Etiquette Hell

A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. Guests, register for forum membership to see all the boards. => Time For a Coffee Break! => Topic started by: Leafy on February 08, 2013, 02:49:42 AM

Title: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Leafy on February 08, 2013, 02:49:42 AM
A number of people in the reading pet peeves thread mentioned that they dislike historical inaccuracies or when it seems like the author has not researched properly. This reminded me that I occasionally will think "Hmmm, is that accurate?" when reading a book. I thought others might do this too so perhaps we can use this thread to check whether other Ehellions can verify the accuracy of some books or parts of books.

The one that has been bugging me the most is The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. Tatiana and her sister go to the club and end up having adult relations with soldiers. Tatiana goes on to sleep with Alexander a gazillion times before they get married. She never hesitates or indicates in any way that this is not the norm. The book is set in WWII Russia. How accurate is this? I would have thought that adult relations before marriage were frowned upon in that time yet no-one bats an eye.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: magician5 on February 08, 2013, 03:16:28 AM
Can you think of any time in history, any place, where "not supposed to do that" didn't actually work out to "it happened all the time"?
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: scotcat60 on February 08, 2013, 06:35:01 AM
Slight spin off here I don't know how accurate the adaptation from the book "World Without End" the TV series is, but so far, it's featured a daughter of Edward III called Joan, who was not born until 5 years after the events  in episode 1, the execution of his mothers lover, Roger Mortimer, and who appears, by the cast list  on the International Movie database to be played by two actresses, one a child, one a grown up. Joan died of the Black Death aged 13.
Episode one shows Edward II's funeral in Westeminster Cathedral. Apart from the fact that whoever captioned the TV programme probably meant Westminster Abbey, Edward II is buried in Gloucester Cathedral.
Queen Isabella was imprisoned abfter the death of her lover, and I doubt she presided over the courts of appeal, as in the series. It was because she had had too much power that her son deposed her and Mortimer.

I also think people would know that the Lord of the Manor couldn't  have a Bible small enough to sit on his bedside table., but  maybe I'm just nit-picking on that one.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Margo on February 08, 2013, 08:29:04 AM
A number of people in the reading pet peeves thread mentioned that they dislike historical inaccuracies or when it seems like the author has not researched properly. This reminded me that I occasionally will think "Hmmm, is that accurate?" when reading a book. I thought others might do this too so perhaps we can use this thread to check whether other Ehellions can verify the accuracy of some books or parts of books.

The one that has been bugging me the most is The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. Tatiana and her sister go to the club and end up having adult relations with soldiers. Tatiana goes on to sleep with Alexander a gazillion times before they get married. She never hesitates or indicates in any way that this is not the norm. The book is set in WWII Russia. How accurate is this? I would have thought that adult relations before marriage were frowned upon in that time yet no-one bats an eye.

I believe that after the Russian Revolution marriage was seen as slightly suspect as being linked both to the church and to bourgeoisie attitudes, so for a period there was a lot of discussion about free love, whether marriage was appropriate in Soviet state etc. I believe that the official line was a bit more restrictive again by the 40s and that public opinion didn't change much (although presumably, depending on your social circle, you might not have expressed your opinions much)

I would guess that this was probably more acceptable than it would have been in the UK or USA at the same time. I suspect that it is probably fairly accurate - that there would have been a significant minority of people for whom this was not usual. 

The 'World Without End' - I watched the first half hour and it was so stuffed with anachronisms and just plain ridiculousness I thought it must be a spoof and was waiting for the punch line..

One of my pet annoyances is one of the 'Brother Cadfeal' books where there's a major inaccuracy which basically drives a coach and horses through the plot. (Deliberately vague to avoid spoiling it for others)

Patchy 'period' language is really annoying to me, too. I can live with using modern language (after all, peopel would have used what was , to them, normal, colloquial language so it gives you the immediate 'feel') or using more accurate period language, but a mixture of the two jolts me out of my suspension of disbelief. (Downton Abbey is a repeat offender so far as this sort of thing is concerned, and it does it with social attitudes, too.)


One of my pet hates is when books are reissued and 'updated'. I am very fond of a set of books written by Monica Edwards and set on Romney Marsh in Sussex. They were written and set in the 1950s and 60's. There are some reprints which were published in the 1980s which I find really irritating as they have been 'updated' - so mentions of money have been changed from pre-decimal to decimal money (placing the action after 1971) but you still have horse-drawn milk-floats, references to the War, no television, penicillan as a virtually unknown wonder drug etc.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Kiara on February 08, 2013, 08:32:20 AM
Quote
One of my pet annoyances is one of the 'Brother Cadfeal' books where there's a major inaccuracy which basically drives a coach and horses through the plot. (Deliberately vague to avoid spoiling it for others)

Can you PM me what it is?  Because I love those books, and now I'm wondering if I'm a doofus for missing something!  LOL!
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Twik on February 08, 2013, 08:54:21 AM
Can you think of any time in history, any place, where "not supposed to do that" didn't actually work out to "it happened all the time"?

It may have happened all the time, but not like in "our" time.

For example, if a pre-1960s woman isn't concerned about pregnancy, it's not realistic. If sexually transmitted diseases are not shown as a problem, in a book set before the widespread introduction of antibiotics, it's not realistic.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: wolfie on February 08, 2013, 08:58:00 AM

I also think people would know that the Lord of the Manor couldn't  have a Bible small enough to sit on his bedside table., but  maybe I'm just nit-picking on that one.

You are nit-picking that one. I am assuming that the reason the lord of the manor can't have a small bible is because the printing press wasn't invented yet? Because that is the only thing I could come up with and I wouldn't even have thought of it if you didn't post here. 
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Ereine on February 08, 2013, 09:19:41 AM
Can you think of any time in history, any place, where "not supposed to do that" didn't actually work out to "it happened all the time"?

It may have happened all the time, but not like in "our" time.

For example, if a pre-1960s woman isn't concerned about pregnancy, it's not realistic. If sexually transmitted diseases are not shown as a problem, in a book set before the widespread introduction of antibiotics, it's not realistic.

I think that in case of the Russian story, at least according to what I've heard of later generations of women in the Soviet Union, abortion would have been a very common method of pregnancy "prevention". Though it's possible that it was only in later times. I read something online that said that having sex was pretty difficult, there were older attitudes and traditions from strict religion that still influenced people and romance was supposed to be something unimportant, after work and politics and comradeship. Also according to the article finding places for sex would have been difficult as most people wouldn't have their own bedrooms* and adult children lived with their parents. Hotels wouldn't allow unmarried people to rent rooms. My source was some guy who arranges Russian wives for American men so who knows how accurate it is, though.   

* S/O I've stayed once in a post-Communism apartment that was probably pretty much like it had been during Communism, this was in 1993. A family of five, parents and three sons lived in two rooms. One was a kitchen, with wood-burning stove if I remember correctly, very dark. The other was a tiny bedroom with bunk beds where the whole family slept. I assume that they had had sex at some point but there wasn't much privacy around (the bathroom was shared by everyone living in that story). I still remember how shocked I was, the family were friends with ours and sort of similar with civil servant father (who actually worked for some ministry, this was in one of the newly independent countries) and both parents with university degrees. Their style of living did change pretty quickly though and in the end it was pretty luxurious as their country's economy grew.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Nora on February 08, 2013, 09:31:15 AM
Can this go for other media as well? I've been watching Mr Selfridge, a new show about the start of modern stores in London/one big scandal fest, and it honestly took me halfway into the pilot to discover it was not meant as a parody of The Paradise. Jeremy Piven is incredibly grating in his performance as a niveau riche businessman from 'Merica, and I keep feeling my ability to suspend disbelief slipping when he's in the scene being shown.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Slartibartfast on February 08, 2013, 01:40:03 PM
Speaking as someone who is trying to write a book set in 1870 and is having to do all sorts of weird and specific research, it can be frustrating to find information that's *almost* what you want, but isn't specific to your needs.  I can find information about what foods were common among the upper class in 1860 - but were they still common ten years later?  Were terms like "the upper ten thousand" (the social elite) applicable in England as well as America?  Were they synonyms to "the ton" like the Regency era used, or do they encompass a slightly different set of people?  When something "became common in the Victorian era," did that mean in 1850 or in 1910?

Another one that bugs me but I don't know if it should: as far as we know, most upper-class married couples called each other by their names/titles, even in private.  Definitely in correspondence, at least (which is all we have left to go by).  95% of historical romance novels, though, have the hero and heroine calling each other by their first names by halfway through the book.  That's another one of those things that's hard to research: would couples have done this?  Maybe only the ones who were in love, or the ones who weren't quite so rich, or the ones who were really rich, or the ones who respected each other, or or or . . .
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Twik on February 08, 2013, 01:44:52 PM
Slarti, I think in the casual 21st century, we find it almost unimaginable how formal people could be in years gone by. I remember the British Library had a display of a letter written by the future Elizabeth I to her brother, when she was, I think, in her early teens. It was a combination of affection (he was ill, and she had not been allowed to visit him, which worried her) plus language that would swamp a UN bureaucrat.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: snowflake on February 08, 2013, 02:02:43 PM
The one that has been bugging me the most is The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. Tatiana and her sister go to the club and end up having adult relations with soldiers. Tatiana goes on to sleep with Alexander a gazillion times before they get married. She never hesitates or indicates in any way that this is not the norm. The book is set in WWII Russia. How accurate is this? I would have thought that adult relations before marriage were frowned upon in that time yet no-one bats an eye.

Premarital sex was actually fairly common in Europe in general during that period.  I can't speak to a specific region though.  If we were talking some small hamlet where everyone was a devout orthodox I might say nuh-uh. 

I have read several things (sorry, about 20 years ago so I don't have recent citations) about how we assume that any age before 1969 was very prudish but that was not the case at all.  One publication pointed out that in one parish in England during the 1500s, 30% of all couples had a baby within the first 5 months of marriage.  So apparently it was a very regular occurrence even if there was stronger pressure to marry if they did get pregnant.

What annoys me is when people specifically write about women/men with "old-fashioned" values that go from "Eeek!  Scrabble!" to "I love you! I love you! With my body, I thee worship" in a single night.  I grew up in a sort of repressed town and it never really worked that way.  I find it unrealistic that a woman who has no access to birth control and significant social shaming will be like, "Oh yeah, PREGNANCY!" after three months of Scrabble.  I find it unrealistic that love overcomes guilt without a whisper.

But then again, most people would probably start screaming in pain if they had to walk into my HS in the 80s and listen to all the Scrabble-angst.  No one wants to read that sort of realistic detail in an escapist novel.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Margo on February 08, 2013, 02:43:16 PM
The one that has been bugging me the most is The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. Tatiana and her sister go to the club and end up having adult relations with soldiers. Tatiana goes on to sleep with Alexander a gazillion times before they get married. She never hesitates or indicates in any way that this is not the norm. The book is set in WWII Russia. How accurate is this? I would have thought that adult relations before marriage were frowned upon in that time yet no-one bats an eye.

Premarital sex was actually fairly common in Europe in general during that period.  I can't speak to a specific region though.  If we were talking some small hamlet where everyone was a devout orthodox I might say nuh-uh. 

I have read several things (sorry, about 20 years ago so I don't have recent citations) about how we assume that any age before 1969 was very prudish but that was not the case at all.  One publication pointed out that in one parish in England during the 1500s, 30% of all couples had a baby within the first 5 months of marriage.  So apparently it was a very regular occurrence even if there was stronger pressure to marry if they did get pregnant.

What annoys me is when people specifically write about women/men with "old-fashioned" values that go from "Eeek!  Scrabble!" to "I love you! I love you! With my body, I thee worship" in a single night.  I grew up in a sort of repressed town and it never really worked that way.  I find it unrealistic that a woman who has no access to birth control and significant social shaming will be like, "Oh yeah, PREGNANCY!" after three months of Scrabble.  I find it unrealistic that love overcomes guilt without a whisper.

But then again, most people would probably start screaming in pain if they had to walk into my HS in the 80s and listen to all the Scrabble-angst.  No one wants to read that sort of realistic detail in an escapist novel.

I think being pregnant at marriage was very very common.

Certainly for poorer people, where having children was a significant financial asset, they often got engaged, then had sex, then got married once the woman got pregnant. I forget the figures but I think well into the Victorian era a significant proportion of women were pregnant at the time they married.  And even later it wasn't particularly uncommon.

I think one big change in attitudes came in the 17th C with the rise of puritanism, and then another wave in the mid- to late Victorian era.

