Historical Romance Generator

Just for laughs, here’s a shortcut for writing the next great historical romance novel 🙂

 

HERO

HEROINE

PLOT

SETTING

EXTRAS

Duke

Lady

Friends to Lovers

London

Ball

Marquis

Miss

Scandal

Scotland

Opera

Earl

Spinster

Convenience

Country Seat

Musicale

Viscount

Bluestocking

Impoverished

Continent

Hyde Park

Military Man

Wallflower

Fake Engagement

High Seas

Picnic

Second Son

Governess

Reformed Rake

America

Bond Street

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

The New Yearright

“A good New Year, with many blessings in it!”
Once more go forth the kindly wish and word.
A good New Year! and may we all begin it
With hearts by noble thought and purpose stirred.

The Old Year’s over, with its joy and sadness;
The path before us is untried and dim;
But let us take it with the step of gladness,
For God is there, and we can trust in Him.

What of the buried hopes that lie behind us!
Their graves may yet grow flowers, so let them rest.
To-day is ours, and it must find us
Prepared to hope afresh and do our best.

God knows what finite wisdom only guesses;
Not here from our dim eyes the mist will roll.
What we call failures, He may deem successes
Who sees in broken parts the perfect whole.

And if we miss some dear familiar faces,
Passed on before us to the Home above,
Even while we count, through tears, their vacant places,
He heals our sorrows with His balm of Love.

No human lot is free from cares and crosses,
Each passing year will bring both shine and shower;
Yet, though on troubled seas life’s vessel tosses,
The storms of earth endure but for an hour.

And should the river of our happy laughter
Flow ‘neath a sky no cloud yet overcasts,
We will not fear the shadows coming after,
But make the most of sunshine while it lasts.

A good New Year! Oh, let us all begin it
With cheerful faces turning to the light!
A good New Year, which will have blessings in it
If we but persevere and do aright.

—E. Matheson

left down

From Yule-Tide in Many Lands by Mary P. Pringle and Clara A. Urann (a Project Gutenberg ebook).

Who Emma’d Better?

Who Emma’d Better?

As 2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Emma, how fun would it be to compare and contrast those who’ve brought Emma to the big, little, and computer screens?! Silly to be sure, but as Emma herself states, “One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.”

Because Emma, like many Austen novels, has been styled for both the 19th and 20th centuries, this post will focus on the contemporaneous adaptations. One American, Gwyneth Paltrow, and two English, Kate Beckinsale and Ramola Garai, filled the lady from Highbury’s shoes. Unfortunately for Kate, her television adaptation came out the same year as the big-screen and budget Gwyneth Paltrow flick, so captures of her performance are few and far between.

I do not know whether it ought to be so, but certainly silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way. Wickedness is always wickedness, but folly is not always folly.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Emma, Miramax Films, 1996

Gwyneth Paltrow, Emma, Miramax Films, 1996

 

 

 

Elton may talk sentimentally, but he will act rationally." Mr. Knightley to Emma, Chapter VIII.

“Elton may talk sentimentally, but he will act rationally.”
Mr. Knightley to Emma, Chapter VIII.

 

 

 

 

"I have never had a high opinion of Frank Churchill." Mr. Knightley to Emma, Chapter XIII.

“I have never had a high opinion of Frank Churchill.”
Mr. Knightley to Emma, Chapter XIII.

 

 

 

 

 

"Brother and sister! no, indeed." Mr. Knightley to Emma, Chapter II

“Brother and sister! no, indeed.”
Mr. Knightley to Emma, Chapter II

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Her situation should secure your compassion. It was badly done, indeed!" Mr. Knightley to Emma, Chapter VII

“Her situation should secure your compassion. It was badly done, indeed!”
Mr. Knightley to Emma, Chapter VII

 

 

 

 

"But if he seems sad, I'll know that John has advised him against it. I love John!" Movie quote, not canon.

“But if he seems sad, I’ll know that John has advised him against it. I love John!”
Movie quote, not canon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Or he may seem sad because he fears telling me he will marry my friend. How can John let him do that? I hate John!" Movie quote, not canon.

