Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Guest Sharon Lathan-- Regency: What’s Not To Like?

Linda Banche here. Today I welcome Sharon Lathan and her latest book, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, which continues the saga of the lives of the well-loved Pride and Prejudice characters. Sharon talks about why she loves the Regency, but also why we should take Regency etiquette with a grain of salt.

Leave a comment and your email for a chance to win one of the two copies of In the Arms of Mr. Darcy which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Sharon will select the winners. Check the comments to see who won, and how to contact me to claim your book. If I cannot contact the winners within a week of their selection, I will award the books to alternates. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only.

Sharon selected the winners Maggie Dove and Meg Evenstar. Maggie, I've sent you an email. Meg, please contact me at linda@lindabanche.com to collect your prize. If I do not hear from you by October 24, I will award the books to alternates.

Welcome, Sharon!

Thanks for inviting me as a guest! This is a tremendous honor to be here today!

I was asked what I like best about the Regency and what I like the least. Hmm….

Not so easy to answer. There are many aspects to this roughly 10-year period of time spanning the end of the larger Georgian Era and the Edwardian to Victorian Eras that came next that are appealing to me as a writer and lover of history. This was a trend setting time, revolutionary in many respects, and the radical changes affected those later decades profoundly. Certainly the clothing comes to mind since I think it the most appealing out of the past centuries. I adore the romantic renaissance attitude of the Prince Regent and his contemporaries as shown in the elegance and beauty of the architecture, art, poetry, and music. I could write several essays on the neoclassical styles of the era that are incredibly pleasing to the eye and provide a perfect backdrop to writing romance.

For my story I can’t deny that the staggering number of modern technologies feeds my mind. I am fascinated by the discoveries in every field of science that began during this period falling in the early years of the Industrial Revolution. I use what I unearth frequently within my saga.

Yet, if I have to pick one thing I like the best I suppose I would say it is the “old fashioned” tone that I love. I yearn for the days of politeness when people truly cared about another person’s sensibilities. Manners, decorum, and etiquette were taken seriously. A lady was a lady and a gentleman a gentleman. There were rules and standards that decent people made every attempt to follow. Modesty, careful speech, protocol, decency, and social obligation were prized. Being honorable was held dear and to be accused otherwise was a shameful happening. There were real scandals! Improper activity was looked down upon and one who acted immorally or outside the bounds of propriety often suffered serious consequences.

Yes, call me old fashioned, but I wish we had more of that in our world these days.

Oddly, to answer the second question, what I like the least about the Regency is this same strictness! Partly I admit that this is my modern attitude showing through. I love Pride and Prejudice, but I sure want to reach into the text and rattle those two stubborn idiots for not simply talking about it!! Life would have been way easier if they had thrown out the rulebook and actually been forthcoming for once. Of course that would have made for a short novel, but you get my point.

So here is the rub: Should we base our assumptions on what is written in a novel? Or what we read in the etiquette books of the day? I once read an essay where it was pointed out that etiquette books are usually written to point out how things should be done because they probably aren’t being done that way! Interesting point, I thought. I can’t speak for the veracity of 1811’s The Mirror of Graces but I know if someone plopped an Emily Post on my lap I would be mortified to discover all the ways I am failing!

However, these high standards are taken as gospel truth without keeping in mind several facts. One, none of us lived way back when so we can’t really know if the majority lived as perfectly as many of us like to imagine they did. Two, humans have always been human with every single frailty and evil thought we have today so it is highly unlikely they followed the rules any better than we do. Three, honest history proves that underneath the glamorous Regency there was squalor, crime, and poverty on a massive level while within the upper classes extravagance, frivolity, and superficiality often ruled.

In conclusion, I adore the formality and properness of these bygone days and I do think it was a standard characteristic adhered to by most, even if falsely, far more than we see today. I love writing with that in mind! But I also love writing about real people who respond in real ways. Gritty, honest, human characters who cry, rage, show passion, laugh, swear, and even sin a bit now and again. Don’t ever tell me a person would “never” do such-and-such unless you can prove they can’t do it today!



IN THE ARMS OF MR. DARCY BY SHARON LATHAN—IN STORES OCTOBER 2010
If only everyone could be as happy as they are…
Darcy and Elizabeth are as much in love as ever—even more so as their relationship matures. Their passion inspires everyone around them, and as winter turns to spring, romance blossoms around them.

Confirmed bachelor Richard Fitzwilliam sets his sights on a seemingly unattainable, beautiful widow; Georgiana Darcy learns to flirt outrageously; the very flighty Kitty Bennet develops her first crush, and Caroline Bingley meets her match.

