Sunday, April 10, 2016

Fact into Fiction


I am currently reading Vanessa and her Sister by Priya Parmar. The other books are on my "to be read" pile. I like books that make me look things up, to learn more about the subject - whether it is finding out more about historical situations, learning more about a country in which the book takes place or finding out about people who were included in the story. Vanessa and her Sister is a fictionalized account of Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf - the Stephen sisters. The many characters in the book were real people - part of the Bloomsbury group. I have searched on the internet for paintings done by Bell that have been mentioned in the book, checked on the lives of some of the people in the novel and I feel this enriches my experience of the book. So far I am enjoying it, but a piece of me wants to know how much is based on truth and how much veers from reality.

I read Us Conductors, by Sean Michaels, which is a novel about Leon Theremin. I enjoyed finding out more about who he was (the inventor of the theremin among other things) but was put off by some events in the book that were far from the truth of Theremin's life. While Michaels makes it clear that this is a novel, it bothers me that people reading it may believe these events; I had to research to separate the truths from the fiction.

At what point should an author just be writing fiction and not use the names and lives of real people - a question I ask myself as I read.

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