Tag Archives: Regency era

Dress in the Age of Jane Austen: Regency Fashion Book Review

Clothes are more than pieces of cloth that cover our naked bodies. They tell us about the culture, the values, the beliefs, etc of a specific time period or people.

Dress in the Age of Jane Austen: Regency Fashion, by Hilary Davidson, was published in 2019. The book explores the specific fashion of the regency era and how it reflected the larger societal changes from 1795 to 1825. Using Jane Austen’s work as a base, Davidson goes into detail about the clothing for various settings, classes, and events.

Anyone who knows me knows that this book is obviously up my alley. Though it is a niche topic, it is a fascinating deep dive into not just this world, but the fashion of the time.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Dress in the Age of Jane Austen: Regency Fashion is available wherever books are sold.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, History, Jane Austen

Regency Review Roundup: Sanditon and Bridgerton Season 2 Reviews

*There will be spoilers for Sanditon.

The Regency era is an interesting time in human history. Looking back, it is easy to see that, as a species. we are on the road to the modernity that is life today. But we are also still clinging to the rules and social structure of previous generations.

Bridgerton

After a year and a half wait, season two of Bridgerton premiered last weekend on Netflix. It’s been nine months since the narrative of season one ended. Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Bassett (Phoebe Dyvenor and Rege-Jean Page, who decided to move onto other projects) are happily married and have a baby boy. The oldest Bridgerton son Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) has decided it is his time to settle down. Among the eligible women of the ton, he chooses Edwina Sharma (Charitha Chandran). But before they can walk down the aisle, he has to get through her overprotective older sister, Kate (Simone Ashley). She is tough, smart, and unwilling to compromise on whom she sees as her future brother-in-law. The problem is that there is something between Anthony and Kate that cannot be ignored.

If last season one was hot, this season has the fire of several volcanoes exploding at the same time. The chemistry between Ashley and Bailey is intense. The enemies to lovers/slow-burn narrative is so perfect that I would recommend that anyone who wants to write a good romance novel watch this series. It’s that good.

Sanditon

Its been nine months since the audience has spent time with the denizens of Sanditon. After the death of her first love, Sydney Parker (Theo James), Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) has returned to the seaside town and the Parkers. Bringing her younger sister, Alison (Rosie Graham) with her, Charlotte reunites with old friends while making new male acquaintances. Among them are Charles Lockhart (Alexander Vlahos) and Colonel Francis Lennox (Tom Weston-Jones).

With her usual tenacity and intelligence, Charlotte is trying to move on with her life. But she is still grieving (as I suspect the viewers are as well) for what might have been, had things gone in another direction. As much as we all miss Sydney, I feel like this is opening the door for new opportunities for her in both the romantic and career arenas (as much as a woman could have back then). Akin to Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) dying in a car crash at the end of the third season of Downton Abbey, it was a heartbreaking loss. But I feel like if we look at it from a modern perspective, this unexpected change is normal. Not everyone spends their life with the first person they fell in love with. It sometimes takes a few years and a few relationships to find your other half.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Bridgerton is available for streaming on Netflix. Sanditon airs on PBS on Sunday night at 9PM.

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Filed under Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Netflix, Television, TV Review

The Courtship Review

It’s easy to look at the past with rose-colored glasses. This is especially true when it comes to love and romance. Modern dating sometimes comes off as dry or lacking that spark.

The new NBC reality dating show, The Courtship, premiered last night. The best way to explain it is Jane Austen meets The Bachelorette. Nicole Remy is our heroine. Fed up with the apps, hookup culture, etc, she “travels” back to the Regency era, hoping to meet her future husband. Joining her as her advisors are her parents, her sister, and her best friend. Vying for Nicole’s heart are sixteen suitors, each hoping to be the one.


My first thought on watching this show is how much I appreciate a man in Regency garb. It’s one of the reasons I love this period.
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Fangirling aside, it is a unique twist on a genre and subgenre that we have become all too familiar with. Though the I do have two things to nitpick on. The first is Nicole’s outfits (so far). The dresses are beautiful, but they are not exactly authentic to the time. The second is a scene that I will not elaborate on for those who did not watch it. What I will say is that in Austen’s era, it would have created a major scandal.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Courtship airs on NBC on Sunday night at 8PM.

