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question about foreign titles in historical fiction

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I'm working on a story set in seventeenth century France. In my research, I have come across that
before the French revolution, women were addressed as "Mademoiselle" if they were peasants
and "Madame" if they were nobles or royalty. In my novel, I have followed this, although it seems strange
to me as a former French student (and I wonder if it would to an editor or agent) that married lower class women
are called "Mademoiselle."
I've thought about going back to using the titles they way they are used now--Madame for married, Mademoiselle
for unmarried to make it less confusing to readers.
How is the best way to handle this?
#1 - June 15, 2011, 12:03 PM

I like the idea of keeping it historically accurate, though if you can find a way to do it with a light touch, perhaps you could explain that detail in the story? I had a slightly similar problem in my 17th Century English setting of Ladies in Waiting, where both young girls and adult women of loose repute (even if married) would be called Miss. I kept the period usage, but explained it in the context.
#2 - June 15, 2011, 01:22 PM
MG: Under the Green Hill
Guardian of the Green Hill

Thanks, Laura! That's a great idea.
#3 - June 15, 2011, 03:46 PM

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I like Laura's solution. I'll just add that sometimes I think you have to be willing to sacrifice a little bit of historical accuracy to get to the larger purpose, even if it pains you. You can always add an author's note.
#4 - June 15, 2011, 05:59 PM


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