Author Topic: Reading/Book Pet Peeves  (Read 256443 times)

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Winterlight

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1170 on: August 20, 2013, 04:43:53 PM »
The spunky heroine has been around a long time.  Caddie Woodlawn jumps to mind.  She's been encouraged to be wild and free to improve her health and her lack of refinement embarrasses her mother.  Her father though is very supportive. 

I think that the key to a believable story is motivation.  The family didn't just decide to let their daughter "be free".  She's also not fighting against everyone in her family.  She has support. 

Too often in juvenile and YA lit the author is so determined to make the hero/heroine the outsider that it gets unbelievable.  No friends, no family, no kind word from anyone?

Exactly. Caddie worked because, while she was a tomboy, her tomboyishness worked in context and wasn't Mary Sueish. She did things wrong, too, like some of the nasty pranks she pulled on Annabelle.
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Elfmama

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1171 on: August 20, 2013, 06:03:04 PM »
Also, our idea of a sympathetic character changes a lot over time, too.  An authentic historical "hero" from many eras would have thought nothing of owning slaves (or something close to it), would be content to shun a lower-status woman who had been raped because she brought it on herself somehow, would have no problem with preteen girls being forced into prostitution, and would have taken an extremely lax view of fidelity in marriage (at least for the male half of the couple).  But try to put any of those qualities into a book for modern readers and everyone would hate the character.  Similarly, it would be hard to sympathize with a female character who truly believed she was not capable of making decisions, exerting her influence on anyone except servants/slaves, or doing anything except sewing and housework.

I know I'd much rather read about the historical anomalies.
That was where I ran into trouble with my editor.  Because the protagonist was formerly a slave, Editor thought that he ought to be a rip-roaring abolitionist.  He was supposed to ... well, drat, I don't know what she thought he could do!  Slavery was integral to the world that I constructed, so there was no way that he could change things. It wasn't enough that he freed the slaves that later came into his possession.  Maybe he was supposed to campaign for slavery to be made illegal?  That wasn't the story that I wanted to tell.   

She also objected to him boinking tavern girls and servant girls, even though as a mercenary guardsman, women of that social class were the only females available to him. He was supposed to nobly abstain, I guess.  (And he just spoke up in the back of my mind, saying "Riiiiiiiiiiight!")

And my female protagonist WAS raised with the idea that she was inferior to men, that she was expected to marry the man that her father chose for her, that her place in society was as a genteel lady of the minor nobility. She sings, plays music, embroiders, etc.  When she kills the bad guy, she's terrified that her husband will be furious with her, because defending her was HIS job.
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Ms_Cellany

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1172 on: August 20, 2013, 07:01:29 PM »
Also, our idea of a sympathetic character changes a lot over time, too.  An authentic historical "hero" from many eras would have thought nothing of owning slaves (or something close to it), would be content to shun a lower-status woman who had been raped because she brought it on herself somehow, would have no problem with preteen girls being forced into prostitution, and would have taken an extremely lax view of fidelity in marriage (at least for the male half of the couple).  But try to put any of those qualities into a book for modern readers and everyone would hate the character. 

Try The Glass Virgin. EVERYONE is reprehensible. Rape, shunning, revenge, more shunning.
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amandaelizabeth

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1173 on: August 20, 2013, 08:19:48 PM »
O/T  riding side saddle still persists in some circles.  I have been to hunt meetings where women are seated sidesaddle.  They seem to go just as fast and jump over fences just as well as everyone else.  I guess it is how you learn to ride.

Tea Drinker

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1174 on: August 20, 2013, 08:47:15 PM »
The other thing is that hating embroidery is a cliche; how about just not discussing embroidery at all? Depending on the character and situation, some aspect of clothing-making might be part of the background, but there's a lot more to that than embroidery.
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Library Dragon

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1175 on: August 20, 2013, 08:53:00 PM »
The other thing is that hating embroidery is a cliche; how about just not discussing embroidery at all? Depending on the character and situation, some aspect of clothing-making might be part of the background, but there's a lot more to that than embroidery.

Agreed.  I was as tomboy as could be (my family nickname was Pistol Pete), but loved embroidery.  I would like to see it celebrated as an art. 


