History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

14 December 2015

Princesses & Castles & Gowns

This post concerns a somewhat different sort of history. Or different types of history. The make believe history of fairy tales and fantasy. The history of own childhood as we look back on it. And the history we build ourselves with moments that are perhaps only significant when we look back on them.

My daughter Mélanie turned four yesterday. Hard for me to believe four years have already gone by since she was born and also hard for me to remember a time when she wasn't part of my life. In the case of her (much-anticipated) birthday I was very much aware that this particular moment was one would both remember, hopefully fondly. Thankfully as she was falling asleep she told me "I had a nice birthday."

Her big present from me was a wooden castle. It goes with a coach she got last year, some dolls she already had, and a new set of Frozen dolls which fit the castle perfectly. By last night it was populated with even more dolls of different sizes exploring the rooms and acting out Mélanie's stories. I had a wooden castle growing up and some of the the earliest historical stories I made up were not written down but acted on on its battlements. I love watching Mélanie play in this make believe world and learn a few historical terms - battlements, portcullis, sceptre.

Her party had a pirate princess theme with her cake decorated with characters from Captain Jake & the Neverland Pirates (along with a favorite purple pony). Mélanie loves pirate stories, mostly at her age of the very lighthearted kind (including Pirates of Penznance). Another example of a sort of fantasy world with roots in real history. As is her love long, full-skirted dresses she can twirl in, tiaras, and sparkly jewelry.

I love watching her explore stories, and I particularly love when they touch on one of my great loves, history. For me, fairy tales and make believe were an early gateway into my eventual love of archives, Calendars of State Papers, and dusty trails of books too seldom read to be in the Stanford library's computer system. It will be interesting to see if Mélanie's interest in history grows. For now, I'm enjoying playing with her castle with her :-).

What started your love of history?

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01 December 2015

A Heyer Moive and a (new to me) Heyer Short Story

According to the BAFTA website, we might all finally be getting that Heyer movie we’ve all been begging for … maybe. The Grand Sophy has never been a personal favorite of mine. If one can get past the anti-Semitism (and I can) one is still left with a rather dreary romance between ill-suited people that I simply can’t see working out in the end. I give them three years before they’re estranged and living apart.


On top of my general “meh” about the chosen novel, there’s the past work of the people involved. The writer (Olivia Hetreed) was also responsible for the dismal Wuthering Heights of a few years back that currently has a meager 48% audience score over on Rotten Tomatoes. My local film critic, who I mostly tend to agree with, wrote: “Essentially a misunderstanding of (or an inability to convey) the breathing soul of this material.” This worries me. I’d honestly rather have no Heyer adaptation than one that I’m going to have to defend when it’s indefensible.


All of this was brought home by the very timely article in the Guardian about just what liberties it’s ok for a film to take with a beloved book (a topic which never seems to get old among fans of all stripes. Let me know what your feelings are about the possibility of The Grand Sophy on film and what book you would have chosen if you were in charge. Me? I would probably have chosen Sylvester, because I think it would translate well to film and it's one of the more humorous books in my opinion.

On a much happier note, I leave you with a link to a charming short story by Heyer that I had never encountered before last week: Pursuit. Thanks to Sasha/GrowlyCub for sharing it with me!

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