Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book Talk: Historical Accuracy in Historical Fiction

It's time for Book Talk, a Confessions of an Avid Reader weekly feature that offers a forum in which to discuss book-related issues and topics.  This week's topic: Historical Accuracy in Historical Fiction.

There is some debate as to whether or not historical novelists should, to the greatest extent possible, be historically accurate in their works.  Some readers and authors feel it is of the utmost importance, while others don't.  My intent with this discussion is not to revisit this debate, especially since I think there is a wide enough selection of historical novels available today to satisfy all readers no matter what their preference, but rather to get a sense for what my fellow bloggers prefer.  

Because many of the historical novels I read feature real historical figures and events as central components of the plots, I prefer to read those that are as historically accurate as possible.   Nevertheless, I recognize that sometimes liberties need to be taken for the sake of a story, and generally don't have an issue with this so long as they are minor and explained in an Author's Note.      

This is not to say I don't read or enjoy historical novels in which significant liberties are taken, because let's face it, a great story is a great story regardless of whether it is historically accurate or not.   I do, however, tend to gravitate towards books written by historical novelists who take great care in ensuring accuracy, and most of my favourite historical novels are recognized for this.

So my fellow historical fiction lovers, is historical accuracy important to you as a reader or is it not a big deal?