Wednesday, August 29, 2012

When authors get things wrong

A small rant about mistakes in books. It is not earth shattering, but it bugs me.

Since I have time on my hands this summer I actually worked my way through Charles Foran's massive biography of Mordecai Richler, one of my favourite authors.
One of these days I will read Solomon Gursky was here for the 3rd time.

At one point there is a casual mention of the progress of WWII in October 1944. The allies are reported to have liberated France and Holland. Really? This would have been news to the population of the Netherlands North of the rivers. 

The allied advance came to a halt after the battle of Arnhem in September 1944, chronicled in the 1977 movie "A Bridge too far". The people in the Northern part of the country, which includes the largest cities, were left to suffer through the bitter Winter of Famine before liberation in May 1945.

It would have made no difference to a teen-aged boy in Montreal, but it bugs me, and makes me wonder what else may be incorrect?

I hugely enjoyed Jack Whyte's non-magical retelling of the Arthurian myths. But though the historical details are painstakingly researched, he occasionally messes up the genealogy of his own secondary female characters. Enid, mother of Merlyn, is described as the younger sister of the Keltic king in book one, and as his daughter in a later book. I gave the books away and can't go back to check details. 

I also just finished The Hunger Games trilogy. A good read, though at some point I get tired of Action Movie Syndrome.

At the very end of the last book one of the characters digs up some bushes from the wild to plant near another's home. (trying to avoid plot spoilers here) The bushes are then described as "Not plain rose, but Evening Primrose."

Guess what. Evening Primrose or Oenothera Biennis has absolutely nothing to do with a rose, or a primrose for that matter. It is a weedy biannual, not a transplantable bush.

Was there no botanically literate editor who could have caught this?

1 comment:

mel said...

aha I love that part too, I read the trilogy also and laughed...although I went crazy for primroses until I realized how invasive they are but they are still
but I find mistakes all the time with a word spelled wrong you would think that with all the technology .....there would be no mistakes....ahahhaah