A Regency Romance with a French Twist

Last fall, I wrote about researching my latest regency romance. Well, this month it is available and I thought I’d give readers an update. My title and cover have been changed. It is now title She Shall Be Praised and the new cover is below.

She Shall Be Praised (from Proverbs 31) is a sequel to my London-set Regency, The Rogue’s Redemption.  In Book 2 of The Leighton Sisters series, Katie Leighton, younger sister of Hester Leighton from The Rogue’s Redemption, travels to Paris with Hester and her husband, Gerrit Hawkes.

L'Hôtel_national_des_Invalides
L’Hotel National des Invalides, Wikipedia

Paris has been liberated from Napoleon by the British and other allied countries, so tourists are once again traveling from England to the Continent. Katie, who travels from America (Maine), meets a young French veteran who fought at Waterloo against the British. Among the narrow medieval street of Paris and the monuments like Notre Dame, Katie finds herself more interested in visiting the blind, cripple veteran at Les Invalides, a hospital and old-age home for veterans.

I love France and all things French, from the food to the art. It was interesting to research this period, when the horrors of the French Revolution and the years of wars under Napoleon have brought about the restored monarchy. But along with the new king, comes a wave of reactionary politics as the aristocrats come back from their emigration during the Reign of Terror, wanting to have their place in society restored. They want things back the way they used to be. But too many people have tasted the freedom under the civil government of Napoleon, so there is a clash of old school vs. new.

The land has been devastated by years of war, so France has missed out on the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution and the prosperity it has brought to Britain. And yet, during this time of the Restoration, people continue to live their lives.

Katie Leighton, my “beauty” in this beauty and the beast tale, doesn’t consider herself a beauty, but a plain Jane. Etienne Santerre, my “beast” hides under both an assumed name and behind the thick walls of Les Invalides, a virtual prisoner of his evil valet, Pierre. There is a mystery surrounding Etienne’s background, which Katie senses, but which Etienne is silent on. In the meantime, she is more concerned with his soul. Little by little, her light begins to shine into Etienne’s darkness.

The story takes Etienne from the walls of Les Invalides to the Loire Valley to his ancestral home. There he faces what he has tried to blot out since he landed at Les Invalides, a wounded, crippled soldier. When his life is most at risk, he begins to turn to the God Katie has witnessed to him.

Etienne is a dark hero, sorely in need of Beauty’s touch. She shares her faith with him in her gentle, loving way, until he lets down his defenses and allows the healing power of love to restore all he has lost.RuthAxtell_SheShallBePraised_c

David Roentgen and His Hidden Drawers

Kristi here.

People have always been fascinated by the idea of things that appear to be one thing, but are in reality so much more. Bookcases disguising the entrance to secret passageways, false bottoms in jewelry chests and cabinets, hollowed out books to store your valuables in.

This fascination is nothing new. In the late 1700s a furniture maker name David Roentgen and his father Abraham made some of the most interesting and intricate furniture in existence. It is amazing craftsmanship that cannot be appreciated through a single photo. Check out this video of one of his pieces.

And while at first glance, this game table looks a lot like one you could get today, as this video shows, there’s much more to it than a folding top.

Even something as seemingly simple as a roll-top desk got his special touch.

But that’s nothing compared to some of his other desks which held enough drawers to make even the most organized individual forget where they’d but things.

RoetgenDesk

What do you think? Do you have transforming furniture in your house? Would you like having something this intricate?

 

Interesting Facts about the Prince Regent

Susan here — let’s take a light look at the Prince Regent — the namesake of our beloved Regency period. Born in 1762, died 1830, King George the 4th (Prince Regent) was one of 15 children. The oldest son of King George the 3rd, he did not follow his father’s conservative ways. He was Prince Regent from 1811 to 1920, and then king for ten years.

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Age he “left home”: 18

Favorite vacation spot: Brighton

Age at ascension to the Regency: 49

Age at ascension to the throne: 57

Number of concurrent marriages: 2 (Maria Fitzherbert, Caroline of Brunswick)

hated: flat roofs

Took unjust credit for: British victory in Spain, and the overthrow of Napoleon

Was firmly convinced that: he fought in the Battle of Waterloo

Favorite authors: Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott

Famous book dedicated to him: Emma, by Austen

Waist measurement: 50″ (1824)

Health problems: gout, arteriosclerosis, dropsy, and possibly porphyria

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Information about George the 4th (the Prince Regent) is accessible and understandable. I recommend a brief study of his life to better frame your Regency knowledge.

Who’s your favorite historical figure of the Regency?

 

 

I’ve Got a Headache… Now What? ~ A Look at Regency Pain Medicine

Kristi here, emerging from my medicine induced stupor to contemplate illness in Regency England. Last January I looked at Regency cures for coughs and colds. Today, my mind is, quite literally, more absorbed with pain.

