Category: History

Kombucha Tea and the Scandalous Violin with Camille Elliot author of Prelude for a Lord

Vanessa here,

I have the pleasure of welcoming one of our own, Camy Tang, to my southern porch. Camy, you are here on a very good day the humidity has dissipated, and I think I feel a breeze. So let’s get into this wonderful new book, Prelude for a Lord.PreludeCover

Tell me about the heroine, Alethea Sutherton. Some have told me she’s awkward and scandalous. Now that is an accomplishment.

Lady Alethea has felt alone and unloved for most of her life except for two people, her half-sister and her neighbor, Lady Arkright. After her sister is forced to move away and Lady Arkright dies, Alethea feels adrift. Her music is her solace, but because musical circles and instruction is limited in England, she is determined to find a way to move to Italy, where she can play and learn the violin without censure.

Wanting to travel doesn’t sound too scandalous. Can you tell me more of why she feels censured?

In Regency England, however, the violin is considered an inappropriate instrument for a lady.

Really? Mental note: Get my daughter back to the pianoforte, no violin. Oh, go on Camy and tell me more. I’ll get you another cup of Kombucha tea, unless that is also too scandalous.

It wasn鈥檛 until I started researching violin players in the Georgian and Regency era that I discovered that most Englishmen considered women playing the violin as incredibly unladylike because it raised the arms above her head and exposed her armpits. Can you believe that??? That鈥檚 why the pianoforte and the floor harp were considered ladylike instruments, because a woman鈥檚 arms never rose too high up. There was a child prodigy violinist who played in England a few years after the Regency era who was absolutely brilliant, but she ran into criticisms that her choice of instrument was scandalous.

So, given that the violin was scandalous, of course I had to write about a woman who played it. 馃檪

Ok, it’s hero time. Tell me about Lord Dommick. Is he tall, dark and handsome?

Lord Dommick is incredibly loyal and loving to his mother and sister. He is also brilliant as a musician, but like most people during that time period, his views of women musicians are limited to pianoforte and harp players and singers. He considers Lady Alethea scandalous, which is what he needs to avoid after his ex-fiance destroyed his reputation after he returned emotionally scarred from war. He needs to repair his reputation in order to assure his sister鈥檚 comeout in London in the spring.

His love for his sister drives his concern for his reputation, but it also blinds him to how he is trying to solve everything on his own. His faith is just a byword and doesn鈥檛 impact his daily life until he has nothing left to depend upon.

But is he handsome? Can get a cute and brooding?

Yes, and he is brooding.

Okay, brooding can go a long way. Camy Tang books are known for high-kick bottom action, what drew you to the Regency.camywebcopy

I have been reading Regency romances since I was 13 years old, and I鈥檝e read hundreds if not thousands of them since. I got them mostly from garage sales or thrift stores or eBay auctions. Nowadays, I buy them on ebook. 馃檪 I even read some Regency research books just for fun (!!!) but never seriously considered writing one until my editor at Zondervan (and a fellow Regency romance lover) dared me to write one.

 

I actually got this idea about a recluse musician many years ago, but never thought about writing it until I was coming up with the plot for Prelude for a Lord. I had a scene in my head where the hero plays with the heroine for the first time, and it鈥檚 magical. They both discover things about the other during that rehearsal time. My story pretty much started from that one scene and then the other characters and the mysterious violin appeared.

No wonder your love of the Regency has led to the development of Camille Elliot. If you ever see me writing chocolate jingles, just buy the bars and say nothing. It will be our secret. Seriously, I think it’s wonderful for a passion to come to life, to be birthed from things that touch our hearts. I know you impart pieces of your journey into your characters. How did your Christian Walk affect Lady Althea and Lord Dommick?

My characters almost always have a spiritual arc that is born from my own spiritual struggles. In Protection for Hire, my romantic suspense, I wrote about my own experiences when I had first become a Christian in college and was struggling with how to move forward in newness in Christ after all the terrible things I鈥檇 done in my life. In Prelude for a Lord, the heroine feels incredibly alone because of the things in her past that have shaped her, which mirrors how I felt for many years before I became a Christian. Even now, I struggle to remember the truth that God loves me incredibly deeply and He has never left me alone.

That is a great message everyone needs to read and feel. I am realizing many miss this. Hopefully, books like Prelude to a Lord will help. Is Prelude to a Lord a series? You know Sonata to a Sultan, Treble with an Earl, well you get my question.

