WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Sheep’s Eyes

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Sheep’s Eyes

Today is Dear Husband’s birthday, so he gets a WOW post with a slang term in his honor. Because I loves him. And because he does this (in a manly way, of course).

Sheep’s Eyes (noun)

Loving looks, attested from the 1520s. From the word sheepish (bashful). To cast sheep’s eyes at any thing means to look wishfully at it.

Interestingly enough, I found more portraits of men casting sheep’s eyes than women. Perhaps, as Lady Catherine accused Elizabeth Bennet, women’s:

“. . . arts and allurements may, in a moment of infatuation, have made him forget what he owes to himself and to all his family. You may have drawn him in.”
Pride and Prejudice, Volume 3, Chapter 14 (Chapter 56)

Cast those loving looks our way, gentlemen.

La Famille Gohin by Louis Léopold Boilly, 1787, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.

La Famille Gohin by Louis Léopold Boilly, 1787, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.

Couple with an Escaped Bird by Louis Léopold Boilly, unknown date, Musée de Louvre, Paris.

Couple with an Escaped Bird by Louis Léopold Boilly, unknown date, Musée de Louvre, Paris.

Fashion Plate Modes Parisiennes from La Nouveaute Journal, 1825.

Fashion Plate Modes Parisiennes from La Nouveaute Journal, 1825.

Fashion Plate 2 Modes Parisiennes from La Nouveaute Journal, 1825.

Fashion Plate 2 Modes Parisiennes from La Nouveaute Journal, 1825.

Stealing a Kiss by Pierre Outin (1840-1899).

Stealing a Kiss by Pierre Outin (1840-1899), unknown date.

Off for the Honeymoon by Frederick Morgan (1847-1927), unknown date, private collection.

Off for the Honeymoon by Frederick Morgan (1847-1927), unknown date, private collection.

The Courtship by Charles Green, 1878, Christie's.

The Courtship by Charles Green, 1878, Christie’s.

Admiration by Vittorio Reggianini, before 1938, detail.

Admiration by Vittorio Reggianini, before 1938, detail.

And my favorite of all sheep’s eyes pictures:

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds. WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Sheep's Eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Maggotty

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Maggotty

This week’s word is brought to you by the process of chasing rabbits. Or, more accurately, dancing rabbits.

Rabbits that lead you to reevaluate everything you thought you knew about a subject. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, either.

Maggotty (adjective)

Whimsical, capricious.

I’ve always loved the phrase “maggot in the brain.” I’ve read it in countless novels, usually to introduce some hair-brained (or hare-brained, ha!) scheme by a main character. The results range from comedic situations to ill-conceived consequences to compromise-ruination-marriage. Remember poor Jane after her mother’s scheme to go on horseback to Netherfield?

Lizzy tends sick Jane at Netherfield after her mother's maggotty idea to ride in the rain.

Lizzy tends sick Jane at Netherfield after her mother’s maggotty idea to ride in the rain. From the A&E/BBC 1995 adaptation.

(Side note: do not Google maggot in the brain, ever.)

I’ve also read of “Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot,” an English country dance from Palmer’s Pocket Playford, 1695. It’s the dance of choice for beauty and elegance in Jane Austen adaptations, featuring in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice and Emma from 1996.

~He's touching me. ~She's touching me.

~He’s touching me.
~She’s touching me.

So when I came across maggotty in the Vulgar Dictionary, it was no stretch to picture a maggot in the brain as a whimsical or fanciful idea. And perhaps the change in movements in a Maggot could be labeled capricious, and the act of dancing can certainly be fanciful and playful. I confess I can’t wait to describe a relative’s idea or story as maggotty over Thanksgiving dinner next week.

I had thought to describe the steps of Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot, show a diagram, and then close with a YouTube clip from one of the movies mentioned above.

However.

I came across a website with the fantastic name of Capering and Kickery, and the post entitled Real Regency Dancers Don’t Turn Single: Ten Tips for Judging Authenticity. I suddenly had a very bad feeling, and my mouth went dry as I prepared to have a bubble or two burst. I was not prepared for the shattering of romantic dreams and Colin Firth dance moves. Of course, I take very little at face value and always seek corroboration or refutation . . . and it saddens my heart a bit to say what we read (and we authors write) about Regency dancing is possibly more fictionalized than it should be. It has long been an understood that what makes it to the small and big screens often bears little resemblance to its original.

