I'm reading 'Pillars of the Earth' by Ken Follet, which is a well-written book, but endlessly frustrating. (It's a novel, set in the early 12th century about the building of a cathedral)
I'm only a couple of chapters in, but every ten pages or so I'll get thrown out of the book.
When he's talking about architecture, he seems to know his stuff - at least, I haven't caught him in a mistake yet.
Horse Chestnuts are mildly toxic (though you might eat them if desperate), but in any case, they weren't introduced into England until after this period.
Squirrels do not hibernate -and they don't sleep on the ground in any case.
Hops were not used in the brewing of beer until after this period.
Loaf sugar won't be along for another century or so and won't' be made in England until the 1400s.
Writing historical novels is a very tricky art, and probably almost impossible to get right, but I do wish he'd researched a bit more about dates of food. (this may have been harder in pre-Wikipedia days, but it can't be that hard, because the above all rang bells as I read them)
I'm now puzzling myself as to when/where I picked up trivia on this kind of thing. I guess part of it comes from a love of museums - I tend to read exhibits in great detail and to do part of a museum in depth rather than skimming all of it.
Also, on a general front:
I've yet to meet a woman who would relish sex outdoors while wearing only a cape with nothing under it in a winter cold enough to have ice on the ground.
If the ground is too hard for ploughing, then it's probably impossible to dig a six-foot deep grave with a wooden spade.
I'm also impressed by any man who delivers a new-baby in a forest in mid-winter and uses his cloth rag to clean its face rather than to wrap it up... As it's a fictional baby, I strongly suspect it will survive and thrive in spite of being dead for two reasons already in my personal book.
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