WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Blunder

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Blunder

One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride. It’s equal parts snarky, comedic, and lovely. I think I spent the better part of my high school years quoting it at random moments. The inconceivably erudite Vezzini gives perfect illustrations of this week’s word.

Vizzini and his classic declaration of blunders, The Princess Bride, 1987.

Vizzini and his classic declaration of blunders, The Princess Bride, 1987.

 

Blunder (noun)

Source is mid-14c., from the verb blunder “to stumble about blindly,” from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse blundra “shut one’s eyes.” Meaning “make a stupid mistake” is first recorded 1711.

The word bull is defined in many ways in Francis Grose’s 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue; one usage means blunder.

Bull. A blunder; from the story of Obadiah Bull, a blundering London lawyer during the reign of Henry VII. The false hair worn by women was also called a bull, and we all know what a monumental fashion blunder those were.

 

All definitions and/or examples taken from Online Etymological DictionaryCant: A Gentleman’s Guide, and/or 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

Regency Romance Turns 80

Regency Romance Turns 80

George Gordon, Lord Byron, perusing another Regency Romance from his TBR stack.

George Gordon, Lord Byron, perusing another Regency Romance from his TBR stack.

Happy Birthday, Regency Romance! 80 Years looks great on you!

While the Regency itself was only nine years in length, from 1811-1820 (when the Prince of Wales ruled in place of his incapacitated father, King George III), the term Regency Era has come to mean a much broader time, covering the years 1795 (when King George III had his first “spell”) to as late as 1837 (the end of the reign of the last of King George’s children, King William IV).

Regardless of whether you’re a strict constructionist or a “there can never be too many years defining the Regency” person, the impact of the period is undeniable.  An era so rich with changes (some good, some bad) in architecture, industry, economics, society, the arts, culture, fashion, and politics was destined to be an object of fascination.  Regency romances bring this time period to life!

The Beau Monde, the chapter of the Romance Writers of America that specializes in the Regency, is celebrating this eightieth anniversary by hosting a year-long commemoration of the woman who started it all: Georgette Heyer.  She wrote the first such romance, Regency Buck, way back in 1935, and a new genre was born.

Please join us in our celebration, and stop by The Beau Monde blog to share your comments, discover new authors, and reminisce with other devotees of the genre.  I will update the links at the bottom of this post as each new article is published.

Regency Romance Turns 80 Posts:

The Beau Monde Celebrates the 80th Anniversary of Regency Romance

In Which We Inspect the Regency Social Ladder

In Which We Inspect the Regency Social Ladder

"The more things change, the more they stay the same." Viscount Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) Before the Battle of Trafalgar 21 October 1805, by George Lucy Good (1854). Also titled Nelson Meditating in the Cabin of the Victory.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Viscount Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) Before the Battle of Trafalgar 21 October 1805, by George Lucy Good (1854). Also titled Nelson Meditating in the Cabin of the Victory.

“In marrying your nephew, I should not consider myself as quitting that sphere. He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal.” Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 56

The Regency period has always held a fascination for me even before I knew there was a little epoch of time niched into the overall Georgian period. I’m intrigued by the dramatic changes in the political, economic, and social conditions. It was a time when Napoleon either wreaked havoc by running rampant all over Europe, or inspired fear that such would happen should he escape his island prison. Politics grew increasingly global rather than merely continental. Art, literature, and music flourished with experimentation and newness. Industry morphed to encompass not just the laborers in the fields but also the new mechanization and automation of the cities.

Earlier this week I wrote about the mingling of the classes at the theatre (or most any public entertainment) during the Regency. At this “Common Garden,” if not for the contrast between their dress, it was hard to differentiate between the behaviors of the lower orders and their so-called betters. People will be people in the perceived anonymity of a crowd or entertainment.

“Do not make yourself uneasy, my dear cousin, about your apparel.  Lady Catherine is far from requiring that elegance of dress in us which becomes herself and her daughter.  I could advise you merely to put on whatever of your clothes is superior to the rest—there is no occasion for anything more.  Lady Catherine will not think the worse of you for being simply dressed.  She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved.” Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 29

The Quality Ladder, Isaac Cruikshank, 1793 (Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University).

The Quality Ladder, Isaac Cruikshank, 1793 (Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University).

