Monday, January 7, 2019

The Red Tower Stories


Happy New Year!

"The Governess's Peculiar Journey" is now available for pre-order at Amazon and other e-booksellers! It's the end of the long writing process and the beginning of the marketing process.

However, here, I want to talk about writing the books, the how and why of the two Red Tower stories. The first, as you may know, was The Earl's Peculiar Burden. It took shape as I began to think, a few years ago, about how modern and amazing the Regency era in England would look to someone from several centuries earlier.

Most time-travel stories involve either someone from our current time traveling to the past, or someone from the past traveling to the present. In my time-travel story, I didn't want to involve the present day at all.

In the Red Tower stories I have taken the Regency era in England as my 'present day' and I bring characters from other eras to the Regency. So, in the first book, Ysmay of Scarsfield travels from the 1200s to the Regency and finds it a place of unimaginable advancement and wonder. 
 
This is how I see Ysmay when she first arrives from the Middle Ages. (Wikimedia Commons)
But in this new, second book, Avice Palsham, a governess from 1865, finds the Regency old-fashioned and she has a Victorian preconception of the era as immoral and uncouth.
This is how I visualize Avice in her 1865 garb. (Perov 'guvernanka kupe' [detail] from Wikimedia Commons)
It has been fascinating to imagine the characters' views of the Regency era in which they find themselves. To make those views authentic though took a lot of research. Fortunately, as you know, I love research, and because I have been reading English history for a long time, I had the books I needed right in my research library. 
 
A portion of my 'research library'
For a general overview, in writing both books, I referred to "The Culture of the English People" by N. J. G. Pounds and "A Social History of England" by Asa Briggs among other titles. For the Victorian era, I looked at "The Victorian Scene: 1837-1901" by Nicolas Bentley, and others (I must admit to having a lot of books on the Victorian period). The Medieval period is excellently described in the books of Frances and Joseph Gies written in the 1970s and 80s, including "Life in a Medieval Village" and "Life in a Medieval Castle".

It has been fun writing the Red Tower stories. There will probably be more, and who knows, one may include someone from our present-day travelling to the Regency. I will never say it will never happen! But time travel may have to wait a while--other Regency tales are swirling, there are characters who want their stories told.

If you ever wish to discuss writing in general, or in particular, please contact me. If you have a research question or problem you need help with, I would be glad to try and assist you. Also, you may notice that my blog has a brand-new look; I would love to know what you think of it.

'Til next time,

Lesley-Anne

Monday, December 3, 2018

Compliments of the Season -- Christmas 1815

1815 was a very good year. It heralded the end of the Napoleonic Wars that had troubled Europe for too many years. Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to Saint Helena, British soldiers and sailors had returned home; life surely would now improve.

Christmas of 1815 was celebrated as it had been for many years though, without the old traditions, with little fanfare, but quiet pleasures and substantial feasting. An excerpt from The Shepherd's Calendar by John Clare sets the scene:

DECEMBER.

GLAD Christmas comes, and every hearth
   Makes room to give him welcome now,
E’en want will dry its tears in mirth,
   And crown him with a holly bough;
Though tramping ’neath a winter sky,
   O’er snowy paths and rimy stiles,
The housewife sets her spinning by
   To bid him welcome with her smiles.

The Comic New Year's Budget of Song 1815 offered a seasonal illustration celebrating the year's successes:
The newspapers, as always, advertised gifts:
Bristol Mirror - Saturday 16 December 1815

Morning Post Sat 30 December 1815
Cookery books offered December table layouts that could very well be used for Christmas dinner service:
from The Universal Cook
 Such festivities were recorded in the Morning Post:
The costumes of the ladies for these festivities reflected the best trends from a Europe newly open to England:
English and French Fashions 1815 (Wikimedia Commons)
Fashion Plate 1815 - Austrian Hat and Pelisse (Wikimedia Commons)

The fashionable witzschoura, lavishly trimmed with squirrel, 1815 (Wikimedia Commons)
Royalty enjoyed themselves:
Morning Post, 30 December 1815
 And the season was summed up in a poem very typical of the era, pedantic and extravagant but determinedly rhyming.
Chester Chronicle - Friday 22 December 1815
I wish you and all your loved ones a Happy Christmas, a happy holiday season, and every good thing in the New Year!

'Til next time,

Lesley-Anne



Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Victorians consider the Regency: Magazines and Newspapers

This past August I wrote a blog about 1865 in the Regency. My new book, due out in February 2019, is titled The Governess's Peculiar Journey. (It just received an excellent review; I am so excited.) The governess in question time-travels from 1865 to 1815.

This is problematic for her as the mid-and late-Victorians found nothing to admire in the world of their fathers and grandfathers. Indeed they seem to have despised it, and regarded it as an embarrassment.

Victorian books on the recently past eras of George III, the Prince Regent (George IV) and his successor William IV abounded. And they weren't complimentary.

The book "When William IV was King" by John Ashton, published in 1896, began with the death of George IV in 1830. After reproducing articles on the sale of his Majesty's effects, he goes on to say that there was not much interest in the items and very little respect for either the late king or his possessions.
 And,
 "The Dawn of the XIXth Century in England: A Social Sketch of the Times" also by John Ashton, took on a more blatant note of disrespect, poking fun at ladies' fashions.

 And at the educational system of the earlier time:

"Follies & Fashions of our Grandfathers" by Andrew W. Tuer is designed in imitation of the journals popular at the beginning of the century. By taking unusual items from original magazines the author makes a new journal dated 1807 (some eighty years before the publication date). It pokes fun at the early days of the century whenever it can and the introduction contains some telling criticisms.

"The Year 1800 or The Sayings and Doings of our Fathers and Mothers: 60 Years Ago" by F. Perigal exposes the early part of the century in a different way. The author uses original newspaper and magazine items to illustrate different topics such as 'Amusements' and 'Science'. The items are carefully chosen to show the 'ignorance' of the earlier age.
Every era looks back at those before it with a certain degree of pity, and something of nostalgia. That Victorian era looked back to its Regency roots with disdain and distaste shows the Victorians in a unattractive light. 

My heroine revises her opinions about both eras! See more about the book at my website - http://www.lesleyannemcleod.com/

Next month, we'll look at Christmas...

'Til then, all the best,

Lesley-Anne



N.B. All books cited above should be available at Google Books for download.