Introducing…The Bodice Ripper
4th Jan 2012
I’m not sure when my love affair with historical fiction began – I remember discovering Jean Plaidy’s The Young Elizabeth in a second-hand bookshop at age nine or ten, reading Mollie Hunter’s Escape from Loch Leven a year later and spending a few years agonisingly torn between Team Elizabeth and Team Mary Queen of Scots (I think there should be t-shirts, although obviously I’d have to buy both).
Thanks to the plethora of good 1990s costume drama on television and my parents’ mistaken belief that this was somehow ‘educational’, I fell in love with the entire 19th century – from the sassy Austen heroines of Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, to Jemma Redgrave’s pioneering female surgeon in Bramwell.
From then on, I spent all my free time in bookshops and the library, discovering Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart, Anne Perry’s detective duo Thomas Pitt and his upper-class-but-slumming-it-for-love wife Charlotte, and countless other feisty women overcoming the social mores of their time to kick ass in a corset.
My interests are relatively varied, although I have an all-consuming obsession with the Victorian era and a love of the French Revolution that’s starting to equal it. This column will be a mixture of new releases, my favourites (and least favourites) and books that people have been raving about for months or years but I’m only just getting around to reading.
Despite the groaning bookshelves threatening to take over my flat, I’m always on the look out for new reading material – and that’s where you come in. If you have any recommendations for something you think I would enjoy, just leave a comment or email me. My only criteria is a strong female protagonist and whilst I prefer anything set pre-1940, I’m not averse to trying something new.
In between immersing myself in tales of eras long gone by purely for your edification, I’m also trying to whip The Wages of Sin, a mystery novel set in Victorian Edinburgh, into shape for agent-querying later this year.
Expect to see at least one column about the trials and tribulations of writing and researching historical fiction (and the perils of getting it wrong, illustrated with some truly priceless examples from my bookshelves).
Over the coming weeks, expect a review of Melanie Clegg’s Blood Sisters, and how she’s helping change my mind on self-publishing, the trend for crime-fighting Victorian widows, and which author of Regency romances made me see bodice-rippers in a whole new light.
Which authors of historical fiction would you recommend? Which books deserved to be ranted and raved about in The Bodice Ripper?
(Image courtesy of Lola Smith)