So while the Regency period did see the rise of a larger middle class and cries for relief from the impoverished workers – among other social alterations – the dividing lines between and compositions of the classes remained relatively unchanged despite being in the midst of enlightenment and progress. There were plenty who tried to maneuver themselves up a level or two, and indeed a few more rungs were added to the ladder, but the overall structure of the classes in society remained static.

They were in fact very fine ladies; not deficient in good humour when they were pleased, nor in the power of making themselves agreeable when they chose it, but proud and conceited. They were rather handsome, had been educated in one of the first private seminaries in town, had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, were in the habit of spending more than they ought, and of associating with people of rank, and were therefore in every respect entitled to think well of themselves, and meanly of others. They were of a respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply impressed on their memories than that their brother’s fortune and their own had been acquired by trade. Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 4

The folks at Hierarchy Structure have a helpful chart for those seeking the delineations between the levels of society in the Regency period. Rather than numbering the classes, I prefer to picture them as strata, or as Cruikshank drew near the end of the 18th Century, treads on a staircase.

Regency Period Social Hierarchy from HierarchyStructure.com

Regency Period Social Hierarchy from HierarchyStructure.com

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Common Garden

The Boxes, Thomas Rowlandson, 1809

The Boxes, Thomas Rowlandson, 1809

Ah, Society.

During the Regency, there were only a few places that all strata assembled at the same time. Thomas Rowlandson captured one such place – the theatre – with startling clarity. To his jaundiced eye, there is more commonality than difference between the behaviors of the classes.

You can click on the image at left to enlarge it. Rowlandson captioned his work with a quote from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3: Oh, woe is me, t’have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

When all the levels of Society get together, the only thing separating them is the level of their box in the theatre.

Common Garden (noun)

This district in London between Charing Cross, Drury Lane, and the West End. From land seized by Henry VIII after the dissolution of the monasteries. The area during the Regency was chiefly comprised of brothels, taverns, and coffee houses, and was skirted by theatres. Also Covent Garden or Convent Garden.

 

All definitions and/or examples taken from Online Etymological DictionaryCant: A Gentleman’s Guide, and/or 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

A Baron for Becky by Jude Knight ~ The History Behind the Story

It’s my pleasure to welcome Jude Knight, author of Candle’s Christmas Chair and Farewell to Kindness. She’s also one of the fabulous Bluestocking Belles. I’ve asked Jude to give us some insight into the history behind her new release, A Baron for Becky. She sent along an informative peek into the role of women during the Regency, and has a gift for one lucky commenter!

A Rake's Progress, William Hogarth

A Rake’s Progress, William Hogarth

Sex and the City

Life in the real Regency wasn’t all Almack’s, balls, and house parties. Even in the households of the rich and titled, a woman’s comfort and happiness depended very much on the character of whatever man headed her household—father, brother, husband. And a highly structured society where women were expected to be chaste and modest, and men to have broad experience, meant an ever-present potential for disaster.

In the lesser ranks of society, a woman might be valued for her skills, her personality, her knowledge, or whatever underpinned the economic contribution she could make to her family. A slip from chastity could be forgiven. Even a child out of wedlock was not necessarily an irretrievable disaster. An extra pair of hands was, after all, an extra pair of hands.

For ladies of the gentry, any smudge on the character threatened the wellbeing of the family. Ladies were decorative rather than useful; educated for little beyond amusing themselves and running a household. Their economic value lay in the family connections created through their marriage, in the children, or more particularly the sons, they would bring into the world.

English landowners practiced primogeniture, a form of inheritance designed to keep an estate unified. Primogeniture meant that lands, titles, and rights were passed intact to the deceased lord’s eldest son. If the right to rule will be passed from father to son, then a family has a great deal invested in making sure that a wife sleeps with no one but, and certainly no one before, her husband. Virginity became a necessary precondition for a good marriage.

Assuring a potential husband of the virginity of a particular maiden meant—as we who read historical romances set in those times know—setting all kinds of restrictions around young ladies. It wasn’t enough to be a virgin; a marriageable girl of gentry class must never be in circumstances that allowed gossips to speculate about what she might, or might not, have done. Reputation was everything. The loss of reputation was the end of a girl’s (and her families) hope of a ‘good’ marriage.

Our romances offer many paths to those who fall from grace. Her family might rally round to prove our heroine’s innocence. An angry father or brother might force a marriage which becomes a love affair, or the other party to the offence might volunteer. Exile to the country might lead to her true virtue being discovered by a neighbour, or she might be pursued by her seducer who has finally realised that he truly loves her.