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Mansfield Park Character Review: Mrs. Norris

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the novel Mansfield Park. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or watched any of the adaptations. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Every story needs a good antagonist. Without that character, the protagonist is not challenged and basically, the reader or viewer has no reason to pay attention to the narrative. In Mansfield Park, Mrs. Norris is the eldest of the three Ward sisters. While her younger sister, Lady Bertram, married into the aristocracy, her youngest sister, Mrs. Price (mother of the book’s heroine, Fanny) disobliged her family by marrying a penniless sailor. Saying “I do” to a clergyman, she took advantage of the proximity to her sister and brother-in-law. Incensed that the baby of the family, Frances, chose a man that was far beneath her, the result of this choice was an angry letter followed by radio silence.

More than a decade later, Frances reaches out to her elder sisters, needing help. With many mouths to feed and a small income to support them, she has no choice but to contact them. As a result, Fanny is brought to Mansfield Park. The original plan was for Fanny to reside with Mr. and Mrs. Norris. But Mrs. Norris, who lacks any maternal instincts, except for those that will raise her social standing, forces Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram to take on the responsibility of caring for their niece.

Five years later, Mrs. Norris is now and widow and has moved into the big house. Giving Fanny the Cinderella treatment, she openly favors her elder nieces, Maria and Julia Bertram. Another of Fanny cousin’s, Edmund tries to interject, but his arguments cannot sway his aunt. She is the first one to bring up the idea of a marriage between Maria and Mr. Rushworth, knowing that the union is tentative until Sir Thomas gives his approval.

By the end of the story, she is still the social climber who clings tenuously to familial connections. Living with the now divorced and scandalized Maria, she remains as she ever was. But she cannot keep Fanny down. Fanny still marries Edmund and has her own version of happily ever after.

To sum it up: If there was one character who was the Austen villain, Mrs. Norris is it. She exemplifies the worst characteristics of the Regency era and the emphasis on money, class, and status. In being unable to see past these qualities, there is nothing redeemable or even likable about her.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Fairy Tales, Feminism, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Throwback Thursday: Pride and Prejudice (1940)

The reputation of an on-screen adaptation of a beloved novel is based on the response from the fanbase. It can also be a generational thing. While the original audience may adore that version, future generations may have another opinion.

The first time Pride and Prejudice hit the big screen was in 1940. With a screenplay co-written by Aldous Huxley (Brave New World), Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier played the roles of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. As in the book, misunderstandings turn into appreciation, which then turns into love.

Anyone who follows this blog (or knows me), knows that I have nothing but adoration and admiration for Jane Austen. Her most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, is literary perfection. That being said, I cannot stomach this movie. The problem is twofold. The first is that I am missing Austen’s famous sardonic wit and sarcastic observations that elevate her stories beyond the standard romantic comedy or drama. The second is that the costumes are closer to the Victorian era than the Regency era.

I get that it was made during World War II and movie-goers at the time needed a pick me up. But I wish that the creative team had not taken as many liberties as they did.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Filed under Books, History, Jane Austen, Movie Review, Movies, Pride and Prejudice, Throwback Thursday

Clueless Character Review: Travis Birkenstock

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations. When it comes to love, there is sometimes a tug of war as to whom we want to be with vs. who others think we should be with. In Clueless, Travis Birkenstock (Breckin Meyer) doesn’t exactly rank very high on the social ladder. He is an underachieving skater boy who is looked down on by Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) and her friends.

When Travis and new girl Tai Fraser (Brittany Murphy) start crushing on each other, Cher steps in. Like her regency era counterpart, Emma Woodhouse, Cher cannot and will not see her friend/protégé hook up with someone who she perceives to be beneath her. Just as Emma convinces Harriet Smith to turn down Mr. Martin’s proposal in favor of a potential match with Mr. Elton, Cher tries to convince Tai that BMOC Elton Tiscia (Jeremy Sisto) is the better choice.

When Elton reveals his true f*ck boy nature, Cher backs off. Tai and Travis are given the opportunity to be a couple and let fate take its course.

To sum it up: It has been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Though Travis may not appear to be anyone’s ideal romantic partner, he is eventually revealed to be a good guy who is the right person for Tai.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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Filed under Books, Character Review, Emma, Jane Austen, Movies

Jane Austen: Writing, Society, Politics Book Review

Art does not come from nothing. It comes from the world around us and the experiences that have shaped our lives.

