Sunday, November 27, 2011

Facts and Helpful Hints from the Regency Era

 Regency intrigue novella, LOVE AND WAR is now priced at 0.99c on

The Fashions
Regency gowns were influenced by the Napoleonic era, and were Classical in style. By 1816 waists were at their highest under the bust, gradually dropping until the 1830s, when they took on the style of the Victorian era, as sleeves and skirts became fuller.
The Architecture
Neo-Classical Houses were influenced by Classical Greek and Roman architecture

Stourhead, Wiltshire
Italian Renaissance
Deepdene, Surrey rebuilt in 1769-75 for Charles Howard 10th Duke of Norfolk. drew inspiration from the Palladian style of Classical architecture in the Renaissance era. 
During the 16th Century, Venetian architect, Andrea Palladio was most influenced by the Ancient Greek and Roman’s classical temple architecture. In 17th Century Europe, Palladio's interpretation of this classical architecture was adapted as the style known as Palladianism. It continued to develop until the end of the 18th century. The style influenced many of the great houses of Britain. Its Doric columns, pediments, symmetry and proportions are clearly evident in the design of many modern buildings today.

Inigo Jones was the designer of the Queen’s House, Greenwich, begun in 1616, the first English Palladian house.
                                                   The Interiors and the gardens
Stourhead library.
View of The Turf bridge from the Grotto at Stourhead

Helpful hints:

The Mirror of Graces (1811) By A Lady of Distinction
A Wash to give Lustre to the Face
Infuse wheat-bran well-sifted, for three or four hours in white wine vinegar; add to it five yolks of eggs and a grain or two of ambergris, and distil the whole. When the bottle is carefully corked, keep it for 12 or 15 days before you make use of it. 

Carriage and Demeanour
'Many of the naturally most pleasing parts of the female shape have I seen assume an appearance absolutely disgusting; and all from an outre air, vulgar manners, or hoydenish postures. The bosom, which should be prominent, by a lounging attitude sinks into slovenly flatness, rounding the back and projection the shoulders!'
The Waltz.
'But with regard to the lately-introduced German waltz, I cannot speak so favourably. I must agree with Goethe, when writing of the national dance of his country, "that none but husbands and wives can with any propriety be partners in the waltz.'

Selena couldn't accuse him of paying her Spanish coin! Gyles Devereux made it clear he had no wish to marry at all but was constrained by his circumstances. She could not be expected to keep refusing Lord Devereux, she thought crossly. She was only flesh and blood after all. What woman on earth could resist the pleas of a man such as Devereux?  

