Please help me welcome today’s guest with a fascinating article…
The French and the English: Their Trouble Relationship in Regency Romance
By Eleanor Webster
I have always loved history. I spent much of my childhood imaging myself in gorgeous gowns while stomping about in the clothes my mother ‘made me wear’. I know real life wasn’t very glamorous – but in my imagination… The Regency Period has always been of particular interest, likely due to a youthful over- indulgence in Georgette Heyer.
However, in addition to Heyer, this period fascinates because it is a society in the throes of change. During my first novel, No Conventional Miss, I focused on the emergence of innovation connected with the Industrial Revolution. My protagonist creates several inventions, including a butter churn. By the way, current historians now recognize the scientific contributions of some amazing women! Three cheers for Sarah Guppy inventor of the tea or coffee urn, which also cooked eggs and warmed toast. Oh yes, and she also figured out a way to keep barnacles off ships.
My new book, Married for His Convenience, is set slightly earlier during the French Revolution. This era has also always fascinated me; those wonderful ideals which so soon dissolved into blood thirsty chaos. Married for His Convenience touches on that time period and explores its impact on a family touched by its violence.
The French Revolution greatly impacted English society. More than 40,000 French refugees came, many arriving with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Never reluctant to turn tragedy into a high society event, Victims’ Balls were thrown. When a gentleman entered the party, he would bow his head as if presenting it to the guillotine while women wore red ribbons about their necks to symbolize spilled blood.
Not surprisingly, the French and American Revolutions frightened the British upper classes that were somewhat attached to their heads. This made the British even more hesitant to improve the life of the working poor or change the electoral system.
The society of the time is also a fascinating study in French/English relations, which is another intriguing topic. My mother, staunchly middle-class from Sheffield, England, was never a tremendous fan of the French language or culture. As an adolescent, I found this surprising. Had France and England not been allied during two world wars? Moreover, thanks to Georgette Heyer, I knew that every educated person had to speak French with fluency. Therefore, I was surprised when my own attempts at French conjugations were met by a muffled grunt by my maternal unit.
However, the British and their relationship with French language and culture has historically been influenced by class. During regency times and beyond, the aristocracy adored the French language, art, fashion, food, wine, furniture. Indeed, the fact that the two countries were at war between 1793 and 1815 (except for a brief truce in 1802), did nothing to lessen this fascination.
In contrast, the British populace, the poor and growing middle class, were strongly anti-French. This attitude was fueled less by the enemy and more perhaps by the French fascination of their own aristocracy. Therefore, my personal theory is that this sentiment continues, perhaps even to this day, and certainly influenced my own mother, grounded as she was in Yorkshire commonsense and middle-class practicality.
As for me, the unraveling of societal mores and influences throughout the ages make the study of history even more fascinating.
Married for His Convenience
Tainted by illegitimacy, plain Sarah Martin has no illusions of a grand marriage. So when the Earl of Langford makes her a proposal that will take her one step closer to finding her half sister, she can’t refuse!
Sebastian’s dreams of romance died with his late wife’s affair, so now he needs a convenient wife to act as governess for his silent daughter. Yet Sarah continues to surprise and challenge him, and soon Sebastian can’t deny the joy his new bride could bring to his life—and into his bed!
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About Eleanor Webster
Eleanor Webster has a passion for many things, the most ardent likely being shoes.
But she’s also passionate about a story well told. With the help of some debutantes and viscounts and a twist of the unknown, Eleanor’s stories weave a tale of enchantment, hope, and most importantly, love.
When not writing, you’ll find Eleanor dreaming of being a world traveler, reading, running, reading, hiking in the wilds of British Columbia, where she makes her home with her husband and two daughters, and – did we mention reading?
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