Jane Austen: Writing, Society, Politics by Tom Keymer, was published last year. In the book, Keymer walks the reader through the Regency era and how that world had a hand in developing her voice as a writer. He goes into the politics of the period, the complete disenfranchisement of women, and how a strict, but slowly fading class system played a role in her work.

I loved it. It was short, concise, and a reminder as to why Austen’s work continues to be timeless and universal. I will say, however, that it is aimed at two specific and different groups of readers. The book can be read in an academic setting, but it is neither dry nor stuffy. It also squarely falls into the Janeite camp. My one warning is that to truly enjoy it, the reader should be well versed in her life and work. Otherwise, they may not understand the nuances and the details that a long-time Jane Austen fan can easily identify.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Politics, Writing

Mad and Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency Book Review

Towards the end of Jane Austen‘s novel, Persuasion, there is a conversation about books and the portrayal of women within the world of literature. This conversation ends with the following statement that is as true in Austen’s time as it is in ours.

“Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”

The new non fiction book, Mad and Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency, was published in the fall. Written by Bea Koch (co-owner of the Los Angeles area bookstore, The Ripped Bodice), the book tells the story of women who did not fall in the White/upper class/Heterosexual/Christian category. It shines the spotlight of women of color, Jewish women, female members of the LBGTQ community, and women who actively chose to step out of the boundaries of what was considered to be appropriately “feminine”.

I wish that this book had been around when I was younger. It is one of the best history books I have read in a long time. It is educational, entertaining, and a reminder that there have always been women who have been willing to buck tradition to follow their own path.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Persuasion

Bridgerton Series Review

A good romance has the power to metaphorically sweep the audience off their feet.

The new Netflix series, Bridgeton premiered on Friday. Set in Regency era England, the program follows the romantic trials and tribulations of the eight children of the widowed Lady Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell). Her children are named in alphabetical order, from A-H. It is based on the book series by Julia Quinn and the first book in series (The Duke and I). The female protaganist is Lady Bridgerton’s eldest daughter, Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), who is entering her first Season.

The initial response to Daphne, according to the unseen narrator and gossip Queen, Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews), is that she is the one to watch. But before Daphne can enjoy the spotlight, she is downgraded by Lady Whistledown to persona non grata. On the flip side, the husband that every match-making mama wants for her daughter is Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page). Having recently come into the title after the death of his father, Simon has made it clear that he is content to remain a bachelor for the rest of his days.

Simon and Daphne have a plan. They will pretend to court. He will appear to be spoken for and she will have more suitors than she knows what do with. But like many plans, there is a hitch. Somewhere along the way, their relationship begins to change.

Bridgerton is easily the best new television program of the year. In a nutshell, it is Jane Austen meets Shondaland. I love the diversity, I love the characters, and I love the smart and capable women who populate this world.

This Regency nerd is ready for season 2. Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Bridgerton is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Jane Austen, Netflix, Television, TV Review

Mr. Malcolm’s List Book Review

The world of dating and romance can sometimes be cutthroat.

Mr. Malcolm’s List, written by Suzanne Allain was originally published in 2009 and re-published this year. Jeremy Malcolm is the younger son of an Earl in Regency Era England. Handsome and wealthy, he is considered to be the ideal husband. Though he is ready to marry, he will not marry just anyone.

To throw off any woman who would marry him for less than honest reasons, Jeremy compiles a list which contains the qualities that his future wife must have. Rumors of this list and it’s contents have spread. Julia Thistlewaite is one of the many women who has tried and failed to become Mrs. Malcolm.

Angry at being rejected, she invites her old school friend, Selina Dalton to spend some time with her in London. Selina reluctantly agrees to join Julia on her plan of revenge. When Jeremy starts to judge Selina based on this list, she decide to judge him back based on her own version of the perfect husband.

I loved this book and I think my fellow Jane Austen fans will as well. Mr. Malcolm was created in the image of Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice), creating a love/hate relationship with the reader. I appreciated the satire, the humor, the charm, and the reverence for the era.

I recommend it.

P.S. I recommend that you watch the short film that came out last year based on the book. It is the perfect companion to it’s literary predecessor.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice