Category Archives: Historical Fiction

Lives Worth Saving

 “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K. Rowling –

“I’d like to appeal to all our listeners to emulate their example, perhaps by casting a protective charm over any Muggle dwellings in your street. Many lives could be saved if such simple measures are taken.” 

“And what would you say, Royal, to those who reply that in these dangerous times, it should be ‘Wizards first’?” asked Lee. 

“I’d say that it’s one short step from ‘Wizards first’ to ‘Purebloods first,’ and then to ‘Death Eaters,’” replied Kingsley. “We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.””

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Muggle-born Registry

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K. Rowling –

““‘Recent research undertaken by the Department of Mysteries reveals that magic can only be passed from person to person when Wizards reproduce. Where no proven Wizarding ancestry exists, therefore, the so-called Muggle-born is likely to have obtained magical power by theft or force. 

“‘The Ministry is determined to root out such usurpers of magical power, and to this end has issued an invitation to every so-called Muggle-born to present themselves for interview by the newly appointed Muggle-born Registration Commission.’””

It starts so innocuously…

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$1,000,000 Bible Tract

As I opened a letter today to reply to one of my pen pals, a Bible Tract fell out. It wasn’t a surprise given who this pen pal is, but as I browsed the Tract, I couldn’t help but giggle.

The Tract in question is one of those “$1,000,000 Question” ones; it looks like a $1,000,000 bill (U.S. Currency), with the pitch on the back. This one has Thomas Jefferson on the face, which immediately struck me as odd because when he was running for president of the US, his opponents people (because it was the “people” who did the campaigning, not the candidate back then) labeled him an atheist.

Thomas Jefferson wasn’t an atheist, but he’s certainly not the first president (or other founding father) I’d associate with an Evangelical Bible Tract! I mean, this is the man who literally cut apart a Bible (possibly 2 or 3 because I think he included the Greek and Latin (and Wikipedia hints at the French as well) translations) to create the “Jefferson Bible” which reorders the story of Jesus into chronological order (combining Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John into one continuous story) while removing all the supernatural events. This was his way of making sense of Christianity.

So, reading the back of this tract made my head explode because it includes “Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death”, but Jefferson ended his Bible with the tomb stone being rolled closed, which means that he rejected the resurrection of Jesus, a key tenant of traditional Christianity!

But, I think that LivingWaters.com has received complaints about this particular Tract because it’s not amongst the 65 Tracts that are currently up for sale (this post was written on 11/6/2016). I found this out when I went to find a link to the Tract and see what it’s “billed” as. It looks like they’ve replaced Jefferson with Benjamin Franklin (who apparently wrote a letter now titled: Advice to a Friend on Choosing a Mistress).

I’m starting to think that maybe I’ve missed the point of these particular Tracts. Maybe we’re supposed to reject the front part ($1,000,000 and the “stately Statesman”) and instead focus on the message on the back…I guess I need to ask this pen pal for clarification.

Women’s Power

There are plenty of anti feminists who make grand arguments about the power that women have always had and have always wielded to exhibit control over their lives….I don’t think this is what they had in mind:

 “The Ballroom: A Novel” by Anna Hope –

““Well, they’re behind bars too. Being fed with tubes. And whenever it gets bad in here, I think of them. Locked up too, because they want something else, something more. And I think, if they can stand it, I can. I’ll stay here and belong to myself. Not to my father, or brother, or any man. So that’s what I do, I stay. And my family pays to keep me here, and I get my own clothes, and I have my books, and every time that they let me out, I make cuts on my wrists so they’ll send me back.” 

Clem rolled up her sleeves, so that what had been hidden before was displayed, a livid badge of courage. 

“I have a razor,” she said. “I took it from my father’s house. I keep it sewn in here.” She gestured to her sleeve as she rolled it back down . “No one knows. Except you.” The look on her face was half-pleading, half-proud. “My father thinks I’ll break . But I won’t break. And now that you’re here”—Clem was smiling now—“ I can bear it even more.””

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From the Eugenics movement:

“The Ballroom: A Novel” by Anna Hope –

“I have no hesitation in saying, from personal experience, that nowadays the degenerate offspring of the feeble-minded and chronic pauper is treated with more solicitude, has better food, clothing, and medical attention, and has greater advantages than the child of the respectable and independent working man. So much is this the case that the people are beginning to realize that thrift, honesty, and self-denial do not pay.”

This sounds way too close to complaints made by American Conservatives who hate social welfare programs.

