of what we know today. Unlikely to be part of a quartet. There’d probably be more musicians at a large ball.

    Describe the gowns and such, and is this in omniscient or in James’ pov? Try to get a tad more specific. If it’s Georgian, it’s unlikely they’ll whirl unless they’re doing a country-dance. Georgian dances were more stately.

  19. Pat
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 19:35:30

    I also was confused about when this was supposed to be taking place, but I guessed about 100 years after Lynne Connolly’s guess. That should tell you that you need to do something about making the date clear. I love historicals, but I want to know when and where I am.

    And you really need to clean up the strictly technical stuff. When you make mistakes in grammar/punctuation/spelling (in a novel or anything else) people dismiss you as an idiot before they read what you have to say.

  20. Julia Sullivan
    Oct 30, 2010 @ 20:41:02

    You’ve got a gem of an idea here—a hero in mourning is a distinctive twist—so you need to give this the carefully crafted setting it deserves.

    “Socialization” doesn’t mean “going out to parties” or “getting back into society” today, let alone in the 19th or 18th centuries. “Socialization” either means “the process of acquiring social skills, either from birth or in a radically new milieu” (not applicable here) or “the nationalization of an industry” (obviously not what’s happening, either). Words mean things, so use the right words, not their near neighbors.

    Others have talked about the anachronisms, which are really glaring no matter when this is set (and like others, I can’t tell). Here’s another one–nobody would wear “hard-soled dress shoes” to a society ball that took place before the mid-20th century; dancing pumps for both men and women had soft leather (if not suede) soles, in order to preserve the parquet floors that adorned the ballrooms of private houses.

  21. Lynne Connolly
    Oct 31, 2010 @ 09:00:00

    There are a few clues to date this piece. I just made a guess.
    Minuet – became popular at balls after around 1720, introduced around 1673. Since described as “ancient,” not likely to be the earlier date.
    “Sequins” – a word used first in the 1890′s. “soiree,” a word first used in the early 19th century to describe a small party or evening gathering.

    So now we have a probable date between 1720 and 1900.
    Not Regency, because skirts weren’t wide then. So between 1720 and 1900, with the exception of 1790-1830, when skirts started to widen again. Whisky first commercially sold in the 1840′s, when the law and technology had made it possible. Unusual before that date.

    Specifics, and/or a simple date at the top would help to ground the reader in a time.

    BTW, parliamentary business did (and still does) sometimes go on at night, but usually that’s because something has overrun, not because it was planned that way. But James could have planned to work on a speech or meet with his colleagues to discuss something specific, so I didn’t mind that reference.

  22. Author On Vacation
    Oct 31, 2010 @ 11:31:02

    I agree with what several posters have alread adivsed regarding technical corrections in the work, particularly the need to clarify the actual period/era in which the story is taking place. At times I wondered if this was actually an “alternate historical” or historical fantasy piece rather than a true historical because so many aspects of description and action don’t “fit” any one era.

    I also agree that the sentence:

    Dancing was the last thing he wanted to do.

    would make an intriguing opener to the scene. Although I enjoyed the description before this sentence appeared, once I reached this sentence I thought this was where the story begins.

    I’m very interested in this story — I’d really like to know more about where the story’s going. On that level, the page is successful. Thanks for sharing it with the blog. Good luck.

  23. Goddess of blah
    Oct 31, 2010 @ 15:40:34

    I’m doubtful. This looks pretty bad. And i loath “historical” writing based in the UK by American authors.

    Americans never quite write about us English people properly, hence I can never understand why these authors think they can write about us in the historical sense. Also why do are most “historical” romances regarding Lords and Ladies written by Americans? I do ponder, why are these American authors obsessed (or appear anyway) to have such a fascination with our (former) rigid class hierarchical based society?

    most American his-rom authors seem to have this obsession to re-write Jane Eyre – only in their unrealistic far-fetched renditions the governess “wins” an Earl or Duke, rather than a ugly decrepit bigamist. And if its not Jane Eyre, than its a fascination with having a Heathcliff in her romances.

