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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2013
Great fun and also very useful.

Brisk, clear explanations of so many things that would-be writers of historical fiction (and all too many published ones too) either get horribly, hilariously wrong, or don't even know they should check in the first place.

Covers everything from thou/thee/thy/thine, to how titles work in the aristocracy, (im)proper behaviour in different classes and genders, the lessons to be learnt from programmes like The 1900 House, and of course those underpants.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2014
This is a truly excellent book: witty, humorous, but also full of easily-missed pitfalls and essential warnings for the aspiring writer. I have too often thrown a book aside, because I became irritated by the number of silly and obvious mistakes in dealing with the chosen period. I don't mean the kind of things only a scholar or a nerd would notice; I mean major blunders that bring the reader up short and distract from the story.

What it all comes down to, as Ms. Alleyn explains, is checking your facts and showing respect for your readers. Near enough will not do; nor will assumptions or half-recalled snippets from school. If you don't want to do the research, chose another period to write about. Even famous writers, when they stray outside their usual historical territory, make silly errors.

It's also good to see the editors come in for some stick! I sometimes wonder whether such animals even exist in publishing houses today, given the typos, grammar howlers and half-erased rewrites that make it onto the printed page.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 February 2013
An excellent and valuable summary of the mistakes writers of historical fiction make and how best to avoid them, written with humour and accuracy. I was particularly pleased to learn what "feisty" really means. Read it before you start the research, and then keep it right beside the word processor to avoid further mistakes, because we all make them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2014
An entertaining and informative guide to the avoidance of some of the common mistakes made by authors who know little and care less about the period in which they set their stories. Of course, it's not definitive - how could it be with thousands of years of history and many different cultures to contend with - but it does what it says in the title. If you're writing about the past and have any intention of doing some research to ensure authenticity, then this is a very good place to start.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 October 2014
Would be especially useful for many American writers of historical fiction especially - which is what the book seems aimed at. Many hillarious bloopers have found their way into this book. Worth collecting many more. Anyone aiming at writing a historical novel should read this, especially if their knowledge of European (or anywhere else) history is so low, that they do not know how limited it is.
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on 8 February 2015
I've only just started this, but already I know I'm going to enjoy it. From page 2, where we meet the historical fiction author who had her 11th century knight lighting up a cigar - cue for howling with mirth and almost literal rolling around on floor (and you know, I wish Susanne Alleyne had given the name of the book - I find I really, really want to read it! ) it looks as though this will not only be educational - not about the cigar, I knew that - but a source of some hilarity. But I had better not laugh too much at the errors of others. How does that saying go? Let him (or her) who is without sin cast the first stone. Hmmm. But, hopefully, it will help me to avoid a few blunders if not all.
Amusng and useful. Well worth reading. I hope it will help me to check up on things I may not have thought of before. I would recommend it to anyone thinking of writing historic fiction.
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on 9 May 2014
We bought this book because we're currently writing a historical novella. Plus the title made us laugh. It is really useful for anyone writing historical fiction, or even those who just have an interest in history. It is well-written, funny and we like the fact the author even included the blunders she had made. It made us think about things like how dark streets would have before streetlights, which foods were around during our chosen time period and that peasants' teeth were not that bad. We enjoyed the chapter devoted to the French Revolution and learned a lot - know your guillotine!
We highly recommend this book. And there's no such thing as medieval underpants.
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on 21 February 2013
Every writer of historical fiction should read this, so they don't have their Dark Ages Irish peasants eating spuds, or their seventeenth century French aristocracy eating chocolate (drinking it, yes, eating it, no), or their medieval peasants wearing underpants. The book tells you of many common anachronisms, from howling blunders like the above, to more subtle ones such as using a colloquialism that hadn't been invented yet; and it shows you how to avoid them in your own writing.

I'd recommend this not just for historical fiction writers, but also for anyone who enjoys history. It's a lively read.
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on 25 December 2014
Extremely entertaining and highly informative. The book explores various areas where a writer of historical fiction can get it wrong by not constantly checking the details. Clothing, food, idiom, town lay-outs, technology and many other areas are covered. While never ceasing to be a delight, the book does descend into to a bit of a rag bag of miscellaneous thoughts, observations and hobby horses towards the end, especially. Indeed the author acknowledges as much herself. Nevertheless, thoroughly recommended whether you write historical fiction or simply find the minutiae of social history fascinating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Useful. Interesting. Entertaining. Funny... in other words, loved it! :-) A very useful book for writers of historical fiction - or any writer, come to that!
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