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Reviewing–Quandry

I edit my living history organization’s publication–not exactly a glamorous publishing job, nor a paid one.  But volunteerism has its perks.  Most particularly, editing a nonprofit publication occasionally means getting to review books, which means a free copy for me.

Here’s my trouble–I’m picky about what I read outside of this role and I’m impatient with flaws.Current reviewing project  When it comes to historical fiction, I really can’t stand it when the writer misses vital details, or lacks an understanding of basic period culture, clothing, or custom.  It gets me.  And I know that it gets the readers of the publication I’m editing, too.  (As a sidenote, never go to a film with a historical premise with living history nerds.  Between the snarky comments and the aggravated sighing, t’s not enjoyable for anyone.)

So I’m trying to decide how to read and how to review the latest book I’ve received.  It’s an interesting premise–a do-over of a novel originally published in the late nineteenth century.  Do the merits and demerits of historical fiction have a different rubric because of their anchorage in reality?  Or do the basic frameworks of plot, character, and prose stand alone?  I think there’s a happy medium there somewhere–one that respects authenticity but doesn’t become mired in it.  Hopefully I can not only enjoy the read but also offer a useful review to my readership!

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