Yes, I hope to write 3 other books about Dommick鈥檚 friends. 馃檪 I鈥檓 not sure yet if the other books in the series will be contracted by Zondervan, but if not, I鈥檒l definitely self-publish them. If the series is contracted by Zondervan, I鈥檒l also write another Regency series to self-publish in between the times my Zondervan books come out so that there isn鈥檛 so much time between releases. As a reader myself, I know I hate it when an author鈥檚 books are spaced too far apart!

Well Camy (Camille Elliot), thanks for stopping by and braving my pot of Kombucha. Camy will be have giveaways and other exciting things for the release of this book, but you have to tune into her newsletter for details. Go to her websites:

http://www.camytang.com/

http://www.camilleelliot.com/

Camy writes Christian romantic suspense as Camy Tang and Regency romance under her pen name, Camille Elliot. She grew up in Hawaii but now lives in northern California with her engineer husband and rambunctious dog. She graduated from Stanford University in psychology with a focus on biology, and for nine years she worked as a biologist researcher. Then God guided her path in a completely different direction and now she鈥檚 writing full time, using her original psychology degree as she creates the characters in her novels. In her free time, she鈥檚 a staff worker for her church youth group and leads one of her church鈥檚 Sunday worship teams. She also loves to knit, spin wool into yarn, and is training to (very slowly) run a marathon.

Originally posted 2014-08-14 09:00:00.

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!)

Originally posted 2014-08-07 10:00:00.

To See and Be Seen ~ Regency’s Rotten Row

When I was a teenager, I spent hours strolling the wide halls of the mall, perusing the CD stores and the Hello Kitty paraphernalia in Hallmark. Then I got a job there and聽got to watch parades of teens do the nightly mating dance around the three layered fountain.

Regency England didn’t have a three story monolith of retail opportunities, but they did have a wide lane where the elite of London’s society went to see and be seen.

Rotten Row today via Wikimedia Commons
Rotten Row today via Wikimedia Commons

Running for one and quarter miles across the lower edge of Hyde Park, Rotten Row gave the聽Beau Monde a parade ground of epic proportions. The bridal path was covered in a mixture of gravel to support carriage wheels and a soft bark mixture called tan to protect a horse’s legs. It was wide enough for three carriages to ride abreast of each other down the path.

In the mornings, the path was one of the few places in London where horses could be exercised or ridden at a fast pace. It was the domain of grooms and ladies and gentlemen who wished to let the horses go for a good run.

The entrance to Rotten Row from an 1804 drawing, via Wikimedia Commons
The entrance to Rotten Row from an 1804 drawing, via Wikimedia Commons

But come evening, from around 4 in the afternoon until 7 or 8, riders and drivers were expected to maintain a sedate pace so that people could admire each other’s horseflesh, finery, or their latest romantic attachment.

All the riders and carriages in the park were owned by the well-to-do since hired hacks were not allowed within the walls of Hyde Park. Some people took this to extreme, buying and personalizing fancy carriages, which they then paired with horses that coordinated or even matched their rigs.

Should someone wish to participate in the parade without a horse or carriage, walking paths lined each side of the bridal path. More common folk could often be found along here as well, though, treating the parade of聽ton member as a form of entertainment or celebrity watching.

With the decline of the local mall in most areas, where have you found people go to see and be seen these days?

 

Originally posted 2014-08-04 05:00:00.

Regency Best Dressed List ~ What would you wear?

Kristi here. It’s no secret that part of the Regency era’s appeal is the clothes. Fancy and glamorous,聽yet relatable with it’s lack of hoop skirts and horse hair bustles.聽I’m going to the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference in September and one of the events is a dinner where everyone is invited to dress up as one of their characters.

I don’t have a Regency era dress. I’m seriously considering making one (with the help of my considerably more sewing skilled mother). If I do it will probably be a fairly simple cotton one, not a fancy ballgown. But if I were to dream, what kind of Regency dress would I want?

MorningGownRuffleFirst off, it would definitely be an evening dress. The ruffles around the neck and face that often accompany morning dresses would drive me insane.

Second, I’d want some color. I have no desire to look like a ghost walking around in an all white gown. I’d stay away from the lavenders and purples, since those indicated a state of half-mourning. Red would be a bit garish, though the Hubs always likes me in it. I think I’d lean to the blues or greens. I see more blue in Ackerman’s prints than green, so we’ll go with blue.