My mum is interested in family history. She found that her grandparents managed to produce their first child after only 5 months of marriage (she was only about 13 when she did the initial research and didn't make the connection. \my grandma had to suggest to her that it might be a good idea to just put the years, not the months, of the births, deaths and marriages before she handed in the family tree as a school project. . And I think that had more to do with how the (very early 1960s, all girls Grammar) School would see it, not due to any particular embarassment about her parents and sister!

Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Coruscation on February 08, 2013, 03:43:16 PM
The statistics I read were that 25% of first born children in the Victorian era were born out of wedlock and 25% were born less than nine months after the wedding.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Slartibartfast on February 08, 2013, 04:08:30 PM
The statistics I read were that 25% of first born children in the Victorian era were born out of wedlock and 25% were born less than nine months after the wedding.

It was an investment, honestly.  Divorce wasn't available for anyone but the richest and most connected of the elite, so if you married someone you were stuck with them.  Combine that with primogeniture and you end up really, really needing a wife who is capable of bearing children.  If you married someone who then turned out to be unable to conceive, your entire net worth would be given away to a relative who may or may not be willing to use some of that money to care for your widow, should you die first.  Waiting until the woman was pregnant was insurance that yes, you will probably be able to procreate together.  If the baby kills her that's too bad but you'd be free to marry again - but if she can't conceive at all you're stuck.  (No mention of how the man might contribute to fertility issues of course.)
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Twik on February 08, 2013, 04:12:23 PM
It's one thing to admit that love conquered all yesterday as today. However, serious books should reflect the differences of the era. If abortion was a common means of birth control for Russian women in Stalinist Russia, that should be given at least a passing mention in the book. An awful lot of romance authors treat pregnancy as something that only happens when convenient.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Nora on February 08, 2013, 04:56:54 PM
And thanks to this thread I now understand the previously baffling comment the squires wife made in Lark Rise to Candleford; " how long will you wait?". Said to her husband in a panicked voice after it turns out she wasn't pregnant as she thought. I was all whaaaaaa? So...there's my mind enlightened, and that plot angle makes sense. Yay!
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Leafy on February 08, 2013, 05:06:28 PM
Wow! Thanks everyone. I've learnt so much. I feel like Tatiana had very 21st century attitude but now I can see that it could have happened as presented.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: lady_disdain on February 08, 2013, 07:40:11 PM

I also think people would know that the Lord of the Manor couldn't  have a Bible small enough to sit on his bedside table., but  maybe I'm just nit-picking on that one.

You are nit-picking that one. I am assuming that the reason the lord of the manor can't have a small bible is because the printing press wasn't invented yet? Because that is the only thing I could come up with and I wouldn't even have thought of it if you didn't post here. 

Smaller books did exist. However, a bedside table probably didn't and reading in bed I am quite certain not (little artificial light, heavy books, etc).
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Elfmama on February 09, 2013, 02:02:13 AM
One of my pet annoyances is one of the 'Brother Cadfeal' books where there's a major inaccuracy which basically drives a coach and horses through the plot. (Deliberately vague to avoid spoiling it for others)
Is that the one that had to do with a shoeprint?  Because I caught that one too.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: scotcat60 on February 09, 2013, 05:08:42 AM
You are nit-picking that one. I am assuming that the reason the lord of the manor can't have a small bible is because the printing press wasn't invented yet? Because that is the only thing I could come up with and I wouldn't even have thought of it if you didn't post here. 

I actuallly hadn't thought of the printing press angle, just that Bibles were usually huge illuminated hadn written things chained up in churches and monasteries. Books of Hours could be small.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Thipu1 on February 09, 2013, 09:08:34 AM
One of my pet annoyances is one of the 'Brother Cadfeal' books where there's a major inaccuracy which basically drives a coach and horses through the plot. (Deliberately vague to avoid spoiling it for others)
Is that the one that had to do with a shoeprint?  Because I caught that one too.

Why would a shoe print be a problem? 
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: lady_disdain on February 09, 2013, 10:46:36 AM
You are nit-picking that one. I am assuming that the reason the lord of the manor can't have a small bible is because the printing press wasn't invented yet? Because that is the only thing I could come up with and I wouldn't even have thought of it if you didn't post here. 

I actuallly hadn't thought of the printing press angle, just that Bibles were usually huge illuminated hadn written things chained up in churches and monasteries. Books of Hours could be small.

Yep. I thought of a Book of Hours or Psalms as well. However, the idea of reading in bed at that time is a lot more anachronistic than the book itself.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Elfmama on February 09, 2013, 05:08:31 PM
One of my favorites hit the very first line of the story: "The horses seemed to sense the trap laid before them, hesitated, and began to gallop backwards."
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Sharnita on February 09, 2013, 05:15:28 PM
I agree with the poster who mentioned that the Russian revolution would have actively encouraged people to reject traditional religious views and rules.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Elisabunny on February 09, 2013, 05:18:19 PM
The statistics I read were that 25% of first born children in the Victorian era were born out of wedlock and 25% were born less than nine months after the wedding.

However, a certain percentage of those less-than-nine-months babies were in fact premature.  They didn't have the ability to stop early labor.  My great-aunt's first child was born 7 months after the wedding (1940s).  She was miserable thinking that people would assume they had "anticipated" the wedding, even though the baby fit in a shoe box and only survived because she was a nurse. >:(


eta: I was one generation off, so this would have happened in the 1910s or '20s.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on February 09, 2013, 05:36:38 PM
I was reading a romance novel - I think it was a Nora Roberts one, set in Alaska.

They had the heroine up in a plane, looking at a herd of moose.  I howled.  Moose are very solitary creatures.  Calves stick with mom and twins might hang out together for a while their first year or two away from mom but otherwise, they are on their own.  I figured out that she meant caribou, which would herd and would be much more prevalent than moose in Alaska, if there are even moose in Alaska at all.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Carotte on February 09, 2013, 06:36:04 PM
Oh, I've got one, in Dracula by Bram Stoker, Van Helsing does a whole lot of coming and going between Amsterdam (I think) and London in what is described as mere hours, was that possible?
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: afbluebelle on February 09, 2013, 06:52:36 PM
I was reading a romance novel - I think it was a Nora Roberts one, set in Alaska.

They had the heroine up in a plane, looking at a herd of moose.  I howled.  Moose are very solitary creatures.  Calves stick with mom and twins might hang out together for a while their first year or two away from mom but otherwise, they are on their own.  I figured out that she meant caribou, which would herd and would be much more prevalent than moose in Alaska, if there are even moose in Alaska at all.

There are a crudload of moose in Alaska. We had a small family that would be jerks and trap us in our barracks during the winter. The dumb things would stand right in front of the doors.  I think they secretly got a kick out of watching airmen have to jump out of windows to get to work.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on February 09, 2013, 07:17:27 PM
Hmmm...  I wonder if Alaskan moose are different than Ontario moose.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Dr. F. on February 09, 2013, 07:26:53 PM


One of my pet annoyances is one of the 'Brother Cadfeal' books where there's a major inaccuracy which basically drives

OK, now I'm dying to know. Whiteout or PM me, please? I like those books (though haven't read them recently), and nothing's springing to mind.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: KB on February 09, 2013, 08:09:58 PM
One of my pet hates is when books are reissued and 'updated'. I am very fond of a set of books written by Monica Edwards and set on Romney Marsh in Sussex. They were written and set in the 1950s and 60's. There are some reprints which were published in the 1980s which I find really irritating as they have been 'updated' - so mentions of money have been changed from pre-decimal to decimal money (placing the action after 1971) but you still have horse-drawn milk-floats, references to the War, no television, penicillan as a virtually unknown wonder drug etc.

Yes, this is one of my pet peeves as well!

Slightly off-topic, but if you like Monica Edwards, have you discovered Girls Gone By Publishers? (http://www.ggbp.co.uk/forthcoming-books?page=shop.browse&category_id=3) They publish her books and others using the original text, including the Romney Marsh series.

Apologies for thread-jacking!
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Jocelyn on February 09, 2013, 08:54:32 PM
I was reading a romance novel - I think it was a Nora Roberts one, set in Alaska.

They had the heroine up in a plane, looking at a herd of moose.  I howled.  Moose are very solitary creatures.  Calves stick with mom and twins might hang out together for a while their first year or two away from mom but otherwise, they are on their own.  I figured out that she meant caribou, which would herd and would be much more prevalent than moose in Alaska, if there are even moose in Alaska at all.
What, did Sarah Palin field-dress them all?  >:D
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: kareng57 on February 09, 2013, 09:48:38 PM
For historical fiction - I think sometimes people (I'm not referring to anyone in this thread) need to remember that it is exactly that - fiction.

The great Edna Ferber made reference to that in the preface to one of her books - I think it was Cimmaron.  She acknowledged that a couple of the dates she assigned to real events were in fact a year or two off - but she had to do it that way, in order to make the rest of the story fit.  She did have a rather creative term for nitpickers who would constantly let her know how "wrong" she was (I gather people did this by snail-mail in the 1920s and 30s) - unfortunately I lent out my copy so I don't recall exactly what it was.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Elfmama on February 10, 2013, 12:28:19 AM
I was reading a romance novel - I think it was a Nora Roberts one, set in Alaska.

They had the heroine up in a plane, looking at a herd of moose.  I howled.  Moose are very solitary creatures.  Calves stick with mom and twins might hang out together for a while their first year or two away from mom but otherwise, they are on their own.  I figured out that she meant caribou, which would herd and would be much more prevalent than moose in Alaska, if there are even moose in Alaska at all.
Yes, there are lots of moose in Alaska. 

That reminds me of a series way back in the 70's, detailing (dear gods and little fishes, excruciatingly piddly little details to pad the books out!) the westward migration of the pioneers.  The mountain man guide tames a "prairie dog" for one of the young ladies on the train and says that he's tamed lots of them.  Trouble was, the author described this "prairie dog" as barking and frisking around and wagging its tail, exactly like a domestic dog.   This is a prairie dog:
(http://www.desertusa.com/dec96/pdog04.jpg)
It's a rodent, kind of like a largish gopher.  While it does make a noise vaguely reminiscent of barking, it most certainly does not frisk around humans and wag its tail.   

The only true canines resident on the prairie are coyotes and wolves.  Neither of them tame in just a few days, even as pups, and a young adult (as this "prairie dog" was) would not do so at all. 
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Elfmama on February 10, 2013, 01:35:21 AM
For historical fiction - I think sometimes people (I'm not referring to anyone in this thread) need to remember that it is exactly that - fiction.

The great Edna Ferber made reference to that in the preface to one of her books - I think it was Cimmaron.  She acknowledged that a couple of the dates she assigned to real events were in fact a year or two off - but she had to do it that way, in order to make the rest of the story fit.  She did have a rather creative term for nitpickers who would constantly let her know how "wrong" she was (I gather people did this by snail-mail in the 1920s and 30s) - unfortunately I lent out my copy so I don't recall exactly what it was.
There's a difference between bending the facts a wee bit and not bothering to do your research at all.  A modern author cannot assume that if she can't find it in a 2-minute search of Wikipedia, the answer isn't there at all, so she can make up whatever nonsense she likes.  You can also get nailed by those things that "everybody knows"; let's take on two of the most common:  1) Medieval swords weighed about 20-25 pounds, and 2) armor was so heavy that knights had to be winched onto their horses.

Typical swords (of which there are a surprising number extant both medieval, Roman, and even older) weigh between 2 1/2 and 3 pounds, just over a kilo for the metric folk.  Even the really big flamberges and other two-handed broadswords weigh less than 10 pounds.  One of our SCA members had a replica flamberge that we would allow people to heft at demos; they were surprised to find out that its actual weight was 7 1/2 pounds, less than a gallon of milk, as their guesses were always in the 20 pound range.

As for being winched onto one's horse...far from it. A medieval knight was supposed to be able to jump onto his horse's back from the ground, without recourse to stirrups.  He could run, jump, and even turn somersaults while wearing full armor. (Swimming, however, wasn't a very good idea.) Depending on the type of armor, the exact period, and the place, armor weighed from 30-90 pounds. (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=8023)  The heavier end of this range represented late-period jousting armor, a different beast entirely than combat armor.   Still, even that weight didn't require winches -- that appears to have been created by Mark Twain for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. 
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: parrot_girl on February 10, 2013, 02:16:03 AM
For historical fiction - I think sometimes people (I'm not referring to anyone in this thread) need to remember that it is exactly that - fiction.

