Thursday, June 5, 2008


Well if anyone dropped two baby raccoons into my backyard, I'd be completely and utterly gobsmacked, and wonder if there was a zoo in the area.
Because in the UK, we don't get raccoons.
Which brings me to my point. Flora and fauna in romance. Especially in historicals, where sometimes you wonder where this country is they're talking about. I've read raccoons, bluebells and roses and chrysanthemums all in bloom at the same time, strange exotic creatures in historicals set in the UK.
If anything is guaranteed to suspend disbelief, that is. England is a country of gardeners. We've just been beaten over the head by the Chelsea Flower Show, a program on BBC1 twice a day all week and we're still in the throes of Springwatch, a marathon natural history fest with Bill Oddie, who is a birdwatcher. Lots of nature.
So when you write a historical set in England, don't give us raccoons, possums and bears, not unless they've escaped from a menagerie, much less snakes whose bites can kill. And remember that during the nineteenth century many plants which were previously unknown, like the camelia and the rhodedendron were first introduced to the country.
And of course the potato. Anything set before the seventeenth century and the potato is out. Even if it is the staple of almost every meal these days!

Lynne Connolly

No comments: