Why You Should Never Live With A Historical Fiction Hero

Modern life is so complicated. Full of stresses and strains. Mortgages and macroeconomics. People demanding you be everything to everybody. However, living in the past is hardly the answer. Wouldn’t it be so much better just to co-habit with someone from a simpler time?

But what would it really be like to live with the hero of one of your favourite historical fiction novels? What does this mean for your kitchen? Your BATHROOM?

(This is another in the Why You Should Never Live With… series. Unreliable Narrator here. Chick-Lit Heroine here. Cop From A Crime Novel here. Young Adult Protagonist here. Literary Fiction Hero here. Romantic Hero here.

Why You Should Never Live With A Historical Fiction Hero


You arrive home to find Historical Fiction Hero standing in the middle of your kitchen. He is wearing a white shirt which falls to his knees, and not much else. His bare feet are filthy, and in dire need of a pedicure. His face is covered in tiny cuts and scratches, which mean he’s been using your razor again. You’re about to lecture him on bathroom etiquette for the sixth time this week when you notice three dead birds on the countertop behind him. You sigh.

You: Did we not have a discussion before about bringing dead fauna into our home in anything but supermarket plastic?

Historical Fiction Hero: [pointing] I beg your pardon, but what is that?

You: That’s a toaster.

HFH: What does it do?

You: It toasts things. Well, mainly just bread.

HFH: My word! [pointing again] And what is that, there?

You: A radiator. You know, for heating the room.

HFH: But where does the fire go?

You: This is an apartment, I told you. We don’t have fireplaces in here.

HFH: ‘Tis all very strange.

You: That might be true, but we’re never going to get anywhere in this sketch if you just keep pointing out things which weren’t invented in your time. When did you say was your time, anyway?

HFH: 1809. I am exceedingly well-informed regarding the Napoleonic wars. Ask me anything.

You: It’s not me who has the questions. I’m sick of the neighbours asking me who the hell you are, and why you keep quoting the Bible at them.

HFH: I am but a humble clergyman of noble stock.

You: You say that, yeah, but you also dabble in medicine, soldiering, Greek philosophy, alchemy and social justice. You go shooting and fishing at least once a week, and you speak eight European languages. Nobody knows what to make of you: you’re a regular Renaissance man.

HFH: Such as Leonardo Da Vinci, who lived from 1452 to 1519 in Florence, famous for his prowess in the arts and sciences, but also for his intriguing habit of mirror-writing?

You: Him, yes. You know, you spend a lot of time over-explaining stuff and defining things. Almost as though you’ve done the research and don’t want to waste it. Are you sure you didn’t have Wikipedia in 1809?

HFH: Who?

You: Never mind. What did you do today?

HFH: I killed three pigeons for supper. They are waiting on the kitchen-table for you to pluck them and put them in a pie.

You: What? I don’t know how to cook pigeon! And anyway, I’m not eating that. Are you mad?

HFH: Pigeon pie is a delight.

You: Yes. Next to scurvy and dying from consumption, it’s my favourite. Doesn’t change the fact that I’ve never baked a pie of any kind in my life.

HFH: But of course, I should not have assumed that you would do such a thing. I had been brought up to believe that everyone of lower birth would do my bidding. Or women of the female sex. But I have the strangest, most uncontemporary feeling in my breast, that women and the poor have a greater purpose in life than that which is meted out to them as a babe-in-arms. Is there a small crying orphan child about the place instead who could prepare the pie?

You: You know, sometimes you do sound very ahead of your time. Even for a supercilious misogynistic pigeon-killer.

HFH: I do appear to have a more objective understanding of my milieu than the average peasant, that is true.

You: Almost as though you’ve had a couple of centuries of context to think about it.

Why You Should Never Live With A Historical Fiction Hero

HFH: Indeed. Now, about that orphan child…

You: There’s very few of them about around here, to be honest. Parents tend to die a lot less these days.

HFH: But who do you have to clean out your scullery? Pick the pockets of the gentry? Who stands in the most violent and disease-ridden streets of the town, singing a plaintive song that makes great ladies soft of heart? Who serves to illustrate the greatest ills of your time?

