A blog post over here, by author Erica Smith, about the ever-present tension in historical fiction/historical romance writing between historical accuracy and reader entertainment. Do follow the outbound links; they lead to yet more discussion and commentary by other writers in the field.
It’s an ongoing matter of contention, apparently, and (to my eye, at least) yet another angle on an old argument. Classical tabletop wargamers used to (and for all I know, still do) debate for hours about the relative virtues of simulation and playability – the more accurate the simulation in a particular scenario, the less evenly-balanced the game. Likewise, back in the days when I was active in the Society for Creative Anachronism, the “fun versus authenticity” debates were a staple of the local discourse.
I’m a big fan of fun and playability, as a general rule (otherwise, I’d never have been able to watch the historical flashbacks in Buffy and Angel with a straight face); but I’m also a fan of historical fiction and romance played according to the strict rules of the game, which includes taking into account the fact that people in the past were not men and women just like us only in funny costumes.
I suppose it’s kind of liking both authentic, straight-from-the-source Italian cooking and the spaghetti-and-meatballs your born-and-raised-in-the-heart-of-Texas mother used to make at home. Which one you want on a particular day depends a lot upon how you feel at the time . . . and they’re both of them good, too, just as long as you remember that they’re not the same thing.