The great Edna Ferber made reference to that in the preface to one of her books - I think it was Cimmaron.  She acknowledged that a couple of the dates she assigned to real events were in fact a year or two off - but she had to do it that way, in order to make the rest of the story fit.  She did have a rather creative term for nitpickers who would constantly let her know how "wrong" she was (I gather people did this by snail-mail in the 1920s and 30s) - unfortunately I lent out my copy so I don't recall exactly what it was.
There's a difference between bending the facts a wee bit and not bothering to do your research at all.  A modern author cannot assume that if she can't find it in a 2-minute search of Wikipedia, the answer isn't there at all, so she can make up whatever nonsense she likes.  You can also get nailed by those things that "everybody knows"; let's take on two of the most common:  1) Medieval swords weighed about 20-25 pounds, and 2) armor was so heavy that knights had to be winched onto their horses.

Typical swords (of which there are a surprising number extant both medieval, Roman, and even older) weigh between 2 1/2 and 3 pounds, just over a kilo for the metric folk.  Even the really big flamberges and other two-handed broadswords weigh less than 10 pounds.  One of our SCA members had a replica flamberge that we would allow people to heft at demos; they were surprised to find out that its actual weight was 7 1/2 pounds, less than a gallon of milk, as their guesses were always in the 20 pound range.

As for being winched onto one's horse...far from it. A medieval knight was supposed to be able to jump onto his horse's back from the ground, without recourse to stirrups.  He could run, jump, and even turn somersaults while wearing full armor. (Swimming, however, wasn't a very good idea.) Depending on the type of armor, the exact period, and the place, armor weighed from 30-90 pounds. (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=8023)  The heavier end of this range represented late-period jousting armor, a different beast entirely than combat armor.   Still, even that weight didn't require winches -- that appears to have been created by Mark Twain for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. 
Slightly OT- today I did a 5km fun run and was chatting before the event to a fellow runner, who was dressed in full plate armour. He was getting lots and lots of fellow runner attention (and in lots and lots of photos, too, everyone was most polite about asking him first!) He was going to do the 10km, and said he would run as far as he could and walk the rest. I saw him still jogging at the 8km mark; I hope he made it!
(I have been wondering how he attached his number to his front though. I'd safetypinned mine to my tshirt; maybe he sticky taped his on?)
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Ereine on February 10, 2013, 05:17:03 AM
Nit-picking about a (free) Regency romance novel: the heroine's lips are described as the color of burnt sienna. I don't know why having brownish orange lips would make her a great beauty but Wikipedia tells me that the color name's first recorded use was in 1850s. Still, the idea of the orange lips is what actually bothers me, it seems so bizarre in the list of attributes that are supposed to make her a classical beauty.

The book itself seems to be a pastiche of Georgette Heyer.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: faithlessone on February 10, 2013, 05:32:59 AM
This thread made me remember another book that bugged me.

In one of Sarah Dunant's books (I think it's "The Birth of Venus"), there is a nun who has a tattoo of a snake wrapping around her body, from her shoulders to her *coughs* lady parts.

I know tattoos have been around since the dawn of humanity, basically, but how likely is it that a reasonably well-bred woman in Italy during the Renaissance would have one?? She obviously couldn't have done it herself, and they don't reveal who helped her (as far as I remember). It just doesn't ring right to me.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Barney girl on February 10, 2013, 06:56:30 AM
Slight spin off here I don't know how accurate the adaptation from the book "World Without End" the TV series is, but so far, it's featured a daughter of Edward III called Joan, who was not born until 5 years after the events  in episode 1, the execution of his mothers lover, Roger Mortimer, and who appears, by the cast list  on the International Movie database to be played by two actresses, one a child, one a grown up. Joan died of the Black Death aged 13.
Episode one shows Edward II's funeral in Westeminster Cathedral. Apart from the fact that whoever captioned the TV programme probably meant Westminster Abbey, Edward II is buried in Gloucester Cathedral.
Queen Isabella was imprisoned abfter the death of her lover, and I doubt she presided over the courts of appeal, as in the series. It was because she had had too much power that her son deposed her and Mortimer.

I also think people would know that the Lord of the Manor couldn't  have a Bible small enough to sit on his bedside table., but  maybe I'm just nit-picking on that one.

I switched on part way through the second episode of that one and it immediately jarred how modern everyone looked. I couldn't pin it down, but it was probably hair styles and everything too clean.
Then they showed a church service in which the congregation was sitting comfortably in pews, rather than standing in the nave. I switched off once the got to the obligatory rape scene - it was sign posted a mile off. Of course you're going to have medieval village girls swimming in a nearby lake, then for no reason one tells the others to go on as she'll catch them up.....
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Gwywnnydd on February 10, 2013, 10:30:13 AM
One of my pet annoyances is one of the 'Brother Cadfeal' books where there's a major inaccuracy which basically drives a coach and horses through the plot. (Deliberately vague to avoid spoiling it for others)
Is that the one that had to do with a shoeprint?  Because I caught that one too.

Why would a shoe print be a problem?

I haven't read the book, so I'm just guessing with the shoeprint suggestion, but here goes:
Shoes were not 'right' and 'left' until reasonably modern times (I want to say Georgian, but I'm not certain). If the shoeprint was supposed to be of 'a left foot' (or vice versa) that would be historically inaccurate. Shoes were the same shape for both feet (one of several reasons why sore feet is a very period complaint!  ;D).
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Jocelyn on February 10, 2013, 11:37:02 AM


As for being winched onto one's horse...far from it. A medieval knight was supposed to be able to jump onto his horse's back from the ground, without recourse to stirrups.  He could run, jump, and even turn somersaults while wearing full armor. (Swimming, however, wasn't a very good idea.) Depending on the type of armor, the exact period, and the place, armor weighed from 30-90 pounds. (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=8023)   

In other words, about the same weight as current infantrymen wear in combat gear...

Although I shudder at the idea of the armor bites one might get from turning a somersault in plate armor.  >:D
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Jocelyn on February 10, 2013, 11:41:06 AM

I haven't read the book, so I'm just guessing with the shoeprint suggestion, but here goes:
Shoes were not 'right' and 'left' until reasonably modern times (I want to say Georgian, but I'm not certain). If the shoeprint was supposed to be of 'a left foot' (or vice versa) that would be historically inaccurate. Shoes were the same shape for both feet (one of several reasons why sore feet is a very period complaint!  ;D).
However, if one wears a soft-soled handmade shoe or boot for any extended time, the shoe will fit itself to the foot. I have some slippers that were interchangeable when I bought them, but now, I can tell instantly whether I have them on the right way or reversed, just by slipping my feet into them. And I suspect, although I've never actually looked, that if I stepped on soft ground, you could indeed see enough of the footprint to tell if it's my right or left foot, just like one could tell from a bare footprint.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on February 10, 2013, 01:33:43 PM
Oddly enough, I do worry about accuracy, despite not reading historical fiction.  I read a *lot* of sci-fi, and I see things and think "What the heck?!"

Smoking cigarettes on a space ship.  Even if the air is filtrated perfectly, I don't see that particular vice as being one to survive in an enclosed environment without access to easy resupply where if the air scrubbers (or whatever) break, the vice in question puts the entire crew at risk.

I also read a lot of Star Trek fiction, and seeing things that don't seem very Star Trek throws me off.  (Threatening to have a medical officer court martialled for exercising their jurisdiction in medical matters, for example.)
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Elfmama on February 10, 2013, 01:42:52 PM

I haven't read the book, so I'm just guessing with the shoeprint suggestion, but here goes:
Shoes were not 'right' and 'left' until reasonably modern times (I want to say Georgian, but I'm not certain). If the shoeprint was supposed to be of 'a left foot' (or vice versa) that would be historically inaccurate. Shoes were the same shape for both feet (one of several reasons why sore feet is a very period complaint!  ;D ).
However, if one wears a soft-soled handmade shoe or boot for any extended time, the shoe will fit itself to the foot. I have some slippers that were interchangeable when I bought them, but now, I can tell instantly whether I have them on the right way or reversed, just by slipping my feet into them. And I suspect, although I've never actually looked, that if I stepped on soft ground, you could indeed see enough of the footprint to tell if it's my right or left foot, just like one could tell from a bare footprint.
As has been said, shoes in the Middle Ages were the same shape for both feet.  While a shoe certainly could form itself to one foot or the other if worn consistently, medieval children were taught to switch the shoes from day to day, so that yesterday's left shoe is today's right shoe.  It made them wear more evenly and last longer, a significant consideration in the days when all shoes were made by hand instead of a factory in China.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Jocelyn on February 10, 2013, 01:47:58 PM
OK...I could see that for children, where you'd want the shoes to not conform, because you'd be counting on them being passed down to siblings.
Any evidence that this practice was used by adults, once their feet quit growing? Seems like comfort might be more important to adults, especially in shoe designs where there were buckles on the outside of the foot; putting buckles to the inside could result in uncomfortable scrapes on the opposite ankle.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: magicdomino on February 10, 2013, 02:01:38 PM
This thread made me remember another book that bugged me.

In one of Sarah Dunant's books (I think it's "The Birth of Venus"), there is a nun who has a tattoo of a snake wrapping around her body, from her shoulders to her *coughs* lady parts.

I know tattoos have been around since the dawn of humanity, basically, but how likely is it that a reasonably well-bred woman in Italy during the Renaissance would have one?? She obviously couldn't have done it herself, and they don't reveal who helped her (as far as I remember). It just doesn't ring right to me.

I read that and wondered about the tattoo myself.  Tattoos have been around for millennia -- the "ice man" found in the Alps had numerous tattoos -- but most were simple shapes like stripes and dots.  Even elaborate tattoos were made from a series of lines.  I haven't been able to determine when pictures were being done in Europe, but colored inks didn't start showing up until the 17th or 18th century.  At best, the snake would have been fairly crude in black ink, not a replica of an artist's drawing.

Part of the reason that the tattoo shocked those who saw it was that they had never seen such a thing.  Spaniards who saw picture tattoos on Meso-Americans thought they were engraved by the devil.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Elfmama on February 10, 2013, 02:36:43 PM
Marking one's body with a tattoo was a grave sin in medieval/Renaissance Europe, specifically forbidden by God.
Quote
Leviticus 19:28. Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you.
  Unless the tattoo was given to the nun against her will, I doubt that she would have been allowed to become a nun at all.  If she did it willingly (and I have no idea how one could be given an elaborate tattoo without being willing) then she would probably  face the Inquisition. A serpent, the very symbol of Satan himself?  Who but a witch or demon-lover would have such a thing engraved on her body!
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Thipu1 on February 10, 2013, 02:58:44 PM
One of my pet annoyances is one of the 'Brother Cadfeal' books where there's a major inaccuracy which basically drives a coach and horses through the plot. (Deliberately vague to avoid spoiling it for others)
Is that the one that had to do with a shoeprint?  Because I caught that one too.

Why would a shoe print be a problem?
I haven't read the book, so I'm just guessing with the shoeprint suggestion, but here goes:
Shoes were not 'right' and 'left' until reasonably modern times (I want to say Georgian, but I'm not
certain). If the shoeprint was supposed to be of 'a left foot' (or vice versa) that would be historically inaccurate. Shoes were the same shape for both feet (one of several reasons why sore feet is a very
period complaint!  ;D).

At least as late as the American Civil War (1860s) boots and shoes that were supposed to fit either foot were advertised as 'indifferent'.  In earlier times, the soles may have been the same but the uppers were likely to be soft enough to adapt to the individual foot.

  Also, very few people land exactly the same way on the left foot and the right foot.  Every runner knows that.   It just may be possible that someone in the Brother Caedfael novel noticed that someone was left-footed rather than right-footed.  The print of the predominant foot would be deeper than that of the other foot. 

This skill could be very well honed in men who had grown up hunting game in a forest.


Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Twik on February 10, 2013, 03:04:22 PM
In earlier times, the soles may have been the same but the uppers were likely to be soft enough to adapt to the individual foot.

Agreed - I would imagine it's unlikely that, unless the wearer rotated his/her shoes like tires, the shoes wouldn't start to mold to the wearer's feet in such a way that, after a while, "left" and "right" would be detectable in prints.

