When we read fiction set in the Regency period, we often come across references to sea journeys but, usually, they’re over pretty quickly. On one page, we’re at Dover or Harwich or Falmouth. A paragraph or two later, we’ve arrived at our destination and the story continues. (Not in all fiction, of course. Who could forget Mary Challoner’s horrendous cross-Channel trip in Heyer’s Devil’s Cub? Still, at least Vidal proffered a basin at the vital moment.)
Nowadays, our ships have GPS and radar and even engines! 😉 So this modern figure, staring out over a slightly stormy sea, has little to fear from going on board. But what was it really like, making a sea voyage on one of the Regency’s relatively tiny and fragile sailing craft?
Detail does matter. The Regency lady going to dinner, or going to a ball, wanted every detail of her appearance to be perfect. Especially if her aim was to attract a potential husband. (She might, of course, have been a married lady looking for a little diversion with a new lover.)
Did the gentlemen in question notice these details? Possibly they did, because most of the details on these gorgeous gowns were around two areas of the female body that drew the masculine eye — the low-cut neckline exposing much of the lady’s bosom, and the naughty ankle, glimpsed as the lady walked or danced. Continue reading →
Regency gowns are familiar to anyone who has ever watched a Jane Austen adaptation on TV or film. We expect to see ladies floating around in high-waisted dresses, probably made of fine white muslin. We expect to see large quantities of bosom on display. But from our modern perspective of mass-produced clothing and home sewing machines, we rarely think about how these supposedly simple Regency garments were made.
By female hand and eye. Every last cut and stitch.
Downton Abbey — and Upstairs, Downstairs before that — can be a bit of a curse for writers. Why? Because both show us servants, below stairs, who are human and empathetic. Because they show us relationships between upstairs and downstairs that seem respectful on both sides, even cosy. And because they aren’t always true to history.
Don’t believe me? Then let’s turn to Mrs Isabella Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861) for advice:
A servant is not to be seated … in his master’s or mistress’s presence; nor to offer any opinion, unless asked for it; nor even to say “good night,” or “good morning,” except in reply to that salutation. Continue reading →
Do you use exclamation marks? Often? Maybe too often??!!!
Some readers HATE exclamation marks
Exclamation marks used to be all the rage. Once.
But tastes change and, nowadays, some readers count exclamation marks and scream abuse on all the social media platforms if they think an author has used too many. Quite a few of my clients — including bestselling authors — have suffered at the hands of the exclamation mark police. And many have sworn, as a result, never to use an exclamation mark again.
Today we welcome Georgette Heyer’s biographer, Jennifer Kloester, to the blog. She has some exciting news for Heyer fans.
Jennifer has unearthed Heyer stories that were long out of print. And now, three new Heyer stories are being republished.
Read on for Jennifer’s detective story . . .
Snowdrift & Other Stories by Georgette Heyer
Georgette Heyer with her dog, Misty
Millions of romance readers the world over love Georgette Heyer’s sparkling Regency and Georgian novels. Since 1921 when, as a teenager, she published her first novel, The Black Moth, Heyer has delighted us. Continue reading →
Today’s guest blog on YA heroes is from award-winning author Pia Fenton (Christina Courtenay)
Heroes, Villains . . . What’s Not To Love?
There’s been a lot of talk about heroes on the Libertà blog. Also delicious villains.
Yes, I too am a fan of Mr Rickman and others like him, notably Lucius Malfoy (actor Jason Isaacs) in the Harry Potter movies — how could you forget him?! — and Loki in the Thor movies (actor Tom Hiddleston). Continue reading →
Contrary to received wisdom in some quarters — particularly those parts of the media that love to sneer at romantic fiction — a romantic hero is not always tall, dark and handsome. Sometimes his looks matter; sometimes they don’t. And sometimes, they don’t even rate a mention!
If you don’t believe me, just think back to those ageing actors in movies, making love to heroines less than half their age. Were they tall, dark and handsome? Nope. More like grey, thinning on top and struggling to keep their bodies in half-decent nick for the screen. But, greying or not, saggy or not, those men are still movie action heroes according to Hollywood. And fans go along with it.
So if it’s not what he looks like, what is the secret? Are books different from movies? And is there a timeless formula?
Villains can be a turn-off. But they can also be compelling, fanciable, even sexy. Think Alan Rickman as just about any movie baddie you care to name. (Confession here — I’m a Rickman fan and this blog was partly inspired by him. But there are other baddies here too, and many are from books as well as films.)