In some books, the heroine becomes one of the tens of thousands of women earning her living from the sex trade in Georgian London. Generally a mistress of a man or a succession of men. More rarely, a prostitute in a brothel or in the streets.

That’s the premise for my character, Becky. In the novel, we meet her nine or ten years after her father threw her out. Just think of it. A gently-born girl, raised with few skills beyond flower arranging and embroidery, always treated with courtesy and respect, taught nothing about her own sexuality, suddenly cast into the streets to make her own way. What must that have been like?

In historical romance, our heroines survive the horror and the abuse (or, in some books, manage to bypass it all together) to eventually find the mandatory happy-ever-after. In real life, few were so fortunate. An early death was more likely: from sexually transmitted diseases, complications of pregnancy or abortion, drink and drugs taken to dull the senses, or all of these together.

A Baron for Becky has a happy ending, though not (I hope) an entirely predictable one. In the end, I found myself writing about marriage rather than prostitution. Becky has had a hard life, and it has left scars. Her happy ending does not come easily. But then, that’s life.

About the Book ballerina script

She was a fallen woman when she met them. How can they help her fall on her feet?

Becky is the envy of the courtesans of the demi-monde – the indulged mistress of the wealthy and charismatic Marquis of Aldridge. But she dreams of a normal life; one in which her daughter can have a future that does not depend on beauty, sex, and the whims of a man.

Finding herself with child, she hesitates to tell Aldridge. Will he cast her off, send her away, or keep her and condemn another child to this uncertain shadow world?

The devil-may-care face Hugh shows to the world hides a desperate sorrow; a sorrow he tries to drown with drink and riotous living. His years at war haunt him, but even more, he doesn’t want to think about the illness that robbed him of the ability to father a son. When he dies, his barony will die with him. His title will fall into abeyance, and his estate will be scooped up by the Crown.

When Aldridge surprises them both with a daring proposition, they do not expect love to be part of the bargain.

A Baron for Becky is rated R for implied sexual content, 2 out of 5 flames.

BfB cover final small

 

Aldridge was early. She crossed to the sideboard where she kept his favourite brandy, and was pouring him a glass by the time she heard his steps in the hall. Two sets of steps? Who did Aldridge have with him?

The other man was as tall as Aldridge, but dark to his fair. He must once have been stunningly handsome, and one side of his face was still carved by a master; subtle curves and strong planes combining in a harmonious whole that spoke of strength and, in the almost invisible network of lines at the corners of his eyes, suffering.

On the other side, dozens of scars pitted and ridged the skin, as if it had been torn and chewed by an animal; an animal with jaws of flame by the tell-tale burn puckers. Thankfully, whatever it was had spared his eye, which, she suddenly realised, was glaring at her.

“Well,” he demanded, and she was shaken anew by his voice, rich and mellow. She had been staring. How rude. But for some reason, she didn’t apologise as she should, but instead blurted, “I was just feeling glad that what injured you spared your eye.”

He looked startled, and suddenly a lot friendlier. “Thank you. I am glad too.”

That voice! That voice! He could read a linen inventory and she would listen for hours.

“An unusual approach to an introduction,” Aldridge observed. Becky collected herself and smiled at her protector. “No one is more important than the man who keeps you,” a mentor had once told her. “When he is present, you notice no one else except as it reflects well on him.”

And Becky had never before had her attention so focused on a guest that she had been unaware of presenting her cheek to Aldridge for his kiss, giving him the expected squeal in return for his squeeze, and returning the kiss.

“An introduction would be polite, Aldridge,” she said.

“My dear, you have heard me speak of my friend, Baron Overton.”

Amazon ⌘ Amazon UK ⌘ Amazon AUS ⌘ Barnes & Noble ⌘ iBooks ⌘ Kobo ⌘ Smashwords

About the Author ballerina script

 

 

 

Jude Knight writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.

Jude KnightJude Knight is the pen name of Judy Knighton. After a career in commercial writing, editing, and publishing, Jude is returning to her first love, fiction. Her novella, Candle’s Christmas Chair, was released in December 2014, and is in the top ten on several Amazon bestseller lists in the US and UK. Her first novel Farewell to Kindness, was released on 1 April, and is first in a series: The Golden Redepennings.

