Thursday, October 9, 2008

I just don't get it

There's a trend in historical fiction right now that I just don't get and that is the use of first person POV. It's no secret to my friends that I don't like first person. It annoys the heck outta me and I just don't like it. Most of the time.

First person has its place, just like every other POV and narrative style. It's synonymous with chick-lit, locked room mysteries and hard-boiled P.I. stories. And that's great. This POV serves those types of stories very well. I have the first book in the Allie Fortune series now and I can't wait to read it. It's first person. It's also a P.I. novel.

I don't like chick-lit. I do enjoy a good locked-room mystery though, and a good P.I. book. So long as it's not all about sex. Hence my intense excitement about Miss Fortune.

But I don't understand why all of a sudden every other historical that comes out seems to be in first person. Seeing that POV in a historical automatically makes me put it BACK on the shelf, no matter how interesting the plot or setting may be. I'm sure I'm not the only person who does this and I wonder how many good historicals suffer in sales because they're not the third person POV most historical readers prefer.

I bring this up because yesterday I bought A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell. Elizabethan is not something I know very much about and she's a fellow HisWriters. The plot intrigues me. Not to mention the cover is drop dead GORGEOUS. The close-ups of the lace on that dress make my inner costume historian squeal like a fangirl.

I didn't open it to look at the first page like I usually do, because I was so excited about the book itself and the fact that it was another European book that was not a Regency. You can imagine my shock, and a bit of dismay, when I learned today that it's in first person.

I still plan to read it and review it here for Spotlight on Europe. But a little bit of the enjoyment will be spoiled for me because it's first person. Though I am intrigued to find out she handles the alternating first person between the hero and heroine. Part of my biggest problem with first is that you're locked into one character's head and it's usually not the character I'm most interested in getting to know. It's no secret that I love the hero in a book. Nine times out of ten I prefer his viewpoint to hers in a romance.

There's nothing wrong with trying to pull in new readers or people who wouldn't necessarily read a historical because it's in third. But it shouldn't be done at the expense of the faithful readers who prefer historicals in third.


  1. Interesting post, Rachel. There are only two novels written in first person that I truly like --- Jane Eyre and Rebecca.

    If you like 3d person historicals, I'll bet my bottom dollar you will enjoy reading 'Surrender the Wind'. It's due out next fall through Abingdon Press, a post American Revolutionary War novel, mostly set in windswept England.

  2. Hi

    My response to the note you left in my blog

    What does a novelist in training do? (That is a serious question. I love to write.) School, write stories & network with publishers...


  3. I think FPPOV must be a trend. I've noticed it, too (not in historical fiction, however). I was always taught--ALL those many years ago, that FP was a crutch and that "serious" writers didn't use it.