Saturday, January 07, 2012

Dauntsey Park

I’m very excited that MIRA Books has re-issued my 2008 Edwardian historical romance The Last Rake in London. It has a new title – Dauntsey Park – and a gorgeous new cover!

Writing about the Edwardian era was a new departure for me. The book is set in 1908 and the research was fascinating. In may ways the time period reminded me of the Regency, almost 100 years before. Not for nothing was the Edwardian era know as “The Gilded Age” with its opulence and excess, at least in the higher strata of society! Like the Regency it was also a time of huge change, both in society and in terms of technology. It was the era that saw the first mass-produced cars most famous which was Henry Ford’s Model T. The telephone was a novelty (as anyone who has seen the struggles of Carson the butler with it in Downton Abbey will know!) and the first flying machines were taking to the air. Parts of the London Underground were built and it was already known as “The Tube.”

Fashion was also as glamorous as in the Regency period. Both women and men in the upper echelons of society changed their clothing several times a day depending on the social occasion. Men wore the “sacque suit,” a three-piece suit including waistcoat, worn with coloured shirts and a silk tie. The tuxedo was coming into fashion, replacing the tail coat for formal evening wear. In The Last Rake in London, the hero’s great-aunt comments unfavourably on his “modern” outfit when he appears wearing a tux. For sporting pursuits the knickerbocker was fashionable, worn with a Norfolk coat of tweed.

For ladies the most glamorous gowns came from the House of Worth in Paris. Sumptuous clothing in silk, satin, chiffon, tussore, faille, crepe de chine, mohair, and cashmere was all the rage. For full effect, it needed to be trimmed with lace, fur, feathers or braid. Hats got larger and larger during the Edwardian decade. Even the food was trimmed with added decoration; roast pheasant would be served with its tail feathers! The dinner table was a work of art. It would be adorned with flowers, perhaps in gold or silver wicker baskets, with roses a particular favourite, entwined with ferns and ivy. The table flowers were often chosen to match the hostess’s gown! Such attention to detail required a huge hall of servants to carry off. At Ashdown House during the Victorian and Edwardian period there were forty outdoor servants attending to the garden and grounds, the potting sheds, flowerbeds and hothouses. There were another forty indoor servants keeping the house going.

There is an excerpt from The Last Rake in London, much more background research, and a special contest here on my website!

Are you a fan of Downton Abbey? Do you enjoy historical fiction set in the Edwardian era? I’m offering a copy of Dauntsey Park: The Last Rake in London to one commenter today!


Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed your post about Dauntsey Park this morning and would very much like to be included in the give-away opportunity !
Thanks for the fascinating read :)


DK said...

I haven't seen Downton Abbey, although I would love to do so! And I do enjoy historical fiction set in the Edwardian era--since it sets the stage for two world wars, a women's emancipation movement, a labour movement and several struggles against colonialism and imperialism. One series set in this period, which I enjoyed greatly, was Timeri N. Murari's The Imperial Agent and The Last Victory, both set in India. And, of course, I loved The Last Rake in London!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nicola! I am not a great fans Of downtown abbey but I ever watched several episodes of downtown abbey n I'm quite love the fashion in the movie . What I love the most about the Edwardian era is the rising of the emanciPation of women. I love it because women dares to act for themselves and be the one that takes control of their own destiny:). Aretha zhen ,

Nicola Cornick said...

Hi Marianne! Thank you - I am so pleased you enjoyed the post!

Devaki, I agree it is such an amazing era in terms of the political background. So much struggle and change. Thank you very much for the recommendation of Timeri N Murari. Will check those out!

Nicola Cornick said...

Hi Aretha! I agree that the fight for women's suffrage is a huge and fascinating element of the history of the period and very inspiring.

LyndaDunwellAuthor said...