At her sister, Anne's, insistence Selena found herself at the Upper Assembly rooms in Bath again the first Monday of the following month. It was crowded and she danced every
dance, but when she settled among the potted palms with a glass of detestable Madeira that a young man had brought her, she admitted to herself she was bored to distraction.
Her friend and companion on these occasions, Elsbeth, was away nursing a sick relative and Selena had never been very good at small talk with bare acquaintances. She loved to
plunge into a brisk, political debate with someone of an opposite view, or discuss the latest news of the Duke of Wellington's exploits in Spain, when news finally reached them. She liked to be busy, washing the dogs or riding in the park, and was also quite content to spend an afternoon reading a book that pushed the boundaries of her knowledge. But to sit here and simper and curtsy and dance one interminable dance after another was a bore.
She was pondering the possibilities of declaring a headache and retiring early, when a voice above her said, "Well, if it isn't Miss Selena Wakefield."
She knew that deep, amused voice before she looked up. She could scarcely raise her head as her heart began to beat unnaturally fast.
"Lord Devereux," he said unnecessarily, as he bowed over her hand.
"I may not be in the first flush of youth, Lord Devereux, but there's nothing wrong with my eyes or my memory."
"Indeed. You are remarkably well preserved. Not a gray hair to be seen, for what, three
and twenty?"
"Last Tuesday."
"Then please accept belated birthday wishes. May I join you?"
He sat next to her on the small settee, his proximity making her heart beat faster. "I didn't
know you liked Madeira."
"I don't."
"Allow me to get you a glass of wine." He gestured to a waiter.
"I would be grateful, thank you."
He fixed her with a blue-eyed stare. "You are looking well."
"Thank you. And so do you." She wished her heart would slow a little from its relentless
pounding. He wore his golden hair long, tied with a black, velvet ribbon, while other men
wore theirs short and carefully windswept. It was like him to defy the popular mode of dress. His black coat of superfine needed no padding at the shoulder, fitting tightly around his
slim waist. His waistcoat was also black, as were his satin breeches. His cravat pin was his only adornment. He stood out in a crowd of glittering jaybirds, a blond devil, no doubt
secure in the knowledge that women would fall under his spell. Realizing she was also on dangerous ground, Selena steeled herself to remain indifferent to his charms, but her
heart didn't seem to be listening.
"I don't like that pasty color on you, though," he said. "It's quite the wrong green for you."
She drew a sharp breath as she smoothed the skirt of her white muslin gown, woven and trimmed with pale green.
"I'm sorry, but you know I'm inclined to blunt speaking," he confessed, not looking the slightest bit sorry. "You should wear a green that matches your eyes." He touched the emerald pin glowing among the folds of his white cravat.
"This green would be perfect."
"I am as yet unmarried, Lord Devereux," she managed to splutter.
"Oh right. Insipid colors for the virginal," he said. A wicked gleam came into his eyes. "I have an excellent plan that will take care of both these problems."
She gasped and looked around. "I refuse to listen to it, Lord Devereux. You are not to be encouraged. You shall ruin my reputation. It doesn't matter about yours. It is already lost."
"Come out onto the terrace where no one will hear us."
"I will most certainly do nothing of the kind!"
He put his hand on her arm. "Curse it, Selena. I will behave myself. I give you my word. I need to talk to you."
Selena looked around. It wouldn't do to be seen shrugging him off. "I shall give you five minutes, but I can't imagine there's anything you want to say to me. We've said it all
They took a turn about the terrace, passing other couples enjoying the mild evening air. Braziers burned in their sconces along the wall. Strains of the Sussex Waltz with flute
and violin floated through the open doorway. Lord Devereux's features, lit by moonlight, were classically handsome, a noble forehead, high cheekbones, a straight nose, and a mouth and
dimpled chin that made a woman weak in the knees. He settled against the balustrade beside her with a casual grace that never seemed to desert him. His heavy-lidded eyes
gazed down into hers. It should have been breathtakingly romantic and for a brief moment, it was.
"Selena, I must marry for money," he said bluntly.
She turned away, feeling he'd grasped her heart and squeezed it.
He reached out and gripped her arm, his fingers burning into the flesh between her glove and capped sleeve. "Don't go yet, Selena. I know I'm too direct. I can't be dishonest with
you. Don't know why."

"That's the nicest thing you've ever said to me," she said dryly.
He gave a brief laugh. Taking her by the shoulders, he searched her face. "I have no
desire to marry. Don't doubt I should make a very poor husband. In my defense, I'll never
consciously be cruel to you, and can offer you a title that goes back to the Norman Conquest. And by way of consolation, I like you."
"And desire my fortune."
He shrugged. "Halcrow Hall is falling into disrepair and its lands lie fallow. My great, great grandfather lost a considerable amount of money when his ships were sunk during England's war against Spain. The family fortunes have been dashed on the rocks ever since. I can't bear to see it happen, Selena."
She drew breath at the fire and passion glowing in his blue eyes. It wasn't for her, but she still found herself helplessly caught up in it. All her resolve and her commonsense failing
her like a fortress falling in battle. "You now intend to devote your life to restoring the mansion and its lands?"
"Yes. I must pay off my father's creditors," he said simply.
"I've sold out of the army, and am now living on borrowed time."
"Why now?"
He shook his head and grinned. "I turned twenty-nine and wanted to live beyond thirty."
"I must say I'm surprised they let you while the war is still raging," she said.
His blue eyes searched hers, for a sign, no doubt, that she wavered.
"Why me? There are other heiresses. Pretty ones."
"I'll be damned if I'll get leg-shackled to a shallow bore or a long-nosed, humorless wench." He opened his eyes wide.
"Or a blue stocking!"
She laughed. "Not all of them, surely."
He shook his head. "I've looked them all over, believe me.
You're the only one I could consider spending any time with."
"Well at least you don't pay me Spanish coin."
He grinned. "And many men do?"
"I have had my fill of suitors. My sister Anne is determined to have me married off before the year is out."
"Then marry me, Selena. Say you will."
She could not be expected to keep refusing him, she thought crossly. She was only flesh and blood after all. What woman on earth could resist the pleas of a man such as
Devereux? The last of the fortifications around her heart gave way.
"We might arrange a marriage of convenience, of sorts, I suppose," she said cautiously. It would certainly get the pesky matchmakers and fortune hunters off her back and
provide her with a home of her own. She refused to consider what her real reason might be, to see his face at breakfast every morning. A thought struck her. Would she be leaving
her tidy, organized life for one of hellish proportions?
"Don't think I'll live with you without the pleasures of the marriage bed," he warned, breaking into her thoughts.
"Oh! Do hush, my lord." Her face grew hot and she glanced around. Another couple stood at the end of the terrace engrossed in their own conversation.
"I wanted to make that plain."
She suppressed a shiver of anticipation as his strong, agile body leaned towards her. She found herself wondering what he looked like naked, the feel of his skin, the muscles and
bones beneath. The tautness of a male body against the softness of hers.
She swallowed. "Then ask me properly." Had she gone mad? This was a recipe for a broken heart if ever there was one.
As Lord Devereux sank down on one knee before her, an exclamation of delight came from the woman at the other end of the terrace.
If only you knew, Selena thought.
"Miss Wakefield, will you do the honor of becoming my wife?" he said in a throbbing accent, making her want to giggle. "I shall cherish you for all the rest of your life. Should
dissipation not carry me off before you," he added wickedly.
"I will. Now please get up," she said, "before we become a spectacle, and have the gossips chattering for months."
He rose and took her by the waist pulling her to him, his musky scent enveloping her. "They will anyway. Let's seal it with a kiss." He brought his mouth down on hers before she
could protest, probing with his tongue and rendering her shocked and breathless.
"Oh! That's so romantic," the lady said to her companion.
Devereux drew away. When she could find her voice, Selena said weakly. "You promised to behave."