GauzyEveningDressI think my favorite would be something like this, but with a blue underskirt instead of the pink. ReproductionBlueDress

And guess what? I could actually order a reproduction dress very similar to it… though of course it’s rather expensive. It’s gorgeous though, isn’t it?

PlaidEveningGownOf course, this was all dreamed up before I came across this beauty. One day I’m going to have to write a heroine with the gumption to walk into a ball wearing a plaid evening gown. That is just amazing.

What about you? Do you have a dream Regency outfit?

Originally posted 2014-07-31 10:00:00.

Why is Everyone Standing in the Hall? A post on Regency terminology

As an American, reading books set in England – particularly historical England – could sometimes be confusing. Once I started researching the time period, I realized that certain words had different meanings “across the pond”. So for everyone like me, I’ve put together a list of a few things that used to confuse me. Hope they help!

Hall

Hall is one of those words that seems simple, but has vastly different meanings on each side of the Atlantic. I always wondered why people spent so much time standing around in the hall. Wasn’t it cramped?

Because in America a “hall” is a passageway – usually on the narrow side – that rooms open off of. In Regency England the hall was the area the front door opened into. Similar to an American foyer or vestibule. In large English homes, the hall is a room in an of itself, often a fairly large one since visitors were sometimes required to wait there a while before being admitted further into the house.

Living “in” the street

In Jane Austen’s聽Pride and Prejudice, Jane Bennet mentions that her aunt and uncle live聽in Grace Church Street. In American English, that implies Grace Church Street is neighborhood or even an apartment building or some other such collection of living spaces.

What is actually means is that her aunt and uncle have a house with a Grace Church Street address. In America we would say they live聽on Grace Church Street. It’s a distinction that some modern day Regency authors use and others don’t, but now you won’t be confused if you ever come across it.

Townhome

It’s just that: your home in town. When Americans normally think of as being townhomes are actually called terrace houses in England.聽These are houses that share a wall with another house on one or both sides. Many homes in Mayfair are terrace houses, but not all. So when the heroine heads to her townhome for the season, she’d probably sharing a wall with her neighbor, but not necessarily so.

First Floor

Have you ever seen characters going up to the first floor? Or looking down from a first floor window? For an American that can be quite confusing – to the point that I try to avoid saying which floor they’re on at all.

The “first floor” in America is actually the “ground floor” in England. So people had to actually go up stairs to reach the first floor.

 

What other terms do you find yourself stumbling over? Any other words you’ve found have a double meaning?

Originally posted 2014-07-24 10:00:00.

London Lights, by Susan Karsten

How do you picture your Regency characters flitting about London by night? Until 1807, London went about by the feeble flicker of oil lamps.


Special interest groups fought against gaslight, fearing the loss of the whale-oil trade. The inflammatory Bill of 1816 (supportive of gas lighting) would also ruin the navy, the ropemakers, sailmakers, etc. etc. according to its opponents.

Yet gaslight did more for prevention of crime “than the days of Alfred the Great”. Lighting at night brought safety, but also enhanced the reputation of London as the City of Sin. “London Lights” was a slang term referring to the regency age’s gilded immorality.
Nightlife entertainments in London were hideously vulgar, and respectable citizens did not take their families out after dark to public venues. My source says the “flaring gaslight” was appropriate to the rough and tumble array of available diversions.

Information is from: Life in Regency England, by R. J. White, publ. 1963

What do you picture for lighting when you are reading or writing regency fiction? Please leave a comment.

Originally posted 2014-07-17 10:00:00.

Friendship and Folly – A Review

I discovered the most delightful regency romance the other day on Amazon. Friendship and Folly by Meredith Allady, Book 1 of the Merriweather Chronicles.

Something that intrigued me from the first was the introduction, where the author explains how she found this manuscript in an old trunk of her grandmother’s, a trunk filled with old journals and manuscripts. She edited the most complete manuscript and has published it as “Friendship and Folly by Meredith Allady.” Whether Meredith Allady is her real name, her grandmother’s, or a pseudonym–or pun (Meredith, A Lady?) matters not. Friendship and Folly

What I discovered when I began reading it is a wonderful story told in what I found is an extremely authentic Regency-style, which I why I think it truly is a discovery from someone’s old trunk and not a well-researched historical. There are allusions to historical events and things only someone who lived in the era (and those of us who have done a lot of regency-era research ourselves) are privy to.

The Christian-spiritual thread through the novel is also in keeping with someone writing from that era, very much like Jane Austen. People pray and quote Scripture in a very natural way. It shows how Bible-illiterate our generation has become. The most moving scene happens during the crisis/climax and is very much a Christian lesson.

