A few weeks ago, as I was browsing the Romance shelves at one of my local Barnes & Noble stores, I spied a few copies of Georgette Heyer's RegencyA few weeks ago, as I was browsing the Romance shelves at one of my local Barnes & Noble stores, I spied a few copies of Georgette Heyer's Regency World, which I immediately scooped up. I could have used it for some of my Jane Austen-related research, since it includes quite a lot of useful information about the customs, manners, fashions, and practices of the time period.
If you are a fan of (a) Georgette Heyer's books; (b) Jane Austen's novels; (c) Regency romances; (d) the Regency era for any reason; and/or (e) all of the above, this book is for you. If you are planning on writing a Regency novel, I daresay this is a resource you will be exceeding glad to have in your arsenal.
There are chapters about society; housing (town vs. country); how men lived and were expected to behave; what women were taught and what sort conduct was expected of them (including what constituted an auspicious marriage); information about the Seasons in London (Big and Little), including information on Almack's and a separate chapter about the "pleasure haunts" of London (scandalous!); the fashionable resorts; the modes of transportation of the time; clothing of the time period; shopping, with a focus on particular haberdashers of note; food (Good Lord, what they ate . . . ); "Sport" for men, which includes talk of boxing, racing, gambling and even (one hesitates to mention such an illegality) duelling; business and the military; and the royal family. There are useful appendices including common Regency terms, newspapers, books mentioned in Heyer's novels, plus three more appendices that provide a timeline, a list of further Regency resources and information on Heyer's novels.
The book contains absolutely charming pen and ink illustrations by Graeme Tavendale, many of which are his adaptations of the sketches of Regency artists such as George Cruikshank, John Nash, Hugh Thomson and more. While not all of them are absolutely necessary, they are all delightful additions to the package as a whole, and are in some cases indispensable to understanding the text (as with the illustrations of certain conveyances, such as a barouche, a phaeton, etc.).
Highly recommended for Regency fans of all ilks....more
The thing about Twitter is that it's possible to eavesdrop on other people's exchanges. And so it was that I saw Barry Goldblatt recommend this titleThe thing about Twitter is that it's possible to eavesdrop on other people's exchanges. And so it was that I saw Barry Goldblatt recommend this title to Jenn Laughran when she was in a Regency sort of mood, and I made note of it and scored a copy for myself shortly thereafter. It is (as I believe Barry may have described it) an Austen novel with glamours.
Kowal obviously has read her Austen, and the book pays tribute to several of her stories. Our heroine, Jane Ellsworth, (besides being named Jane) is 28 - one year older than Anne Elliot in Persuasion, with the same good nature, usefulness and (hidden) romantic nature as Miss Elliot. Jane has a younger sister named Melody who is reminiscent of Marianne Dashwood (especially in being somewhat melodramatic and self-absorbed), but rather more mean-spirited than Miss Marianne.
There's a neighbor girl named Beth Dunkirk, who proves to be a bit like Marianne Dashwood mixed with Jane Fairfax, and her brother, Mr. Edmund Dunkirk, who appears at first blush to be the sensible sort of neighbor that an Austen heroine might wed - an Edmund Bertram, perhaps, or Mr. Knightley (Jane Austen's two favorite of her own heroes). He is admired by both of the Misses Ellsworth, although Melody later sets her cap at the dashing Captain Henry Livingston, as do any number of other young ladies in the neighborhood.
Jane Ellsworth may be plain (or, depending on whom you ask, positively homely), but she is extraordinarily talented in her ability to manipulate glamour. Jane is too scrupulous to use her skills to improve her own appearance, knowing that at some point, people would see her without the glamour, and preferring them to know her true appearance. She can, however, manipulate glamour better than almost anyone in the neighborhood. That is, until Lady FitzCameron hires a professional glamourist to create a glamural in her dining room.
Mr. Vincent is as off-putting in his way as Mr. Darcy is in Pride and Prejudice, although rather than refusing to dance with Jane Ellsworth or declaring her "not handsome enough to tempt me", he seems insulted by and/or angry at her ability with glamour. I immediately starting shipping the pair of them, hoping that Jane's hopes for a match with Mr. Dunkirk would come to naught. I shan't tell you if I was right or wrong, but I shall say that I grinned my fool head off throughout this book and am looking forward to a second reading.