“Or he may seem sad because he fears telling me he will marry my friend. How can John let him do that? I hate John!”
Movie quote, not canon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more." Mr. Knightley to Emma, Chapter XIII

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”
Mr. Knightley to Emma, Chapter XIII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

accent horizontal lines close crop

 

 

Kate Beckinsale, Emma, ITV, 1996

Kate Beckinsale, Emma, ITV, 1996

 

It was as much as Emma could bear, without being impolite. Chapter XIV

It was as much as Emma could bear, without being impolite.
Chapter XIV

 

How long had Mr. Knightley been so dear to her, as every feeling declared him now to be? Emma, Chapter XII

How long had Mr. Knightley been so dear to her, as every feeling declared him now to be?
Emma, Chapter XII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Oh! then, don't speak it, don't speak it," she eagerly cried. "Take a little time, consider, do not commit yourself." Emma to Mr. Knightley, Chapter XIII

“Oh! then, don’t speak it, don’t speak it,” she eagerly cried. “Take a little time, consider, do not commit yourself.”
Emma to Mr. Knightley, Chapter XIII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I stopped you ungraciously, just now, Mr. Knightley, and, I am afraid, gave you pain.—But if you have any wish to speak openly to me as a friend, or to ask my opinion of any thing that you may have in contemplation—as a friend, indeed, you may command me.—I will hear whatever you like. I will tell you exactly what I think." Emma to Mr. Knightley, Chapter XIII

“I stopped you ungraciously, just now, Mr. Knightley, and, I am afraid, gave you pain.—But if you have any wish to speak openly to me as a friend, or to ask my opinion of any thing that you may have in contemplation—as a friend, indeed, you may command me.—I will hear whatever you like. I will tell you exactly what I think.”
Emma to Mr. Knightley, Chapter XIII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

accent horizontal lines close crop

 

 

Romola Garai, Emma, BBC One, 2009

Romola Garai, Emma, BBC One, 2009

"There are secrets in all families." Mr. Weston, Chapter 14

“There are secrets in all families.”
Mr. Weston, Chapter 14

"Where shall we see a better daughter, or a kinder sister, or a truer friend?" Mr. Weston to Mr. Knightley, on Emma; Volume 1, Chapter 5

“Where shall we see a better daughter, or a kinder sister, or a truer friend?”
Mr. Weston to Mr. Knightley, on Emma; Volume 1, Chapter 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer." Emma; Volume 2, Chapter 9

“A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer.”
Emma; Volume 2, Chapter 9

"It is always incomprehensible to a man that a woman should ever refuse an offer of marriage. A man always imagines a woman to be ready for anybody who asks her." Emma to Mr. Knightley; Volume 1, Chapter 8

“It is always incomprehensible to a man that a woman should ever refuse an offer of marriage. A man always imagines a woman to be ready for anybody who asks her.”
Emma to Mr. Knightley; Volume 1, Chapter 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Better be without sense, than misapply it as you do." Mr. Knightley to Emma; Volume 1, Chapter 8

“Better be without sense, than misapply it as you do.”
Mr. Knightley to Emma; Volume 1, Chapter 8

"I am very much astonished, Mr. Elton. This to me! you forget yourself—you take me for my friend—any message to Miss Smith I shall be happy to deliver; but no more of this to me, if you please." Emma to Mr. Elton; Chapter 15

“I am very much astonished, Mr. Elton. This to me! you forget yourself—you take me for my friend—any message to Miss Smith I shall be happy to deliver; but no more of this to me, if you please.”
Emma to Mr. Elton; Chapter 15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Whom are you going to dance with?" asked Mr. Knightley. She hesitated a moment, and then replied, "With you, if you will ask me." Volume 3, Chapter 2

“Whom are you going to dance with?” asked Mr. Knightley. She hesitated a moment, and then replied, “With you, if you will ask me.”
Volume 3, Chapter 2

"Can you trust me with such flatterers?—Does my vain spirit ever tell me I am wrong?" Emma to Mr. Knightley; Volume 3, Chapter 2

“Can you trust me with such flatterers?—Does my vain spirit ever tell me I am wrong?”
Emma to Mr. Knightley; Volume 3, Chapter 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She was vexed beyond what could have been expressed—almost beyond what she could conceal. Never had she felt so agitated, mortified, grieved, at any circumstance in her life. She was most forcibly struck. Volume 3, Chapter 3

She was vexed beyond what could have been expressed—almost beyond what she could conceal. Never had she felt so agitated, mortified, grieved, at any circumstance in her life. She was most forcibly struck.
Volume 3, Chapter 3

