Christmas Regency fiction – Is there any? by Susan Karsten

Hi, all!

When the topic of Christmas and other holidays in regency genre books came up, I merely opened the hutch of my escritoire (regency for desk) and pulled out four collections (see below)

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These are not CBA (inspirational) fiction, but rather ABA (general market, not inspirational, and probably a little racy).

I hope our inspy Regency genre grows to the point where collections like the above will be highly sought-after and we will have a chance to have a chance for our faith-filled novella  to be published in such a collection.

What do you like best about Christmas-set fiction?

Please give an answer in a comment.

Susan Karsten

Titles from my Favorite Regency Writer, by Susan Karsten

Hi, Regency fans! I got into reading regency fiction when my children were young. I needed something enjoyable, light, and clean to have on hand whenever I had a few spare minutes to read.

One day, at my library, I stumbled across a book from the House for the Season series, by Marion Chesney — the rest is history — regency era history. She’s still my favorite regency fiction author, and I only wish she still wrote in the genre. Following is a list of her prolific output (Enjoy!):

 

  • Regency Gold (1980)
  • Lady Margery’s Intrigue (1980)
  • The Constant Companion (1980)
  • Quadrille (1981)
  • My Lords, Ladies and Marjorie (1981)
  • The Ghost and Lady Alice (1982)
  • Love and Lady Lovelace (1982)
  • Duke’s Diamonds (1982)
  • The Flirt (1985)
  • At The Sign of the Golden Pineapple (1987)
  • Miss Davenport’s Christmas (1993)
  • The Chocolate Debutante (1998)

Westerby[edit]

  1. The Westerby Inheritance (1982)
  2. The Westerby Sisters (1982)

The Six Sisters[edit]

  1. Minerva (1983)
  2. The Taming of Annabelle (1983)
  3. Deirdre and Desire (1984)
  4. Daphne (1984)
  5. Diana the Huntress (1985)
  6. Frederica in Fashion (1985)

A House for the Season Series[edit]

  1. The Miser of Mayfair (1986)
  2. Plain Jane (1986)
  3. The Wicked Godmother (1987)
  4. Rake’s Progress (1987)
  5. The Adventuress (1987)
  6. Rainbird’s Revenge (1988)

The School for Manners[edit]

  1. Refining Felicity (1988)
  2. Perfecting Fiona (1989)
  3. Enlightening Delilah (1989)
  4. Finessing Clarissa (1989)
  5. Animating Maria (1990)
  6. Marrying Harriet (1990)

Waverley Women[edit]

  1. The First Rebellion (1989)
  2. Silken Bonds (1989)
  3. The Love Match (1989)

The Travelling Matchmaker[edit]

  1. Emily Goes to Exeter (1990)
  2. Belinda Goes to Bath (1991)
  3. Penelope Goes to Portsmouth (1991)
  4. Beatrice Goes to Brighton (1991)
  5. Deborah Goes to Dover (1992)
  6. Yvonne Goes to York (1992)

Poor relation[edit]

  1. Lady Fortescue Steps Out (1993)
  2. Miss Tonks Turns to Crime (1993) aka Miss Tonks Takes a Risk
  3. Mrs. Budley Falls From Grace (1993)
  4. Sir Philip’s Folly (1993)
  5. Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue (1994)
  6. Back in Society (1994)

The Daughters of Mannerling[edit]

  1. The Banishment (1995)
  2. The Intrigue (1995)
  3. The Deception (1996)
  4. The Folly (1996)
  5. The Romance (1997)
  6. The Homecoming (1997)

PS: This is not Christian fiction, but is pretty clean.

Would love to hear from other Chesney fans in the comments. Fondly, Susan

The Final Frost Fair: What Do You Do When the Thames Freezes Over?

Kristi here. Has your winter been insane? Mine certainly has. In a single week in February, we had an ice/snow storm, a sunny 70 degree afternoon, and even felt the minor tremors of an earthquake. The ice and snow has definitely been the biggest surprise of this winter. Multiple crippling freezes have crossed this country, two reaching deep into the south.

Sail Tents on the ice during the frost fairThe ramifications of cold weather were l to the people of Regency England. 1816 is even famously known as the year without a summer. However, it was 200 years ago in February 1814 that the last of the great Frost Fairs occurred on the great Thames River.

It wasn’t the first time the Thames River froze over. Indeed it happened more than twenty times since 1309. This was, however, the last time. The replacement of London Bridge in 1831 and Victorian addition of the Embankment improved the water flow to the extent that a solid freeze hasn’t happened again and is highly unlikely to do so.

With the city pulled to a halt by the bitter cold and drifting snow, people were drawn to the novelty of solid ice, allowing them to walk and play where boats usually reigned. A thoroughfare of sailing vessels, to the tune of 1500 a day, brought to a halt by Mother Nature.

Among the frivolities included in the 1814 Frost Fair were:

–          An elephant crossing the river, demonstrating the thickness and security of the ice near Blackfriars Bridge.

–          A printing press set up on the ice, churning out commemorative books about the fair

–          Food and drink vendors galore and impromptu bars created with ship sails

–          Fires built right on the ice, with large oxen roasting over them

–          Ice skating, bowling, and every other game or sport imaginable

Everything was not all light and smiles, though.

Frost Fair on the Thames with London Bridge in the background.
Frost Fair on the Thames with London Bridge in the background.

With no way to earn their keep on the river, dock workers and ferrymen took to guarding the stairs and ladders that led to the icy surface, charging people a toll to attend the fair and then collecting a penny again when they wanted to leave. Pickpockets took advantage of all the slipping and sliding and drunken frivolity.

The party lasted four days. When the ice began to crack, it proved fatal for some of the final revelers. It also sent huge chunks of ice floating down the river, crashing into barges and doing thousands of pounds in damage.

Four short days, but they were legendary ones. There’s even a reference in Doctor Who, when The Doctor and River visit it for an ice skating outing (A Good Man Goes to War).  In some ways the fair marked the coming end of an era. As the Regency ended and the Victorian age began, life in England would alter considerably. Transportation, engineering, social habits, and opportunities would all change.

Never again would everything align perfectly to create such a unique experience as the Thames Frost Fair.

Have you had unique experiences with snow and ice this year? Tell us about it in the comments below.

The First Signs of Autumn

Vanessa here,

I stepped out on my porch to a slight breeze. The air kissing my cheek had abandoned all hints of Atlanta’s signature heat. After a summer of mostly Seattle like-weather full of rain or horrid humidity, I looked up to spy rain clouds. Nothing. Only sunshine beamed overhead. I guess summer has passed. It’s autumn’s turn to color my world.

And what colors! Soon reds, yellows, oranges will surround the deep emerald greens of my evergreens.

Fall Leaves Wiki Commons
Fall Leaves Wiki Commons

In Madeline’s Protector, I used the change to warm-coloured, cozy Autumn to contrast the hero and heroine’s chilly relationship.

     If Madeline’s eyes were daggers, she’d be a widow.

“I suppose you won’t show me your hall of Hampshire sculptures.”

Her lovely jade eyes clouded, and she looked away.

He balled up his leather evening gloves. “Pray let’s start over.”

She gazed at her dainty slippers. “Why? Are you afraid to disappoint my father?”

Now that strike hit close to home. “I like to pass tests. That’s what my father impressed upon me.” Justain swallowed a deep breath. “What will it take to restore your opinion?”

She stuck her chin in the air. “To get this visit over as soon as possible.”

He peered through the window. “The leaves are starting to turn. I hope the good folks of this county take the time to admire the colours. The hillside’s striated in three shades of red. This is stunning country, not the moors of Devon, but beautiful.”

“Why are you tormenting me with a place I’ll never see?” She released a heavy sigh. “The tree roots cling to different sections of the steep ridge adding to the variety. Watch the sunset.” She pointed to the clouds. “Sometimes the sky tries to match the hues of autumn.”

Perhaps as the sun came closer to earth, it’d thaw the frost between them. “Magnificent,” he said. It was simply beautiful. “God’s paintbrush, I think you called it.”

I asked my brethren, my fellow Regency writers, what lets them know Autumn has arrived, and they were kind enough to share:

Naomi Rawlings

Trees - Wiki Commons
Trees – Wiki Commons

The first sign of autumn for me is the leaves changing. We almost always have cool
nights and warm days where we live, but it seems as though the leaves start
changing the beginning of September. Right now, half the leaves across the road
are already yellow. School starting is another good indication. In Michigan,
school doesn’t start until after Labor Day . . . right about the time I notice
the first bit of color on the trees.

Personal Note: Why does school start so early? Back in my day….
Susan Karsten

For my family, fall arrives on the heels of an interesting weather phenomenon. Almost every year, there’s a day on which we feel fall arriving. The scenario is this: we’ve had week after week of hot (80s or more) weather, then we’ll have an out of the blue cold/cool day. Sometimes the cool day has come while we are at the lake. On those occasions, we somberly ride around on our boat, feeling summer slip away and remarking on it.