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Jocelyn

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1176 on: August 20, 2013, 09:19:17 PM »
Another gripe I have with the YA novels with the anachronistic heroines, is that it creates the impression in young minds that girls have always had the sort of freedom they have now. When I do historical reenactment at schools, I try to introduce the idea that if a teenaged girl defied her father, the more likely outcome would be that he'd lock her in her room, or backhand her across the room, not that he'd sigh and let her have her way. Medieval men may have been loving and tolerant of their womenfolks' ways...but they were also sure that they were superior beings who had a right to give orders and have them obeyed. I reviewed a book on Amazon and panned it because a medieval woman tells another that she is old enough to marry whomever she wants, and she doesn't have to listen to her brute of a father. Mmmhmm. Let me know how that works out for you.

Gyburc

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1177 on: August 21, 2013, 07:59:48 AM »
Also, our idea of a sympathetic character changes a lot over time, too.  An authentic historical "hero" from many eras would have thought nothing of owning slaves (or something close to it), would be content to shun a lower-status woman who had been raped because she brought it on herself somehow, would have no problem with preteen girls being forced into prostitution, and would have taken an extremely lax view of fidelity in marriage (at least for the male half of the couple).  But try to put any of those qualities into a book for modern readers and everyone would hate the character. 

Try The Glass Virgin. EVERYONE is reprehensible. Rape, shunning, revenge, more shunning.


I would also recommend George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman novels. They are set in the Victorian era, and the hero (anti-hero really) has all of the views that you would expect of a man of that period about class, race, gender, etc.. But they are written in a tongue-in-cheek style, and Flashman is an outright cynic about everyone he encounters, in particular about his British contemporaries, and I find them tremendously entertaining. MacDonald Fraser also did a great deal of historical research, so the books are very informative as well.

I should add that he uses a lot of language that is now considered offensive, which is why I've never used any quotes from him as my signature line here on EHell, much as I'd love to!  ;) But I'd still recommend them wholeheartedly.
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Curious Cat

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1178 on: August 21, 2013, 08:17:02 AM »
The spunky heroine has been around a long time.  Caddie Woodlawn jumps to mind.  She's been encouraged to be wild and free to improve her health and her lack of refinement embarrasses her mother.  Her father though is very supportive. 

I think that the key to a believable story is motivation.  The family didn't just decide to let their daughter "be free".  She's also not fighting against everyone in her family.  She has support. 

Too often in juvenile and YA lit the author is so determined to make the hero/heroine the outsider that it gets unbelievable.  No friends, no family, no kind word from anyone?

Exactly. Caddie worked because, while she was a tomboy, her tomboyishness worked in context and wasn't Mary Sueish. She did things wrong, too, like some of the nasty pranks she pulled on Annabelle.

Caddie is great. Betsy from Understood Betsy (published in 1916 or 1917) is also a character that manages to end up spunky in a realistic way.  Also Laura from the little house books is great because she isn't perfect but still fits with the majority of the social mores of the time. Part if this might have had to do with the necessity of her helping her father do typical "boy" chores like haying.

Winterlight

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1179 on: August 21, 2013, 11:30:01 AM »
Another gripe I have with the YA novels with the anachronistic heroines, is that it creates the impression in young minds that girls have always had the sort of freedom they have now. When I do historical reenactment at schools, I try to introduce the idea that if a teenaged girl defied her father, the more likely outcome would be that he'd lock her in her room, or backhand her across the room, not that he'd sigh and let her have her way. Medieval men may have been loving and tolerant of their womenfolks' ways...but they were also sure that they were superior beings who had a right to give orders and have them obeyed. I reviewed a book on Amazon and panned it because a medieval woman tells another that she is old enough to marry whomever she wants, and she doesn't have to listen to her brute of a father. Mmmhmm. Let me know how that works out for you.

Yeah, that's gonna go over REAL well. Because no lord ever sent a disobedient daughter to a convent. /eyeroll
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Five things observe with care,
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Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
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Ms_Cellany

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1180 on: August 21, 2013, 12:18:10 PM »
Also, our idea of a sympathetic character changes a lot over time, too.  An authentic historical "hero" from many eras would have thought nothing of owning slaves (or something close to it), would be content to shun a lower-status woman who had been raped because she brought it on herself somehow, would have no problem with preteen girls being forced into prostitution, and would have taken an extremely lax view of fidelity in marriage (at least for the male half of the couple).  But try to put any of those qualities into a book for modern readers and everyone would hate the character. 