There, with spirits freshened, and thoughts a little relieved, she had taken a few turns, when she saw Mr. Knightley passing through the garden door, and coming towards her. Volume 3, Chapter 13

There, with spirits freshened, and thoughts a little relieved, she had taken a few turns, when she saw Mr. Knightley passing through the garden door, and coming towards her.
Volume 3, Chapter 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Tell me, then, have I no chance of ever succeeding?" He stopped in his earnestness to look the question, and the expression of his eyes overpowered her. "My dearest Emma," said he, "for dearest you will always be, whatever the event of this hour's conversation, my dearest, most beloved Emma—tell me at once." Mr. Knightley to Emma; Volume 3, Chapter 13

“Tell me, then, have I no chance of ever succeeding?” He stopped in his earnestness to look the question, and the expression of his eyes overpowered her.
“My dearest Emma,” said he, “for dearest you will always be, whatever the event of this hour’s conversation, my dearest, most beloved Emma—tell me at once.”
Mr. Knightley to Emma; Volume 3, Chapter 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did she say? Just what she ought, of course. A lady always does. She said enough to show there need not be despair – and to invite him to say more himself. Volume 3, Chapter 13

What did she say? Just what she ought, of course. A lady always does. She said enough to show there need not be despair – and to invite him to say more himself.
Volume 3, Chapter 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next week I’ll examine the modern Emma.

Remember, Remember . . .

Remember, Remember . . .

The Fifth of November
English Folk Verse (c.1870)

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

The Regency Era Horror Movie

The Regency Era Horror Movie

Although still half a century from the inception of the moving picture, the Regency did have its own visual amusement: the Phantasmagoria. People gathered in parlors and drawing rooms with only a few candles barely preventing the space from being entirely pitch. Mysterious noises without source began: rattling, scratching, whispering. The level of excitement and fear grew with each sound. Suddenly, a ghost swooped across the room while a skeleton gamboled in a corner. The crowd gasped and some screamed or swooned.

Les Fantasmagories d'Etienne-Gaspard Roberston

The Phantasmagoria owed its attraction and success to two things: the magic lantern and Étienne-Gaspard Robert. The magic lantern had been around since the late 15th-early 16th century. It consisted of a box holding a concave mirror situated in front of a candle; the gathered light then passed through a decorated glass slide.

phantasmagoria lantern peep

This lighted image was then reckoned through a lens, and a larger version of the likeness could be projected anywhere in the room. The darker, more menacing the image, the bigger the scare.

Étienne-Gaspard Robert was a Belgian physicist and stage magician (in addition to being one of the foremost balloonists of his day). He elevated the magic lantern to sublimity by turning a relatively simple parlor trick into an encompassing performance.

 A Phantasmagoria Scene Conjuring Up An Armed Skeleton, James Gillray, 1803

A Phantasmagoria Scene Conjuring Up An Armed Skeleton, James Gillray, 1803

 

He wrote scripts with multiple scenes and employed actors to dd to the realism. He used smoke, multiple light sources, and even rear-projection magic lanterns to create a lifelike production that immersed attendees in the horror, and he loved to stage his events in abandoned buildings. By 1801, the Phantasmagoria was well-known in England, as theatres began projecting Banquo’s and Hamelt’s ghosts about the stage.

The concepts of the Phantasmagoria are alive and well – so to speak – at Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion attraction. A group of strangers are locked in a room whose walls promptly begin “stretching,” with the seemingly benign photos on the wall revealing tragiocomic and sinister aspects as they “grow.”

haunted mansion stretching room

Strolling deeper into the mansion reveals more creepy pictures…haunted mansion lantern effect medusa

and a talking head inside a crystal ball.

haunted mansion talking head crystal ball

Undead dancers waltz away their eternities…

haunted mansion dancers

while an eerie coachman can’t decide the best place for his head.

haunted mansion hatbox ghost

The usually somber graveyard has turned into a “lively” playground.

ghosts in the graveyard

Just remember not to pick up any hitchhikers on your way home.

haunted mansion hitchikers

 

Information on the Phantasmagoria and Étienne-Gaspard Robert compiled from J.A. Beard’s Unnecessary Musings, Metal on Metal, and Skulls in the Stars. I was in no way compensated for profiling a Disneyland attraction in this post; I am simply inordinately fond of the amusement park. My family has always explained my obsession love for Disneyland as the result for being born so near the park. Literally, my mom could look out her hospital window and see Space Mountain, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and the Matterhorn. And I’ve been there over 50 times. Some things are just fated.