You: Nobody, really. Kids these days are only interested in what’s on their phones. Mostly YouTube.

HFH: You speak these words as though they are common parlance, and yet I understand nothing.

You: You understand way more than you say you do. Last week you gave me a twenty-minute rundown of the First World War, which had to have happened at least fifty years after you would have died. And yesterday I caught you humming the theme tune to Game Of Thrones.

HFH: That was a mistake. It should come out when I’m edited.

You: For your sake, I hope so. Now will you please put some clothes on and bury those pigeons outside? I’m ordering pizza.

HFH: Cool! I’ll have pepperoni with olives and mushrooms. And a can of Coke. I have sixpence somewhere about me.

You: [muttering under your breath] Hell of a lot more than I’ve been getting in rent.

HFH: What’s that you say?

You: Nothing. Just put on some trousers. Or breeches, whatever the hell you call them. And your obsession with cutlery is going to have to stop, by the way. When the pizza comes, either you eat it with your hands, or not at all.

HFH: “They are what defile a man, but eating with unwashed hands does not defile him.” Matthew 15:20.

You: I literally do not know what that means.

HFH: [smiling delightedly] I shall explain over supper. I have an excellent book of moral essays which will entertain us most wholesomely until we have occasion to turn in.

You: Remind me again why I agreed you could live here?

HFH: I cannot be certain, but I suspicion it might be the sideburns.

You: They are rather long and lustrous.

HFH: Why, thank you kindly. I’ve been using your coconut oil. It’s the latest thing.


Whoever said they would like to live in a simpler time was never confronted with nineteenth-century feet. I’m sticking with contemporary hygiene practices and takeaway, thanks.


  68 comments for “Why You Should Never Live With A Historical Fiction Hero

  1. April 4, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Definitely contemporary everything, yes! Maybe except for some people’s manners…

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 4, 2017 at 9:35 am

      Oh, I don’t know, Robert. Unless you’re gentry, I think today’s manners average out quite well!


      • April 4, 2017 at 9:39 am

        In blog sphere it’s all OK, but on the streets, other public spaces…how many times I think “What were they thinking to do that/say that?! “

        Liked by 1 person

        • April 4, 2017 at 9:46 am

          I think they’re all just trying to get on YouTube myself.


  2. April 4, 2017 at 7:31 am

    I vote for contemporary too. Enjoyed your amusing post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 4, 2017 at 9:42 am

      Thanks Marje. Historical Fiction Hero would give you a far more eloquent response, but I sent him to the chiropodist.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. April 4, 2017 at 8:00 am

    So true! Especially the research bit. Nothing like a couple of characters having a lengthy discussion about the political affairs of the day at the start of the novel, even though they don’t really need to not would they, in the usual scheme of things 😆

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Carl Rackman
    April 4, 2017 at 8:15 am

    “A mistake that should come out when I’m edited” 😆👏👏

    As for the research – it breaks my heart having to edit all the smart arsey stuff out of the early drafts. All those hours on the Internet, wasted. 😢

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 4, 2017 at 9:46 am

      There’s actually a place for that though, Carl! Best advice I ever heard was to either put research-heavy stuff in a blog, or publish deleted chapters as a reward for people to sign up to your mailing list, or even publish side stories etc you end up not using as novellas. Where there’s a surplus of information there is always the Internet… 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • Carl Rackman
        April 4, 2017 at 11:15 am

        Very creative! Good one.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. RedheadedBooklover
    April 4, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Hi there! I just came across this post of yours and your blog in general and I couldn’t help but comment and tell you how much I adore your blog and love this post! Keep up the great work, I am going to follow you so I can keep up with all your new posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 4, 2017 at 11:42 am

      Well, now. What can I say, Red, except thank you, and no money was exchanged for the provision of that comment? (Honest) 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. April 4, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Charming as always Tara. I have the privilege of sneaking off from my real job to guest lecture in History classrooms now and again. Kids always ask all starry-eyed “if you could choose any time or place…” and I always say “you bet. Right here and RIGHT NOW”. So far so good but then I get droning on about stepping on poop, internal heating systems, vaccination, American Football… now I can just hook them up with this page, and appear more hip. You did me a solid!