However, if the author didn't expand on that, one may assume that it was a mistake.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Tini on February 10, 2013, 03:18:53 PM
Worst nonfiction book that I have ever read for accuracy was 'The Mother Tongue - English and how it got that way' by Bill Bryson. The guy is a journalist and only speaks English, and the stuff he put in his oeuvre where he compares English with other languages or talks about imported words seems to have been made up of factoids gathered from newspaper and magazine clippings, plus the occasional input of mischievous foreign waiters who knew he'd stiff them on tips and lied to him with smiles on their faces.
Amongst his claims:
- Finnish has no swearwords, so the Finnish say 'ravintolassa' (in the restaurant) instead
- he perpetuates the Eskimo vocabulary hoax about how many words for snow they have
- 'bumfodden' is not a German word for toilet paper
- According to him, 'The French for instance, cannot distinguish between house and home, between mind and brain, between man and gentleman', which must be news to the French (and certainly is to one Amazon reviewer)
- English is superior because other languages don't have thesauruses
-The existence of the word 'schadenfreude' is indicative of German sensibilities. Huh, German has no word for 'bully' - is that supposed to say anything about all those millions and millions of native English speakers?
-Esperanto has no definite article - yes it does

This goes on and on. I speak and read four languages to varying degrees and have studied and mostly forgotten two more, and he talks nonsense about every one of them. Reading the Amazon reviews is quite amusing, if a bit disheartening. The reviewers who speak any foreign languages or have a bit more insight into English linguistics think it is atrocious. Everyone else thinks it's wonderful because it's so funny, never mind the facts. There's even a teacher who says she'd still use it in her lessons because it got her kids so enthused. A book with an error on every page.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: VorFemme on February 10, 2013, 03:22:22 PM
Quote
One of my pet annoyances is one of the 'Brother Cadfeal' books where there's a major inaccuracy which basically drives a coach and horses through the plot. (Deliberately vague to avoid spoiling it for others)

Can you PM me what it is?  Because I love those books, and now I'm wondering if I'm a doofus for missing something!  LOL!

Me, too.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Jones on February 10, 2013, 06:02:53 PM
OK...I could see that for children, where you'd want the shoes to not conform, because you'd be counting on them being passed down to siblings.
Any evidence that this practice was used by adults, once their feet quit growing? Seems like comfort might be more important to adults, especially in shoe designs where there were buckles on the outside of the foot; putting buckles to the inside could result in uncomfortable scrapes on the opposite ankle.
Once upon a time I was in the SCA, and if I recall correctly, shoe buckles weren't invented until the mid-1600s. Also, at least at first, the buckles were on the front rather than on the outside of the foot.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Elfmama on February 10, 2013, 08:08:16 PM
OK...I could see that for children, where you'd want the shoes to not conform, because you'd be counting on them being passed down to siblings.
Any evidence that this practice was used by adults, once their feet quit growing? Seems like comfort might be more important to adults, especially in shoe designs where there were buckles on the outside of the foot; putting buckles to the inside could result in uncomfortable scrapes on the opposite ankle.
Once upon a time I was in the SCA, and if I recall correctly, shoe buckles weren't invented until the mid-1600s. Also, at least at first, the buckles were on the front rather than on the outside of the foot.
And in at least one form of period shoe, the ties that held it closed WERE on the inside of the ankle.  It was easier to tie them that way.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Jocelyn on February 10, 2013, 09:04:53 PM
OK...I could see that for children, where you'd want the shoes to not conform, because you'd be counting on them being passed down to siblings.
Any evidence that this practice was used by adults, once their feet quit growing? Seems like comfort might be more important to adults, especially in shoe designs where there were buckles on the outside of the foot; putting buckles to the inside could result in uncomfortable scrapes on the opposite ankle.
Once upon a time I was in the SCA, and if I recall correctly, shoe buckles weren't invented until the mid-1600s. Also, at least at first, the buckles were on the front rather than on the outside of the foot.
I judged a SCA costuming contest, won by a man who created Anglo-Saxon (pre-Conquest) garb; part of it included shoes with hand-cast buckles. He had the documentation to support them, including a full description of how he had cast the buckles.
I can see ties being on the inside, if the ties were made of some soft material that wouldn't abrade the inside of the ankle; definitely easier to tie. But either way, what I'm questioning is whether adults would switch the shoes from inside to outside fastening, and back again; I think it's more likely that they'd wear them in the same location all the time.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Twik on February 10, 2013, 09:17:59 PM
Worst nonfiction book that I have ever read for accuracy was 'The Mother Tongue - English and how it got that way' by Bill Bryson. The guy is a journalist and only speaks English, and the stuff he put in his oeuvre where he compares English with other languages or talks about imported words seems to have been made up of factoids gathered from newspaper and magazine clippings, plus the occasional input of mischievous foreign waiters who knew he'd stiff them on tips and lied to him with smiles on their faces.
Amongst his claims:
...- According to him, 'The French for instance, cannot distinguish between house and home, between mind and brain, between man and gentleman', which must be news to the French (and certainly is to one Amazon reviewer)....

It's even news to Google Translate, which can distinguish, say, between homme and gentilhomme, and esprit versus cerveau.

Your suspicion about the waiters reminds me about something my archeology prof said about Herodotus: "When you tour ancient sites, you can get the 50 drachma guide, who has studied the site, perhaps helped excavate it, or the 5 drachma guide, who has no idea what these old buildings are, but is quite happy to make up a story. Herodotus always went for the 5 drachma guide."
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Ereine on February 10, 2013, 11:59:10 PM
Worst nonfiction book that I have ever read for accuracy was 'The Mother Tongue - English and how it got that way' by Bill Bryson. The guy is a journalist and only speaks English, and the stuff he put in his oeuvre where he compares English with other languages or talks about imported words seems to have been made up of factoids gathered from newspaper and magazine clippings, plus the occasional input of mischievous foreign waiters who knew he'd stiff them on tips and lied to him with smiles on their faces.
Amongst his claims:
- Finnish has no swearwords, so the Finnish say 'ravintolassa' (in the restaurant) instead

That's pretty funny as we're sort of famous for how good our swearwords are. But at least ravintolassa is spelled correctly, though it has nothing to do with swearing (except maybe once you get the bill for alcohol, then there may be swearing).
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Tini on February 11, 2013, 02:02:08 AM
Twik, that quote about Herodotus is hilarius. I just had to read that out to my husband, and he burst out laughing.
Ereine, I'm glad to hear Finnish is well supplied with excellent swearwords (I almost want to learn some now). Now and again having a good curse is just good for the soul, and I would have hated to see Finns deprived of this.  ;)
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Perfect Circle on February 11, 2013, 02:29:20 AM
It is a shame about Mother Tongue because most of Bryson's books are rather excellent.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Ereine on February 11, 2013, 02:47:35 AM
Tini, here's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_profanity) a Wikipedia article on Finnish profanity. I think that our language is well suited for swearing, with strong Rs and long words that are easy to say while stressing every syllable with feeling.

For the book with the heroine with orange lips, it also addresses every titled man as Lord Something from Sir Horace (who's actually a baron and so should be called Lord Osbaldon but not Sir Horace, maybe the author is thinking of a baronet?) to the Duke of Keryton (the heroine tells her niece that he should be addressed as Lord Rotherham). The dialogue uses a lot of slang that may or may not be accurate but feels pretty painful to me (the heroine calls everyone "cawker", fondly). The heroine is said to be unlike every woman of her class, apart from her famed beauty (and fortune) she was also a complete personality at 13 and has studied everything from fencing to architecture. (The apparent hero seems also pretty dismal, but that's possibly quite accurate.)
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: KB on February 11, 2013, 03:05:56 AM
- 'bumfodden' is not a German word for toilet paper

Just have to pull you up on this because yes, it is. It's not the formal term, but it is a casual term, at least in Nordrheinwestfalen. Most people use 'bumf' - short for 'bumfodden' - when talking about buying the stuff, using it, etc. I did not come across it in Berlin, nor in the south, so it may well be a regional usage, but it's possible that's where he heard it so he included it.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Margo on February 11, 2013, 03:53:54 AM
One of my pet annoyances is one of the 'Brother Cadfeal' books where there's a major inaccuracy which basically drives a coach and horses through the plot. (Deliberately vague to avoid spoiling it for others)
Is that the one that had to do with a shoeprint?  Because I caught that one too.

Why would a shoe print be a problem?
I haven't read the book, so I'm just guessing with the shoeprint suggestion, but here goes:
Shoes were not 'right' and 'left' until reasonably modern times (I want to say Georgian, but I'm not
certain). If the shoeprint was supposed to be of 'a left foot' (or vice versa) that would be historically inaccurate. Shoes were the same shape for both feet (one of several reasons why sore feet is a very
period complaint!  ;D).

At least as late as the American Civil War (1860s) boots and shoes that were supposed to fit either foot were advertised as 'indifferent'.  In earlier times, the soles may have been the same but the uppers were likely to be soft enough to adapt to the individual foot.

  Also, very few people land exactly the same way on the left foot and the right foot.  Every runner knows that.   It just may be possible that someone in the Brother Caedfael novel noticed that someone was left-footed rather than right-footed.  The print of the predominant foot would be deeper than that of the other foot. 

This skill could be very well honed in men who had grown up hunting game in a forest.

The one I was talking about wasn't the footprint one.

I knew about shoes in that period not being right or left footed but I assumed that if worn for a long time they would gradually come to fit ones own feet in any event. I know my own (non right and left footed) sheepskin slippers are definitely *now* fitted to my right and left feet, and a good tracker seeeing my footprints and/or slippers could probably work out that I put the edges of my feet down first so the soles always wear unevenly, too.

I didn't know about children being encouraged to wear the shoes alternately on each foot but it makes sense, especially if the shoes are going to be passed on to a younger sibling!

I've PM'd those of you who asked me to abotu the one I was thinking. Happy to post it whited out if no-one minds..
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: cabbageweevil on February 11, 2013, 04:36:24 AM
For historical fiction - I think sometimes people (I'm not referring to anyone in this thread) need to remember that it is exactly that - fiction.

The great Edna Ferber made reference to that in the preface to one of her books - I think it was Cimmaron.  She acknowledged that a couple of the dates she assigned to real events were in fact a year or two off - but she had to do it that way, in order to make the rest of the story fit.  She did have a rather creative term for nitpickers who would constantly let her know how "wrong" she was (I gather people did this by snail-mail in the 1920s and 30s) - unfortunately I lent out my copy so I don't recall exactly what it was.
More generally -- some seeming anachronisms, too, I feel can be given a pass. This in the interests of making the narrative flow more smoothly, and be free from distractions over trivial matter. As Margo says in post #3, "I can live with using modern language (after all, people would have used what was, to them, normal, colloquial language so it gives you the immediate 'feel'...)"  Other things too: I was reading a while ago, a murder-mystery novel set in the 7th century A.D., in what would later become France. In discussion between the characters about the logisitics of their travels, distances are spoken of in terms of kilometres. Initially, this grated on me; but on reflection, I feel, simpler to have it thus: let it be understood that the characters were really talking about whatever the measures of distance were, in France-to-be a millennium and a half ago -- better than the author using whatever the real term was, and then having to fiddle around distractingly with footnotes...

In the "minute nitpicks" league: one of mine came to mind, with the discussion involving Paullina Simons's "The Bronze Horseman". I recall from the sequel to that novel, in which Tatiana manages to get out of the Soviet Union and become resident in the USA -- she has for some reason, to travel by rail from New York to Chicago or some similar journey.  The author has her dealing with "Amtrak", to undertake this journey. This made me wince, because this action is happening in 1946: Amtrak, the US united passenger-rail authority, did not come into being until 1971. Tatiana would have dealt with private railway company / companies. I being a railway nut, would be likely to be more upset than most people, by a bad anachronism in this sphere -- it's a pretty tiny and obscure thing, and I'm ready to accept admonitions about getting a life...
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: cabbageweevil on February 11, 2013, 04:48:52 AM
Worst nonfiction book that I have ever read for accuracy was 'The Mother Tongue - English and how it got that way' by Bill Bryson. The guy is a journalist and only speaks English, and the stuff he put in his oeuvre where he compares English with other languages or talks about imported words seems to have been made up of factoids gathered from newspaper and magazine clippings, plus the occasional input of mischievous foreign waiters who knew he'd stiff them on tips and lied to him with smiles on their faces.

(snipping the examples of nonsense in the book)

This goes on and on. I speak and read four languages to varying degrees and have studied and mostly forgotten two more, and he talks nonsense about every one of them. Reading the Amazon reviews is quite amusing, if a bit disheartening. The reviewers who speak any foreign languages or have a bit more insight into English linguistics think it is atrocious. Everyone else thinks it's wonderful because it's so funny, never mind the facts. There's even a teacher who says she'd still use it in her lessons because it got her kids so enthused. A book with an error on every page.

