Saturday, December 16, 2006

In a bit of synchronicity

On the subject of women's historical fiction discussed in my 12/12 post - have a look at "Tapestry of Tales," an article from today's (well, tomorrow's) The Scotsman.

It's written from a UK viewpoint, which may (?) explain the comment "It is still a form that is dominated by women, and it is hard not to wonder if that is the reason for the industry's ambivalent attitude to one of its biggest success stories." Is this true in the UK? I hardly think the US publishing world is ambivalent to women's historical fiction; quite the opposite.

The article's lengthy and quite detailed, and definitely worth reading for an overview of the genre - though they oversimplify the HNS definition of historical fiction, and don't make much of a case for their argument. I'm also confused by Philippa Gregory's comments - Anya Seton (which the paper spells as "Seaton") wrote about Katherine of Aragon? Did she mean Norah Lofts, I wonder?


  1. Anonymous4:52 AM

    I wonder if Philippa Gregory's interview has suffered in the editing somehow? It almost sounds as if she was talking about Katherine by Anya Seton but somehow Katherine Swynford has got mixed up with Catherine of Aragon.

  2. Makes you wonder. Gregory wrote the foreword to the recent US reprint of Seton's Katherine so you know she's familiar with it - but if they quoted her exactly, it's still odd. She mentions Seton by name twice.

  3. Anonymous10:29 AM

    Short of emailing Philippa Gregory via her website and asking her what she said in the interview, I don't suppose we'll ever know.

  4. Who knows. It's not like I've never been misquoted in the press before, either.

    The part of the article I didn't really get, though, is the claim that the "establishment" is ambivalent about historical fiction because many of the novels are written by women. But it doesn't present much evidence for such a thesis. What kind of "triumphant declarations" are expected? What sort of proof is required, other than the continued publication of these novels, strong sales, positive reviews, award nominations, and growing popularity of the authors - is that not enough?

    The fact that two male writers happen to write sagas that appeal mostly to women (and Rae and Bingham have been writing such novels for decades) - that's not a strong enough argument in my book.

  5. Anonymous4:09 AM

    I'm afraid I thought the whole 'establishment' argument was, shall we say, unconvincing.