Talk about Books
Talk about Books
Illustration for article titled ​Progressives in Historical Fiction Piss Me Off

I'm not talking about a story about progressives, like if I was reading a book about the civil rights movement or abolitionists. I'm talking about when characters have modern day ideas while they exist in the past.


My earliest memory of this was in an American Girl/ Royal Diaries -esque book from my early childhood. It was about a girl in the middle ages who among other things bathed every day, loved being outside, believed in marriage for love, and thought that women should be equal to men in all the ways we think about today.

I am currently about 100 pages into Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys and it's annoying me in the same way. The book is about Josie, the daughter of a highish-end prostitute in 1950s New Orleans. Here are some examples:

  • Josie (who is poor) wants to go to college and everyone "good" supports her.
  • In general, all the "good" characters support women going to college and being independent.
  • Josie is a feminist who doesn't want pamphlets about being a good wife in her bookshop! This is seen as adorable.
  • There are some black characters (mostly older men that help around the brothel) that Josie is friends with. However, there is no indication that there were any race relation problems at this time, which I find hard to believe.

I just can't stand it! Does anyone else feel like they come across this a lot? What is the worst/best example you have seen?

Any recommendations for good historical fiction?

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