For Janeites, it includes sly pseudo-references to Austen's novels (at least, I assume they were intentional nods to the novels), such as this bit about Mr. Ellsworth, found on the very first page of the novel:
The Ellsworths of Long Parkmead had the regard of their neighbours in every respect. The Honourable Charles Ellsworth, though a second son, through the generosity of his father had been entrusted with an estate in the neighbourhood of Dorchester. it was well appointed and used only enough glamour to enhance its natural grace, without overlaying so much illusion as to be tasteless. His only regret, for the estate was a fine one, was that it was entailed, and as he had only two daughters, his elder brother's son stood next in line to inherit it. Knowing that, he took pains to set aside some of his income each annum for the provision of his daughters.
Compare this with the deceased Mr Dashwood, whose estate was entailed to his son (from his first marriage), leaving his wife and children without a home, or with Mr Bennet, who not only had an entailed estate, but also often wished that he'd set aside an annual sum for the provision of his wife and children, or with Sir Walter Elliot, who had to lease out his estate in order to "retrench", having overspent his own income. There are other similar instances, where something in Shades of Milk and Honey echoes or reverses something from an Austen novel. For instance, there's a scene where Mr. Dunkirk and Captain Livingston seek to outdo one another by discussing their horses and pointers - in an Austen novel, such conversation would mark the both of them as somewhat foolish characters, for it's only the foolish gentlemen (such as Sir John Middleton from Sense and Sensibility or Charles Musgrove from Persuasion) who fixate on "sport". And Mrs. Ellsworth, like Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice or Mary Musgrove from Persuasion is completely hypochondriacal, often engaging in something approaching competition with her neighbor, Mrs. Marchand, over which of them has the worse ailment or case of nerves.
Oh, the romance! The manners! The Regency details - plus magic! And the romance of the gift of a journal! And (call me crazy - I'm sure I would) the echo of Little Women in the description of Mr. Vincent - and, in some ways, in his interactions with Miss Ellsworth. I am all aflutter. And absolutely, blissfully happy that I happened to be on Twitter when this book was mentioned.
I bought the hardcover, which I had to order online as it was no longer in local stores; there's a paperback edition due out in June....more
La! What fun I've had reading this weekend! Or should I say, "fa la la la la," since the book I've just finished reading is Christmas-themed?
Long-timeLa! What fun I've had reading this weekend! Or should I say, "fa la la la la," since the book I've just finished reading is Christmas-themed?
Long-time readers know that I am a huge fan of the Pink Carnation books, commencing with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and progressing through The Betrayal of the Blood Lily. The books, for those not yet familiar with them, are a combination of modern-day romance involving Eloise Kelly and Colin Selwick (moving slowly across the course of the series) and a string of Regency romances involving a variety of French and English spies, many of whom have floral names (from the Purple Gentian to the Pink Carnation to the Black Tulip to the Moonflower). They are light-hearted yet still compelling, tend to include a large number of allusions to Shakespeare, Elizabethan poetry and other literature popular during the Regency era, and tend to be well-researched and well-written.
The Mischief of the Mistletoe is set entirely in Regency times, with no mention whatsoever of Eloise and/or Colin, in part because Willig has set it in a time period she's already covered - sometime between the end of The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, and immediately prior to (and slightly overlapping in a Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead kind of way) with the very beginning of The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, meaning that we get a peek at the start of Charlotte's story from the perspective of our main characters in this book: a rather beleaguered Arabella Dempsey (based in premise on the character of Emma Watson from Jane Austen's unfinished novel, The Watsons) and Reginald "Turnip" Fitzhugh, first introduced in the second book of the series, The Masque of the Black Tulip as a good-natured, good-looking, extremely wealthy man - ordinarily immediate romance hero material, except for his being perceived as bumbling, with poor taste in clothing and a complete lack of mental faculties.