Try The Glass Virgin. EVERYONE is reprehensible. Rape, shunning, revenge, more shunning.


I would also recommend George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman novels. They are set in the Victorian era, and the hero (anti-hero really) has all of the views that you would expect of a man of that period about class, race, gender, etc.. But they are written in a tongue-in-cheek style, and Flashman is an outright cynic about everyone he encounters, in particular about his British contemporaries, and I find them tremendously entertaining. MacDonald Fraser also did a great deal of historical research, so the books are very informative as well.

I should add that he uses a lot of language that is now considered offensive, which is why I've never used any quotes from him as my signature line here on EHell, much as I'd love to!  ;) But I'd still recommend them wholeheartedly.


Trigger warning about the Flashman books: he rapes a woman in (I think) the first book. She gets revenge, though.

I love the series: he is a coward, bully, and braggart, and through circumstances always ends up smelling like a rose.
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pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1181 on: August 21, 2013, 01:14:56 PM »
Another gripe I have with the YA novels with the anachronistic heroines, is that it creates the impression in young minds that girls have always had the sort of freedom they have now. When I do historical reenactment at schools, I try to introduce the idea that if a teenaged girl defied her father, the more likely outcome would be that he'd lock her in her room, or backhand her across the room, not that he'd sigh and let her have her way. Medieval men may have been loving and tolerant of their womenfolks' ways...but they were also sure that they were superior beings who had a right to give orders and have them obeyed. I reviewed a book on Amazon and panned it because a medieval woman tells another that she is old enough to marry whomever she wants, and she doesn't have to listen to her brute of a father. Mmmhmm. Let me know how that works out for you.

Yeah, that's gonna go over REAL well. Because no lord ever sent a disobedient daughter to a convent. /eyeroll
Or beat her to a bloody pulp.
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lady_disdain

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1182 on: August 21, 2013, 03:00:04 PM »
Another gripe I have with the YA novels with the anachronistic heroines, is that it creates the impression in young minds that girls have always had the sort of freedom they have now. When I do historical reenactment at schools, I try to introduce the idea that if a teenaged girl defied her father, the more likely outcome would be that he'd lock her in her room, or backhand her across the room, not that he'd sigh and let her have her way. Medieval men may have been loving and tolerant of their womenfolks' ways...but they were also sure that they were superior beings who had a right to give orders and have them obeyed. I reviewed a book on Amazon and panned it because a medieval woman tells another that she is old enough to marry whomever she wants, and she doesn't have to listen to her brute of a father. Mmmhmm. Let me know how that works out for you.

Yeah, that's gonna go over REAL well. Because no lord ever sent a disobedient daughter to a convent. /eyeroll
Or beat her to a bloody pulp.

And neither of those were restricted to daughters - sons often ended up in monasteries and beaten up as well.

cwm

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1183 on: August 21, 2013, 03:08:47 PM »
Another gripe I have with the YA novels with the anachronistic heroines, is that it creates the impression in young minds that girls have always had the sort of freedom they have now. When I do historical reenactment at schools, I try to introduce the idea that if a teenaged girl defied her father, the more likely outcome would be that he'd lock her in her room, or backhand her across the room, not that he'd sigh and let her have her way. Medieval men may have been loving and tolerant of their womenfolks' ways...but they were also sure that they were superior beings who had a right to give orders and have them obeyed. I reviewed a book on Amazon and panned it because a medieval woman tells another that she is old enough to marry whomever she wants, and she doesn't have to listen to her brute of a father. Mmmhmm. Let me know how that works out for you.

Yeah, that's gonna go over REAL well. Because no lord ever sent a disobedient daughter to a convent. /eyeroll
Or beat her to a bloody pulp.

I know it's not YA, but a book that deals very well with this is The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. It deals with a girl growing up in a time where they have little to no say in their lives, sibling rivalry, and how the consequences shape the present. It's a fascinating read. None of the characters is perfect or too flawed, and the end actually came as a surprise to me.

Goosey

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Re: Reading/Book Pet Peeves
« Reply #1184 on: August 21, 2013, 03:11:04 PM »
I remember reading one in grade school where a young girl was being married off to a much older gentleman. She resists and gets beaten repeatedly by her father. In the end, she decides to go ahead with the marriage and make the best of it. I forget what it was called, but it was YA literature and made for interesting class discussion.