Saturday, August 01, 2015

Lace, Stays and Powerful thighs: How could I resist?

Today, Elizabeth Bailey shares her reasons for loving reading and writing Regency romance.

Huge picture hats and charming straw bonnets; lashings of lace and tulle; yards of gathered floating muslin and bosoms upthrust by tightly boned stays.  Powerful thighs encased in close-fitting breeches; elegant colourful tailcoats with flowing hair brushing the collar; white starched cravats and tasselled polished boots.  Horses and carriages, vast estates and mansions filled with treasure.  It’s a world of privilege and slowed down time, far from the rush and bustle of the twenty-first century.

Although the fictional Regency and Georgian worlds are necessarily a romanticised version, they hark back to an era of endless fascination.  We know that the sharp class divisions and the inequities in life were unfair, that those who worked had to toil for hours to produce articles that would now be cut out in minutes by machine.  We know life was harsh, that odours we would consider offensive were legion, that disease was rife and often incurable.  But somehow the harshness adds to the piquancy of the period, pointing up the glamour enjoyed by the rich.

For the novelist, it’s an era riddled with possibilities.  Where your modern author struggles to find legitimate obstacles to put in the way of achieving goals, the historical writer has them readily to hand.  Communication can take days instead of being instantaneous; rules forbid women access to male dominated areas; travel is long and arduous; clothing is restrictive; food and drink can be inaccessible; and it is all too easy to become lost in a maze of dangerous alleyways or vast acres of uninhabited countryside.

But restrictive clothing adds spice to the hero's hunting instincts. Long coach journeys provide opportunities both for scintillating dialogue and hands-on getting to know you. Heroines found in the wrong place provoke heroes to gallant deeds of rescue. And getting lost together is almost certain to end in dalliance. As for food and drink, remember that outrageously sexy meal in the film Tom Jones?

The period element offers an endless variety of situations to tickle an author's imagination. That's why I love working in this Regency and Georgian world.

My own fictional world may be similar to that of other historical authors, but each is unique, reflecting the writer’s personal enjoyment of that past time. What I love most about writing in this period is that I can invite readers into my particular world, which is close to the real one but belongs exclusively to me.

Journey into my world with Friday Dreaming:

Bookish Friday Edborough’s secret dream looks set to come true when childhood friend, the gorgeous Nicolas Weare, proposes—if only he was behaving like a man in love. All too soon, Friday’s worst fears are confirmed when she finds Nick has been forced into the betrothal to stop him marrying the beautiful but ineligible Hermione.

Caught between love and loyalty, Friday ends the engagement, leaving Nick to realise the value of what he’s lost just as he discovers Hermione’s true worth. But with the lines joining love and hate beginning to blur, has Nick’s change of heart come too late?

Elizabeth Bailey

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