Saturday, November 23, 2013

Clothes and Desperate Remedies

As an author, my working wardrobe seems to consist mostly of comfortable clothes like tracksuit bottoms with T-shirts. It’s one of the perks of working from home and whenever I think back on my days as a secretary, I’m really grateful not to have to put on smart skirts and jackets every day. In the last few weeks I seem to have done a lot of dressing up though. Not just to go to parties or events, but also period costume and this weekend, a regional costume from Sweden. And actually, it’s been great fun!

It started with a request from the organiser of this year’s Festival of Romance (held in Bedford at the beginning of November). She wanted all the authors of historical novels to dress up in period costume for an evening of readings. At first, I was going to put on a kimono, since the heroine of my latest historical novel is half Japanese, but this was something I had already done previously so I began to think that perhaps it was time for something different.

I thought I’d try my hand at making a new costume and found someone who sold patterns of clothing from the 1640s (the era my book was set in). However, my sewing skills are limited at best and the more I looked at these patterns, the more I realised this was never going to happen, at least not in time for the Festival. Desperate measures were called for – I enlisted the help of a lovely seamstress who promised to do it for me.

The result was all I could have wished for and as I put on my costume I was very grateful I hadn’t attempted it on my own. I can’t say the outfit was flattering and the bodice was very tight and somewhat restricting, but I really felt like I had stepped back in time and could thoroughly empathise with my half-Japanese heroine who had to get used to English clothes instead of the lovely silk kimonos she’d always worn before.

Strangely enough, the Swedish regional costume I’ve been wearing this weekend for another event, is very similar to the historical one. The main difference is that the bodice is looser and the skirt a bit shorter. But I guess it goes to show that clothing for ordinary women in Europe didn’t really change all that much through the ages until the advent of factory made clothes. It was only the upper class ladies whose fashions varied dramatically.

From desperate measures to Desperate Remedies – the third of my Regency novellas is now available as an e-book (either alone or together with the previous two). Here is a short blurb:-

She would never forget the day her heart broke …

Lexie Holloway falls desperately in love with the devastatingly handsome Earl of Synley after a brief encounter at a ball. But Synley is already engaged to be married and scandal surrounds his unlikely match with the aging, but incredibly wealthy, Lady Catherine Downes.

Heartbroken, Lexie resolves to remain a spinster and allows circumstance to carry her far away from England to a new life in Italy. However, the dashing Earl is never far from her thoughts.

Years later, she returns home to find that much has changed – including the marital status of Synley. Whilst the once notorious Earl is a reformed character, the problems caused by his first marriage continue to plague him and it appears that his life may be in danger.

Can Lexie help Synley outwit those who wish to harm him and rekindle the flame ignited all those years ago, or will her associations with the Earl bring her nothing but trouble?

Christina x


Elizabeth Hawksley said...

I loved your different costumes, Christina. The Swedish costume is flattering as it shows off the bust properly with that attractive bodice and you look great in it. And the kimono looks wonderful, so silky.

Christina Courtenay said...

Thank you, Elizabeth, I'm glad you like them! And yes, the Swedish costume is much more flattering (and comfortable). Apart from the fact that the skirt is pure wool and very scratchy, I've enjoyed wearing it this weekend. I'm assuming it would have been worn with lots of petticoats (which I don't have)!