Boating in Autumn Wiki Commons
Boating in Autumn Wiki Commons

For me, individually, fall arrives when I notice crunching leaves underfoot. That takes me back to the days when I walked to and from school, crunching through elm leaves. Other signs around here are the apple orchards opening their salesrooms, the Canada geese assembling at the nearby wetlands, and for my husband’s business, there’s often a flurry of activity in the real estate business around this time.

Apple Orchard - Wiki Commons
Apple Orchard – Wiki Commons

Kristy Cambron

The first sign of fall for me is not Regency
related. I admit that I love a good college football game and when my team takes the field for that first game, autumn is officially here! It’s okay to
break out the sweaters, drink apple cider, and write books where heroines walk through a fiery-skied and leaf-blown twilight! : )

 

 

 

Laurie Alice Eakes

Autumn is one of my favorite times of year. Only one of my books is set over the summer, to autumn time, and they, as I do, look for the way the days cool off sooner and get hot later, especially since I moved to Texas. I love the way the breeze goes from hot, to a hint of coolness. Back in Virginia, the humidity dropped and the smell of the air turned crisp. I haven’t yet noticed a difference in the fragrance to the air here (in Texas).

Kristi Ann Hunter

Happy Birthday Wiki Commons
Happy Birthday Wiki Commons

For me, the first sign of fall is a sense of new beginning. I moved around a lot growing up so when the weather turned cold always changed, but the new start was always there.

Even though I’m out of school there is still a sense of the new year actually starting in September. Could possibly maybe have something to do with my birthday…

 

 

 

Do you love Autumn? Share an Autumn memory with us, then get out and enjoy the colors.

And You Think Your Street Needs Repairs

And You Think Your Street Needs Repairs

To go on holiday, or even to market from farm or country house, the Regency traveler needed to make that journey on what were called roads, yet usually resembled nothing more than rutted tracks. In other words, the roads in Regency England barely managed to qualify for that nomenclature.

Roads were made of stones roughly broken into the size of bricks and laid in a bed of earth. They weren’t crowned (higher in the middle). Imagine the disaster that caused in a wet country like England, especially in the winter. Rain fell. Mud oozed between those stones, and the stones shifted, creating ruts and an unstable surfaces over which horses stumbled and coaches bounced. In many counties such as Cornwall, the roads simply did not exist beyond mere tracks. Around Bristol, the roads became impassible in the winter.

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As a result of these bad roads, coaches often turned over, causing injury and even death to the passengers. Bridges collapsed under the weight of coaches, plunging the occupants and their luggage into the rivers below. And no passenger could count on actually riding the entire journey. Often they had to exit the coach and walk so the horses could haul the vehicle up a muddy or rutted incline. In winter, passengers sometimes froze to death in unheated coaches, as the conveyance slogged through frozen ruts of mud or over ice-slick stone.

Dilapidated bridge photo courtesy of Angela Breidenbach
Dilapidated bridge photo courtesy of Angela Breidenbach

Then Thomas Telford came along. From 1815, to 1829, he improved the road between London and Holyhead at the cost of 1,000.00 pounds per mile. His road was grated with a slope from crown to edge to ensure drainage. Stones about ten inches deep were laid upon this surface. He laid stone chippings atop this layer. Finally, a steam or horse-drawn roller compressed the top layer. The chippings compressed thus locked into a smooth mass.

John Macadam improved on this technique even further. Macadam used hand-broken stones around six ounces apiece to form a thin layer. Traffic itself compressed these angular stones into a smooth surface.  Or, if one still did not wish to travel on the uncertainty of the roads, one could take a canal boat to many locations.

My thanks to the wonderful traditional Regency author Emily Hendrickson (www.emilyhendrickson.net) for allowing me to use much of her research on road conditions and improvements in the Regency.

Similarities Found Between Modern-day Vacations & Regency Vacations ~ by Susan Karsten

In researching what Regency folk did on their trips to vacation towns, I was surprised how well I could relate to what they did. Some of it reminded me of trips to places like Minocqua, Wisconsin.

downtown Minocqua, a popular tourist town in WI

Because when you’re there, staying in a rustic cabin or resort on a nearby lake, you do a lot of the same things that Regency vacationers did. Bored, or having a cloudy day, we go into town and visit: the library, the coffee shop, perhaps a theater’s open somewhere. One might buy clothes (t-shirts nowadays), or hats (caps, visors), or a newspaper.

Sydney Gardens of Bath held a grotto, a falls, a ruined castle, an echo and a labyrinth.

Active people took walks, made rendezvous, picnics, tours, visited waterfalls, paid to enter local attractions, went to dances and concerts, and out to breakfast. I’ve done all those activities on vacation.

It would seem our vacations aren’t as completely different as we may have thought.

What’s your favorite vacation activity? Do you go to resort/vacation communities?

Spring at Kew Gardens

Peony cluster Spring is bulb season at Kew. From the carpets of the small, blue, bell-like squill to the tall straight tulips with their simple form, there are bright primary colors everywhere.

What was it like in regency times?

outside my writing windowRhododendron Dell, originally known as the Hollow Walk, was formed at the edge of the Thames out of its flood plain. Famous landscaper Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown designed it in 1773 in the shape of a horseshoe and planted hundreds of mountain laurels along it, which gave it the nickname of Laurel Walk.

 

Kew_Palace

The Dutch House, or the royal palace with its Dutch architectural style, doubtless had many flower gardens enjoyed by the royal family who frequently stayed there. In springtime, tulips, narcissus, squill, and hyacinths were popular bulbs. Since the tulip craze in the Netherlands in the 17th century, the hyacinth, also originating from Turkey in the 1500s, became very popular to cultivate in the 18th century and regency England.

Mora & Ruth with Peonies

 

 

 

I’ve included some photos of my own garden flowers to give you an idea of what visitors to the royal gardens at Kew might enjoy in the early 1800s. garden photos 0072010 garden 002IMG_3442IMG_3441

This Winter, I Resolve to Promote Regency Fiction, by Susan Karsten

Winter is a season for hunkering down with a good book … at least where I live, in Wisconsin. Having discovered the joys of a good Regency romance, I want to share the joy I have found. Promoting the genre can be done in some simple ways.

1. When having a book chat with friends who are also inveterate readers, be sure to give them a few titles of the very best Regencies you can think of. If they are on the lookout for a good read (and who isn’t?), perhaps they will take your suggestion and thereby find a new love.

2. Mention to your friends who are Christians, that many Regencies are relatively clean and educational. Guide them to some reliable non-smutty titles or authors.

3. Share this blog on your facebook page. You never know whose curiosity will be piqued. They may initially check it out to see what their fb friend is into, and then check out the genre themselves.

4. Post on Facebook about the latest Regency you are reading.

Do you have an idea or two to share? Favorite Regency romances to recommend? Also, would love to read comments about success introducing Regency fiction to others.

Love, Joy & Peace to you, Susan

How Do You Handle the Winter Blues?

Depending on what part of the country you live in (if you live in the United States) your winter is either much colder than normal or nearly non-existent – looking much more like spring than winter. We have a long way to go before the weather officially turns the corner and anything could happen in the coming months – including lots of snow and dropping temperatures.

So how do your Regency Reflections authors handle the winter blues?

Ruth Axtell:

Embrace them.

With temps dipping into the single digits these last couple of weeks in Maine, and getting lots of snow, I just tell myself it’s good writing weather, since there is little temptation to go outside. I feel like I’m hibernating, getting a manuscript done and now editing.

Naomi Rawlings:

ice fishing
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

I agree with Ruth. Embrace winter rather than dread it. First, snowy days make for excellent writing and putz-around-the-house days. There’s something wonderfully nostalgic to curling up in front of the fire with a book and a mug of hot chocolate while snow falls outside. And then there’s all the outside things you can do. Rent a snowmobile for a day trip, go skating, sledding, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, show shoeing, or ice fishing. (Fish caught through ice is way better than fish caught when the weather is warm. I have no idea why, but I swear it’s true.)

I really think there are two ways to beat the Winter Blues. 1.) Take a break and be thankful for the slower pace that snowy days offer, or 2.) Get courageous. Bundle up, go outside, and try a new winter sport. I live on the southern shore of Lake Superior, where we get 150-200 inches of snow per year, our winters run six months long, and our trees don’t get leaves until June. People who live in this area well understand that winter doesn’t have to be boring. It can be just as fun as summer, sometimes even more so.

Laurie Alice Eakes

Um, I live in Texas–we don’t have winter blues. They consider this 40s-50s weather we’ve been having excessively cold for January, but I think it’s heavenly.

Snowman on frozen lake
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Kristy Cambron

I live in an area of the country where we have pretty defined weather for each season, so I actually enjoy winter! It just means that before we know it, the sunnier days of spring will be on the way. Winter is also a fantastic season for writers. I haven’t met one yet that wouldn’t love the extra time to snuggle in a warm house as the snow falls and plot that next novel – with a cup of steaming hot chocolate, of course!

