Giselle Marks

Regency Romance and Fantasy Author

Confession is Good for the Soul by Giselle Marks

on November 7, 2013

seamonsterMy first book “The Fencing Master’s Daughter” was published at the end of September by Front Porch Romance and I’ve been glorying in some wonderful reviews and wishing they had translated into substantial sales. Those reviews dwelt on the accuracy of my historical research and most especially on the meals prepared by my French Chef Henri, whose recipes I based on Marie-Antoine Carême, 1784-1833. I basked in those compliments believing that even if my book did not get many sales, then I had done my best in avoiding historical anachronisms and had got my facts correct.

Indeed you might think that by checking every single fact twice and getting another Regency writer to beta read should have been enough. No fact of any importance should have slipped past both of us. I found one tiny error when I thought the book was finished while I was deciding if it was ready for submission to a publisher.  I had allowed Henri to cook tarte tatin, assuming the open apple tart which translated as Aunt’s tart was a common French peasant dish.  When in actual fact it was named by a famous chef some years after Carême died.  I got round that by not giving Henri’s open apple tarte a formal French title.

Now two months after publication I have finally found a mistake that we didn’t spot.  I have found a historical inaccuracy that I can’t simply change even if I withdrew the book to rewrite it.  So to those of you who’ve read it I apologize, there is a historical inaccuracy that I hope didn’t destroy your enjoyment of it.  I considered pretending to remain in ignorance of the error, but then it occurred to me that eventually a true Regency buff would pick up the book and notice the mistake.

I tried to put my mishap into context, the great Georgette Heyer who every Regency Romance writer looks up to.  YetVictorian Balloon she had a howler of an anachronism when she mistakenly planted an iron foundry in the middle of Soho in London.  There was not and never has been iron works of the kind in the metropolis.  The bard, Shakespeare’s repertoire is bespattered with huge anachronisms.  A clock struck in Julius Caesar while the land-locked country of Bohemia (now the main part of the Czech Republic) was given a coast to be washed up on in the Winter’s Tale.

Sir Walter Scott was even further adrift with his tartan clad heroes strolling through Scotland and his mangled European history in Ivanhoe.  Even Jane Austen herself apologized for anachronisms in Northanger Abbey although she may have been having a dig at contemporary Bath Society in the book. However their mistakes brought little relief to my personal chagrin. Worse I remembered a review I had written for an author whose book I was asked to read.  I never posted the review, but I sent it to the writer with a list of her historical anachronisms.

“Fancy a Romantic Historical Novel to read?  Then leave this book by Madame X well alone, unless you want to read the all-time low of historical ignorance.  Yankee author X leaps with both feet into every imaginable slurry pit of anachronism, seeking them out with the accuracy of a heat seeking missile.  At first I merely sniggered with laughter as stroppy teenager Y wandered through a London which no Victorian would recognise, splattering her editor enthusiastically with inaccuracies as she went.  Then as her lack of knowledge raced through the gas lit streets I chortled and found myself gripping my sides with laughter at the book and her author’s expense.  It is a shame as the book is well written and shows signs of character development and an interesting if slow-starting plot but Madame X has simply not done her homework. Rating: one star, simply because you are never likely to read a worse historical romance.”  

No it was not a kind review but I hoped in writing it, to make the author aware of the kind of review she could receive if it was published without a serious rewrite. I had at least not laid myself open to that kind of slashing criticism but I was now aware how difficult it is to be certain you have not made an error in the facts with which you’ve strung your story.

I admit to frequently being amused or annoyed by mistakes in some historical fiction writers, romance or otherwise. Some have obviously no idea how society behaved in the Europe of the period and as a result make some ridiculous plot decisions without realising it.  Other historical romance writers have over recent years simply left out any factual details they could be pulled up on completely.  No dates or historical events are mentioned whatsoever. They ignore mounting blocks or side saddles and their heroines undress without removing their corsets or needing assistance to retie them.

I find that variety of writers the hardest to tolerate and wish their books were labelled “fantasy historical romances.”  Then I would not find their nonchalance about their lack of research irritating and I could choose not to buy their books. So what was the heinous mistake I made myself you ask? I am sure eventually a reader will discover it.  If you are the first reader to notice my mistake and contact me, then I shall make sure you get a copy of my next book, The Marquis’s Mistake free. But if no one cares or notices then perhaps the Regency Romance writers who argue that readers don’t give a damn about historical accuracy are right.

If you want to know more about my writing then my Facebook pages are:-

Reviews for the Fencing Master’s Daughter can be found at:-




15 responses to “Confession is Good for the Soul by Giselle Marks

  1. … and I missed it too… it’s stupidly obvious when you think about it…

  2. francinehvr says:

    Great marketing ploy – spot the mistake! 😉 Wishing you lots of sales.

    • Honoured that you visited. No there is nothing entirely new. But in my defence I did genuinely just find the mistake and I preferred to admit there was an anachronism rather than wait for it to be pointed out.

  3. Lol, but then, picking up grammar and temporal booboos are what you paid me for with the opportunity of being one of the first to read your works….

  4. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do
    it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to construct
    my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from.

    thanks a lot

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