Anyone who has ever awoken with a stabbing pain in their head has been grateful for a bottle of Tylenol.

Our Regency heroes didn’t have Tylenol.

So how did they manage pain?

For things such as headaches and body aches, there wasn’t much to do but go to bed or perhaps rely on the effects of alcohol. Home remedies such as willow bark tea were around, but not necessarily well known across the country.

Laudanum was prescribed for multiple ailments. But many households had their own version of the medicine, mixing the key ingredient – opium – with a bit of alcohol.

More dramatic medical pain such as broken bones relied on the natural remedy of fainting to save the patient from the excruciating pain. Anesthesia didn’t make an appearance on the medical front until the late 1850s.

If one were lucky enough to be in a place with an ice house, they might numb the injured area with ice, but most of the time, especially during the war, ice wasn’t an option.

While medicine was moving towards many of the medicines we know today, they weren’t available to the public at large, or even known by the majority of physicians and apothecaries.

There are days when I wish we wore beautiful gowns and danced at social gatherings, but today I’m more than happy to live in the 21st century where I can take a long, hot shower, pop a Tylenol, and get on with my day.

Where did that word come from?

Kristi here. If you’ve ever hung around young children, you’ve heard the word “why”. Kids love to know why you’re doing whatever you’re doing (usually at times when you really don’t want to explain it). They want to know why they have to go to bed, why they have to eat their vegetables, and why you never give Caillou as an option to watch on TV even though the whiny little guy is right there on the screen.

Okay, maybe that last one is just me.

But I have one kid who is constantly asking about words. Why do we call that an elephant, where did the word elastic come from, who decided to call it ice cream.

It all means I’ve started looking up the eymology of words and it’s really interesting. So today I’m looking up some words frequently seen in Regency romances to see where and when those words became the words we know today.

The Titles

Dukedoms appeared in England in the mid-1300s, ousting earl as the highest rank of nobility. The word Duke traces all the way back to latin origination from dux or ducis which means leader or commander.

The ousted earl had been hanging around England for 300 years before the dukes came along. While there is an old English word, eorl, that means brave man, warrior, chief, the origination of that word is uncertain. It is possibly of Germanic descent.

Marquess or Marquis was blatantly lifted from the French, though its usage was quite spotty from the late 1300s until the 1500s. In French the word means ruler of a border area, taken from the Old French word marche meaning frontier.

Society

Social gatherings and interactions are significant in Regency novels. The word society itself traces back to the Latin word societatem. It has always meant fellowship, association, and community.

More specific meanings for the word, such as a group or club, began in the 16th century. Often in Regency books the word is used to mean “the more cultivated part of a community”. This usage was first recorded in 1823, making it a very “modern” usage of the word for our characters.

The Parties

Looking up the etymology of the word ball will send you in a lot of directions. Using the word to refer to a “dancing party” began in the early 1600s. It traces back to Old French, Latin, and Greek words that mean “to dance”.

Soiree, or “evening party” was another English word lifted directly from the French. It, too, goes back to the Latin word. Sero meant “at a late hour”.

The word party has long meant to divide or separate. Usages of the word in this way date back to the 12th century, particularly in reference to politics. It’s usage as a term meaning “a gathering for social pleasure” isn’t until the early 18th century.

Debutante

Probably the happiest discovery I made while writing this article was the origination of the word debutante. I had heard that the word debutante was not used in the Regency, but was instead a more Victorian term, making its appearance in the 1830s.

According to several sources, the word debutante was actually early 1800s. Some place it as early as 1801, though several place it in 1817.

Look up your own

Head on over to etymonline.com and look up your favorite Regency word. Describe it’s origination in the comments below.

And if anyone has any idea how they came up with the words for Latin, let me know, because all the etymology seems to stop there.

This is the Way We Wash Our Clothes… Or Is It? Laundry in Regency England

Kristi here. One of the worst things about taking a long trip is the amount of laundry you have to do when you return. As annoying as I find the chore, at least I get to walk away after throwing the clothes in the washer.

No such luck for the Regency era laundress.

WashingMachinePrior to the 19th century, laundry had pretty much been done the same way. Soak it, boil it, beat it with a rock. No wonder they wore their clothes dirty.

Thank God for the beginnings of the industrial revolution and all those crafty souls that saw a chance to make money by making laundry easier. They crated the forerunners to the oh-so-convenient machine I have today.

Some of the earliest advertisements for washing machines are from England in the 1790s. It was basically a barrel with a crank that would turn the paddles in the barrel, agitating the clothes in the water. Still a lot of work, but you could clean more than one or two garments at a time. The arrangement of the paddles allowed for more efficient washing as well, requiring less lye, less hot water, and less brutality.

Good news for the wearers of delicate muslin dresses.