A Regency Ghost Story

A Regency Ghost Story

the frightened carrier

 

i don't believe in ghosts

From Apparitions; Or, the Mysteries of Ghosts, Hobgoblins, and Haunted Houses, Developed. Being a Collection of Entertaining Stories, Founded on Fact; And Selected for the Purpose of Eradicating Those Ridiculous Fears, Which the Ignorant, the Weak, and the Superstitious Are But Too Apt to Encourage, For Want of Properly Examining Into the Causes of Such Absurd Impositions, by Joseph Taylor, 1814.

The best Mansfield Park adaptation you’ve not seen

The best Mansfield Park adaptation you’ve not seen

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Janeite in possession of a free afternoon must be in want of an Austen adaptation.

jane austen gives women unrealistic expectations

My least favorite Austen story is Mansfield Park. I’m just lukewarm to Fanny and Edmund. After an entire novel’s worth of watching and wishing by Fanny, and chummy brotherliness by Edmund, their ending seems less happily ever after as just – well – ever after. The argument could be made that two such meh people deserve are perfect for each other, and that love doesn’t always have to be passionate or tempestuous, but….pfft. I’ve always wished instead for Henry and Fanny to be transformed by love for each other. I wanted his liveliness to balance out her solemnity. I wanted her maturity to bring out responsibility in him. Together, he’d no longer be mercurial and she’d throw off the garb of milquetoast.

Sure, the story features Mary Crawford, Maria Betram Rushworth, and Aunt Norris – the original mean girls trifecta – blissfully selfish and possessed of doctorates in passive aggression. But secondary characters can’t carry or redeem an otherwise staid novel. I tolerate like them for the spice they add to the story, but I really only hope they get what they deserve. I have more sympathy and interest in the futures of Rushworth and Tom Bertram than I honestly do in Fanny and Edmund.

When YouTube suggested I might like a little webseries based on my sixth favorite Austen novel, I was in between television addictions (post Outlander, pre-Downton Abbey), and vulnerably bored. By the third “webisode,” I was pleasantly diverted. By the tenth, I was subscribed. I know it’s neither TV nor HBO, but it’s good. Really good.

mansfield with love horizontal

From Mansfield With Love, adapted and performed by the  Foot in the Door Theatre, is faithful to the original, earnest in its depictions, and utterly captivating. It’s the little adaptation that could. Mansfield Park still belongs to the family Bertram, but is here a country hotel. The Crawfords are Town designers who have come to refurbish the old relic, and Fanny – renamed Frankie – is in housekeeping. She vlogs to her Royal Navy brother Will, tangentially documenting the goings-on in everyone’s lives.

Henry Crawford (Peter Jennison), Mary Crawford (Aloña Walsh), Frankie Price (Holly Truslove), and Ed Bertram (Wesley Buckeridge).

The actors and writers of From Mansfield With Love have managed to make me sympathize with and adore Fanny/Frankie. They’ve also made me do what the book could not: completely ship Franny/Frankie and Henry, then loathe the thought of them together after the big betrayal. Ed Bertram, the congenial lifelong friend and new school teacher, could still do with a kick or two in his posterior. This portrayal, however, fully illustrates how Ed was comfortably complacent until something new shook him up, how his eyes were ultimately opened to what he had when the new spoiled, and how he could lose what he never knew he needed most. When the climax arrives and we see the true Mary, we finally see the true Edmund, thank the good Lord.

And the Rushworths – dear Lord, the Rushworths must be experienced!

The series began nine months ago with an engaging introductory episode. This week is episode 83 and Franny/Frankie is “Running on Empty” now that Henry’s done something again, Tom has been in a horrible accident, and Ed and Mary are having a tiff.  Big things are afoot! Might I suggest it’s a terrific time to binge-watch and catch up for what will undoubtedly be a big ol’ slice of satisfying ending?

PS – The troupe actually made a mini-movie of Lovers’ Vows. You really should watch the lead-up episodes for the squabbling, scheming, lusting, and Tom Bertram tantrums, but if you’ve always wanted to see a black-and-white, art nouveau version of the play, here you go:

PPS – Mary vlogs, too. At first they’re innocuous, just like Mary. They grow increasingly more Mary-ish. So delicious.