The book I am reading right now is “A Friend of the Family” by Denice Greenlea, and it is a Regency romance novel. I am hooked on them lately. I have been interested in history for as long as I can remember. I loved looking at women’s clothing from the 1800″s and later I became interested in how people lived without electricity and indoor plumbing, among other things.
Regency romance follows the format of novels of the late 1700, early 1800’s, with Jane Austen being the prime example. Sometimes called “novel of manners”, the story follows the everyday live of the characters, who they interact with, how they react and interact and often, what they are wearing. In Regency time, the upper society had rigid rules of behavior and dress especially for the young, unmarried girls just entering society. People went places to see and be seen and clothing was important in this aspect. Women would wear indoor day dresses, then change to go out shopping or to ride in the park, then change for dinner and going out at night. And with modern internet searching, I can find examples of the clothing described in some of these books, which makes it all the more interesting to me.
I enjoy the description of everyday life, how the different levels of society interact with each other. I like learning history, as this is also the time of the Napoleonic wars, when English soldiers and sailors fought a war that did not effect the upper classes much. The lower classes supplied the bulk of the military and the upper class second sons were among the officers. The upper classes were inconvenienced that goods from France were under embargo but for a price, many goods were still for sale thanks to smugglers. For more military novels, Patrick O’Brian wrote about the naval history of the time, Bernard Cornwell writes the Sharpe series about the army history of this time, sometimes overlapping with the O’Brian stories, C. S. Forester wrote about Horatio Hornblower, another naval history, and Alexander Kent (pseudonym of Douglas Edward Reeman) also wrote naval stories. These authors place fictional characters at actual battles so the reader can get views from different characters at the same battle.
This is also the time of King George III, who lost America and had mental illness that lead to the Regency of his son, the Prince of Wales, George IV, hence the Regency title to this time period. The story of the royal family, the Prince’s mistresses and his fights with his wife Caroline, the life and death of their daughter Charlotte, the Prince’ extravagant spending during a time of war, and the King’s on again, off again mental health are often written about in these books.
Regency novels are also less racy than some modern historical romances, which some readers will appreciate. They are also usually shorter novels, which is good for me because I do not have lots of time to read.
So if you are interested in history and social behavior or just a good read, try Regency!