In short, on screen (and what we picture in our mind’s eyes whilst reading novels), we see couples move gracefully through sedate, almost regal dances, the camera capturing meaningful glances and well-placed dialogue. In reality, those were the dances of an entirely different era altogether, one hundred years prior. Regency dances were lively, progressive, and serious business. And there were plenty of contemporary dances being written and published for the Regency set: Thomas Wilson, Dancing Master, published over fifty collections of dances between 1808 and 1846. Moldy oldies from the late 1600s were not necessarily good ton.

At Capering and Kicking, Susan de Guardiola makes the argument that Real Regency Dancers:

  1. Don’t Walk (you’re not dancing if you’re not sucking wind)
  2. Mind Their Curves (no stiff arms and rigid ‘W’ elbows here)
  3. Don’t Turn Single (couples only in the figures, if you please)
  4. Are Au Courant (that Maggot is sooo 17th Century)
  5. Do It In Threes (because three is better than two, and never one; see #3)
  6. Really Reel (kick up those heels, missy!)
  7. Vary Their Attitudes (waltzing was not simply one-two-three-repeat)
  8. Work Their Way Down (wait your turn to dance, and mind the queue!)
  9. Are Totally Square (quadrilles rule, minuets drool)
  10. Name That Tune (dances and music weren’t linked, unlike the Electric Slide or the Whip/Nae Nae)

Ms. de Guardiola does cite Captain Gronow, who was and is so notoriously unreliable that I’m not even going to provide a link to anything about him, but her other sources are spot on – contemporary, varied, and helpful. Follow that link above to read her reasons and research behind each point.

I now have a maggotty idea floating around my head: I need to rethink and re-choreograph dance scenes that I write to reflect a Regency mindset, rather than casting them with my 21st century tendency toward nostalgia. Regency dancers had plenty of current material from which to choose; they may have thought of them, or heard talk of them from dowagers and doddering aunts, but they had no need of their grandmother’s Maggot.

“Much obliged for the quadrilles, which I am grown to think pretty enough, though of course they are very inferior to the cotillions of my own day.”
Jane Austen to her niece Fanny Knight, in a letter dated February 20, 1816

I don’t know. I’m not sure if I can yet picture Regency balls as having more in common with the jig at the Meryton assembly than the Grimstock in the Lucas’s drawing room. Some things – anachronisms though they may be – are just too ingrained. And one of my favorite lines from a Pride and Prejudice adaptation was complete fiction and not in the book: when Miss Bingley remarks to Mr. Darcy, “I can’t help feeling that someone’s going to produce a piglet and make us chase it.” Sneering at the rowdiness of the country folk just fit (perhaps because the 2005 adaptation had an odd preoccupation with pigs of all sorts, but I digress).

I still think I’ll end with the lovely, though perhaps not historically accurate, ballroom scene from Pride and Prejudice. Just call me maggotty. And Because Colin.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. All citations and credits for information in this post are highlighted, with links provided, in the body of the text.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ To Cutty-Eye

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ To Cutty-Eye

I have found the most 21st Century, 18th Century word ever. In the history of ever.

Who knew side eye wasn’t invented by Arnold of Diff’rent Strokes.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds. Pictured, Arnold Drummond, from Diff'rent Strokes (played by Gary Coleman).

And perfected by Chloe and her disillusionment with a Disneyland announcement

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds. Chloe, the toddler internet meme queen.

No, it turns out shade has been thrown for many centuries, by the famous and infamous, and for enough days to have a portrait painted.

To Cutty-Eye

To look out of the corners of one’s eyes, to leer, to look askance. The cull cutty-eyed at us; the fellow looked suspicious at us.

Behold, the perfection and expression of historical side eye.

Portrait of a Young Lady, c 1500-10, Bartolomeo Veneto, National Gallery UK.

Portrait of a Young Lady, c 1500-10, Bartolomeo Veneto, National Gallery UK.

Violante, attributed to Palma Vecchio, c 1507-08.

Violante, attributed to Palma Vecchio, c 1507-08.

A Woman, by Bernardino Licinio, 16th Century.

A Woman, by Bernardino Licinio, 16th Century.

Portrait of a Young Lady by Federico Barocci, about 1600, Statens Museum for Kunst.

Portrait of a Young Lady by Federico Barocci, about 1600, Statens Museum for Kunst.

Frances Stuart, Duchess of Richmond, Windsor Beauties by Sir Peter Lely, 17th Century, Hampton Court.

Frances Stuart, Duchess of Richmond, Windsor Beauties by Sir Peter Lely, 17th Century, Hampton Court.

A Young Lady with a Parrot, c 1730, by Rosalba Carriera, Art Institute Chicago.

A Young Lady with a Parrot, c 1730, by Rosalba Carriera, Art Institute Chicago.

Portrait of Marie Françoise Buron by Jacques Louis David, c. 1769, Private Collection.