In general, I have ambivalent feelings about Bill Bryson. "On a good day", he can be very perceptive and genuinely very funny. On the debit side, he comes across as extremely "up himself", and with a tendency (as witness the above post) to sacrifice truth and accuracy for the sake of raising a laugh. Sometimes, the laugh-raising fails: humorous though the guy is, he occasionally has me thinking, in the words of Harry Turtledove, "if he were half as funny as he thinks he is, he'd be twice as funny as he really is."  And he has a nasty streak, which can surface unpredictably -- as in his "A Walk In The Woods", where he suddenly, out of nowhere, launches into a vicious "hatchet job" on Stonewall Jackson.  Altogether, Bryson strikes me as an odd duck.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: athersgeo on February 11, 2013, 05:30:48 AM
In the "minute nitpicks" league: one of mine came to mind, with the discussion involving Paullina Simons's "The Bronze Horseman". I recall from the sequel to that novel, in which Tatiana manages to get out of the Soviet Union and become resident in the USA -- she has for some reason, to travel by rail from New York to Chicago or some similar journey.  The author has her dealing with "Amtrak", to undertake this journey. This made me wince, because this action is happening in 1946: Amtrak, the US united passenger-rail authority, did not come into being until 1971. Tatiana would have dealt with private railway company / companies. I being a railway nut, would be likely to be more upset than most people, by a bad anachronism in this sphere -- it's a pretty tiny and obscure thing, and I'm ready to accept admonitions about getting a life...

See, to me, that seems like a legitimate thing to nitpick about. Then again, I am the person who watched an adaptation of one of Robert Harris' books and spent half an hour whining about how they'd used the wrong coaching stock for the train...

Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Margo on February 11, 2013, 05:41:36 AM
Quote
I being a railway nut, would be likely to be more upset than most people, by a bad anachronism in this sphere -- it's a pretty tiny and obscure thing, and I'm ready to accept admonitions about getting a life.

I think this is the key. It's knowing about something, and therefore noticing that it is wrong, which jolts you out of the story, I think. 

I  attended a discussion panel at a con once on this subject, one panel member commented that she could almost never watch/enjoy films or TV shows with (pre-mechanisation) battle scenes as she was an expert in respect of armour and mail, so even minor errors relating to the period of the armour or chain mail, shape/design of helmets etc was so glaring to her as to destroy any chance of being able to believe the story.

And I can live with a writer rearranging history if they are upfront about it - I cant now remember the specific book - but the book was set during the napoleonic wars and included some cameo appearances by the Duke of Wellington. The writer included a note saying that most of the specific incidents in the battle scenes had happened, and that the words attributed to Wellington were things he had said, but that the writer had, for the purpose of the plot, taken real incidents and used them in different battles, or given them to his/her characters instead of the the actual individuals who had seen/done them, and that the comments from Wellington had not necessarily been said at the times or in the situations where they appeared in the novel. That seems reasonable to me - after all, if you want your hero to (say) be first into the breach, or mentioned in dispatches, then you are going to have to displace a real figure to make it happen.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: magicdomino on February 11, 2013, 10:19:03 AM
Unless the tattoo was given to the nun against her will, I doubt that she would have been allowed to become a nun at all.  If she did it willingly (and I have no idea how one could be given an elaborate tattoo without being willing) then she would probably  face the Inquisition. A serpent, the very symbol of Satan himself?  Who but a witch or demon-lover would have such a thing engraved on her body!

The nun was quite willing.  The serpent was drawn by a secret lover just before he left her for the last time.  Her maidservant somehow found the tattoo artist to make the serpent permanent.  The nun managed to avoid being naked in front of anyone except the servant, which is why the tattoo wasn't discovered until the nun died a few months later.

That part, I can accept.  It's the mysterious tattoo artist that bothers me.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: cabbageweevil on February 11, 2013, 12:17:22 PM
In the "minute nitpicks" league: one of mine came to mind, with the discussion involving Paullina Simons's "The Bronze Horseman". I recall from the sequel to that novel, in which Tatiana manages to get out of the Soviet Union and become resident in the USA -- she has for some reason, to travel by rail from New York to Chicago or some similar journey.  The author has her dealing with "Amtrak", to undertake this journey. This made me wince, because this action is happening in 1946: Amtrak, the US united passenger-rail authority, did not come into being until 1971. Tatiana would have dealt with private railway company / companies. I being a railway nut, would be likely to be more upset than most people, by a bad anachronism in this sphere -- it's a pretty tiny and obscure thing, and I'm ready to accept admonitions about getting a life...

See, to me, that seems like a legitimate thing to nitpick about. Then again, I am the person who watched an adaptation of one of Robert Harris' books and spent half an hour whining about how they'd used the wrong coaching stock for the train...

Kind of you to say so !  My worst-ever railway-type clanger to date, is in the film of D.H. Lawrence's "Women in Love".  This film, set in 1913, has a sequence of the rakish hero racing, on his horse, a train hauling coal from a colliery. The locomotive heading the train is -- what was easily available locally, at the time of the film's making -- one of the "Austerity" loco type, built in large numbers in the UK in World War II and in the years following -- ugly but highly-serviceable machines, a fair few still running today on British preserved railways -- but utterly wrong for 1913 !  And, "insult to injury", the loco shown, is fitted with a strange-looking chimney of the "Giesl" type -- which improved draughting from the firebox, and was fitted in the 1960s to many locos on British colliery railways. Its Austrian inventor, Dr. Adolph Giesl-Gieslingen, was aged ten in 1913 -- he was a bright guy, but...!  (For film directors and most people, of course, "a steam loco is a steam loco, end-of..."; but being a specialist nitpicker, is fun !)
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: selkiewoman on February 11, 2013, 12:21:21 PM
Watching the Tim Burton 'Alice in Wonderland', it bothered me immensely that a girl who was old enough to become engaged was still wearing her hair loose and her skirts above the ankle.  (Do not get me started on Billie Piper in 'Mansfield Park.')
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: darling on February 11, 2013, 12:31:31 PM
Watching the Tim Burton 'Alice in Wonderland', it bothered me immensely that a girl who was old enough to become engaged was still wearing her hair loose and her skirts above the ankle.  (Do not get me started on Billie Piper in 'Mansfield Park.')

I think the choice in costume was made to show that while she was old enough to be engaged, she was still very immature and not ready to grow up. The whole film is meant to show how she grows and matures, conquers her fears and becomes THE Alice (LOL).
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Tabby Uprising on February 11, 2013, 12:34:29 PM
Watching the Tim Burton 'Alice in Wonderland', it bothered me immensely that a girl who was old enough to become engaged was still wearing her hair loose and her skirts above the ankle.  (Do not get me started on Billie Piper in 'Mansfield Park.')

I would love to get you started on Billie Piper in Mansfield Park.   ;D  I had no idea she starred in a version of it.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: cabbageweevil on February 11, 2013, 12:41:26 PM
Quote
I being a railway nut, would be likely to be more upset than most people, by a bad anachronism in this sphere -- it's a pretty tiny and obscure thing, and I'm ready to accept admonitions about getting a life.

I think this is the key. It's knowing about something, and therefore noticing that it is wrong, which jolts you out of the story, I think. 

I  attended a discussion panel at a con once on this subject, one panel member commented that she could almost never watch/enjoy films or TV shows with (pre-mechanisation) battle scenes as she was an expert in respect of armour and mail, so even minor errors relating to the period of the armour or chain mail, shape/design of helmets etc was so glaring to her as to destroy any chance of being able to believe the story.

And I can live with a writer rearranging history if they are upfront about it - I cant now remember the specific book - but the book was set during the napoleonic wars and included some cameo appearances by the Duke of Wellington. The writer included a note saying that most of the specific incidents in the battle scenes had happened, and that the words attributed to Wellington were things he had said, but that the writer had, for the purpose of the plot, taken real incidents and used them in different battles, or given them to his/her characters instead of the the actual individuals who had seen/done them, and that the comments from Wellington had not necessarily been said at the times or in the situations where they appeared in the novel. That seems reasonable to me - after all, if you want your hero to (say) be first into the breach, or mentioned in dispatches, then you are going to have to displace a real figure to make it happen.

In a way, being knowledgeable about a particular field can be something of a curse ! I remember hearing from a fellow-railway-enthusiast, married to a nurse, about his wife's frequent responses -- ranging from hilarity to outrage -- re fictional things seen on television: medical-themed dramatic series, or "ditto" films, which for her violated reality.

Re historical stuff -- I agree, "triage" as mentioned, is a perfectly reasonable thing to do: one is looking at giving the broad picture for non-specialists, not at historical maxi-accuracy.

Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Jocelyn on February 11, 2013, 01:09:48 PM
I think it depends upon the gaffe. For me, one of the biggest ones is the use of 'OK'. It's not medieval.
But last night I was reading an alternate-universe book about North America if the Viking settlements had endured, followed shortly by other European nations. One of the Vikings used 'okay'. Now, I would have preferred that he had said 'all right'...but there were lots of nice historical details and the author wasn't trying to write in dialect, so I was able to give it a pass that whatever he said would have been in Norse, most likely, anyway, and keep going. :)
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Tini on February 11, 2013, 01:42:08 PM
KF - Well, I never. I'm reminded of the old usenet maxim that every spelling flame must have a typo in it, so obviously me flaming Bill Bryson had to have an error in it too. With regards to my own mother tongue, no less. All I can say is that I've never heard that, as I'm from Bremen (but I should have checked - as a translator I should know better). :)

cabbageweevil - I know what you mean. I've kinda gone off him and got rid of most of his books. At times I find him kinda prejudiced (sizeist, for one), and I'd hate to ever be his waitress.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on February 11, 2013, 02:20:13 PM
cabbageweevil, I think those of us with a lot of knowledge about specific things are always disappointed/amused when they get it so, so, so, so wrong.

I have to suspend my scientific knowledge for all of the crime shows.  I've worked in a lab; the equipment just doesn't function that way.

The worst one for me was a movie about a cryptosporidium outbreak, killing thousands of people.  Crypto is a parasite that can get into drinking water if it isn't properly filtered and treated.  Ultraviolet light will also inactivate crypto.

All their lab tests for crypto were ridiculously wrong but they did get the UV light thing right and they were setting it up at the city's water plant to purify the drinking water.  The only problem was that the plant they were showing in the background was very clearly a SEWAGE treatment plant.  Ummm, if you are feeding the city's water supply from the outflow of the city's sewage treatment plant, no wonder you've got problems!   ;D
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: cabbageweevil on February 11, 2013, 02:24:22 PM
KF - Well, I never. I'm reminded of the old usenet maxim that every spelling flame must have a typo in it, so obviously me flaming Bill Bryson had to have an error in it too. With regards to my own mother tongue, no less. All I can say is that I've never heard that, as I'm from Bremen (but I should have checked - as a translator I should know better). :)

cabbageweevil - I know what you mean. I've kinda gone off him and got rid of most of his books. At times I find him kinda prejudiced (sizeist, for one), and I'd hate to ever be his waitress.
Bryson -- yes -- one kind-of feels, "he's a national treasure, but not a particularly nice one".
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: cabbageweevil on February 11, 2013, 02:49:13 PM
cabbageweevil, I think those of us with a lot of knowledge about specific things are always disappointed/amused when they get it so, so, so, so wrong.

I have to suspend my scientific knowledge for all of the crime shows.  I've worked in a lab; the equipment just doesn't function that way.

The worst one for me was a movie about a cryptosporidium outbreak, killing thousands of people.  Crypto is a parasite that can get into drinking water if it isn't properly filtered and treated.  Ultraviolet light will also inactivate crypto.

All their lab tests for crypto were ridiculously wrong but they did get the UV light thing right and they were setting it up at the city's water plant to purify the drinking water.  The only problem was that the plant they were showing in the background was very clearly a SEWAGE treatment plant.  Ummm, if you are feeding the city's water supply from the outflow of the city's sewage treatment plant, no wonder you've got problems!   ;D

Right: one sometimes has to think, just, "specialist nerd mode off / "
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: selkiewoman on February 11, 2013, 03:44:56 PM
re Tim Burton's 'Alice', I do recognize artistic license, and it is Tim Burton after all, but it just hit a sour note with me - kind of like a wedding where the bride is wearing her school uniform.  I concede I am too easily offended by such things, just ask my family.

