The Exquisite Realism of Pleats

Hiatus. Mine was a long one, at least in the terms of this daily blog. I took off in the spring to research my new novel, then to write the novel, then to take a break after writing the novel, then putting the novel on the market. Now, with my foot up after a third time under the knife (yes, I have three feet), I’m back.

The daffodils came and went, the waves crashed at the beach, but I feel I’ve been inside these months much more than outside. Inside my cranium. The seasons have changed largely without me, and now along comes Fall.

I don’t work at night. The Cabin resides in a quiet, still, isolated pocket of land at the edge of an insect-buzzing marsh. We’re cloistered in the middle of nowhere. Or at least it feels like that, which is remarkable since we’re less than an hour from the lights of New York City. My point is, there’s not a lot of hubbub around, not a lot of human distractions. So after dinner, with Oliver keeping a lookout out at our feet, we either read or consume a fair dose of high-concept binge fare.

O beseeching

We visit different worlds.

It’s hard to get history right on tv. Often it’s too cheesy to watch, whether because of the dialogue, scenery, fashions or some combination that makes you say, I know it wasn’t like that. And turn it off. Go read some good historical fiction instead!

But I’ve been watching a show that manages to have a little cheese and a fair amount of heart at the same time, along with exquisite attention to detail. The premise is time travel, my favorite subject.The Outlander series takes a young English woman just after World War One (she’s a battlefield nurse) and sends her through a witchy wormhole (actually a Stonehenge-like circle of obelisks) back to 1740s Scotland. Adventures and romance ensue. What interests me is the devotion to detail on the part of the producers, down to the beautiful and so carefully sewn pleats in the wedding gown of the protagonist, Claire. Apparantly they are entirely consistent with the real McCoy. There are plenty of people out there waiting to pounce on you if you don’t do it right, but so far a war hasn’t broken out between the pleats and the pin tucks, so we’re okay.


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As a writer of historical fiction, I know that you must constantly make choices about where to nail the absolute fact and when you can fudge. In fact, sometimes you must fudge, because the absolute fact would be unpalatable for contemporary readers. It fascinates me to hear about the choices made by the costume designer for Outlander, Terry Dresbach. (How’s that for a fitting name?)

5 Comments

Filed under Culture, Fashion, Fiction, History, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Publishing, Writers, Writing

5 responses to “The Exquisite Realism of Pleats

  1. Wendy Owen

    Oh Ollie……….!

  2. Josefa, thanks for the welcome. Foot is behaving itself, in other words hanging around on a pillow being very boring.

  3. Ann, I waited and gulped it all down pretty much at once. Jamie wouldn’t be my dream date but he is pretty cool. And the only thing about the cliff hanger is that by now it’s so obvious that she would want to stay in the 18th century. Who wouldn’t?

  4. ANN HOFFER

    Aha… Best wishes to you and your foot. But you’ve had eight weeks of Outlander to help you through your misery, at least a little bit! I’ve been tempted to ask if you’d gotten involved with watching, because I’ve been pretty much riveted to STARZ on Saturday nights, not to mention reading the fan groups online (a first-time experience for me, those avid fan groups) and reading Books #1 and #2 on my new Kindle.

    So, whether you’ve read the books or not, what did you think of last night’s cliff-hanger? (Jamie’s not Fabio, but anyway!) And will you tune in again in April for the second half of Season One? 🙂

  5. Josefa Mulaire

    Welcome back. I’ve missed your blog. How goes the foot?

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