19 November 2010


Vixen seemed like another run-of-the-mill, bland teen romance novel of the racier variety, with a 1920s Chicago society flapper setting overlaid, when I hit a glaring anachronism.

I'm not talking about why a Harvard graduate bothers with high school girls.

I'm talking about Lady Chatterley's Lover - a book not published until 1928 from a firm in Italy, then Knopf in a censored edition in the US in 1928. In one scene, Lorraine mentions her father's first edition of LCL but Vixen is set in 1922 (evidence: Gloria mentions the Volstead Act was passed in 1919 when she was 14, she is now 17 in the novel making the setting 1922). How does a book become valuable enough to collect 6 years before publication? Very, very glaring.

I have an advanced edition, so if this shows up in the final edition....in a book that already already strikes me as "unimpressive" it's an elementary mistake.  Consider, also, that this is a teen novel and it feels like an insult, like it's expected that a teen would recognize the title and overlook the anachronism through ignorance.

Definitely not a book I would recommend; too many "main" characters, too many secrets, too many backstories, not enough "meat".  Read F. Scott Fitzgerald instead.

Dear FTC: I received a copy of this novel as part of an advanced reading group.


  1. You have just laid out my #1 fear as a writer, and especially as someone who's now trying her hand at historical fiction! A good reminder...it's just not okay not to do your homework.

  2. @Erin: the whole book felt like 1920s cultural name-dropping. It's something that get's to me in "historical novels" - a book from that time-period doesn't describe everything in nauseating detail because it assumes the reader knows what the writer is talking about; a 21st century novel is described to death.

  3. Yeah, I think there's a really delicate balance between situation/context and blatant overdescription/namedropping. The historical fiction I love best takes its setting for granted; the setting never intrudes on the story, but enhances it.

  4. The book doesn't sound too good either way, but I would say there's some fairly lazy editing involved too. I'm of the belief that authors and editors should care enough about every sentence in their books to make sure that they're accurate. How frustrating it is to find anachronisms and mistakes of this kind...