Thanks for this post, especially the references to the dress and lavish entertaining of the time. I have a novel Tommorrow Belongs to Us: a Titanic Novel coming out on Feb 24 with Musa Publishing set in London and on the ship in 1912. I agree it is a super period for research and like the Regency a narrow band historical period. I shall enjoy reading Dauntsey Park.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nicola, I was so excited this morning when I realized that season 2 of Downton Abbey starts tomorrow night! I loved season 1 and even treated myself to a copy of the DVDs. The dresses are just to die for.
Take care.
Janice in Jacksonville

Lynne Colter said...

Love your comment. I read the Last Rake in London when it came out in 2008, and now I'm thinking it needs to be read again. Don't watch tv, so have never seen Downtown Abbey.

Diane D - Florida said...

Hi Nicola, Thank you for such a fascinating article on the Edwardian era. I've learned quite a few new facts today.

I love Downton Abbey, and can't wait for Season 2 which starts here tomorrow night (Sunday). It's very popular over here.

Please enter me into the contest for "Dauntsey Park" and Happy New Year to you.

dpd333 (at) aol dot com

Maggie May said...

For those who could afford them, the clothes were beautiful,esp. the beading. Reminds me of the garments Kate Winslet wore in TITANIC. Sometimes I found myself looking at the clothes more than following the story. Speaking of TITANIC the movie, rerelease this year in "3D" here in the states. Always enjoy your posts.

Nicola Cornick said...

Hi Lynda! How exciting to hear of your Titanic novel. I will look out for that. Such an interesting era to write in.

Hi Janice - I hope you enjoy Season 2 of Downton Abbey. I've enjoyed it all very much so far!

Nicola Cornick said...

Thank you, Lynne. I am so pleased you enjoyed Last Rake!

Hi Diane! Thank you for dropping in to the blog. Good to meet another Downton Abbey fan!

Hi Maggie. Weren't the clothes in Titanic stunning! A hugely glamorous era for couture. Not so much fun for a servant having to wear a corset under her uniform, though!

Melanie said...

Hello Nicola!

How fortuitous of me to have stopped by this morning :)

Edwardian Era sounds even more fascinating then the Regency, but not many Romances out there with it. I wonder why? DA will be starting its 2nd Season here (US) tomorrow night and I am on pins and needles waiting for it :)

I would love to be included in this giveaway and thank you for it :)



Margay Leah Justice said...

I do love this time period and the clothes they wore. Not sure how I feel about Downton Abbey, though. The clothes and the settings were gorgeous, but there were a few things about the story that irritated me. I'll probably watch the second season, though, just to see if things get better for the characters I do like!


Nicola Cornick said...

Hello, Melanie! Thank you for dropping by the blog! Yes, there are comparatively few romances set in the Edwardian era. Some readers have suggested to me that knowing that World War I was just around the corner puts them off. Interesting theory.

Margay, I know there were some criticisms of Downton Abbey and not everyone thought it was good. Very sumptuous, though, and the characters do draw you in!

carrie said...

Downton Abbey is on my list of things to watch! It is quite an extensive list but I will get to it eventually. Would love to be included in the give away. Thanks for all your posts Nicola!

Liz said...

Seldom see tv anymore, so haven't seen Downton Abbey, but historical fiction is interesting. All eras appeal to me.

Best wishes with reissue.

Carol L. said...

It took a bit before I actually got to watch Downton Abbey. My daughter got out all the DVD's from the Library and we watched them all back to back. I'm hopelessly hooked. :)I love Maggie Smith and anything she's in. So excited about Season 2 tomorrow night. :)Enjoyed your post Nicola and really look forward to reading Dauntsey Park.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

Nicola Cornick said...

Hi Carrie! I hope you enjoy Downton Abbey when you get around to watching. It's very entertaining IMO.

Thanks for dropping by the blog, Liz, and for the best wishes!

Like you I am hopelessly hooked, Carol! Maggie Smith is fabulous, isn't she!

Anonymous said...

I've never seen any of the Downton Abbey series, but even I recognised what the publishers were trying to do with that gorgeous cover!


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