I read a lot of eighteenth-century literature while writing Time for Tea – I mean, enough that my syntax was oozing – and I know it was Richardson’s delightful and horrible Clarissa that Olivia ended up getting through most of while she waited for Nearly-As-Bad-As-Lovelace! Halsey to return from his smuggling journeys, but I did stay up nights goggling over Pamela as well, so quite enjoyed Mallory Ortberg’s two recent posts (presented in reverse order of writing, but I think it’s easier that way if you haven’t read the source material lately, or ever):
I agree that there are times you have to pizza when you’d rather french fry, like when you are trying to get into the heads of people who live in times that find it perfectly normal that stalking and assault = I really like you!! (Like, you know, the times we live in.) I tried very hard to give Lord Richard Halsey some redeeming qualities and actions, and he was a blast to write, but his pursuit and acquisition of Camilla is not meant to be in the least romantic. Next to Pamela’s Mr. B., he’s in fact pretty shiny, but then Camilla is a more-or-less respectable upper-middle-class young lady, not a maidservant, so he has to exhibit some degree of self-control in the chase. There are times I still find myself worrying about how things turned out, but I think Miss Armitage probably figured out how to handle him and the wedding night was not quite as humiliating as Olivia feared. Still… well, this is why I would be no good at romance novels; I’m not that much of a fan of happy endings.
Another link from The Toast I appreciated was A Linguist Explains What Old-School British Accents Sounded Like – not like the BBC, is the short version. (Watch the videos, though; they’re great.) I did know this, but it’s hard to get across even in a time-travel novel, and I didn’t try very hard in Time for Tea (though I have a brief summary of the matter in a later book). I’ve never seen a movie or TV drama set in the 18th century that tried to get the accents right, because people would probably tweet in floods to complain that all the actors were Americans doing really bad British, and it’s not worth harping on voice description in print. I am going to assume that 22nd-century Brits have had another vocal shift that makes them sound more like Americans, so that Olivia wouldn’t really notice the difference. But I’m fine with 21st-century accents for the filmed version of my book, just saying.
Also, I totally caught the Middle English flub in “Sleepy Hollow,” but I adore the show in all its twisting and stretching and generally treating history like a badly-blocked sweater, so I don’t care. Much.
And while I’m spamming you with Toast links, here’s one that has nothing to do with my books but I found amusing nonetheless: Sorting 19th Century British Novelists Into Hogwarts.