But the path of true love never does run smooth, and Elizabeth and Darcy are kept busy navigating their friends and loved ones through the inevitable separations, misunderstandings, misgivings, and lovers’ quarrels to reach their own happily ever afters…

About the Author
Sharon Lathan is the author of the bestselling Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley, and My Dearest Mr. Darcy. In addition to her writing, she works as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. She resides with her family in Hanford, California in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. For more information, please visit www.sharonlathan.net. You can also find Sharon at Austen Authors – www.austenauthors.com, and Casablanca Authors – www.casablancaauthors.blogspot.com.

23 comments:

Vee said...

Linda thank you for posting Sharons wonderful essay about the regency and historical periods. I loved reading her thoughts and find I agree with everything. I too am an old fashioned "girl" brought up to be respectable by a strict family. (wouldn't change it either).
Sharon points out so many reasons why I love this era the strict propriety that has to be maintained. One of many wonderful aspects I love about Sharon's novels is that she is able to give our fav characters Lizzy & Darcy dignity respect and admiration in the public arena. But in addition we are able to peek in on their most intimate moments and see their guard dropped. We can see the true depth of the feelings, devotion and passion they hold for each other.
Sharon includes so much history throughout her novels that I have certainly learnt a lot about this period as well as enjoying the lives Lizzy & Darcy have together after marriage.
TSBO devotee
Vee

Sharon Lathan said...

You ladies at far sides of the world are leaping on this posting quicker than me!

Hi Linda! Hi Vee!

Linda, thanks for hosting me. This was a fun topic to delve into.

Vee, I like the way you put your synopsis. I love writing the human, private people and peeking behind the curtain. I am happy that you, and many others, appreciate that. Thanks!

Kate M. said...

Hi Linda & Sharon -

I'd definitely agree with you Sharon that the thing I love most about the Regency period is exactly what I hate. I'm currently the same age as Lizzy when she was married and that fact alone is enough to scare the you know what out of me. Although I know that 20 isn't exactly unheard of nowadays to be married, either.

I'm one of those girls that's looking for courtesy and dignity of someone great (cough Darcy) but it's also just as easy for me to like the jerkier type of guys I'm in school with right now. We will see!

Just wanted to say how much I love your works, Sharon and that so many others appreciate it as much as I do!

Thanks for such wonderful books!

~Kate (falafal1@aol.com)

Maggi Andersen said...

I enjoy those aspects of a well-mannered society we find in the Regency period. It's a period that offers so much diversity to an author. Nice to spend time within the covers of a book like this one.

Linda Banche said...

Sharon and all, this blog is based in Australia, so getting the times correct for everyone is tricky.

Like the others here, I love the Regency etiquette. Unfortunately, nowadays, too many people act as if they're in their own living room and can do whatever they want, regardless of the feelings of others. A little politeness goes a long way. That we hunger for it says something about our modern world.

Sharon Lathan said...

I figured you must be Down Under Linda since my pal Vee jumped in there so quickly! Lucky dogs. I want to visit OZ!! Vee and I have date on the beach and now I know I can include Linda in our some-day fun.

Thanks for your comment, Kate. Don't be afraid or give up hope: There are great Mr. Darcy-type fellas out there! Trust me on that. I appreciate your kind words about my novels. I am happy they have made you happy :-)

I completely agree, Maggi! That is why I write the type of story I do. Too bad there are some folks who don't want to read about love and politeness any more than they want to live it! But that is for another essay.

Margay said...

Very thoughtful essay, Sharon! It's hard to say what I like about the Regency. It seems like a more romantic time where people interacted with each other more. I like that the morals were so high because it adds an extra spark to the courtship rituals that are sorely missing today with the advent of the internet. Nothing is left to the imagination - and I really using my imagination!

Margay

Sandra Sookoo said...

I think you're absolutely right. even though the Regency was constrained, people are--bottom line--people and they will react with very real emotions and thoughts :)
Great post
sandra.sookoo@comcast.net

Seli said...

I believe the Regency period is such a romantic period! The styles of dress, the dances, the architecture, the lovely walks and the balls! All which Sharon shares vididly in her stories and characters. Great interview Sharon and your new book In
The Arms of Mr. Darcy has everything Romance, relationships, love, disappointments, misunderstandings and everyday life - Great Story!

Sharon Lathan said...