    Why use a setting if you’re going to completely radically change and distort it until its unrecognisable?

  24. Miss Moppet
    Oct 31, 2010 @ 17:19:59

    @Goddess of blah

    Perhaps American authors are interested in the English past because many of them are of European descent?

    In any case, I don’t think authors should be limited to writing about the past of the country they live in. Of course they are more likely to make mistakes when writing about another culture, but I think constructive criticism is a better answer than blanket condemnation.

    I’m English and I’m extremely grateful for American interest in our past. Having worked for several years in the heritage industry I know how low arts funding is in the UK government’s priorities. Without the money which comes in annually from US tourists, many historic houses would be derelict. And I’m sure that many of those overseas visitors become interested in British history through reading historical fiction – accurate or otherwise.

  25. Maili
    Oct 31, 2010 @ 17:32:43

    @Goddess of blah: I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve frequently bitched whined expressed concerns about the general portrayal of this country (especially Scotland) in the Romance genre, but your comments are not quite on.

    Authors don’t have to have reasons why they chose certain settings for their stories. Or do they need to explain why they make their leads part of the nobility. It’s fantasy. And who cares, really? I just avoid those dodgy ones and focus on the better ones. Why don’t you?

    Americans never quite write about us English people properly

    Neither do English people about us Scottish (and Welsh) people where British history books are concerned. :P

  26. Karen
    Oct 31, 2010 @ 18:05:04

    I haven’t read any of the other comments yet, but heres my 2 cents: please, PLEASE don’t make the deceased wife a bitch as the story progresses! Its clear that he loved her deeply that even though others thought a consinderable amount of time has passed, he is still hung up on her. Coincidentally, how did I know he’s a widow and is about to meet the dumb, virginal heroine in the masked ball that he would later be able to identify just from her orange flower scent even though people in those days bathed every 2 months? Its called predictability, hun; and I’ve got a thousand of those books back home which I usually donate to vagrants. LOL! Try being a bit more original. Oh, and you’ve got some capitalization errors so try reediting it. Peace.

  27. Lynne Connolly
    Oct 31, 2010 @ 18:53:56

    @Goddess of blah:
    If you’re British, it should be “loathe.”
    I prefer to read accurate historical romance, but I can recall several American authors who got it just right. We’d be poorer without them.
    Maybe you’ve not read Laura Kinsale’s books, for instance?
    There are some awfully badly researched historicals out there, but nobody said you had to read them. Just avoid them, and save your blood pressure. People read them for entertainment, and very often the readers know perfectly well that the books aren’t accurate. They just don’t care.
    My only niggle is that non-US authors don’t get to write about US history. I can’t think of one that was published in the US. But, I don’t write it, so it’s academic to me.
    I would love to see more accuracy in historicals for a purely selfish reason – it’d give me more to read.

  28. Author On Vacation
    Oct 31, 2010 @ 22:23:02

    @Goddess of blah:

    I'm doubtful. This looks pretty bad. And i loath “historical” writing based in the UK by American authors.

    Americans never quite write about us English people properly, hence I can never understand why these authors think they can write about us in the historical sense. Also why do are most “historical” romances regarding Lords and Ladies written by Americans? I do ponder, why are these American authors obsessed (or appear anyway) to have such a fascination with our (former) rigid class hierarchical based society?

    most American his-rom authors seem to have this obsession to re-write Jane Eyre – only in their unrealistic far-fetched renditions the governess “wins” an Earl or Duke, rather than a ugly decrepit bigamist. And if its not Jane Eyre, than its a fascination with having a Heathcliff in her romances.

    Why use a setting if you're going to completely radically change and distort it until its unrecognisable?

    I can empathize. I recall reading Bram Stoker’s portrayal of American stereotype in “Dracula,” Quincy P. Morris. It was comical and sort of pathetic. Not to mention his stereotypes of Eastern Europeans.

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