I can’t think of historical novels without thinking about Regency period romance novels. I grew up devouring novels set in this time period and I still love them. There is something about a dashing lord set in the glittering scene that was the London Season. I started thinking more about the time period , to try and figure out what it is that I really like about them. Of course, one of the first novels that comes to mind is Pride and Prejudice, but Jane Austen was writing contemporaneously, not historically. She was giving us a glimpse of the world she lived in at the time she lived in it, not looking back at a time period that had already passed.
The ideal/theme that is prevalent in the time period novels is change from the gentry marring to gain wealth either in the form of land or a woman’s dowry to marrying for love. Marrying for love was something that was allowed for the lower classes but was considered too low brow for the gentry. One of my favorite authors who covers this well is Julia Quinn in her Bridgerton series, I have to admit one of my favorite characters in this series is Lady Whistledown, a witty version of E! Entertainment for society.
The Regency period is loosely considered to be between 1795 and 1837 and I realized in thinking about this post that this was time period of huge changes. Perhaps it is this change that fascinates us so much; America had just won its independence, the British Empire was starting on its decline but was still a strong empire. The Industrial Revolution was bringing about changes to everything from the aristocracy to travel to clothing and textiles. Prior to this time period, the landed gentry (aristocracy) controlled most of the land, wealth, and political power but due to the Industrial Revolution a new class of people gained wealth and started to gain political power. The ideals and societal norms that the aristocracy had followed so faithfully were changing as more and more of the gentry were forced to either sell off their land or have their children marry into the new class of wealthy class to maintain their status. One author who covers this change in power and change in class really well is Lisa Kleypas in her The Hathaways series, which directly address this change because of the Industrial Revolution and the type of men who brought it about.
It was time of great unknown and unrest for the future, America had won its independence and France had the Revolution where they killed off their gentry, causing a flood of emigrants to descend on London. Napoleon was defeated, exiled to Elba, escaped and raised his army only to be defeated again at the Battle of Waterloo. Many British soldiers lost their lives or were injured, only to return home to a country that had nothing in place to take care of them after their sacrifice for their country. Medical care was barbaric at best with many individuals dying from poor care and everything medically unknown was diagnosed as consumption. Soldiers would return home missing limbs and unable to work or considered less than a whole man, leaving many without the abilities to provide for their families or to be accepted by society, where any type of physical blemish or deformity was unacceptable.
After really looking into this time period it is not surprising that we love it so. There is so much that is going on, changes occurring everywhere, all which give us wonderful story lines about injured warriors, working class men who bettered themselves, and men who looked beyond societies’ expectations to find true love. It was time period that allowed the strong to flourish and anything could and did happen.
This week we will be looking at the Regency Period with a guest post tomorrow by RegencyReads.com, a publisher of regency period romance ebooks, and later this week all the reviews will be set in this time period.
You can learn more about this intriguing time period:
Regency Period here.
Napoleanic Wars here.
Industrial Revolution here.