As to 'Mansfield Park', this was a 2007 ITV production.  Billie Piper's Fanny Price bounces and romps and chortles through the whole production, and although she is clearly of marriageable age, her hair is loose and dishevelled and looks as if it has never seen a hairbrush.  If you love Billie Piper you will probably love this, if you love Jane Austen and know anything at all  about upperclass manners of the period - probably not.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: lady_disdain on February 11, 2013, 05:39:34 PM
Mansfield Park is probably Austen's most butchered book when it comes to movie adaptations, probably because it is so hard for us, today, to identify with Fanny and understand her position, values and problems. It is also hard to see why Mary Crawford is such a problematic character. The 1999 version was quite a doozy in many aspects.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: nuit93 on February 11, 2013, 06:16:14 PM
Quote
I being a railway nut, would be likely to be more upset than most people, by a bad anachronism in this sphere -- it's a pretty tiny and obscure thing, and I'm ready to accept admonitions about getting a life.

I think this is the key. It's knowing about something, and therefore noticing that it is wrong, which jolts you out of the story, I think. 

I  attended a discussion panel at a con once on this subject, one panel member commented that she could almost never watch/enjoy films or TV shows with (pre-mechanisation) battle scenes as she was an expert in respect of armour and mail, so even minor errors relating to the period of the armour or chain mail, shape/design of helmets etc was so glaring to her as to destroy any chance of being able to believe the story.

And I can live with a writer rearranging history if they are upfront about it - I cant now remember the specific book - but the book was set during the napoleonic wars and included some cameo appearances by the Duke of Wellington. The writer included a note saying that most of the specific incidents in the battle scenes had happened, and that the words attributed to Wellington were things he had said, but that the writer had, for the purpose of the plot, taken real incidents and used them in different battles, or given them to his/her characters instead of the the actual individuals who had seen/done them, and that the comments from Wellington had not necessarily been said at the times or in the situations where they appeared in the novel. That seems reasonable to me - after all, if you want your hero to (say) be first into the breach, or mentioned in dispatches, then you are going to have to displace a real figure to make it happen.

In a way, being knowledgeable about a particular field can be something of a curse ! I remember hearing from a fellow-railway-enthusiast, married to a nurse, about his wife's frequent responses -- ranging from hilarity to outrage -- re fictional things seen on television: medical-themed dramatic series, or "ditto" films, which for her violated reality.

Re historical stuff -- I agree, "triage" as mentioned, is a perfectly reasonable thing to do: one is looking at giving the broad picture for non-specialists, not at historical maxi-accuracy.

That reminds me of a professor I had in college (Renaissance-era Europe).  He HATED the movie "Elizabeth" because of the inaccuracies.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Dr. F. on February 11, 2013, 06:26:53 PM
For me, it's the Southern California landscape. It's *very* distracting to be watching something set on Mars or somesuch and recognize the west side of the 15 heading up to the Grapevine. Or, on the other side, what is supposed to be LA that has mountains right up against the port. Um, no.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Elfmama on February 11, 2013, 08:07:47 PM
I understand that birders get distracted, too, by birdcalls in movies.  If this is medieval England, why is that California Nutwhistle calling in the background?

And don't get me started about "Braveheart."
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: amandaelizabeth on February 11, 2013, 08:13:51 PM
Braveheart is a banned topic in our family.  We are all have our own pet peeve about at least one inaccuracy (all different) and I think there is an unspoken competition to be the most upset about it,

Oh and although we are of scots extraction, to put an Australian as the lead just makes it even more infuriating. 
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Jocelyn on February 11, 2013, 09:22:55 PM
Braveheart is a banned topic in our family.  We are all have our own pet peeve about at least one inaccuracy (all different) and I think there is an unspoken competition to be the most upset about it,

Oh and although we are of scots extraction, to put an Australian as the lead just makes it even more infuriating.
Mel Gibson was raised in Australia, but he was born and lived the first decade of his life in America.
It's no more illogical than having Kevin Costner as Robin Hood.  >:D
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: amandaelizabeth on February 11, 2013, 09:51:32 PM
They get worse.  I have just collected a reserve book from the library.  Lord Gray's List.  A printed book.

Set in 1820.  I should have known.  On e cover is Lord Gray with Big Ben (no smirking please) which was not finished until 1859.

First chapter

He had made his fortune in the rail road.  Well not in Britain he did't.  It may have been railways but as the first line was not built until 1821 I dont see how he made is comfortable fortune.

And then there is these sentences.  "HIs ancestral home in the wilds of Scotland had begun as a humble fortified tower on a rocky promontory overlooking the sea.  Centuries of wind and neglect had driven his mother back into the bosum of London society as soon as his bellicose father had the courtesy to meet his end. 

A. Ouple of paprgraphs later we read that his mother was a well preserved 47.

I am not sure i am going to get past chapter 1.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: caz on February 12, 2013, 02:49:53 AM
Worst nonfiction book that I have ever read for accuracy was 'The Mother Tongue - English and how it got that way' by Bill Bryson. The guy is a journalist and only speaks English, and the stuff he put in his oeuvre where he compares English with other languages or talks about imported words seems to have been made up of factoids gathered from newspaper and magazine clippings, plus the occasional input of mischievous foreign waiters who knew he'd stiff them on tips and lied to him with smiles on their faces.
Amongst his claims:
- Finnish has no swearwords, so the Finnish say 'ravintolassa' (in the restaurant) instead
- he perpetuates the Eskimo vocabulary hoax about how many words for snow they have
- 'bumfodden' is not a German word for toilet paper
- According to him, 'The French for instance, cannot distinguish between house and home, between mind and brain, between man and gentleman', which must be news to the French (and certainly is to one Amazon reviewer)
- English is superior because other languages don't have thesauruses
-The existence of the word 'schadenfreude' is indicative of German sensibilities. Huh, German has no word for 'bully' - is that supposed to say anything about all those millions and millions of native English speakers?
-Esperanto has no definite article - yes it does

This goes on and on. I speak and read four languages to varying degrees and have studied and mostly forgotten two more, and he talks nonsense about every one of them. Reading the Amazon reviews is quite amusing, if a bit disheartening. The reviewers who speak any foreign languages or have a bit more insight into English linguistics think it is atrocious. Everyone else thinks it's wonderful because it's so funny, never mind the facts. There's even a teacher who says she'd still use it in her lessons because it got her kids so enthused. A book with an error on every page.

Agreed - I haven't read it in a while but a lot of the Irish information was wrong too.  It really upset me because I loved his books, and haven't been able to read them again :/
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: athersgeo on February 12, 2013, 03:28:35 AM
In the "minute nitpicks" league: one of mine came to mind, with the discussion involving Paullina Simons's "The Bronze Horseman". I recall from the sequel to that novel, in which Tatiana manages to get out of the Soviet Union and become resident in the USA -- she has for some reason, to travel by rail from New York to Chicago or some similar journey.  The author has her dealing with "Amtrak", to undertake this journey. This made me wince, because this action is happening in 1946: Amtrak, the US united passenger-rail authority, did not come into being until 1971. Tatiana would have dealt with private railway company / companies. I being a railway nut, would be likely to be more upset than most people, by a bad anachronism in this sphere -- it's a pretty tiny and obscure thing, and I'm ready to accept admonitions about getting a life...

See, to me, that seems like a legitimate thing to nitpick about. Then again, I am the person who watched an adaptation of one of Robert Harris' books and spent half an hour whining about how they'd used the wrong coaching stock for the train...

Kind of you to say so !  My worst-ever railway-type clanger to date, is in the film of D.H. Lawrence's "Women in Love".  This film, set in 1913, has a sequence of the rakish hero racing, on his horse, a train hauling coal from a colliery. The locomotive heading the train is -- what was easily available locally, at the time of the film's making -- one of the "Austerity" loco type, built in large numbers in the UK in World War II and in the years following -- ugly but highly-serviceable machines, a fair few still running today on British preserved railways -- but utterly wrong for 1913 !  And, "insult to injury", the loco shown, is fitted with a strange-looking chimney of the "Giesl" type -- which improved draughting from the firebox, and was fitted in the 1960s to many locos on British colliery railways. Its Austrian inventor, Dr. Adolph Giesl-Gieslingen, was aged ten in 1913 -- he was a bright guy, but...!  (For film directors and most people, of course, "a steam loco is a steam loco, end-of..."; but being a specialist nitpicker, is fun !)

*snerk* I'm not to the level of being able to tell when they've got the wrong loco (despite my late father's better efforts!), although I do know just about enough to have at least frowned at an austerity in 1913.

However, I can actually go one worse than that: an adaptation of either an Agatha Christie novel or something similar had a train go into a tunnel with one locomotive at the front and come out being hauled by not just a different locomotive, but one from a completely different company and, hence, a completely different colour! That's a glitch that anyone paying at least a modicum of attention will spot.

It's almost as good as watching a low budget car chase and spotting when they've substituted the very expensive BMW for an extremely tatty looking Travant (not necessarily even the same colour) so that they don't crash the good car.......

I clearly need to find a better class of film!
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: cabbageweevil on February 12, 2013, 05:27:05 AM
*snerk* I'm not to the level of being able to tell when they've got the wrong loco (despite my late father's better efforts!), although I do know just about enough to have at least frowned at an austerity in 1913.

However, I can actually go one worse than that: an adaptation of either an Agatha Christie novel or something similar had a train go into a tunnel with one locomotive at the front and come out being hauled by not just a different locomotive, but one from a completely different company and, hence, a completely different colour! That's a glitch that anyone paying at least a modicum of attention will spot.

It's almost as good as watching a low budget car chase and spotting when they've substituted the very expensive BMW for an extremely tatty looking Travant (not necessarily even the same colour) so that they don't crash the good car.......

I clearly need to find a better class of film!

And of course there was the business with the "Hogwarts Express".  I gather that J.K. Rowling has, and exercises, considerable power to have the content of the Harry Potter films agree with her vision for the books; and in the books, it is often mentioned, and made very clear, that the Hogwarts Express is red. In the light of this, the choice of motive power for the H.E. in the films, was a little unfortunate.  The preserved steam loco used in the role, is no. 5972 "Olton Hall", of Britain's former Great Western Railway. The Great Western was a railway of strong and very individual character, and many British railfans adore it with a devotion which goes beyond fanatical. The Great Western always painted its passenger locos dark green; it never, ever had a red locomotive.  And of course, the loco used in the films had to be painted red. To quite a number of the more extreme Great Western fans, doing that to a G.W.R. locomotive was blasphemy. They were furious -- I believe a couple of death threats were even made.

I understand that the director of the first Potter film (I'm not really heavily into films, and his name escapes me) went round one of Britain's major steam preservation sites, from which he planned to hire a locomotive to haul the Hogwarts Express. No. 5972 is of a very handsome loco type: the director's eye fell on it, and it was love at first sight. Those in charge of the venue, foreseeing the problems about painting it red, tried hard to persuade the director to pick another loco -- one which was red already, or one of a variety which did not tend to attract fanatical worshippers -- but it was no use: 5972 was the one which the director had to have.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Gwywnnydd on February 12, 2013, 10:55:48 AM
Mansfield Park is probably Austen's most butchered book when it comes to movie adaptations, probably because it is so hard for us, today, to identify with Fanny and understand her position, values and problems. It is also hard to see why Mary Crawford is such a problematic character. The 1999 version was quite a doozy in many aspects.

I did like the final effect of the rewrite of Miss Crawford's commentary, because it demonstrated to the modern audience exactly how apallingly offensive her comments were.
The friends I went to see the movie with would have missed the subtlety of what she was saying, if it hadn't been all lumped together in a single scene.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Thipu1 on February 12, 2013, 10:59:08 AM
Re Bill Bryson:

Thanks for bursting my balloon.  I mean that in a good way. 

I loved Bryson's books but now, I'm going to have to read them again with a more critical eye.

There are always things to be learned on E-Hell. 
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: kglory on February 12, 2013, 12:19:13 PM
As to 'Mansfield Park', this was a 2007 ITV production.  Billie Piper's Fanny Price bounces and romps and chortles through the whole production, and although she is clearly of marriageable age, her hair is loose and dishevelled and looks as if it has never seen a hairbrush.  If you love Billie Piper you will probably love this, if you love Jane Austen and know anything at all  about upperclass manners of the period - probably not.

I've never seen this movie, but regardless of the costume & hair -- to have Fanny Price bouncing, romping, and chortling through the movie is already totally out of character!