Where Lord Vaughn, the intriguing man who winds up being the reluctant hero of The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, is so oblique as to be completely opaque, Turnip Fitzhugh is almost completely transparent. But it turns out that when one spends time and gets to know him, he is not, in fact, the dimmest bulb in the string of heroic lights after all. Where some of the male characters in the series - Vaughn, Miles Dorrington, Richard Selwick and Robert Lansdowne, for example - are able to mask their emotions, at least on occasion, Reggie Fitzhugh simply cannot. He is cheerful and earnest and completely sweet, unless, of course, he is coming to Arabella's defense, in which case he can be quite intimidating. *swoon*
Arabella is the eldest daughter of a widowed vicar, now unable to maintain his parish duties as a result of terrible health. She had been taken under the wing of a wealthy aunt for nearly a decade. It had been expected that her elderly aunt would adopt her and she'd be an heiress; instead, her aunt married a fortune-hunter half her age (and a man who had led Arabella to form a bit of a tendre for him). The book opens with Arabella telling her good friend, Miss Jane Austen, about her plans to work at a local boarding school for young ladies - something Arabella prefers to returning to live with her aunt and her new "uncle", or to living in the cramped quarters with her father and three younger sisters. Jane Austen decides to write about Arabella's story, renaming Arabella "Emma Watson". (Janeites will be delighted with the happy fictional reason provided for Austen's abandonment of The Watsons, which is so preferable to the raft of decidedly dour propositions that are generally put forth.)
Turnip and Arabella meet because his younger sister, Sally, is a student at the school where Arabella is to teach - as are the younger sisters of Alex and Jack Reid (from Blood Lily) and Jane Wooliston (from Pink Carnation) - in a story line that involves several Christmas puddings, a notebook, a trellis, a Christmas pageant, and a party at a country house. It is entirely charming and engaging, and also very PG-rated (not always the case with Willig's books). I find it charming, witty, clever and, occasionally, hilarious. And so, I suspect, will you. ...more
Maggie Sullivan's wry and amusing commentary on life in Austen's time, including definitions and descriptions and how-tos, is extremely enjoyable to rMaggie Sullivan's wry and amusing commentary on life in Austen's time, including definitions and descriptions and how-tos, is extremely enjoyable to read. A must-have for Austen fans....more
I adore this book - have read it several times already, and dedicated the entire month of August 2009 to blogging about this book, chapter by chapter,I adore this book - have read it several times already, and dedicated the entire month of August 2009 to blogging about this book, chapter by chapter, as you can read in the August at the Abbey series of posts....more
A romance novel telling the story of Jane Austen's Emma from the perspective of Mr. Knightly. The writing at times aspires to emulate Austen, and is eA romance novel telling the story of Jane Austen's Emma from the perspective of Mr. Knightly. The writing at times aspires to emulate Austen, and is elsewhere anachronistic. It lacks the depth and allusions of Austen (as well as her sense of irony, wit, and social commentary), but makes for a breezy romp of a frothy romance....more
I should note that my rating and critique are of this particular edition of the books, and not of Jane Austen's text per se. The text of P&P is exI should note that my rating and critique are of this particular edition of the books, and not of Jane Austen's text per se. The text of P&P is excellent and earns 5 stars. In this book, the even-numbered pages have a page of text from P&P; the facing, odd-numbered pages on the right have David Shapard's footnotes, many of which I found unnecessary (explaining what I took to be relatively simple period words), and at least a handful of which were incorrect and based on his opinion, rather than on fact, although they didn't say so. However, there were some, as, for example, the one on rules of precedence that accompanies the scene where Lady Catherine de Bourgh visits the Bennet's house, which explain what reads (and shows in movies) as an awkward moment. It would have been vaguely awkward at the time, too, but not because the Bennets are being rude (which is sometimes how the scene seems in modern times), but because Lady Catherine is so rude and high-handed (which makes it awkward-funny, not awkward-rude). ...more
This was the earliest manuscript completed for sale, and was, with Persuasion, the last one published (posthumously). It is a quick read, and quite aThis was the earliest manuscript completed for sale, and was, with Persuasion, the last one published (posthumously). It is a quick read, and quite a romp, and features Henry Tilney as the liveliest and perhaps the most compelling leading man in Jane Austen's books. A send-up of Gothic romances, a defense of novels, and an excellent template for Regency romances from that time until now. HIGHLY recommended....more