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1911 insane asylum…

“The Ballroom: A Novel” by Anna Hope –

“And though John did not know the man from before , he knew the brokenness on his face, the restless eyes—as though the world were a trap ready to spring upon you— had seen it on too many faces to count. And on most of them too, the same bafflement, as though unable to understand that this was where they had ended up.”

The shortest explanation of what’s wrong is that pileptics and “feeble minded” people made up too much of these asylums population. You should read about Carrie Buck who was the poster child for why the”feeble minded” and epileptics should be forcibly syerelized. It’s more complicated and more haunting than you think.

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No local anesthesia because it didn’t exist.

“Drums Of Autumn (Outlander, Book 4)” by Diana Gabaldon –

“Hold on tight,” I instructed them. “This is the nasty part.” I didn’t look up, but worked quickly, opening the half-healed wounds cleanly with a scalpel, pressing out as much pus and dead matter as I could. I could feel the tension quivering in his leg muscles, and the slight arcing of his body as the pain lifted and bent him, but he didn’t say a word. “Do you want something to bite down on, Roger?” I asked, taking out my bottle of dilute alcohol-water mixture for irrigating. “It’s going to sting a bit, now.”

He didn’t answer; Brianna did. “He’s all right,” she said steadily. “Go ahead.”

He made a muffled noise when I began to wash out the wounds, and rolled halfway onto his side, his leg convulsing. I kept tight hold of his foot and finished the job as quickly as possible. When I let go and recorked the bottle, I looked up toward the head of the bed. She was sitting on the bed, her arms locked tight around his shoulders. His face was buried in her lap, his arms around her waist.

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An author’s error?

Or done on purpose to make this letter more realistic?!?

I studied history in college and read enough primary sources from 1700 to 1900 to easily recognise this letter as being extremely probable, a very welcome sight in a piece of historical fiction!

The interesting tidbit is this line below. If I remember correctly, Lord John told Jamie that the land was from his wife’s family. I even went back and checked to be sure (by the way, I love this latest update for some (all?) Kindle books that let’s you easily flip through pages quickly!).

In actuality (within this book, at least) the property was bequeathed to her son, Lord John’s stepson, but as would be very normal at the time and today, Lord John would be its executor until the child comes of age and back then, this wording would be common since as head of household, the husband would be considered the owner regardless of actual standing.

So, has Ms. Gabaldon forgotten the specifics of her story? Or has she purposely changed the tale to not only show a more real character (one who shares information as he interprets it), but also shows one of the problems of studying history–the trustworthiness of our primary sources, especially when it comes to information about women and children.

Based on other hints and circumstances I’ve come across in this book and its predecessors, I’m extremely confident that the latter is the case, which is also a little surprising since I’m pretty sure Ms. Gabaldon doesn’t include studying history in her author blurb.

And, as a side note, while drawing this line (below) with the – character, I learned that my Amazon Fire on screen keyboard has even more characters than I thought! The dash (-) kept giving me an underscore (_) whenever I tried to hold the key down to make it “run away” which was very confusing so I went to investigate what was happening. By depressing a character key for a full second, such as the dollar sign, it pulls up 5 more currency characters! And there are many other examples! Including percentages! I’m a dork, haha.
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Drums Of Autumn (Outlander, Book 4) by Diana Gabaldon –

“Lord John determined that the lad must go to Virginia, where Lord John’s family has Substantial Property”

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Meta-Fiction?

We know now that the ability to roll one’s tongue isn’t genetic and was based on some questionable research. So, is this a bit of very well done research, where someone in the 1970s would think this, or evidence of just another modern example of mistaken “fact”?

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“Drums Of Autumn (Outlander, Book 4)” by Diana Gabaldon –

“It might, he thought. If the ability to pass through the stones was genetic—something like the ability to roll one’s tongue into a cylinder or color-blindness—then why not?”

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When it was expected to call a child “my lord”

perhaps the boy was in pain and too proud to say. It was that fear that decided him to speak; if the measles had caught them up, there was no time to waste; he must carry the boy back to Claire at once.

“My lord?” he said softly.

The sobbing ceased abruptly. He heard the audible sound of a swallow and the rasp of cloth on skin as the lad wiped a sleeve across his face.

“Yes?” the Earl said, with a creditable attempt at coolness, marred only by the thickness in his voice.

“Are ye unwell, my lord?” He could tell already that it wasn’t that, but it would do for a pretext. “Have ye maybe taken a touch of the cramp? Sometimes dried apples take a man amiss.”

–Drums of Autumn