Thursday, October 30, 2014

I can't read books like a normal person.

I wish I could. The other day, worn out and mentally tired,  I fired up my Kindle and bought a book called The American Duke. I like a slutty book about British nobles as much as anyone. However.

In the very first paragraph Lady Whatever wakes and decides to go for a walk in the ducal garden at dawn. She flings her cloak over her nightdress. I wince, Maybe they had nightdresses in 1812 for duke's daughters, (most women at that time would have slept in their shift, which was basically the bottom layer of what they wore during the day) but it's very hard to believe in a duke's daughter who go outside in one. She'd have absolutely nothing on beneath it. Okay. I move on. Lady Whatever slides her feet into her boots, and I wince again. What boots are these? No Wellies back then. Tall leather boots wouldn't slip. Most footwear she'd either need help to get into, or she would ruin by walking in the garden.

I've gotten to the second sentence and can barely stand to continue.

Lady W goes down to the garden dressed like a slutty farmhand and encounters her father, dead. She runs to the stables for help, and sits down on a hay bale.

Maybe it was possible to bale hay then. I don't know. But it would have been really rare, particularly in England where even now they don't really put hay up in the square bales common in America. Haystacks, people. Haylofts. Not hay bales. Sheesh.

Inside the house, Lady W's sister asks, if Papa is dead, who will be the next duke?

It's hard for me to express how wrong this is. Everyone knew who the heir would be. Everyone, all the time. In on of Jil Paton Walsh's Lord Peter Wimsey books, the Duke of Denver, Lord Peter's brother, drops dead of a heart attack. Lord Peter rushes over, and, as he's examining the body, a family retainer comes up to him and says, "Your Grace--" which is how you address a duke, because, now that his brother is dead, Lord Peter has become Duke of Denver, and everyone knows it immediately.

I realize the author just wanted a way to explain that this crummy American relative would inherit, but it didn't need to be done with inane dialogue spoken by incredible characters. '"Oh, no!" cried Lady Whosis, "now we're at the mercy of the dreadful heir!" It was true. Since the death of her second brother, her father's second cousin's child had become the heir. No one knew a thing about him.' See how easy that was?

I sigh deeply and try to persevere. But the next bit of what is still the first chapter explains how, since their family's descent into poverty, they've had very little to eat. Bullpucky. They live on a landed estate. Gowns, jewels, carriages, anything that has to be bought with cash, they well may not afford, but they've got plenty of food. If anyone in the area has enough to eat it's them.

I'm done. It's awful. I paid for the book and it's stuck on my Kindle; I can't give it away. I can't stand reading it. I know most people aren't like me, but I'm stuck with my neurotic attention to history and I simply can not go on.

(Fortunately, the next book I picked up was Sarah Waters' The Paying Guests. Now that's how to write historical fiction!)