A division of the American Library Association
Editorial Offices: 575 Main Street, Suite 300, Middletown, CT 06457-3445
Phone: (860) 347-6933
Fax: (860) 704-0465
FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY
Please do not link to this page.
The following review appeared in the June 2016 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this wide-ranging study, De Groot (English, Univ. of Manchester, UK) argues that historical fiction has an "uncanny" relationship to the past; that is, it is a genre that makes history simultaneously familiar and alien. Not confining his analysis to novels, De Groot also examines English-language film and television programs (Downton Abbey, Mad Men) to demonstrate how contemporary historical fiction is itself a form of historiography. These narratives engage self-consciously with their own truth- and myth-making about history. For example, in a chapter on the materiality of the past, De Groot argues that smoking is a particularly strong "index of pastness," given the unpopularity of cigarettes in contemporary US cultural and public heath discourse. Contemporary films, television programs, and novels that depict smoking call ironic attention to their significance as both representations of the past and as commentaries on how the past is represented. De Groot engages heavily with cultural theory, and thus some of his arguments will perplex less-experienced readers, but overall this is an important contribution to historical fiction studies.--L. R. Braunstein, Dartmouth College