Portrait of Marie Françoise Buron by Jacques Louis David, c. 1769, Private Collection, courtesy Jacques Louis David Complete Works.

Young Lady at Her Toilet Combing Her Hair by Johann Anton de Peters, 18th Century.

Young Lady at Her Toilet Combing Her Hair by Johann Anton de Peters, 18th Century.

Portrait of a Young Woman in White by an anonymous artist in the style of Jacques Louis David, c. 1798, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Portrait of a Young Woman in White by an anonymous artist in the style of Jacques Louis David, c. 1798, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

19th century English School Portrait of a Lady.

19th century English School Portrait of a Lady.

In a Roman Osteria (detail), 1866, Carl Heinrich Bloch.

In a Roman Osteria (detail), 1866, Carl Heinrich Bloch.

 

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Fice

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Fice

Three cheers for feisty heroines in Regency Romance, right?!

Umm…well….

You go, grrl. A woman driving a high perch phaeton by Thomas Rowlandson.

You go, grrl. A woman driving a high perch phaeton by Thomas Rowlandson.

Feisty is one of those potentially pesky anachronisms that look good on paper but don’t stand up to etymological scrutiny. Authors mean for their heroines to be courageous, spirited, lively, and bold, yet still cut a proper figure in society. They aren’t intimating their leading ladies are, in fact, late-Victorian era Americans who are “aggressive, exuberant, or touchy” lasses with a whiff of “stinking cur dog” who’ve time traveled back to Georgian England.

But that’s exactly what feisty means.

Elizabeth Stokes, Lady Bareknuckles

Elizabeth Stokes, Lady Bareknuckles

It’s an adjective from 1896 American English, and it’s not at all attractive or empowering when applied to a lady. In fact, feisty hails from fysting curre (stinking cur) from the 1520s, which in turns hails from the mid-15th Century Middle English fysten/fisten, meaning to break wind. It’s goes fully vulgar in both Danish (fise) and German (fistiz): a fart.

So that feisty heroine is a she-dog with room-clearing digestive issues.

Mary Read, lady pirate

Mary Read, lady pirate

But what about the argument that modern readers will apply the modern definition and admire that spunky daughter of an Earl who won’t bend to the will of man, mother, or Society? If the word really fits, and readers won’t be tripped up, should we chance it?

Consider the current, modern definition of feisty:

  1. Full of nervous energy; fidgety; touchy, quarrelsome; exuberantly frisky
  2. Having or showing a lively aggressiveness

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

Despite the definition still being a bit unflattering, I think most people assume and associate feisty with positive connotations – the woman who won’t take no for an answer, fights for what she wants or those she loves, and won’t give up until all options are exhausted. Is feisty an auto-antonym (also known as contranym, antagonym, enantiodrome, or antilogy)? Does feisty have multiple meanings, with one defined as the opposite of its other meanings?

It seems likely. But Dame Helen Mirren DBE still says just say no.

Two phrases I hate in reference to female characters are ‘strong’ and ‘feisty.’ They really annoy me. It’s the most condescending thing. You say that about a three-year-old. It infantilises women.

I’m not completely sold that I ever want to be described as feisty, but I’m a wordy girl, so I’ll take plucky, intrepid, cheeky, or even mettlesome instead.

To be on the safe, historically correct side, here’s a contemporaneous Word of the Week with connections to feisty. Although a noun rather than adjective, it would be a comically-inspired addition to a plot line about the lady-of-a-certain-age character (but not so much the bold rosebud of a heroine). I’m looking at you, Lady Bertram.

Aunt Norris gives her opinion while Lady Bertram and her pug receive it, in Mansfield Park by the Indianapolis Opera.

Aunt Norris, Lady Bertram, and Pug, in Mansfield Park by the Indianapolis Opera.

Fice (noun)

A small windy escape backwards, more obvious to the nose than ears; frequently by old ladies and charged to their lap-dogs. See also, fizzle.

Ye olde silent-but-deadly, by jove.

So what’s the moral of this post? I love a strong heroine, and they are not an historical anachronism. I believe every generation is full of women who know the rules and how to work them, or break them to build better ones, without causing utter chaos nor bringing degradation to all who know her. However, the next time you read a Regency Romance with a feisty heroine, I recommend using your best judgment when deciding if it’s an unforgiveable anachronism or misunderstood modern definition.

Just try not to picture her breaking wind.

Want some proof that history is positively rife with modern-in-any-age women (as well as bust a few myths about sexual mores and gender roles in the Georgian era)? Have a gander:

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Fee, Faw, Fum

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Fee, Faw, Fum

I really enjoy a spooky story. Not gross, just good, old fashioned, huddle-under-the-covers-so-the-thing-under-the-bed-doesn’t-get-you scary.