And I confess to have mostly liked Mary Crawford.  I feel like Jane Austen had her say those shocking things at the end so the readers would be content with Fanny, not Mary, marrying the hero.  It always seemed that Edmund and Mary enjoyed each other's company and would have made a fine match, even though Mary was more casual and had less than perfect manners. 

Maybe I'm forgetting something, though, because Mansfield Park is my least favorite of the 6 books.  I've probably only read it twice -- the others, hundreds of times.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: WillyNilly on February 12, 2013, 01:03:01 PM
I'm reading this thread and keep thinking of the movie Trading Places:

Let me see, you would be from Austria. Am I right?
No, I am Inga from Sweden.
Sweden? But you’re wearing Lederhosen.
Je, for sure, from Sweden.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: rose red on February 12, 2013, 01:16:09 PM
The hair discussion reminds me of a Little House on the Prairie movie (miniseries?) they did about 5-10 years ago.  The actress who played Caroline had long flowing loose hair  :o.  The real life Caroline who was so proper and "correct" (even living in the middle of nowhere!) must have been spinning in her grave.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Lynn2000 on February 12, 2013, 03:56:04 PM
Great thread! As a biologist I sometimes roll my eyes at science stuff in movies, but mostly I'm able to suspend disbelief because I know it would be really dull waiting around for days for results like we really do. :) I always laugh when I see the beakers of bubbling colored water and the dry ice fog in the background... maybe somewhere they really have those, but not anywhere that I know of. Frequently when I have to participate in publicity videos or photos we end up using "fake stuff" like blinking colored lights because the things we really use aren't very photogenic.

The only thing that really irks me is when people do science/medical stuff without wearing gloves (in a modern lab/clinic setting). I suspect this is because gloves are uncomfortable and sometimes hard to get on and off, and can easily get discolored by the sweat they trap (ew) so I wouldn't be surprised if actors disliked wearing them.

I remember having a passionate, slightly inebriated conversation with someone after watching the first X-Men movie, saying that I studied DNA and I knew for a fact that the so-called junk parts did not give anyone mutant powers as the movie claimed! My companion's response was something along the lines of, "well, duh." ;)
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Elisabunny on February 12, 2013, 05:14:15 PM
The hair discussion reminds me of a Little House on the Prairie movie (miniseries?) they did about 5-10 years ago.  The actress who played Caroline had long flowing loose hair  :o.  The real life Caroline who was so proper and "correct" (even living in the middle of nowhere!) must have been spinning in her grave.

That's the one I was thinking of.  The thought of Caroline ever having her hair down (except maybe while fighting a prairie fire) set off a massive "does not compute" in my brain.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Elfmama on February 12, 2013, 06:29:16 PM
The hair discussion reminds me of a Little House on the Prairie movie (miniseries?) they did about 5-10 years ago.  The actress who played Caroline had long flowing loose hair  :o .  The real life Caroline who was so proper and "correct" (even living in the middle of nowhere!) must have been spinning in her grave.
You can usually look at women's hair and makeup in historical movies and date at least the decade in which it was made.  LHotP was rife with anachronisms.  Laura teaching school after she was married, for one.  Married women did not teach.  For one, they were supposed to be at home taking care of their husband and house and children.  Oh, yes, children.  That was the other reason.  If children saw their teacher getting a little bit bigger-bellied day by day, they might ask embarrassing questions!  (Because children in an age with no effective birth control NEVER saw their own mothers do the same thing. ::) )

ETA: and the episode where Laura was hugely pregnant, Almanzo collapsed from illness, and she leaped to her feet and ran to him.  Any woman who has ever had a child knows that you just cannot do that when you're nine months gone.  At best, you heave yourself to your feet and waddle quickly.


Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Bluenomi on February 12, 2013, 06:47:01 PM
Braveheart is a banned topic in our family.  We are all have our own pet peeve about at least one inaccuracy (all different) and I think there is an unspoken competition to be the most upset about it,

Oh and although we are of scots extraction, to put an Australian as the lead just makes it even more infuriating.

He's not really Australian. We tried to claim him for a few years but we've given him back to the US now he's gone a bit nuts.

BTW anyone from NZ want Russell Crowe back?  ;D
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: selkiewoman on February 12, 2013, 09:17:17 PM
'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.'  I wanted to love this movie unreservedly, but the whole premise was a bunch of retired people deciding one day to live out their golden years in India, and you just can't do that.  Getting more than a 6-month visitor's visa (non-renewable from India) would be like winning the lottery.  Great movie other than that.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Dindrane on February 12, 2013, 10:22:24 PM
As to 'Mansfield Park', this was a 2007 ITV production.  Billie Piper's Fanny Price bounces and romps and chortles through the whole production, and although she is clearly of marriageable age, her hair is loose and dishevelled and looks as if it has never seen a hairbrush.  If you love Billie Piper you will probably love this, if you love Jane Austen and know anything at all  about upperclass manners of the period - probably not.

I've never seen this movie, but regardless of the costume & hair -- to have Fanny Price bouncing, romping, and chortling through the movie is already totally out of character!

Not to mention, her heaving bosom is enough to put even the most well-endowed barmaid to shame!

I was reading a romance novel - I think it was a Nora Roberts one, set in Alaska.

They had the heroine up in a plane, looking at a herd of moose.  I howled.  Moose are very solitary creatures.  Calves stick with mom and twins might hang out together for a while their first year or two away from mom but otherwise, they are on their own.  I figured out that she meant caribou, which would herd and would be much more prevalent than moose in Alaska, if there are even moose in Alaska at all.

I have read a lot of Nora Roberts novels, and one thing I have noticed is that stuff like this happens pretty regularly. For such a prolific author, she's actually not bad at research. Perhaps more importantly, she's pretty good at sounding like she knows what she's talking about, at least when her readers more or less don't.

But when she does get something wrong (or even just kind of off), and you do know better, it's awfully jarring. I can't remember which book it was, but I can never forget a scene where some character put a Mozart CD on and she described it as "weeping violins." I know Nora Roberts loves her some weeping violins, but I can assure you, violins playing Mozart do not weep. They trip happily along like so much bubbly froth. There is no weeping in any Mozart I've ever heard or played, not from any instrument.

Actually, on the subject of music, I think I've determined that Nora Roberts really loves that type of music that you can see in those displays at the bookstore. You know, where you have the option to demo like 20 different instrumental CDs, and they're all calming, relaxing music with names like "Forest Meadows" or some such. Whenever she actually describes music, it's flutes and harps or weeping violins. I found it annoying at one point, but now I am mostly just amused by the mental image. :)
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Bexx27 on February 14, 2013, 10:29:12 AM
I'm reading one now that's driving me a little nuts because of the weather. It's set in my area (DC/NOVA) in February and it's been snowing constantly in the book with several feet of accumulation. It didn't bother me much at first because we do occasionally get big snowstorms, but it's been about 2 weeks now in book time and it's been snowing every day. That just doesn't happen here. It snows maybe twice in a typical February and there's hardly ever enough accumulation for a decent snowball fight. The temperature rises above freezing probably 90% of the time. 3 years ago we had 2 large snowstorms within a month and it was a massive event (Snowmaggedon/Snowpocalypse) that pretty much shut down the area. People still talk about it. Heck, people still talk about the Blizzard of '96. That kind of weather is a big deal around here.

But the characters in this book seem pretty casual about 2 weeks of heavy snow. They've been driving between DC and the distant exurbs regularly and even taking flights with no issues. In real life, driving would be extremely difficult if not impossible because the roads wouldn't be cleared, and planes would most likely be grounded or at least nightmarishly delayed.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Twik on February 14, 2013, 10:34:14 AM
I know Nora Roberts loves her some weeping violins, but I can assure you, violins playing Mozart do not weep. They trip happily along like so much bubbly froth. There is no weeping in any Mozart I've ever heard or played, not from any instrument.

Even when Mozartian violins are feeling downcast or serious, they're moving too quickly to the counterpoint to be able to sit and weep.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: magicdomino on February 14, 2013, 10:58:48 AM
I'm reading one now that's driving me a little nuts because of the weather. It's set in my area (DC/NOVA) in February and it's been snowing constantly in the book with several feet of accumulation. It didn't bother me much at first because we do occasionally get big snowstorms, but it's been about 2 weeks now in book time and it's been snowing every day. That just doesn't happen here. It snows maybe twice in a typical February and there's hardly ever enough accumulation for a decent snowball fight. The temperature rises above freezing probably 90% of the time. 3 years ago we had 2 large snowstorms within a month and it was a massive event (Snowmaggedon/Snowpocalypse) that pretty much shut down the area. People still talk about it. Heck, people still talk about the Blizzard of '96. That kind of weather is a big deal around here.

But the characters in this book seem pretty casual about 2 weeks of heavy snow. They've been driving between DC and the distant exurbs regularly and even taking flights with no issues. In real life, driving would be extremely difficult if not impossible because the roads wouldn't be cleared, and planes would most likely be grounded or at least nightmarishly delayed.

Another DC area resident here.  In an area where Fairfax County closes the schools for an inch or two, and Montgomery County closes if snow is predicted, I can just imagine the End of the World freak-out if we got 2 weeks of heavy snow. The most snow that the Washington DC area has ever had since it was recorded was 28 inches in the 1922 Knickerbocker storm.  Even Snowpocalyspe averaged only 18 inches, not counting drifting or the second storm in the same week.

Does the book have the author's bio?  I'm curious about where this person lives, that two weeks of heavy snow are ignorable.

Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: heartmug on February 14, 2013, 11:00:48 AM
Braveheart is a banned topic in our family.  We are all have our own pet peeve about at least one inaccuracy (all different) and I think there is an unspoken competition to be the most upset about it,

Oh and although we are of scots extraction, to put an Australian as the lead just makes it even more infuriating.

He's not really Australian. We tried to claim him for a few years but we've given him back to the US now he's gone a bit nuts.



But we don't want him back!

 :P
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Bexx27 on February 14, 2013, 11:11:35 AM
I'm reading one now that's driving me a little nuts because of the weather. It's set in my area (DC/NOVA) in February and it's been snowing constantly in the book with several feet of accumulation. It didn't bother me much at first because we do occasionally get big snowstorms, but it's been about 2 weeks now in book time and it's been snowing every day. That just doesn't happen here. It snows maybe twice in a typical February and there's hardly ever enough accumulation for a decent snowball fight. The temperature rises above freezing probably 90% of the time. 3 years ago we had 2 large snowstorms within a month and it was a massive event (Snowmaggedon/Snowpocalypse) that pretty much shut down the area. People still talk about it. Heck, people still talk about the Blizzard of '96. That kind of weather is a big deal around here.

But the characters in this book seem pretty casual about 2 weeks of heavy snow. They've been driving between DC and the distant exurbs regularly and even taking flights with no issues. In real life, driving would be extremely difficult if not impossible because the roads wouldn't be cleared, and planes would most likely be grounded or at least nightmarishly delayed.

Another DC area resident here.  In an area where Fairfax County closes the schools for an inch or two, and Montgomery County closes if snow is predicted, I can just imagine the End of the World freak-out if we got 2 weeks of heavy snow. The most snow that the Washington DC area has ever had since it was recorded was 28 inches in the 1922 Knickerbocker storm.  Even Snowpocalyspe averaged only 18 inches, not counting drifting or the second storm in the same week.

Does the book have the author's bio?  I'm curious about where this person lives, that two weeks of heavy snow are ignorable.

LOL, we had to press the in-laws into emergency daycare duty a few weeks ago when Arlington schools closed for rain.  ::)

The author is from PA/NJ.

The other thing bugging me about this book is that the NOVA characters speak with a Southern accent. (I'm actually listening to it on CD and the narrator's voice is non-accented except when she speaks as a character.) People don't talk like that here. That might be the fault of the audiobook narrator rather than the author, though.

Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: magicdomino on February 14, 2013, 11:26:03 AM
I don't think even PA/NJ gets heavy snow over two weeks without noticing.  Perhaps the author grew up in North Dakota or Buffalo, New York.   ???

I bet the book even has the federal government open.   ;)
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Twik on February 14, 2013, 11:27:08 AM
Or else they grew up and live somewhere with no snow at all, and do not understand the effect a two-week blizzard could have on even a northern community.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Bexx27 on February 14, 2013, 11:31:29 AM
I don't think even PA/NJ gets heavy snow over two weeks without noticing.  Perhaps the author grew up in North Dakota or Buffalo, New York.   ???