Clothes were still hung or laid out to dry as an effective dryer was still a few years away.

Do you still do any of your washing by hand? Do you use a clothesline?

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

Pelisses, Spencers, and Redingotes, Oh my!

Our question page is open! If you have a question about the Regency era or a book set in the Regency, let us know! We’ll do our best to answer. Like this question:

Women never just wear a coat in Regency books. What is the difference between a pelisse and a spencer jacket?

There were three types of jackets for females in Regency England. The redingote, pelisse, and spencer.

The Bennet Sisters
Spencer jackets worn by the Jane and Elizabeth Bennet in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice.

The Spencer Jacket

Spencer jackets were short and followed the bodice lines of the dress. These were inspired by the tailless men’s top coats of the late 18th century. The men’s coat were believed to come into fashion after the Earl of Spencer singed the tails on his coat and had them trimmed off. Hence the name Spencer Jacket.

Pelisse from 1811, notice how the closures run all the way down the garment
Pelisse from 1811, notice how the closures run all the way down the garment

The Pelisse

Pelisses also followed the line of the dress, but they went much longer. When completely buttoned, the pelisse could hide all but the hem of the dress underneath. It was almost like wearing an entire second dress which would be necessary during colder time periods because the women’s dresses were very thin.

A Regency redingote where the fastenings are only over the bodice.
A Regency redingote where the fastenings are only over the bodice.

The Redingote

Similar to the pelisse, the redingote is long. However, it does not close completely in the front. As the Regency faded and skirts began to widen and grow, the Redingote became a favored outer garment because it revealed the dress beneath and didn’t have to close over an enlarged skirt.

 

 

Visit our question page to tell us what you’d like to know about Regency England.

What’s your favorite style of jacket?

What does it mean when an estate is “entailed”?

Pride and Prejudice, Downton Abbey, and countless other period pieces use an entailed estate as a key plot element.

But what is an entailed estate?

Simply stated, an entailment meant that the estate had to be inherited by a male. For example, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet had five daughters. No sons. Therefore the estate passed to the closest male heir.

(For more on finding the closest male heir, look at this post.)

In order for an estate to be entailed, one of two scenarios had to happen.

SCENARIO ONE

The possessor of the land didn’t own the property outright. Many years prior, an ancestor of his had been granted the ability to live on it as if it were his own, but since he didn’t own it, he couldn’t will it to whomever he wished.

This granting of land had restrictions on transfer. There were several types of restrictions that could have been placed on the land. Sometimes it was stated that it could only pass to his biological children. Other times, as in the case of P&P and Downton Abbey it was restricted to male biological heirs.

With enough time and money, this could be avoided through legal loopholes that had become common practice by the Regency.

SCENARIO TWO

The property is owned outright, but the somewhere down the line, the estate had been willed as a “life estate”. This meant the male heir had ownership for his lifetime, but he couldn’t sell it because once he was dead, it was already willed to his next male heir.

This is likely the type of scenario that causes problems for our Regency heros and heroines because it was very difficult to get around.

So not all land was entailed and not all land had to go to the first male heir. If there were no restrictions and a man (or woman) owned the property outright, they could will it to whomever they wished whether son, daughter, brother, cousin, or servant.

Got a question you’d like us to answer? Check out our new questions page to submit it. 

 

What’s the Deal with Almack’s? by Susan Karsten

An exclusive venue, in the true meaning of the word “exclusive” (as in exclude!), Almack’s required membership fees (called subscriptions) and had a powerful doorkeeper.

Lady Jersey, a famous Almack's Patroness, via Wikimedia Commons
Lady Jersey, a famous Almack’s Patroness, via Wikimedia Commons

A committee of high-born ladies, known as patronesses, further added to the exclusivity factor. They controlled access to tickets and, therefore, who could enter the prized environs.

Though it cost money to get in, money alone didn’t guarantee entry, nor did birth status. Other factors considered were: wit, beauty, careful dressing, being a good dancer, or simply having good taste might tip the scales in your favor.

The despotic patronesses held weekly meetings to select attendees. Once “in”, there were still strict rules which had to be followed, or you risked being turned away. You must arrive on time, properly dressed.

Interior of Almack's via Wikimedia Commons
Interior of Almack’s via Wikimedia Commons

Six or seven patronesses ran Almack’s. Lady Jersey, daughter and wife of earls, was a chatterbox heiress, strictly maintained the cachet of the club. Lady Sefton, married to an earl, considered more amiable, was a renowned society hostess in her own right. Lady Cowper, know for her with, tact and affability, was known to smooth over quarrels. Formidable Lady Castlereagh, Icy Mrs. Drummond-Burrell, ruthless Countess Lieven, and spiteful Princess Esterhazy round out the committee.

It almost makes one not want to even try to gain entrance. Do you think you’d have made the cut? (fantasy here!)