Kristi Ann Hunter

I tend to ignore them, I suppose. With children in school and a regular calendar full of church activities, there would have to be a fairly significant amount of fresh snow/ice to make me adjust my schedule.

When that does happen, we of course go play in it. Then we thaw out in front of a movie, huddled together under blankets. There’s something about the forced weather break that makes us want to be together as a family. It feels like a stolen moment.

Hot Chocolate
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Susan Karsten

During the winter, I drink more hot liquids, such as tea, coffee, and hot chocolate than I do in the summer. I still jog/run, but often veer out into the street when people haven’t shoveled their sidewalks. This is the time of year my family attends more concerts, plays, conferences and the like, as opposed to summer, when everything’s about “The Lake”.

 

What about you? How do you handle winter?

Interesting Apparel? How the Women of the Regency Rose Above it All

For the most part, Great Britain is a soggy place. Surrounded by water, rain is almost a way of life there. But what about snow; now that is an entirely different matter! Snow is much more unlikely even though many of my favorite Regencies are set in a country house at Christmas smothered in snow, giving the hero and heroine plenty of time to flirt, argue, ignore and fall in love with each other.

I am hoping that one of my next stories might be a Christmas Regency, so I decided to research winter apparel. I specifically remember that in these lovely stories, when they ventured out in the snow to get the Yule log, invariably we are told that the ladies rushed to get their pattens. I never really thought much about pattens, assuming it was a sort of a rubber overshoe that would fit over a sturdy walking boot to protect it from ruination, much like our mothers used to wear. Wow, was I wrong!

Picture #1

These my friends are pattens; and they weren’t for snow at all!

This pair is made of flat metal rings which made contact with the ground and the ring was attached to a metal plate nailed into the wooden sole. Can you imagine trying to keep your balance while wearing such things?

And when worn on stone floors they made such loud clatter that churches made ladies remove them when they entered. Many churches banned them altogether!

Jane Austen herself wrote of the “ceaseless clink of pattens” when referring to life in Bath; as we know being a perpetually rainy and damp part of England.

Picture #2They were clumsy platforms that raised the shoe a few inches from the ground to protect the hem of a gown and they were used by men as well as women, in the country on muddy, rutted lanes and in London when walking on horse infested pavement.

 

 

Picture #3Pattens date back to the 14th century. Only the rich would have been able to afford these porcelain china pattens worn to protect their long and ornate robes.

 

 

Picture #4These are huge pattens worn by Turkish women in 1738.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture #5

 

In the 17th century when ladies shoes were commonly made with an upper of figured silk or brocade that almost any venture out necessitated the use of this patten to protect the shoe as well as the hem of the gown. This is how the shoes fit into them and the metal ring would have been attached to the wooden platform under the shoe.

 

Picture #6By the 18th and 19th centuries, men’s shoes had thicker soles, hemlines rose, and as roadways and transportation improved pattens were abandoned by the ladies as well and were worn only by the working class men and women as they went about their duties.

In “A Memoir of Jane Austen,” James Edward Austen Leigh wrote about his aunts Cassandra and Jane:

The other peculiarity was that when the roads were dirty the sisters took long walks in pattens. This defense against wet and dirt is now seldom seen. The few that remain are banished from good society and employed only in menial work…

So, the next time you read about the ladies donning their pattens to venture out of doors, I dare you not to smile as you picture it!

The Woodlanders

Arrived at the entrance to a long flat lane, which had taken the spirit out of many a pedestrian in times when, with the majority, to travel meant to walk, he saw before him the trim figure of a young woman in pattens, journeying with that steadfast concentration which means purpose and not pleasure. He was soon near enough to see that she was Marty South. Click, click, click went the pattens; and she did not turn her head.

She had, however, become aware before this that the driver of the approaching gig was Giles. She had shrunk from being overtaken by him thus; but as it was inevitable, she had braced herself up for his inspection by closing her lips so as to make her mouth quite unemotional, and by throwing an additional firmness into her tread.

“Why do you wear pattens, Marty? The turnpike is clean enough, although the lanes are muddy.”

“They save my boots.”

“But twelve miles in pattens–’twill twist your feet off. Come, get up and ride with me.”

She hesitated, removed her pattens, knocked the gravel out of them against the wheel, and mounted in front of the nodding specimen apple-tree….

Thomas Hardy

She lost her pattens in the muck
& Roger in his mind
Considered her misfortune luck
To show her he was kind
He over hitops fetched it out
& cleaned it for her foot…

From the Middle Period Poems of John Clare (1820s)