Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Joy of Reading Regency

I have a massive TBR pile. And a great deal of it is out of print Regency novels. I pick them up at charity book sales and fund raisers, I've a number of Zebra regencies given me by a friend, and I am trying to compile a complete set of the Harlequin Regency romance series released in the 1980s--more for the challenge than anything. I'm a collector at heart.

I often think that the decline in quality in Regency romances in the 1990's had a great deal to do with their disappearance in print. The quality of writing and research that went into the novels at the time of their greatest popularity was extremely uneven. The aforementioned Harlequin series ran the gamut from consummate professionals like Gwyneth Moore (Patricia Veryan) and Patricia Wynn to some absolutely abysmal writers obviously chosen merely to keep up the required publication numbers. Avon Regencies were in the main good, and Signet Regencies had high standards of both writing and historical accuracy. Zebra (Kensington) Regencies were much less good. I am passing on most of the ones I have been given--a great deal of the writing needed a strong editor with a sharp pencil. And the historical detail was sadly lacking. In one book, the heroine's father--Sir Alexander Frazer--was referred to as 'Sir Frazer' throughout. Such a little thing, such an easy thing to research, such an off-putting and annoying detail. I tossed all the work by that author!

I've recently discovered a little gem amongst the Zebras however; an author by the name of Joy Reed. Her Regency voice is very good, her details accurate and her characters--and their predicaments--are believable and enjoyable. Of course, she is out of print now, and I don't know what she is writing nowadays, but if you have access to out of print books, I recommend her.

And if you haven't read Patricia Veryan, I strongly recommend her. I have only ever had one quibble with her writing, and that is that all her heroines seem to have 'tiny hands'. It's an odd thing that has leapt out at me in her work. But I would never let it deter me from getting to know her wonderful, memorable characters, enjoying her masterfully described action scenes, or sighing over her HEAs.

Back to work here,

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Release - The Education of Portia

Well, "The Education of Portia" is at last released, and I have promoted it everywhere I can think of at the moment. I'm in the middle of a rash of on-line chats--one tonight at Romance at Heart, Thursday night at Fallen Angels. It is very satisfying to have a project come to completion, but one always wonders about the changes one could have made, and whether or not the sales will follow on the release.

But it's time to put all that aside and get on with the next project. "Emilina's Conquest" is going back to the editor as soon as I finish writing here; the cover is done (it's wonderful--a charming departure from the last few) and the editing is pretty much finished. It will be released in March.

I've added a new gadget in the right hand column. I'm making a list of other Regency and Jane Austen-related blogs that I have visited. They are well done blogs, worth reading if you love the Regency period. Please let me know if you have visited other blogs that are not on this list. I'd like to include them.

Happy reading!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Beau Brummell: This Charming Man

I finally had the opportunity to watch my new DVD about Beau Brummell. It really wasn't at all what I expected--I think I had Jane Austen movies too much in mind. But I did enjoy it.

The production is only 80 minutes long, and I wondered how they would capture such an intense, expansive life in so short a time. But actually it worked well for it emphasized Brummell's meteoric rise to fame and his equally swift fall to disgrace.

James Purefoy did an excellent job of playing the Beau. He captured very well the careless bravado, the insecurities, and the unfulfilled needs that must have marked the man. His depiction of Brummell moving from a free, determined spirit to a dependent of the Prince Regent and back again to freedom albeit poorer in all things, is masterly. The sexual license that marked the period in some circles is well illustrated; Brummell died of syphilis and the film leaves us in no doubt as to how he might have contracted that disease. The hint of homosexual activities is questionable, but as likely as anything else. I'm going to investigate how well Brummell knew Byron. I was not aware that there was a connection between the two, but they must have known each other of course.

The servant Robinson is beautifully portrayed by Philip Davis and Hugh Bonneville is outstanding as the Prince Regent. Too often Prinny is portrayed as a total buffoon, but Bonneville's version is much more believable: a man wily, intelligent, immature and not without his own charm.

The Regency period is well-presented--the dim candlelit interiors, the echoing halls of Carleton House, the casual violence and the stultifying idleness of the well-to-do. The costuming is convincing (those awful fops!) except for the Beau's fine shirt--which buttons all the way down the front! But they needed to do that for dramatic effect so I guess I'll repress my anal need for historical accuracy this once.

All in all "This Charming Man" is well worth watching. It's not a happy representation of the Regency period, but it is credible. Now I'm going to read that copy of Ian Kelly's "Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Dandy" that has been in my TBR pile for too long.

"The Education of Portia" is being released tomorrow, and "Emilina's Conquest" is finished editing and will be prepared for publishing as soon as I return it to Uncial! It's a busy time around here--

All the best,