In the last few weeks, I’ve stumbled across Outlander. Yes I know I’m far behind, and we are now on season two, but with season one on DVD, I was able to catch up on the first season before the second even started.
Of course, while I’ve been addicted to this TV show airing on Starz every week, I know that the series originally came from novels, so with that in mind I’m even farther behind—especially, since the novels are all like 600 pages. Yikes!
But back to the point, while researching a little about the books and the plot lines of each of the stories, I looked into the reviews. Of course, I’ve never based my opinions on the 1 star reviews, but I still like to read them. Call it curiosity, call it entertainment, call it whatever. I like to read them.
So there I was smack dab in the middle of the 1 Star reviews for Outlander when I started noticing a rather consistent trend in the reasons that women hated this novel. At first I thought it was just a few, but then it became pretty much every single one. Over and over again, I’d read the same complaints: “It’s so gruesome it makes the novel not believable.” “It’s too graphic, people back then didn’t act like that at all (Really? Are you sure about that?).” “It’s got too much sexual violence and beatings. Oh, the beatings.” “She should have never forgiven him for beating her that one time.”
1 star after 1 star it was the same grievances said dozens of times in dozens of different ways.
Now, while I should be shocked to see these sort of reviews, I have to admit that I’m not. Not in the slightest.
As a historical author, I find that with a lot of readers, especially those who aren’t privy to historical facts, tend to complain about anything that was normal back in the day, but is now considered taboo.
Why do they do it?
Because they expect the hero or heroine to act and perform as though they were living in modern day society.
Having dealt with it first hand with reviews on my own novel about slaves during the civil war, I can tell you it’s rather annoying. I wish I could grab their shoulders through the computer and shake them. But I can’t.
So instead, I’ll put this here . . .
Just because you, living in this day and era feel that certain behaviors are outrageous, gruesome, and unbelievable because they don’t happen nowadays, doesn’t mean that back in historical time periods people didn’t do these things or feel that they were in the wrong for it.
When you feel that a certain character couldn’t forgive a loved one for beating her up, that’s your mindset and it doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen back then. Not to mention, when you read further and dive into the deep crux of a relationship, you will probably find how she forgave him. Jamie and Claire loved each other immensely, which is why she forgave him.
As for my own novel, when you feel that a certain character couldn’t have compassion for another human being because she may be a different race or have a difference social standing, that’s your mindset and it doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen back then.
You have never lived back in that time period, and while I have never lived back in that time period, either, I’ve done immense research before writing my novel. When we, as historical authors, put certain events in our books we aren’t being mean spirited against women, nor are we being over dramatic for the sake of writing a best seller. We are being true to the time period because we all know the wrath we will face if we don’t.
A Historical Author