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 4, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      Always glad to serve, Will, unless it’s at dinner, in which case people can bloody well serve themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. April 4, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    You’ve never made a pigeon pie?! Honestly, Tara, what kind of backwater century are you living in?

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 4, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      I could lie and tell you it’s one where the pigeons are protected, but actually it’s just because we don’t have any guns.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. April 4, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    What would a HFH (to borrow your title) think of a Super Big Gulp? I suppose if it were a Viking and it were infused with alcohol….I am getting off track here.
    Enjoyed your post. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 4, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      You’re most welcome, Anthony. I think HFH would run a mile from a Super Big Gulp. The sort of man who seeks out pigeon pie would go into a diabetic coma at the mere sight of it (that’s if diabetes had been invented yet)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. April 4, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    I think I’d move out after ten minutes of over-explaining. Ha ha. Thanks for the chuckle.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. April 4, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    This series cracks. me. up. No – a historical fiction hero has absolutely no place in my home, mostly because as I have two different colored eyes, would grow tired in short order of being called a witch.


    • April 4, 2017 at 9:40 pm

      It takes two different coloured eyes, Allie?! And here was me thinking for years that all it took for women to be called witches was a mouth and their own opinion…

      Liked by 1 person

  11. April 4, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    Ugh – doesn’t bear thinking about does it? 😀 I enjoyed the ‘Lost in Austen’ TV series where Elizabeth Bennett swops places with a vegetarian Jane Austen geek in the 21st century, but I shudder to think what it would be like to live with someone from P + P + Zombies! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 4, 2017 at 9:41 pm

      Fairly bloody, would be my guess, Jan. And how is it that Jane Austen inspired so much gore? I enjoyed Austenland the book/movie too. A nice way of updating the premise without any sci-fi or fantasy involved.


  12. April 4, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    Reblogged this on Jan Hawke INKorporated and commented:
    Another pithy post about fantasy co-habitation from Ms. Sparling!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. April 4, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    Amusing post, Tara!


  14. April 4, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    Have you been looking our window again Sparling?

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 4, 2017 at 11:24 pm

      Never stopped, Conor, so technically it’s not ‘again’. If the lawyers are reading.


      • April 5, 2017 at 9:29 am

        So foolish of me. I thought that was one of the neighbours. You know what they are like. (Why of course you do, you spend a lot of time in their garden also.).

        Liked by 1 person

  15. April 4, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    Shirt to his knees and manky feet? I was wondering where that jimmy fella got to after that stags do in Liverpool. I heard he was last seen with some dying looking birds…and there was me thinking he’d hooked up with a hen party!Some people just don’t recognise a dead pigeon from a Liver bird

    Liked by 1 person

  16. April 5, 2017 at 11:36 am

    “Who stands in the most violent and disease-ridden streets of the town, singing a plaintive song that makes great ladies soft of heart? Who serves to illustrate the greatest ills of your time?”

    Facebook, surely?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. April 5, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    One reason not to live with an historical fiction hero is that history repeats itself… say no more.

    But If that isn’t reason enough, you’ll wind up in an endless loop of cloned fops who expect, nay demand, that their tri-cornered hats, ponytail ribbons, and lace cuffs be ironed at least once a week.Being wholly responsible for polishing a man’s boots and brass buttons is a deal breaker in any century. And Ironing a tri-cornered hat can’t be easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 5, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Only if they’re from 1780 – 1820, though, Veronica! Someone else might have a WWI soldier in their kitchen… or a medieval monk… or a Tudor courtier. Actually, that sounds like another sketch, right there. Back in a sec 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  18. April 5, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    Well, I can pluck, gralloch and cook a pigeon (or three) in a pie. However, I think I’ll still pass on the HFH.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. April 7, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    You have radiators and a toaster! I guess the fact that I live in an eighteenth century outbuilding explains why I don’t. Historical character can pop round sometime and do the place up – only they can’t because it is listed.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Sue Bridgwater
    April 10, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Reblogged this on Skorn.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. April 10, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    …”Next to scurvy and dying from consumption, it’s my favourite.” Ha, ha. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

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