Most of the time, the movies that give me chills are those that could happen in real life: the determined killer (the original Halloween, Psycho), the vulnerability of being alone (The Strangers), the isolation and fear of the unknown in the woods (Deliverance), and natural circumstances beyond your control (The Birds). I can even stomach a bit of blood when it’s relieved by comedy, like Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland (and it’s usually pretty easy to know when to hide your eyes).

Occasionally a thriller with supernatural overtones will give me the heebie jeebies, even though I’m 99.9% sure it could never happen: The Ring, Event Horizon, Insidious, the original Night of the Living Dead. And my personal favorite, Nosferatu (Max Schreck is unnerving and terrifying). Seriously, if you haven’t see this movie because it was made in 1922 and it’s silent, treat yourself. Watch it alone, in the dark. I dare you.

To the rest of the movies – like Saw, Cabin Fever, or Night of 1000 Corpses – I turn a blind eye (and don’t do links). There’s nothing frightening to me in gore, just shock. There’s no scare; it’s pure nausea. It’s to those movies I apply the Word of the Week.

Fee, Faw, Fum

Nonsensical words, supposed in childish story-books to be spoken by giants. I am not to be frighted by fee, faw, fum; I am not to be scared by nonsense.

The entire Georgian era has many fearful stories to recommend, but I especially love the tale of the Wynyard Ghost. The story concerns four English officers encamped at Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, during the American War of Independence. Like the cliché portends, it was a dark and stormy night . . . and a brother of one of the gentlemen was soon to make an unexplainable visit. You really should read the whole story, and historian and author Geri Walton tells it much better than I ever could in her blog post Wynyard Ghost Story.

If you’d like to get your seasonal, Halloween-y historical chills via the small screen, I recommend two period dramas to keep you wide awake. The first has a truly awful trailer, nothing like the mini-motion picture teasers we have come to expect – but don’t let that put you off. The film is nothing like its cheesy promo: Director Martin Scorsese ranks this film as one of the top ten horror movies of all time. Creepy setting, creepy music, and creepy children: what more could you ask for?

The Innocents (1961)
An adaptation of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw

And from the long list of “Don’t Trust Your Husband” films of the 1940s, like Rebecca, Jane Eyre, and Notorious, comes my favorite. It’s the story of a woman whose husband is trying to slowly drive her mad. Another sad little trailer, but Ingrid Berman, Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten, and Angela Lansbury will make it worth your while.

Gaslight (1944)
Based on the stage play of the same name, Gas Light

 

  • Slang term definition found in the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • The BBC released an another adaptation of The Turn of the Screw at Christmas in 2009. It’s well shot and very well acted (you’ll see Matthew, Mary, and Denker from Downton Abbey), but some critics took exception to the fact that the setting was changed from 1840 to Edwardian England, and that it was much more sexualized than the novel. Personally, I thought it had way too many horror movie clichés, spilling the plot over into the predictable rather than the disturbing. And this story should definitely disturb. Find the trailer here.
WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Victualling Office

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Victualling Office

The definition of what is considered ideal for body size changes from generation to generation, much like fashion. Historically, those with a little extra padding around their middle were usually considered wealthy, healthy, and blessed; those who could afford to, ate, and ate extravagantly.

Daniel Lambert; the Wonderful Great Pumpkin of Little Brittain published by R Ackermann 4 May 1806, Royal Collection Trust.

Daniel Lambert; the Wonderful Great Pumpkin of Little Brittain published by R Ackermann 4 May 1806, Royal Collection Trust.

This was certainly true during the era of the Georges, from the arrival of the First on England’s shores in August of 1714, to the death of the portly well favored Fourth in 1830.  A man’s (and some women’s) castle seemed to be found in his middle.

A Voluptuary Under the Horrors of Digestion (King George IV) by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 2 July 1792, National Portrait Gallery.

A Voluptuary Under the Horrors of Digestion (King George IV) by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey 2 July 1792, National Portrait Gallery.

Victualling Office (noun)

The stomach.

A sound argument could be made that throughout the Georgian era, much sartorial emphasis was placed on the middle of a man’s torso. In point of fact, author Lucinda Brant has an entire Pinterest board devoted to precisely that: The 18th Century Power Paunch. A man’s victualling office was front and center in portrait after portrait, in elaborate waistcoats embellished with lace and myriad fobs. The quintessential “if you’ve got it, flaunt it” poster children.

So how did the well-healed become so paunchy? Glad you asked. Let’s consult the Supersizers as they Go Regency.

