I assume many of you have read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. If you haven’t, be warned, as there’s a sort of spoiler here in this blog–but only sort of.
There’s a scene in the story where Jamie treats Claire with what was acceptable brutality back in the day—but now it wouldn’t be acceptable AT ALL. It hasn’t turned readers off the series, though. Maybe this is partly because Jamie didn’t know why Claire did what she did, and Claire didn’t realize the potential consequences of her actions. (This is from my recollection of the story, which I read eons ago. If you’ve read the book, you probably know which scene I mean–it’s one of those unforgettable moments in literature.) But despite the characters’ motivations, what was OK then isn’t now. Times change. In my childhood, spanking kids was entirely normal. Now it’s not. Corporal punishment in schools was commonplace then. Now it’s not.
Anyway, I’m working on two different books right now, and both have heroines who struggle with the prejudices of the era in which they live. Such as, for example, class distinctions. The lower classes were taught to consider people of higher classes their ‘betters’ – as if they were more valuable as individuals. Many upper class people never considered the feelings of their servants, because they saw no reason to do so.
Why the cover of Love and the Shameless Lady? Because one of the heroines I’m writing now is an obnoxious secondary character in this book, and redeeming her is proving to be quite a challenge.
I hope a romantic heroine can embody some of the prejudices of the class society in which she lives but still be a sympathetic character to progressive, modern-day readers. She may not even recognize some of her prejudices, just like people today. I think this is better than if she has a 21st century viewpoint, because that just doesn’t ring true. The question is, will readers understand and accept this? Should I make the heroine aware of and struggling against her prejudices, but not always succeeding? Or what?
As usual, I’m doing a giveaway—one of my e-books, winner’s choice. Leave a comment for a chance to win. Tell me what you think about heroines who have prejudices which were acceptable back then but aren’t now. Have you seen a successful example of this in a novel? How do you think this subject should be treated?
Alternatively, answer this question instead (or as well): Do you think I should put a recipe page on my website? 🙂