I bet the book even has the federal government open.   ;)

Well, the characters are noticing the snow and commenting about how much it's snowing, how they'd better get on the road soon, etc., but they don't seem to find it all that out of the ordinary. In real life, though, it would be a serious emergency situation and everything would be disrupted.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Sharnita on February 14, 2013, 11:38:07 AM
Asfar as the snow thing, it can depend.  If you get a day or two to clean up, then more snow, a day or two to clean up, more snow ... and  you are used to it then it is not that big a deal.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Bexx27 on February 14, 2013, 11:44:12 AM
Asfar as the snow thing, it can depend.  If you get a day or two to clean up, then more snow, a day or two to clean up, more snow ... and  you are used to it then it is not that big a deal.

It's not a big deal in places where that weather pattern happens. It doesn't happen in DC. We sometimes get isolated snow storms lasting a few days, but snow and freezing temperatures are so rare here that it would just never snow heavily every few days over a 2-week period. If it did, we would all think the world was ending.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: wolfie on February 14, 2013, 11:48:54 AM
I don't think even PA/NJ gets heavy snow over two weeks without noticing.  Perhaps the author grew up in North Dakota or Buffalo, New York.   ???

I bet the book even has the federal government open.   ;)

Bet the author didn't notice that she had said it was snowing heavily for two weeks straight. Just thought it would something to that particular day and didn't stop to think about how many times she said it happened and what that would actually mean!

When I was in high school we had one week of heavy snow (I lived in NJ at the time). Not only was everything shut down but most places lost power and the plows couldn't keep up so if you weren't on a main street you were stuck. I remember going stir crazy by thursday (snow started sunday night) and how we dug our way out just so we would have something besides sandwiches and cereal to eat (no power = no stove). 2 weeks of that would have been hell.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: squeakers on February 14, 2013, 01:43:06 PM
To go with this topic is a forum I ran across that I am guessing many of you wish the authors' of the Oops writings would have consulted ahead of time: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=66

Between this thread and that forum I should glean a ton more trivia that I will remember faster than my kids' names  ;D
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Luci on February 14, 2013, 04:52:38 PM
I just read an ebook that I really got into. The language was clear and intelligent, there were no typos, and no grammar errors.

There was offspring of a human and an orangutan, kind of brain-hurty right there, but OK. Species with different numbers of chromosomes can produce offspring sometimes, and there were all kinds of awful experiments. The Apgar was 3/6. That led to a lot of interesting research on my part.

The hybrid was born in 1944. The Apgar rating was not created until 1952, and I very much doubt that Virginia Apgar in the US had a lot of contact with German doctors in 1944, even though she might have discussed it as something she was thinking about somewhere along the line with colleagues.

Apgar scores are in single digits, as far as I know.

Best of all, the author was a gynecologist and pediatrician.

I did learn that Apgar means three things. 1) the creator's last name 2) a mnemonic device for Appearance, etc. 3) an acronym for American Pediatric Gross Assessment Record.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: kglory on February 15, 2013, 12:16:28 AM
I just read an ebook that I really got into. The language was clear and intelligent, there were no typos, and no grammar errors.

There was offspring of a human and an orangutan, kind of brain-hurty right there, but OK. Species with different numbers of chromosomes can produce offspring sometimes, and there were all kinds of awful experiments. The Apgar was 3/6. That led to a lot of interesting research on my part.

The hybrid was born in 1944. The Apgar rating was not created until 1952, and I very much doubt that Virginia Apgar in the US had a lot of contact with German doctors in 1944, even though she might have discussed it as something she was thinking about somewhere along the line with colleagues.

Apgar scores are in single digits, as far as I know.

Best of all, the author was a gynecologist and pediatrician.

I did learn that Apgar means three things. 1) the creator's last name 2) a mnemonic device for Appearance, etc. 3) an acronym for American Pediatric Gross Assessment Record.

When someone says their child had an Apgar of 3/6, that usually means the 3 (out of 10) is the score immediately at birth, and the 6 (out of 10) is the second score, when they re-measure after a short period of time.  The score usually goes up since the baby's health improves as his body becomes accustomed to life on the  outside, so to speak.

But yeah, the date is an issue, not to mention the human-orangutan crossbreed.  I hope that was science fiction!
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Luci on February 15, 2013, 02:15:44 AM
I just read an ebook that I really got into. The language was clear and intelligent, there were no typos, and no grammar errors.

There was offspring of a human and an orangutan, kind of brain-hurty right there, but OK. Species with different numbers of chromosomes can produce offspring sometimes, and there were all kinds of awful experiments. The Apgar was 3/6. That led to a lot of interesting research on my part.

The hybrid was born in 1944. The Apgar rating was not created until 1952, and I very much doubt that Virginia Apgar in the US had a lot of contact with German doctors in 1944, even though she might have discussed it as something she was thinking about somewhere along the line with colleagues.

Apgar scores are in single digits, as far as I know.

Best of all, the author was a gynecologist and pediatrician.

I did learn that Apgar means three things. 1) the creator's last name 2) a mnemonic device for Appearance, etc. 3) an acronym for American Pediatric Gross Assessment Record.

When someone says their child had an Apgar of 3/6, that usually means the 3 (out of 10) is the score immediately at birth, and the 6 (out of 10) is the second score, when they re-measure after a short period of time.  The score usually goes up since the baby's health improves as his body becomes accustomed to life on the  outside, so to speak.

But yeah, the date is an issue, not to mention the human-orangutan crossbreed.  I hope that was science fiction!

It wasn't described as such, but I kind of thought it should have been.

I forgot to mention that the hero got his clavacle and the knob of the upper arm broken, so his arm was bound to his body. He escaped through the small bathroom window and did some other climbing with no mention of the pain and difficulty of such moves with only one arm - I think I would say impossibility. He also broke through a door by ramming his body into it, and no there was nothing said about the jolt. Like a small guy like that could break a door down when I am pretty sure a huge fellow couldn't actually do it. The author hadn't forgotten the broken arm because the pain pills issued but not taken were important to another escape.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Katana_Geldar on February 15, 2013, 02:24:38 AM
People doing waltz in regency romance always bothers me. The waltz,method something a father does with his daughter at her wedding, was seen as making out standing up until the late 19th century.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: iridaceae on February 15, 2013, 04:50:01 AM
People doing waltz in regency romance always bothers me. The waltz,method something a father does with his daughter at her wedding, was seen as making out standing up until the late 19th century.

Jane Austen had people waltzing in Emma.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: SpottedPony on February 15, 2013, 11:49:45 AM
I don't think even PA/NJ gets heavy snow over two weeks without noticing.  Perhaps the author grew up in North Dakota or Buffalo, New York.   ???

I bet the book even has the federal government open.   ;)

Even if the federal government was closed, there still would be guards on the tomb of the unknown soldier.  Though it be interesting to know how they would be dealing with the removal all of that snow from the tomb area. 

Spotted Pony
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Onyx_TKD on February 15, 2013, 12:59:41 PM
People doing waltz in regency romance always bothers me. The waltz,method something a father does with his daughter at her wedding, was seen as making out standing up until the late 19th century.

I've been to historical dance events specifically focused on Regency-era dances, taught by people who have studied the dances of that time period, and there were waltzes involved. They weren't the same as modern waltz, and it was mentioned that they were new and just becoming accepted in that era. In the waltzes taught at these events, only brief portions involved a ballroom dance hold and even that was different than the modern hold, e.g., a different hand position so that the dancers weren't holding hands palm to palm. I can't speak for the accuracy of these myself, but the group seemed quite well reputed and the instructor seemed to have put in a good deal of research on the topic.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Lynn2000 on February 15, 2013, 03:10:36 PM
I forgot to mention that the hero got his clavacle and the knob of the upper arm broken, so his arm was bound to his body. He escaped through the small bathroom window and did some other climbing with no mention of the pain and difficulty of such moves with only one arm - I think I would say impossibility. He also broke through a door by ramming his body into it, and no there was nothing said about the jolt. Like a small guy like that could break a door down when I am pretty sure a huge fellow couldn't actually do it. The author hadn't forgotten the broken arm because the pain pills issued but not taken were important to another escape.

Oh, I've completely given up wondering if any action movie-type stuff is accurate/realistic. I'm pretty much willing to suspend that disbelief if it's a good story and they keep it from just being lazy plotting, like... holding one's breath underwater for an hour or something. Kind of like how whenever the phone rings, it's something related to the plot; or characters who live in different places just walk into each other's houses without the need for anyone to unlock a door or even knock and wait for the occupant to answer.

My mom won't give in, though. Every action movie we watch she's going, "I don't think he could do that. I don't think he could walk/run/fight/drive after that." ;)
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: AnnaJ on February 15, 2013, 04:12:18 PM
People doing waltz in regency romance always bothers me. The waltz,method something a father does with his daughter at her wedding, was seen as making out standing up until the late 19th century.

Waltzing was new but not limited to father/daughter dances.  If I remember my Georgette Heyer, the patronesses at Almacks - assembly rooms in London where proper young women and men mingled - had to give their approval before a young woman was allowed to dance there, but waltzing was permitted at the hall.  Since Almacks was an extremely conservative (socially) place, if it happened at Almacks it was certainly happening at private balls.

Another weather glitch...a few years ago I was reading a mystery set in Las Vegas; it's May and the heroine is wearing a jacket because it's so cool  :o.  I've lived here for almost 20 years and if it's cool enough for a jacket in May I promise you it would be a big deal and the heroine would be talking about it.  And let's not even talk about the fact that CSI has it raining almost every week...in the desert...where we get fewer than 10 inches of rain a year.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Lady Snowdon on February 15, 2013, 05:04:21 PM
I read a book a few months ago that some very strange geography involved.   It was set in Colorado, and the main characters lived in a house deep in the mountains.  So deep that nobody could ever find them by accident.  There was nothing to show that there was anyone living in that area.  Except that they had electricity, cable or dish TV, and the Internet.  There were no major roads near them either, and the nearest neighbors were miles away.  Oh, and both Denver and Boulder were only about an hour away.  I suppose they could have been living inside Rocky Mountain National Park? 

The other thing that made me laugh about the book was that I don't think the author had ever visited the Rockies.  There are a few passages where the two main characters go hiking for hours and hours, always heading upward (never downwards or laterally), and yet never hit a peak or even tree line.  I know that there are quite a few peaks above 14,000 feet in the Rockies, but sooner or later you have to get some change of scenery!
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Carotte on February 15, 2013, 05:10:23 PM
And let's not even talk about the fact that CSI has it raining almost every week...in the desert...where we get fewer than 10 inches of rain a year.

CSI the show? I've re-watched the last 3 or 4 seasons not long ago and I don't think there was more than one episode where it rained.
Now the rest of the show we could write books and books about it (although I think I've seen the las Vegas CSIs more frequently in whole-body combination than the rest of the CSI's combined. I love how the coroner gets to the scene in a suit and heels  ::)
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Ereine on February 15, 2013, 11:29:12 PM
For the waltzing, I don't know how accurate Wikipedia is on this (though they cite several sources) but according to them they started waltzing at Almack's before 1816, though the dance resembled polka more (I guess that makes the romances where the heroine is excited to be pressed against the hero inaccurate). And they were very much concerned about probriety, apparently they would meet every week to decide if there was someone who had mis-behaved during the week whose voucher should be taken back.
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: Thipu1 on February 16, 2013, 09:41:58 AM
Back in the big, bad 1970s, there was a fascinating novel with intended inaccuracies. 

The book was 'The Park is Mine' and was about a terrorist taking over Central Park.  The inaccuracies were there to prevent anyone from actually trying to do it. 

Those of us who knew the park well had great fun taking walks with the book and figuring out what the author did. 
Title: Re: S/O Reading Pet Peeves - How Accurate is This Book?
Post by: AnnaJ on February 17, 2013, 09:21:39 PM
And let's not even talk about the fact that CSI has it raining almost every week...in the desert...where we get fewer than 10 inches of rain a year.

CSI the show? I've re-watched the last 3 or 4 seasons not long ago and I don't think there was more than one episode where it rained.
Now the rest of the show we could write books and books about it (although I think I've seen the las Vegas CSIs more frequently in whole-body combination than the rest of the CSI's combined. I love how the coroner gets to the scene in a suit and heels  ::)

I watched the first several (4? 5?) seasons and the directors seemed to be in love with the neon lights reflecting off of puddles and wet pavement...glad they have changed.  And yes, I always want to see how well those high heels function in decrepit alleys and sandy, weedy empty lots  :D.