A Short History Lesson (for me) for the Regency period

I love Regency romances and mysteries, but I don’t know enough about the history of the period to keep everything straight.  Luckily for me, my good friend M. L. Rigdon (aka Julia Donner) agreed to a Q & A to help promote her latest novel, MORE THAN A MILKMAID.

More than a Milkmaid--Mary Lou

Help me welcome her to my blog.  She’s my critique partner and close friend, and I’m also a huge fan of her writing—and not just because I’m prejudiced. I’m pretty picky about what I consider good writing. Not that anyone would know that. I simply don’t review books I don’t like or admire. And I admire her work. Her latest novel, MORE THAN A MILKMAID, is one of my favorites.

Thanks so much for asking me here today! And yes, you are biased, but for my latest venture into the Regency world, it may have to do with you providing the title. Remember? We were at a Scribes writing group and I whined about not being to come up with one. Thanks again for that!

I’ve been reading more novels than usual set in or close to the Regency period. The mystery I’m reading now makes the Prince Regent and his father, actually most of his family, look really bad. It shows the Prince as a spoiled, narcissistic hypochondriac and womanizer who’s so pampered, he couldn’t possibly rule a country. His “handlers” do it. Is this a realistic view of him? Was his father really mentally incompetent—crazy or Alzheimers—at this period?

George III reigned as one of the best monarchs until his mental condition worsened. He was admired for his devotion to his wife and family, huge contributions to charity, and his great pride in being an Englishman, even though 100% German. He was strict and pious, which unfortunately was not passed down to most of his children. His son, eventually George IV, was the opposite of his father in every way, although he did love one woman for many years. The problem was that she was unsuitable as a royal wife.

When the Regent became George IV in 1820, he burdened the country with massive debt. One estimate stated that he spent over 4 million a year on his stables. (A wealthy man spent around 5 thousand a year.) Add to that lavish parties and extravagant building projects. Since he behaved exactly the opposite of his father, George was widely unpopular and mocked.

Back to Dad, George III, the controversy regarding his illness is ongoing. In my opinion (take it as you will), the porphyria disease as the cause of his mental problems doesn’t fit. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t suffer from it, just that it’s doubtful it made him nuts. The arsenic found in the DNA from his hair also doesn’t sound like a true cause for dementia, which was intermittent. (Arsenic was an ancient remedy for many ailments, especially venereal disease, but George III was monogamous.) Bipolar fits better, especially since there are studies about neurotransmitters and George was born 2 months premature. High sex drive is often connected to bipolar and George fathered 15 kids. Hmmm…

Did the Prince go on to become a good king? Did the Hanover house lose its rule eventually? And when did Queen Victoria become queen? Close to this period?

George IV was a mess and fortunately reigned only a decade. His only legitimate heir died. The next in line of surviving brothers was William. He had no legitimate heirs, so the line moved to previously deceased Edward the Duke of Kent’s daughter, Victoria.

QE II is a descendant of the House of Hanover.

I get confused about what’s really happening in history at this time period. Is England still fighting the Napoleonic wars? When is the French revolution when French aristocracy fled to England for safety? You mention both in your books. Asterly was a spy for England against Napoleon and Cervantes’s mother fled the guillotine. Care to elaborate?

Napoleonic Wars started in 1800 in Europe. England entered the war in 1803 until 1815.

Louis XVI was executed January 1793 and Marie Antoinette 9 months later.

Reign of Terror began in the summer of 1793.

Significantly, Marquise de Lafayette returned to France and was never hassled. He was as admired there as he was, and still is, in the US.

Most of the books I’ve read in this period hint at how badly England treated Ireland and maybe Scotland, too. How bad was it? Which of your books dealt with this?

It’s mentioned in many of them but most detailed in The Dandy and the Flirt.

I’m not as familiar with Irish history, but the enclosures in Scotland were horrific, as bad as what the USA did to Native Americans.

In MORE THAN A MILKMAID, you have a wealthy father marry a greedy young bride who does everything possible to steal all of the inheritance he left to his daughters. How did inheritances for female offspring work at that time? What are entailments? How was the title and money passed on to heirs?

Primogeniture, inheritance in England of titles and properties, or entailment, cannot be sold. It follows the eldest born of the male line. Women only inherited if monies or properties, were specifically willed to them and administered through trustees or an elder male member of the family or a person of confidence.

 

In Heiress and the Spy, Elizabeth’s fortune was supposed to be administered by trustees. She directed them. In that case, I took liberties and had her late father arrange special conditions.

 

Dowry pertains to what the bride brings to the marriage. Everything she owns goes to her husband. A settlement had to do with what legal arrangements were set aside for the financial wellbeing of the wife/widow.

 

On a fashion note, the heroines in these stories wear day dresses and then dress for dinner each evening. Did they dress formally every evening?

It wasn’t unusual to change four or five times a day—clothes for the boudoir, morning dress for breakfast, carriage or walking dress, habits for riding, frocks for receiving callers. One always dressed for dinner and then there were different types of fancy dress, such as ball gowns or court dress. In the country, a woman could probably get away with changing twice a day. Men changed didn’t change quite as often but most certainly had specific attires for every event or social function.

Anything you care to tell us about this particular book?  An excerpt to tempt us?

 

I’ve gone on a bit long, as I often do when it comes to history, so will just add a blurb.

