ABSTRACT

This chapter concentrates on novels that are not generally judged literary and therefore are often unconsidered by critics. The sections look at novels aimed at women, those marketed for men and those written for children. How monolithic is the history being presented here? How authentic is it, and how authentic does it want to be? The key ideas we will consider are those of genre, reception, gender dynamics and authenticity. We will look at the notion of the historical novel as an educative medium and as an uncomplicated leisure choice. We also wonder about the phenomenon of serialisation. Men tend to read novels about one fictional character in a range of situations, where women tend to concentrate on one historical period or figure. ‘Genre’ historical fiction often tends to be extremely rigid in its underwriting of dominant cultural ideologies, and the exploration of the key issues involved in writing and consuming such fiction can show us how and why these practices are sustained.