There is a joke among authors that we have two main worries; that people will read our book or that people won’t read it. A conundrum for sure!
Joking aside, I have been fascinated by the reactions and comments of people who have read Bound, an historical fiction novel set in what is now Prince Edward Island. A reader from India was struck by how inescapable colonialism was for former British colonies – whether it was India and PEI – and how the present was shaped by the experiences of the past and British efforts to ‘civilize’ the locals. A number of readers commented that their only exposures to slavery were from the America experience and knew little about the experiences of enslaved persons elsewhere, including in Canada. Another reader of Acadian descent had heard stories about the treatment of her ancestors but didn’t really understand or appreciated her family’s history until she read it in the context of Bound. And many readers remarked on how Bound offers a very different perspective from that created by LM Montgomery in her beautiful Anne books, often readers only familiarity with Prince Edward Island.
I love reading historical fiction as it allows me to learn about and better understand a place and time while being emersed in a good story. What I now appreciate more as a result of readers’ comments is that historical fiction can also address universal themes and the human condition – wherever on the planet those humans might live.