Thursday, 13 January 2011

Another rant

Wandering about the net last night I found an interesting article comparing books today and thirty years ago. Even though the bestsellers cited are from the New York Times I easily recognised the titles in the older list and had read many of them. But the new list? There are names I know, like Stephen King and Dean Koontz. There are names I recognize but don’t read, like Grisham and Cornwell, but the biggest change for me was the number of names I don’t know.

We have a great many new (as in unknown to me!) authors infiltrating our shelves in the UK these days and I’m not totally happy with it. The trouble is so many of the historical/romance genre published recently are so blatantly modern day heroines plonked down in Regency Bath or London.
If I wanted a sassy, feisty heroine who cares nothing for convention, I’d read a modern story. If I wanted a hunky abs-rippling, shoulder-length haired male who wore his shirt open to the navel come hell or high water, (or the weather conditions, come to that) I’d read a modern James Bond type yarn.
What I want from a historical is a hero/heroine who lives by the conventions of the time, and dare not kick over the traces because they would be ostracised by society, yet still manages to think their way out of trouble. Having a heroine run away in nothing but her petticoat on a snowy night is lunacy, not feisty, and she ought to come to the same bad end as Jane Eyre, who would have died but for that preacher fellow who found her collapsed on the moor. It took her weeks to recover.
I’d like authors to do their research and not do the literary equivalent of the production company that made Elizabeth the golden years (the one with Cate Blanchett and Clive Owen) where they supplied a shot of Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland and stuck a caption reading Fotheringhay Castle, England, on the screen. Do they think people don’t recognise these things?
I think they borrowed the silver foil armour Blanchett wore from the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, and with a straggly wig hanging to her hips she looked anything but regal. I suspect any army would have sniggered in its fists at such a sight. Nor does she have the voice for rousing speeches in the open air. They’d have done better to omit the whole scene in my not so humble opinion. It seems I fall into rant mode too easily these days, but hey – it’s good to let off steam now and then. There – rant over. For a little while at least!

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