Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fact or Fiction in the Series - My Thoughts

Caricature of Edward VII

As most of you know, some time ago I started a blog regarding the facts sprinkled throughout The Price of Innocence and also my other novel, The Phantom of Valletta. The blog originated on Tumblr, but when I started this site, I began to migrate the posts, which you can see above in the menu.

I did research for both books regarding setting and historical facts. There were aspects of life in 19th century France that I touched upon regarding marriage, morals, sexuality, laws regarding prostitution, burial practices, picture-window morgues, treatment of the homeless, the early charity efforts of St. Vincent de Paul, etc.

I confess that there are statements in the story that are not 100% true. Why? Because I took creative liberty in a few areas, which I'm doing as well with The Price of Deception. A review called out my error in mentioning King Edward VII having visited the brothel, the Chabanais, during the timeline of my story. He was actually the Prince of Wales at that time and visited the Chabanais between 1880-1890. (The mention of his name has since been removed from the text in later versions.)

My story was set in 1878, just after the brothel opened. So, yes, the timeline is off, but I used his reference as a means of emphasizing the importance of the clientele under Madame Laurent's roof (or the real Madame Kelly who founded the brothel). If I had kept it historically accurate, my readers would have never known that royalty actually came through its doors at one time. I thought that a worthy note to pass along.

You may be wondering too, why I don't use the full name (or "Le" in French) for the Chabanais. It's actually a registered US Trademark name, so I decided not to infringe upon its use (smart legal move on my part). The name is used in conjunction with a model, call-girl company based on the history of the brothel. It's a risqué site, but if you want to check it out it's at That is why I don't use the full name anywhere.

There are other call outs in a review regarding funeral parlors and charities. The Daughters of Charity were very much involved in the help of the homeless under the auspices of St. Vincent de Paul, which I reported in an earlier blog. There were no state institutions to help the poor; the church did all the work. They fed the poor and help the destitute on the streets of Paris, as much as they could. That reference is fact.

As far as funeral parlors in 19th century Paris, there was a rather large central funeral parlor (or parlour, if you prefer) at that time, by the name of Centquatre. It provided all Parisians the right to a funeral and was termed the "factory of mourning," that employed 1,400 people. They provided coffins, funeral carriages/hearses, and black horses. It was the place to leave on the way to the grave. It's been recently converted into an art center, of all things, a few years ago (link above). So, yes, there is a slight tweak in my book regarding the death of Suzette's father.

I do not really like to defend my choices, but when another points your errors out in an attempt to discredit your research, I cannot be silent. In conclusion, I would only say that just because an author uses creative liberty in her text, it doesn't necessarily mean she's ignorant of the facts. I painstakingly spent months researching the background, and unless my sources are wrong then most of what I've conveyed is fact. Nonetheless, I hope this post clarifies. I find the 19th century fascinating, and if you wish more information about facts versus fiction, visit my menu tab above for interesting articles.

The life of an author . . .

1 comment:

Vicki Hopkins, Author said...

Marilee Reyes
September 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm as Posted on WordPress

Good grief. If authors of historical novels stuck strictly to the facts, never writing anything that couldn’t be substantiated via the historical record, how boring the books would be. … And we would NEVER even have an inkling of what might have gone on between Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII.