Just like the Word of the Week, author Jane Austen grabs my attention. Even in my least favorite of her works, Mansfield Park (of which I am currently writing a twist upon as part of a group writing project for this Autumn – how’s that for a personal challenge?!)
Without being too de trop, those of us who are fans of Jane, fans of the Regency/Georgian genre or, even worse, meddle about writing stories in it … chances are we have found ourselves immersed in the language, customs, and history of the period.
But not the smells. Thank goodness, not the smells.
Firing a Gun
Introducing a story by head and shoulders. A man wanting to tell a particular story, said to the company, Hark! did you not hear a gun?–but now we are talking of a gun, I will tell you the story of one.
How To Tell If You Are In A Jane Austen Novel
❧ Someone disagreeable is trying to persuade you to take a trip to Bath.
❧ Your father is absolutely terrible with money. No one has ever told him this. [T R U T H]
❧ All of your dresses look like nightgowns.
❧ Someone disagreeable tries to persuade you to join a game of cards.
❧ A woman who hates you is playing the pianoforte. [Hopefully poorly.]
❧ A picnic has gone horribly wrong. [It was all that fresh air and sunshine.]
❧ A member of the armed forces has revealed himself to be morally deficient.
❧ You once took a walk with a cad. [I mean, who hasn’t, I ask you?]
❧ Everyone in the neighborhood, including your mother, has ranked you and your sisters in order of hotness. You know exactly where you fall on the list. [Fine eyes. Check.]
❧ You say something arch yet generous about another woman both younger and richer than you.
❧ You have one friend; he is thirty years old and does business with your father and you are going to marry him someday. [I dispute this as Austen unless it is barely Emma, but it is the plot point of a shocking amount of Regency romances.]
❧ You attempt to befriend someone slightly above or slightly below your social station and are soundly punished for it.
❧ A girl you have only just met tells you a secret, and you despise her for it. [Cleanup of Lucy Steele, aisle one!]
❧ You have five hundred a year. From who? Five hundred what? No one knows. No one cares. You have it. It’s yours. Every year. All five hundred of it.
❧ There are three men in your life: one true love, one tempting but rakish acquaintance, and a third distant possibility — he is courteous and attentive but only slightly interested in you. He is almost certainly the cousin or good friend of your true love, and nothing will ever happen between you two. [Well. This is obviously Mr. Darcy, Mr. Wickham, and Col. Fitzwilliam, but the fourth is missing: Mr. “What Excellent Boiled Potatoes” Collins.]
❧ A woman who is not your mother treats you like her own daughter. Your actual mother is dead or ridiculous.
❧ You develop a resentment at a public dance. [“Private balls are much pleasanter than public ones,” after all.]
❧ Someone you know has fallen ill. Not melodramatically ill, just interestingly so. [A trifling cold. Not COVID or anything.]
❧ A man proposes to you, then to another, lesser woman when you politely spurn him. This delights you to no end.
❧ A charming man attempts to flirt with you. This is terrible. [Absolutely horrible. Squee!]
❧ You have become exceedingly ashamed of what your conduct has been. [Badly done!]
❧ A shocking marriage of convenience takes place within your social circle two-thirds of the way in.
❧ A woman in an absurd hat is being an absolute bitch to you; there is nothing you can do about it. [Umm, Obstinate Headstrong Girls beg to differ, if you please.]
❧ You are in a garden, and you are astonished. [If I am in a garden, the plants are in mortal danger.]
~ From The Toast
Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.