Lois Leveen


June 5, 2011

Let them eat cake, whether or not they deserve it

Just deserts means that which is justly deserved.
Whereas just desserts means skipping the entree and going right for the ice cream.

And while I am a huge ice cream fan, I'm deeply indebted to the copy editrix at William Morrow for making sure the characters who deserve a comeuppance get a comeuppance, and not an ice cream sundae. Especially since there was no such thing as an ice cream sundae in the 1850s and 60s, when my novel is set.

That is one of the most challenging parts about writing historical fiction . . . we have stuff, but also words/phrases, today that people didn't have "back then," whenever the back then of a particular book happens to be. So just as surely as Mary Bowser and Bet Van Lew weren't riding around in a Prius, they also weren't chowing down on ice cream sundaes (c. 1897) or snickerdoodles (c. 1889).

Which is too bad, because if there is anything I would enjoy after a rough day trying to undermine the Confederacy, it would be an ice cream sundae, with a side order of snickerdoodles.
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