Fashion For Characters I

For some time now I realize that very often the book cover varies significantly from the story of a book. Quite pronounced it shows in the genre ‘Historical Romance.’

Now, don’t get me wrong! I don’t mind that much! Unless of course, the story tells us of a golden-haired beauty and the cover shows a black-haired gypsy woman I often don’t care.

I’m not complaining about anything within the book! Very often Historical Romance tells us a story of two loving people in the medieval times, being pushed into an arranged marriage by society and their families and falling in love for the first time.  Blessings to them! Falling in love is an exquisite feeling and should be enjoyed.

Let’s see: When I researched for this blog post, I have seen the U.S. covers of some of Virginia Henley’s older books and liked them a lot. By continuing the research, I discovered the German book covers of Virginia Henley’s books and laughed loudly.

Oh – no! Not what you think! I love them. They’re beautiful, they’re artistic, they’re intriguing, and they’re sexy. Just what I’d been expecting of the story. – But they don’t show anything historical in the lady’s dresses as they were around 1300 when the stories are supposed to take place.

Within the story, Virginia Henley talked about wide, flowing robes, made of light and beautiful fabric, unique and sexy, showing the women’s ‘ripe breasts’ and feminine curves.

Let me show you what I’m talking about:

Picture courtesy of http://www.amazon.de

Picture courtesy of: http://www.amazon.de

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Now, seeing these wonderful dresses on the cover pictures and carrying these images through reading the romance makes the fun twice as nice. Seeing the beautiful sexy ladies and the strong muscular, handsome men and reading about their eternal love makes for an enjoyable time.

At this point now I have to be fair and add that I don’t ‘blame’ Virginia Henley for anything. She’s a great writer, and I enjoyed reading the few books I have from her.

But I’m afraid, right now I have to ruin our dreams of sexy medieval ladies in wide hot high slit dresses of silk and purest sensuality.

The sad truth is that medieval ladies in their gowns looked more like this:

 

Picture courtesy of: http://www.pinterest.com

Picture courtesy of: http://www.pinterest.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I figure every nun dresses sexier than these medieval ladies. But I as well understand that it would be a little, let’s say, ‘difficult’ for a lady to show yourself as being enormously sexy in a dress where the man of your dreams has to peel you out of that very same dress like an onion.

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When it comes to reading a medieval historical romance book, I’m the first one to admit that looking at a book cover like this wouldn’t tickle my ‘need’ to buy that book in the first place, let alone read it.

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Picture courtesy of: http://www.pinterest.com

 

On the other hand, seeing a book cover like this below and feeling like reading a steamy historical romance would make me buy it immediately.

 

Picture courtesy of http://www.amazon.de

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Now I’m curious: When it comes to historical romance or historical fiction, what do you think? Are we, as writers, permitted to add a little fantasy, a little imagination and a little cheating when it comes to the fashion – either on the cover or within the story? Or should we be very strict in sticking to facts? Please let us know your opinion in the comments.

 

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18 thoughts on “Fashion For Characters I

  1. Hi Aurora, Most interesting..I do agree re appropriate attire and art-work on book covers..Book covers are so important – more so that many people realise. Strong/attractive art-work and intriguing back cover blurb can garner immediate purchases! If, however, they’re too bland and don’t convey what you don’t even know you’re looking for…the book stays on the shelf. My eldest son designed my latest book cover for: ‘WHERE ANGELS & DEVILS TREAD’ (collaboration of short stories with author and friend Jean Wilson) and I suppose you could call it very ‘arresting.’ It suggests Gothic murder – and while there’s no ‘Gothic,’ interest, there are quite a few murders within. Best wishes. Joy x

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  2. You are totally allowed to add a bit of fantasy in my book. Like you say, no one’s going to buy that book with a picture of a woman looking like a nun. In my experience (although I’ve not read many historical romances), historical romances are flights of fancy anyway. Lots of pre-martial sex and women’s lib stuff that isn’t very realistic anyway. But that’s my opinion so don’t shoot me – please.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I see covers that are overtly sexy, I immediately think cheesy or maybe hysterical instead of historical. Just my bias. The historical fiction books that grab my interest are ones that have symbols or crests or something relating to the period – although I do agree the nun outfits would be a complete turnoff, unless the nuns are in some soaring cathedral!

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    • The interesting thing about in particular Virginia Henley’s covers I used here as an example: Her U.K. and U.S. covers had indeed symbols on them. When I searched for her books on Amazon I found these German version covers. And the very strict cover ups would not have made me buying any of these books.

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  4. All I can say is that in my own fiction, which usually incorporates an element of the supernatural, I try to create, through research and detail, as credibly accurate a world as possible, so that when I do “cheat” or introduce a fantastical flourish, the reader is more likely to go with it because I’ve established a strong baseline for verisimilitude. A writer should be faithful to reality whenever possible, but never at the expense of a good story!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for your opinion, Sean. I agree with you. Now, I picked this kind of ‘fashion’ and the controversial cover pics purposely because I found it interesting. Of course I imagined the ladies within the story more dressed into something I could see on the cover, than in ‘real’ clothes that were fashionable back then, which at least to me made the story in my vivid fantasy quite entertaining.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Fun reading, thank you! I remember reading some “bodice rippers” in the 70’s when they were so popular (when you’ve read one, you’ve read them all!) but at that time the smaller bookstores sold paperback covers (mine was suede and had a kitten and flowers on it) to “hide” the cover of your book…no joke! For real!

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  6. Pingback: Fashion For Characters II | Writer's Treasure Chest

  7. Pingback: Fashion For Characters III | Writer's Treasure Chest

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