Visit Jude’s Website
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The Giveaway ballerina script

 

 

 

Jude will give an ARC copy of A Baron for Becky to a commenter chosen at random from those who comment by 25 July. Don’t forget to leave your contact information when you comment below! ↓↓↓

My Top Ten Clankers in Regency Romance

My Top Ten Clankers in Regency Romance

via Reddit.com

via Reddit.com

Earlier this week, I wrote of the terrific slang term clanker, meaning “a great lie.” The imminently quotable philosopher Barney Stinson once said of clankers:

A lie is just a great story that someone ruined with the truth.

For real.

As an author of Historical Regency Romance, there are few things as frustrating as writing what you think is a terrific scene only to find out through research that your situation could not have happened for another fifty years. Or that the words you think made your dialogue Oscar-worthy weren’t even thought of for another five generations.

Pffft.

I love history and I love research, so it’s no chore for me to dig deeply into archives and contemporaneous resources to find the meat for my stories…but this does not make me hung up on being 100% historically accurate 100% of the time. Care should be taken to be as authentic as possible, but there is room for creativity and invention without completely disregarding archival facts. I like characters with independent, curious natures and sparkling wit, but they can still be properly attired and mannered when in Society (though not necessarily in private!). As an author, I have to set up my narrative in a way that makes the anachronism plausible and thus acceptable in my story.

credit: Trevor Hudgins http://tinyurl.com/pcc9ygm

Abe Lincoln. Word. Credit: Trevor Hudgins http://tinyurl.com/pcc9ygm

If we can all find some common ground and agree to the premise that Regency romance is fiction and that some artistic license is allowed, can there still be errors that bump readers out of our time period, and thus out of our stories? Most definitely.

Some errors – whether accidental or purposeful – are so egregious that readers say they have to physically restrain themselves from throwing their Kindles against the wall. When accidental, we authors have a responsibility to learn from and vow not to repeat those mistakes. When purposeful, we authors need to support our choices: by explanation in the notes at the end of the story, by context in the anachronistic scene, or by consistent narrative that makes the error necessary and relatable to our entire plot. It’s a fine line to walk, and care must be exercised to make sure the historical embellishment (such as the educated and politically-minded heroine) doesn’t stray into the implausible (said heroine decides to stand for her deceased father’s seat in Commons because she must fight for her neighbors’ rights).

It’s a gamble to play fast and loose with historical fact. When successful, it’s wonderful (“I love this book!” gushes one reviewer). When it fails (“This book needs to be burned with fire!” raves a reviewer)…well…it just fails.

Just as it’s unreasonable to have doctors shock patients back to life with a MRI or cars maneuvered by gear sticks rather than steering wheels, I think there are some clankers in Regency romance that need to be phased out. I’ve made a list of the ones that bother me enough to eliminate.

So much anachronism, so little time. Austenland (Sony Pictures Classics and Stage 6 Films).

So much anachronism, so little time. Austenland, Sony Pictures Classics and Stage 6 Films

My Top Ten Clankers in Regency Romance:
(in no particular order)

1. The engagement notice to the newspapers. Some marriages had notices placed, but never betrothals.

2. The threat or bargain of a simple annulment or divorce. Annulments occurred due to ineligibility of the participants (someone was too young or the guardian’s permission was not granted) or inability of the male (ahem). Divorce was even more difficult. Both were ugly, drawn-out, and expensive. See Nancy Mayer’s thorough explanation on Dissolving a Marriage.

3. The overnight elopement to Gretna Green. Only if you begin the trip in Yorkshire.

4. The heroine must marry by age 20 or be “on the shelf.” I admit I’m torn about this one. A simple check of parish registers reveals marriage of the extremely young to be the exception rather than the rule among the peerage…but I do love a good “almost a spinster” storyline!

5. The threat of disinheritance of the heir apparent by the parent/guardian. This clanker is usually tied to the main plot of why the hero marries the heroine (i.e., the hero is threatened with the loss of peerage unless he produces an heir, nabs a respectable wife, changes his rakehell ways, etc.). The heir’s title cannot be withheld or given away; parents and peerages were stuck with the firstborn. In book three of my Lords of Oxford series, Earl Crazy, the earl grandfather petitions parliament to amend the Letters Patent of the Aylesford Earldom to change the line of succession. Change could take place, but not via threats, just arduous and slow parliamentary procedure. Better to just blackmail and bully the heir with penury; parents didn’t have to send along enough of the ready to run the peerage.

6. The heroine is alone with the hero (or any unrelated male) and thus compromised. This situation alone didn’t force marriage. Extenuating circumstances were called for: her skirts up around her waist; traveling alone, especially overnight; those discovering the twosome demand satisfaction (through duel, marriage, etc.). If all parties agreed to just let it lie (or let it lay; I can never remember the grammar here), there was no scandal.

7. The Upper Ten Thousand. Not until the Edwardian era. The Regency featured the ton, beau monde, and Society (to name a few).

8. The necessity of permission from Almack’s patronesses to waltz. There is zero/zilch/nada contemporaneous documentation for this entrenched clanker. The earliest documentation of the concept occurs in the novels of Georgette Heyer. Several reputable research sites still list this myth as fact, which only strengthens the truth behind the adage of always going to the source. In a review dated 16 July 1816, a writer from the London Times reported:  “We remarked with pain that the indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced (we believe for the first time) at the English court on Friday last.” This was the King’s Birthday Ball. Although the waltz had been danced in England much earlier than this (privately, and especially in the country and by the lower orders), the writer notes that inclusion at the Kings Birthday Ball will make the popularity of the waltz spread like disease. Despite this writer’s near apoplexy over the dance, no mention was made of permission nor patronesses. It seems were there a way to stem the tide of its unfettered acceptance, this writer would have stressed any restrictions.

“So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced on the respectable classes of society by the civil examples of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion.”

9. The legitimization of a bastard. Never. Ever. A natural child could be included in a will to receive money or unentailed property, and they could be acknowledged openly by the family, but they could never claim legitimacy nor be put in the line of inheritance.

10. The concept of adoption. Much like a bastard, an orphan or foundling could be taken in and receive money or property in a will, but there was no concept of adoption as we know it. This can be confusing because bringing an orphan or foundling into the home was called adoption – but it’s not a legal term, just a familial one.

His Royal Highness George, The Prince of Wales, in Blackadder the Third.

His Royal Highness George, The Prince of Wales, in Blackadder the Third.

🌟 11. BONUS: The misuse of titles. I’m going all-in on this clanker, which probably deserves a rant post of its own. When writing about the aristocracy,  there’s just no escaping the necessity of proper address and use of titles. Could a reader ever take seriously a story set in a hospital where the doctor was always addressed “Mr. Randall?” Likewise, would it pull a reader out of the story if nurse Stephanie Smith was addressed as Doctor Smith in her scenes? That’s a contemporary example of the misuse of titles. I’d love to declare a universal embargo on lordly dukes and baronets (His Grace and Sir FirstName, if you please), married ladies going by their first names, and unmarried ladies sporting title names. Does anyone else hear nails on a chalkboard? To be in the know, reference Nancy Mayer, Laura Ann Wallace (Chinet), or venerable Debrett’s.

I write Regency romance and will be the first one to admit that I make multiple mistakes; some are discovered before publishing, and some slip through the editing net and go live. It is a difficult job to keep everything straight all the time. But guess what?! It’s my genre and I’m sticking with it. With great power comes great responsibility – the responsibility to do all that I can to thoroughly research and produce an authentic product.

So what do you think? Did I miss some big clankers? Are any of these lovelies too delightful to stop using? Is clanker too harsh a word – would you prefer “trope?” Am I too nitpicky? Tell me what you think in the comments below!

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Clanker

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Clanker

FOLLOWING the FASHION,  St. James's giving the TON: a Soul without a Body, Cheapside aping the MODE: a Body without a Soul; James Gillray, 1794, Library of Congress.

FOLLOWING the FASHION, St. James’s giving the TON: a Soul without a Body, Cheapside aping the MODE: a Body without a Soul; James Gillray, 1794, Library of Congress.

 

Many things in life boil down to two things: context and perspective.

The situation in which events, ideas, or statements occur gives rise to our attitudes and points of view: context and perspective.

It’s the same way with a lie. Whether it is a great lie or a white lie depends on the context (circumstances) and the perspective (our interpretation). There are as many terms for lies as there are degrees, but I do have a favorite for its onomatopoetic beauty.

 

 

Clanker (noun)half a truth is often a great lie ben franklin

A great lie.

See also canterbury story, coker, gammon, gun, hummer, rapper, stretch, swingding-clap, taradiddle, whisker, and wrinkle.

 

All definitions and/or examples taken from Online Etymological DictionaryCant: A Gentleman’s Guide, and/or 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.