Keep Calm and Read This! Guest Post by Tara Randel

Keep Calm and Read This! Guest Post by Tara Randel

I know, I know – it’s not even Halloween yet and here I go with Christmas.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds. Guest author today - Tara Randel!

But this is a 99¢ pre-Christmas goodie set from 15 romance authors. One of the contributors, Tara Randel, stopped by today to share a bit about it.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds. Guest author today ~ Tara Randel!

We have a few more months until holiday mania arrives, but it’s never too early to get excited. Before you know it, it’ll be Thanksgiving. Food, football and Black Friday shopping! Just as quickly, it will be time to string colorful lights outside, decorate the tree and wrap presents for loved ones. I’m one not one of those who wishes to celebrate Christmas year round. I love the anticipation, the months of excitement leading up to those special days in December. Then on to New Year’s resolutions.

What are the things I look forward to during the holiday season? Making memories tops my list. I love spending time with family, relaxing and reminiscing. Add some good food to the mix and as far as I’m concerned, the holidays are a success.

When my daughters were young, I loved shopping for presents. I actually enjoyed braving the mall and toy stores. There is nothing like the magic of a child tearing into the wrapped gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. When my daughters got older, opening presents was fun, but nowhere near as entertaining as when they still believed in Santa. I’m looking forward to the time when I have grandchildren and the magic returns.

Some folks look forward to the cold weather and hope for a white Christmas. Not me. It doesn’t snow where I live, and I can honestly say I don’t miss the cold, white stuff one little bit. Beautiful winter landscape pictures are enough for me.

In Cooking Up Christmas, Gabi Fortier, general manager of the Blue Spruce Mountain Resort can’t wait to reopen the lodge just in time for Christmas. She has big plans to decorate from top to bottom. But not if Simon Tucker, new head chef, has anything to say about it. At least in the dining room, that is. Or on the menu. The kitchen is his domain, no matter how Gabi tries to convince him otherwise. 

“Look at this.” Henry chuckled as he withdrew a stack of what looked like large Christmas cards. Gabi scooted closer as he handed her the collection.

“They’re old menus,” she said as she sifted through the lot. “From holiday dinners. Going back to…the sixties.”

“Ash’s grandmother loved cooking for the holidays. Her husband indulged her and every year had a grand menu printed up for the guests.”

“This is incredible. What a cool piece of history.” Gabi placed the menus on her lap. Fingered the edge of the one laying on top. So much love had gone into Christmas preparations here. Gabi wouldn’t let it slip away. “I have an idea.”

Simon still didn’t look thrilled. “Why do I know I won’t like it?” 

She stood. “Why not go through the old menus? Pick out a few favorites dishes and add them to the Christmas Eve feast list.”

“I have the menu planned.”

Cringing at his stubborn expression, she said, “Which is probably as far from traditional as you can get.”

“What’s wrong with new?”

“Nothing. But people love to be nostalgic over the holidays.” She spread her hand out over the room. “Just like people love decorations, reminding them of happy years. The joy and wonder of waiting for Santa when you were a kid. Or Christmas as a new parent, seeing it through your kid’s eyes. Everyone remembers something special from a Christmas gone by. So we need to offer them a glimpse of Christmas past.” 

Simon’s scowl grew deeper.

“This isn’t about your cooking skills, Simon. It’s about giving our guests an experience they’ll never forget.”

I hope you enjoy Cooking Up Christmas, one of three stories in Holiday Heroes, part of A Heartwarming Holiday, 15 connected sweet holiday stories. Find out just how Gabi and Simon wage their battle of wills over Christmas tradition. Pre-order now to make sure you have a copy just in time for the holidays. I can see a warm fire and a cup of hot cocoa calling your name!

This holiday season, warm your heart with 15 connected sweet, clean & wholesome holiday romances set in Christmas Town from 15 Harlequin Heartwarming authors who are USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors.

There are five connected books in A Heartwarming Holiday. That means each set of three novellas shares characters and storylines! This collection of PG-rated holiday romances are all set in Christmas Town, Maine, a location introduced in the 2014 Harlequin Heartwarming release Christmas, Actually.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds. Guest author today ~ Tara Randel ~ with Cooking Up Christmas

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds. Guest author today ~ Tara Randel ~ with Cooking Up Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grab your copy today!

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Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

 

 

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

 

 

 

 

Guest author Tara Randel visits Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA TODAY bestselling author of twelve novels. Family values, a bit of mystery and, of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. She is currently working on new stories for Harlequin Heartwarming, The Business of Weddings series, as well as books in a new series, Amish Inn Mysteries. Visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books.