The story also has the wit of Jane Austen.

If you go on Amazon, though, the author warns those who don’t enjoy Jane Austen or an old-fashioned writing style to please stay away. On Goodreads.com, she tells readers: “For all those readers who loathe the ‘epistolary’ style of narrative, Meredith tenders her heartfelt apologies; but there it is.”

I for one was caught up from page one of this regency story and am glad to see that there is a Book 2 in the Merriweather Chronicles.

Originally posted 2014-07-15 14:30:01.

A Jane Austen Barbeque

Vanessa here,

Vegans, Vegetarians, and PETA look away from this post.

As we get ready to celebrate the 4th of July, our nation’s Independence Day, we should take the time to thank a service man or veteran for their duty, for choosing to protect America so we might enjoy freedom and wonderfully barbequed hamburgers and hot dogs.

Source: Wiki Commons
Source: Wiki Commons

The English during our period of the Regency were not particularly joyous of America’s Independence. They still brooded over their loss in our Revolutionary War and impressed our men into service to fight their other wars, but I digress.

Yet, we can still trace our love of fire roasted meats to them.

Fire roasting was (and is) common around the world and a forerunner to our barbecue cooking method. From cooking meat in a hot pit in the ground to using wooden frames to hold the meat, people of all cultures and all nations figured out fire-cooked meat was yummy. The English were quite serious聽 and well regarded for their meat cooking.

Pehr Kalm, a traveler to England on his way to America (1748) noted:
“Roast meat, Stek, is the Englishman’s delice and principal dish. It is not however always roasted, Stekt, to the same hardness as with us in Sweden. The English roasts, stekarne, are particularly remarkable for two things.

  1. All English meat, whether it is of Ox, Calf, Sheep, or Swine, has a fatness and a delicious taste,either because of the excellent pasture, betet, which consist of such nourishing and sweet-scented kinds of hay as there are in this country, where the cultivation of meadows has been brought to such high perfection, or some way of fattening the cattle known to the butchers alone, or, for some other reason.
  2. The Englishmen understand almost better than any other people the art of properly roasting a joint, konsten, at val steka en stek, which also is not to be wondered at ; because the art of cooking as practised by most Englishmen does not extend much beyond roast beef and plum pudding, stek.”

We can thank John Walker, an English chemist who in 1826 invented the friction match. He took a stick of wood and dipped it in a paste formed from potassium chlorate and sulfur to make a match that lit when struck on an abrasive surface. As you light up the coals tomorrow, think John Walker, unless you own one of those fancy auto-lighting-gas grills or a lighter.

Source: Wiki Commons
Source: Wiki Commons

One thing I am glad did not become the norm is the Turnspit Dog. Look at the picture below and see the dog on the circular track pinned to the wall. No, your eyes are working properly. The doggie is hung up like kitchen pots or a ladle, just another kitchen utensil aiding the cooking of foods in an English kitchen.

Source: Wiki Commons
Source: Wiki Commons

 

Can you imagine? “Cook, is the meat done?”

“No milord, Lassie has another mile to go.”

Turnspit dogs were short animals trained to run on a treadmill like cage so that spit meat cooked evenly. These kitchen helpers were small, low-bodied creatures with short front legs. They often had grey and white fur or reddish brown.

Source: Wiki Commons
Source: Wiki Commons

The dogs, commonly called Kitchen dogs, Turnspit dogs or Vernepator Cur were very sturdy and capable of turning the spit wheel for hours. Now that is some serious cooking if you have to train pets to help. Lucky for us and the greater good, this practice died off by the late 1850’s.

So light up those grills tomorrow, be thankful of our independence, and give a special patty to your pet pouch. Happy Fourth of July.

Source: Kalm’s Account of His Visit to England, 1758 http://www.archive.org/stream/cu31924028059693/cu31924028059693_djvu.txt

 

Originally posted 2014-07-03 10:00:00.

Lighting Up the Night By Regina Scott

reginascott11-07smallSo glad to be back at Regency Reflections. Is that the bang of fireworks I hear in celebration? Sometimes it seems as if our neighborhood has returned to the Revolutionary War right before the Fourth of July there are so many sizzles, pops, and whistles!

Regency lords and ladies were no strangers to fireworks. The fire masters (the equivalent of today鈥檚 pyrotechnical engineers) performed their duties for public events like coronations and military victories as well as private events like balls and routs.