Thank you, Margay. I do try to be intelligent now and again amid the laughs and hi-jinx! The Era definitely lends itself to romance. I attended a Regency Soiree last weekend and have to say that playing the part of characters in that day automatically made us all more polite and careful in how we spoke. Of course we had great fun with it and naturally there were the scandalous ladies and dashing rakes!

Hi Sandra. Yes, people are people and nothing is new under the sun, to quote another popular phrase. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Great to "meet" you. :-)

Sharon Lathan said...

Hello my friend Seli! Has your wonderful hubby finished the book yet? I am dying to hear what romantic gesture he will cook up as a result! Like Darcy, he has set the bar high. :-)

Thanks for stopping by. You are very kind.

Meg_Evenstar said...

Don’t ever tell me a person would “never” do such-and-such unless you can prove they can’t do it today!

Truer words have never been spoken. I know from reading primary sources that people are the same today, yesterday, and forever. The scandal was/is in being caught or the "sin" of going public.

M

Seli said...

Hi Sharon, He is reading the book as I type - so far he is glued to it. Lets see what he comes up with after this book LOL He sends his love and he says he loves the way you dedicated the book to your husband. As I look over his shoulder he is on page 67.

Margay said...

Sharon, that sounds like so much fun! Another thing I really like about the Regency is the balls and the dancing!
Margay

Maggie Dove said...

Great essay, Sharon! Love the period, love the etiquette and enjoy being lost in one of these books!

Linda Banche said...

Sharon, as much as I'm sure Australia is a great place, the blog is there, but I'm not. I'm in New England, where the trees are now turning color in fall. We'll truly a world-wide community!

Sharon Lathan said...

Hey Meg! How are ya?! Thanks for visiting.

I was at a Persuasion discussion not too long ago and as we were chatting about the movie versions one of the ladies responded to the Anne-running-forever scene of the 2009 movie, "A lady of her class would never run in the street!"

Now, that scene annoys me too, but this very nice lady was utterly serious and utterly appalled by what she adamantly swore was an action a lady would never, under any circumstance do. As if a Regency woman's legs simply did not have the ability to move quickly even if emotion was intense!

I thought that was highly amusing, but bit my lip so we wouldn't go wildly off track in our discussion. LOL! But, IMHO, that attitude is very strange and why JAFF writers frequently encounter "issues" with readers.

Sharon Lathan said...

Seli, I am sure he will rise to the challenge. :-) Give him my love.

Yes, the dancing and balls! I have 2 of them in In The Arms of Mr. Darcy with significant happenings during each. *hint, hint

Thanks Maggie. I hope you enjoy being lost in my books at some point. Thanks for commenting.

Aah, Linda! New England might even be worse for my jealousy! I am hoping to entice the hubby into a wee jaunt about the area next summer for our 25th anniversary. Any must-see recommendations?

Maryrose said...

Hello Sharon! I totally agree with you regarding the Regency period when women were ladies and men were gentlemen, though I believe there were many a "liberal" tpye of woman behind the lace and satin, lol!

Perhaps the reason I love this time period is that there was a much slower pace of life, enjoyment and pleasure in eating a meal...whereas, in todays society we tend to rush through our days to get to the next.

Wonderful post Sharon...thanks!
Mary

Sharon Lathan said...

Yes, Maryrose! That is another great thought. Whether one calls it liberal or modern or whatever, not all women easily or blindly followed the established mores. Even if they did not do anything ultra scandalous, they would have found small ways to buck the system. Jane's novels are filled with characters doing things not 100% "proper".

The slowness is a great point. I always imagine I would be bored stiff. But then that is all they knew. Thanks for the comment.

Svea ~Muse in the Fog said...

Thank you for this post Sharon! I completely agree about the honest politeness between people back then. If only it was a bit like that today; what a shock that would be! I am definitely looking forward to reading this novel :)

Linda Banche said...

From Nancy Mayer, who couldn't get onto the blog to comment:

I would love to see a Regency etiquette book . The book called Regency Etiquette: the Mirror of the Graces is more a book about how to walk, dress, and move than a book of proper manners.
I am one of those who were appalled to see Anne Eliot running in the street without her bonnet on.
I don't have a book that says no lady runs in the street-- but other people of the day make it clear that no well bred lady did so except to save a life or similar emergency. It was a symbolic way to show Anne's emotions in the movie, though. Still, having Anne run down the pavement just is one of the things that show that the director didn't care for Austen.

Nancy Mayer
http://www.susannaives.com/nancyregencyresearcher/

Maggie Dove said...

I just received your beautiful novel in the mail. Thank you so much. I know I'm going to enjoy it tremendously!

Maggie