Sunday, 3 November 2013

My aching back and other quibbles with what really happens.

It has been a long day. We have been unable to see my son and his boys, as they have all had gastric germs. We do NOT need those, so have not seen each other yet. Instead we went to the school fete. The children enjoyed it reasonably well, but this fete concentrated on rides and sausage sizzles and there was little to  attract me, although there was a very extensive book stall snd I managed to buy a new novel by my son's childhood friend Louis's  famous mother. For $2.00. Bargain. I have started reading it, but so far it seems to lack the truth in fiction quality  I think essential. This is the first book of a projected four.

It is interesting. Somehow, no matter how competent, how extensive the research, some books ring true and others just don't. For me, this one doesn't.  Truth in fiction is an elusive quality. The research can be well done, the writing competent to good, but somehow or other, when I read some books, I just don't believe what I read. I can be very picky, I know, but I do not set out to disbelieve. I find myself analysing the prose, watching how characters are introduced, and how historical events are introduced, and I just do not believe it all. Not this one, anyway.

It is not that I dislike historical fiction. I have read quite a lot of it, probably starting with Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time, and I have my own historical biases. However, wanting that something or other had happened cannot ever be equivalent to being satisfied that in fact the preferred version was so. I have just picked up again Hilary Mantel's book Bring up the Bodies,  and while I can already disagree with some aspects of her historical re construction, her version is indeed plausible and quite compelling.  At times I can get quite crabby and aggravated about books which postulate events in a way that satisfies the writer's desire that this is the way it should have happened. Not that this was in fact what happened .

I will not necessarily be persuaded, but her interpretation is arguable. I am not at all sure that one can recreate the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine in a way that can fit in with modern conditions and heavily adjusted reality. So far it is not working, for me.

1 comment:

Elephant's Child said...

Fascinating post. And I loved Daughter of Time.
Some books just don't gel. And often, for me, it is the character development. If it appears forced to meet the author's agenda, my attention wanders. And may not return.