 

Lenora Asher’s happy future came to a tragic end when the lad she was contracted to marry lost his life in a fire. Grieving and rebellious, she refused to agree to her family’s plan for an alternate future. When they cast her off, she found work and refuge with an estranged aunt and settled into the struggle to survive—until one day she discovers the love she’d thought long dead was quite vibrantly alive. He returned to show her that the troubled road to happily-ever-after littered with barriers of doubt, distrust and resentment are no obstacle for a man risen from dead, one who will do whatever is needed to restore her love.

https://www.amazon.com/More-Than-Milkmaid-Friendship-Book-ebook/dp/B08426CBBF/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2XQJR2NRLJV2X&keywords=julia+donner&qid=1581613418&s=books&sprefix=Julia+donner%2Cstripbooks%2C154&sr=1-2

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML

Blog: https://historyfanforever.wordpress.com/

Website http://www.MLRigdon.com

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-donner

https://www.facebook.com/Julia-Donner-697165363688218/timeline

 

 

 

 

 

Writing: Picking a Fellow Writer’s Brain

I invited my friend and fellow writer, Mary Lou Rigdon, to my blog this week for a Q & A. We come at writing from different angles, so I thought you might like to hear another writer’s approach. She writes Regency romances under the name Julia Donner, and her book, The Tigresse and the Raven, will be on special this week, Jan. 19-23, on Kindle for $0.99!

1. How did you start writing historical romance?
First, thanks for asking me to come on your blog! And for all your advice that I find myself using every day.

My first full length work was western set, a time period I was immersed in while working in my aunt’s museum. Like most regency enthusiasts, I loved Georgette Heyer. Then I visited England and Scotland and fell utterly in love. You can actually feel the history.

2. Who are 2 of your favorite authors?

Cruel question when there are so many. I’ll take the two that come to mind first, Steinbeck and James Lee Burke.

3. 2 favorite movies? (I know you’re a movie buff) And your favorite food? (Okay, that’s my obsession).

The movie one is easy. The Best Years of Our Lives, because it’s about our country’s, as well as Great Britain’s, “finest hour.” There are many films with better everything else, but I cherish that one as a tribute to a generation we will never again be able to equal.

The food thing? There’re so many goodies and so little time, but to narrow it down, I must at all cost avoid kettle-cooked potato chips. I could stick my entire head in the bag and never come out.

4. What elements do you think are important, specifically, for romance? (You helped me with the “steps” of romance, and I appreciate it).

Investment in the characters. Conflicts and obstacles to overcome. If a sensual story, the heightening of physical attraction while creating an emotional impact on the reader. (Visceral impact, if erotica, which IMHO is not always romance.) The willingness for characters to change and grow, and establishing the changes at the ending in a way that enhances the relationship.

5. What is your philosophy of life? (Didn’t expect that, did you?) Of writing?

Pretty much what is prevalent in what I write, support and loyalty for those we love, finding the courage to do what must be done.

In life as well in the stories I write, I like to look back and see how environments, people, incidents, challenges, etc., have created positive or negative change.

6. You can get a bit steamy. Would you let your mother (if she were still around) read what you write?

Are you kidding? Twenty years ago, maybe not. I’m a lot older and a little wiser. She read the fantasy series but went to heaven before the romances came out. I think she’d scold me for the “steamy” stuff with a grin and a twinkle in her eyes.

7. Any theme for your latest book, The Duchess and the Duelist?

The same theme as the series, friendship. I am fortunate to have friends who never judge me, always have my back, and never bother to ask me for a reason when I need to ask for help. In this new release, Evangeline has to learn to trust the friendship she’s offered.

8. Setting is important in your genre. It’s important in the books you write as M. L. Rigdon, too. How do you set yours up?

It depends on the genre. Fantasy requires lots of world building, which has to be concrete in the mind before it gets to the page.

Contemporary has a much different voice and less of everything. More “white” on the page, as they used to say, less description and a leap right into the action.

Historical is all about the research, immersing oneself into the time period, more description, and familiarity with customs of the time period, in order to take the reader to that place in time, learning the vernacular and cadence of the spoken word. The historical readership knows their history, so beware.

9. What advice would you give a fellow writer?

Write or work on writing every day. Find a writing group sincere about the craft, who loves, as Stanislavski said, “the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.” Then listen to them.

10. And finally, out of all the protagonists and heroes you’ve written, do you have a favorite? (I have a crush on Asterly in your The Heiress and the Spy). Who’s yours and why?

Probably Ladnor-Sha from Prophecy Denied. The characters we writers create are often bits and pieces of ourselves, although there are writers who need to use living (or once-living) people.

The reason Ladnor’s a favorite is sadly obvious. Of all the characters I’ve created, he’s most like me, especially the bull-headed part.

Mary Lou, Thanks for being here and sharing with us!

Remember to look for her novel, The Tigresse and the Raven, on special this week on Amazon!(Jan. 19-23)
The Tigresse and the Raven (Book 1)
The Friendship Series
http://amzn.to/WuqY4b

Mary Lou’s blog: https://historyfanforever.wordpress.com/
Mary Lou’s webpage: http://mlrigdon.com/
The Tigresse and the Raven:
the_Tigresse_and_the_Raven_cover[1] (2)

Her newest Regency release:
The Duchess and the Duelist