I've recently joined the Historical Novel Society. Amongst other things, each issue of the society's journal – the Historical Novels Review - briefly reviews a great number of historical novels and, having read quite a few of the back numbers the society has kindly sent me, I am struck by something. Though the reviews talk a lot about plot, character and authenticity and, to a slightly lesser extent about structure there is very little comment on language, voice, vocabulary – how the author has used the narrative tone to convey some impression of the period they are writing about.
Now, for me, this is one of the most important – and interesting – things about writing histfic. But how important is it to readers?
If you read historical fiction, what are the criteria by which you judge a historical novel? What are the things you look for? What are essential and what optional extras? I'd be fascinated to know.