Costume in Detail 1730-1930 Nancy Bradfield
England's Lost Houses, Giles Worsley, Aurum
Georgian House Style Ingrid Cranfield David & Charles Ltd. 1997
Louis Hellman Architecture for Beginners 1986.
The Mirror of Graces (1811) By A Lady of Distinction
Images from Wikipedia

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Old, but not out!

A lovely write up about two of my earlier books, Kitty McKenzie and it's sequel. It's so lovely to see when someone enjoys my stories!

Suddenly left as the head of the family, Kitty McKenzie must find her inner strength to keep her family together against the odds. Evicted from their resplendent home in the fashionable part of York after her parents’ deaths, Kitty must fight the legacy of bankruptcy and homelessness to secure a home for her and her siblings.
Through sheer willpower and determination she grabs opportunities with both hands from working on a clothes and rag stall in the market to creating a teashop for the wealthy. Her road to happiness is fraught with obstacles of hardship and despair, but she refuses to let her dream of a better life for her family die. She soon learns that love and loyalty brings its own reward.

Kitty McKenzie path has taken her from the slums of York to the inhospitable bush of colonial Australia. Yet, when she believes her dreams will never be attained, she is shown that sometimes life can be even better than what you wish for.
Kitty McKenzie is gifted land in the far north of New South Wales. Life at the northern property is full of hardships as she learns how to become a successful landowner.
However, Kitty’s strength of will and belief in herself gives her the courage most women of her time never realize they have. A decided thorn in her side is the arrogant and patronizing Miles Grayson, owner of the adjourning run. He wants her gone so he can have her land, but he wants her even more.

Available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon sites.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Guy Fawkes Night

Remember, remember the 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason that gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

The British celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, also called Bonfire Night or Firecracker Night, on the evening on November 5. Compulsory until 1859, Bonfire Night was one of the holidays observed in the Regency.

Guy Fawkes Night marks the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of November 5, 1605. On that night, King James I was present in Parliament when a group of Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, were caught with barrels of gunpowder in the basement of the building.

This foiled attempt to blow up Parliament and assassinate the king was a reaction to the persecution of Catholics under James I.

Anti-Catholic sentiment ran high at the time, and the Gunpowder Plot served to increase a hatred of Catholics that lasted over two hundred years. Parliament passed punitive laws that remained on the books well into Victorian times, although restrictions had eased somewhat by the Regency. For example, in the Regency, Catholics could serve as officers in the Army and Navy, where a hundred years earlier, they could not. They were allowed to attend classes in the universities, but were denied degrees. A Catholic peer could not sit in the House of Lords until 1870.

Festivities include shooting off firecrackers and burning a "guy", an effigy of Guy Fawkes, on a bonfire. Since November 5 coincides with the end of the harvest, Guy Fawkes Day contains some elements of harvest festivals. The firecrackers are probably a reference to gunpowder, but bonfires are a feature of Samhain, the ancient festival celebrated on October 31 and which is the precursor to modern Halloween. As the Samhain bonfires scare away specters and goblins, the burning of the guy symbolizes the defeat of the treachery of the Gunpowder Plot.

Some superstitions remain. One states that Parliament will not open on November 5, although the 1957 session did. And superstitious or not, the Yeoman of the Guard does a traditional search of the Parliament basements in one of the ceremonies before each session begins.

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!
Pictures from wikipedia. Top image is an etching of Guy Fawkes Night on Windsor Commons, 1776