Plersch_Night_illumination_of_Kani贸wA fire-master was originally a commissioned officer in the artillery who ordered the instructions and directions for making fireworks, whether for military purposes such as rockets or for celebration. Each firework consisted of one or more tubes of paper of various diameters filled with different types of flammable powder and connected to a quick match or a slower burning fuse. Rockets might have a stick at the end to help steady the flight. How hot the fire burned, the direction in which it burned, and the diameter of the opening through which it shot all affected the size, shape, duration, and color of the firework.

vauxhall fireworksPeople didn鈥檛 seem to tire of fireworks, no matter how many times they saw the bright lights. Talented fire masters were in great demand. Of course, the displays had their down sides as well. In large crowds, there was the apparent danger of pieces of the rockets in particular falling back to the ground and striking people on the head or shoulder. Sparks could also burn as they fell. Perhaps to help prevent such calamities, some events were held near a body of water like a river or ornamental pond. The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens had some amazing displays along the Thames.

White_bright_fireworks-freeEmboldened by their acclaim, however, the fire masters became more and more creative over the years. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, most of the fireworks were orange or white. In the 1830s, fire masters discovered that burning metallic salts with potassium chlorate would give them many more colors to play with. Fireworks were affixed to wooden frames to spell out words or illuminate scenes. Others burst in the sky like stars, hissed and wove about like serpents in the air, or showered sparks down on amazed onlookers like hot rain. Musicians composed odes that could accompany the displays. Architects and engineers built revolving machines that could light up or shoot out fireworks at various angles. Even one of the Prince Regent鈥檚 favorite architects, John Nash, built a machine to house such displays.

Today, fireworks light up the night sky at sporting events, fairs and concerts, and civic events. But we owe much of our delight to the creativity and ingenuity those early fire masters.

Regina

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Though she hasn鈥檛 found a way to make her hero a fire master yet, Regina Scott has penned 27 stories set in Regency England. Her most recent novel, The Husband Campaign, was released in April 2014 from Love Inspired Historical. You can learn more about her at her website at www.reginascott.com or catch up with her online at www.facebook.com/authorreginascott.

Camy here: Thanks so much, Regina, for our guest post today!

Originally posted 2014-06-30 05:00:59.

Review of The Babe and the Baron by Carola Dunn, Traditional Regency

Laurie Alice here,

Since I discovered traditional Regencies, I have counted Carola Dunn as one of my favorite authors in this genre. So imagine my thrill when I ended up on a Regency fan list with Ms. Dunn.Babe&Baron When I decided to review another traditional Regency as a Throw-back Thursday post, I contacted Ms. Dunn and asked her which one of her wonderful books she would like me to review. She suggested The Babe and The Baron which, to my delight, had slipped below my radar.

I say to my delight because finding a Carola Dunn book I hadn鈥檛 read is like finding a forgotten box of chocolates in the cupboard. In addition, she told me an amusing story about this book.

Soon after she began to write it, her publisher, Walker Publishing, canceled their traditional Regency line. Two years passed before this book finally saw the light of day under the Kensington Zebra imprint. Poor Laura remained pregnant for two years. 鈥淪he did not,鈥 MS. Dunn assured me, 鈥済ive birth to an elephant.鈥babe pb

Laura鈥檚 scapegrace husband dies while celebrating the fact that she is expecting their first child, leaving her penniless. Gareth, Lord Wyckham, a distant cousin of Laura鈥檚 husband, learns that she is now penniless and offers her a home along with a host of other relatives living under his roof. Gareth is a wonderful hero鈥攌ind, responsible, enjoying a bit of fun, so not stodgy. He is also a wee bit overprotective of Laura and her condition.

Laura, however, has been used to being independent since her scandalous marriage to her late spouse, and chafes at the hovering, all the while she is falling in love with her relative by marriage. With tact and dignity, she slips into the household routine, taking children and elderly relations in hand and wanting to discover why Gareth is so overly protective of her, a near stranger.

As typical of one of Ms. Dunn鈥檚 books, this traditional Regency is written with detail to character and interplay with the hero and heroine, as well as the cast of others important in their lives. Each individual has a unique role to play in the development of the characters, the romance, and the story itself.

If you haven鈥檛 read this delightful tale yet, it is available in electronic formats, along with other Regency romances by Carola Dunn. She now writes wonderful mysteries also worth reading.

Originally posted 2014-06-26 09:00:00.