Monday, February 6, 2012

Authenticity makes it real.

A great number of novels today are set in the past.  The authors either skate swiftly over the customs of the time - how people talked, what interested them, their food and drink - and get on with their story.  Others take time to research the period in which they set their novel and give us the benefit of authenticity.

‘The Search for Gabriella’ falls in the second category.  Particularly in the screenplays, one of which is set in Renaissance Venice and the other in Abyssinia during Queen Victoria’s reign. 

In Renaissance Venice mercenaries, or condottiere as they were called, played a large part in the events of that time - not as much as the merchants who created Venice but even so…. still today there is a huge statue of a condottiere in Venice central. 

The army expedition sent to rescue the consul in Abyssinia did indeed include a naval rocket brigade, Captain Speedy was a hero of the day, and Stanley - the man who found Livingstone lost in Africa - was also there as a reporter, just as portrayed in the screenplay.  In fact, the only people in this screenplay who were not there in real life  are the girl Diana, who disguises herself as a cavalry subaltern, and the fantastic young Abyssinian warrior Welda.

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