A Fully Realized World
I think this is what all authors are attempting to create when they sit down to write, and what all readers are hoping to find when they crack open the pages of a book. Whenever favorite historical novels or writers are discussed, there is one name that inevitably appears: Georgette Heyer. Aside from the fact that she’s simply an amazing story teller, with a gift for wit and dialogue, I think the reason she makes every list, repeatedly, is that she created a fully realized world. So fully realized, in fact, that it spawned it’s own book—Georgette Heyer’s Regency World—and many readers can’t imagine any other competing vision of Georgian England.
That’s right, it’s not just the paranormal authors who have to worry about world building . . . historical writers share this burden. We have to envision our world, know the rules that govern it, the laws that shape it, the mores that twist it up into knots. We have to know the tiny details of everyday life (like how to light a candle without a match) as well as the larger ones (rules of primogeniture, anyone?). So many things that when all fitted together hopefully create a believable world.
There has been a lively discussion of Vic Gatrell’s City of
When Gatrell says Allow this rude language a more prominent place in our attentions, therefore—prioritize real behavior and not the evidence of polite discourse, conduct books or sermons—and our view o the age is usefully reconfigured. it's as though he’s speaking directly to me. This “real behavior” is one of the key ingredients in MY Georgian World. A world which is very different from that envisioned by Heyer.
And the beauty of it is that this is a good thing. No two worlds are going to be exactly the same, even though we’re all basing our world on the same history, the same books, the same everything. Why? Because the facts must be filtered through each writer’s personal experience. What I many choose to highlight will never be exactly the same as what any other author will choose. Strive as I might, I can never write a book set in Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, any more than I can write one set in Jo Beverley’s, or Mary Balogh’s, or Julia Ross’s, or Pam Rosenthal’s (though I’m grateful that as a reader I get to visit all of them).
As a reader do you appreciate discovering different visions of the same “world” or do you find yourself disconcerted when discovering some unexpected vista lurking behind a run of the mill clench cover?