Tag Archives: jane austen

Satisfied Saturday Six

The SSS celebrates six things that have gone well, or at least okay, in the past week. It is the creation of Terry Egan, who is all things wonderful.

 

  1. I have been involved with Scope’s “End The Awkward” Valentine’s Campaign which owes thanks to Mills and Boon for their agreement to pastiche their covers, and it has been great fun.
  2. In fact, I wrote a little bit about it on the Huffington Post yesterday 🙂
  3. I also wrote a couple of poems this week, which is the first time for a while. I’m not very good at sticking to one genre.
  4. The first suggestions for covers for my novel The Sisterhood came through this week. OMG, there are brilliant cover artists out there! They are very and extremely talented, and apparently all working for Bella Books. It was very exciting.
  5. Meantime, I have been writing an article on ‘Kept Men’ in the Regency: I now know more than you do about marrying for money if you’re a bloke. And other things, but I haven’t got to that part of the article yet…
  6. Oh, and the ‘probably not wildly publishable but extremely enjoyable’ fiction writing is still going on. I have managed to write a disconcertingly large amount of words in the last month and have discovered that I am vaguely in love with one of my characters, which never usually happens at all. I am quite shocked by myself!

 

(It’s fairly obvious that I haven’t had much of an actual personal life this week, given that this is all about writing related things. This is slightly embarrassing, but you know – sometimes there are weeks like that. On other weeks, I’ve done practically nothing writing-related, so you gain some, you lose some!)

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Satisfied Saturday Six

The SSS celebrates six things that have gone well, or at least okay, in the past week. It is the creation of Terry Egan, who is all things wonderful.

^ I forgot to post this heading last week: huge apologies to Terry for that.

  1. It was my lovely son’s 10th birthday on Monday, which was quite the most important thing which happened this week. Double figures and everything – he’s getting very grown up!
  2. I met Rachael Hale, the History Magpie, this week for a chat, which was ever so pleasing! She’s writing a piece about local writers with an interest in history, and I was gabbling on at top speed about Georgian and Regency things. It’ll be amazing if she caught a single word, but it was really great to talk to her.
  3. Ooh, ooh, ooh, Thrace has been republished this week!  It’s a sci fi anthology of 3 novellas, each between 10,000 and 15,000 words and I consider it one of the best things I’ve written (as do the reviewers who have commented on Good Reads about it). Sadly it got very little sales first time around so I’m hoping for better this time. If you’re in to non-gendered aliens with tails (and if you aren’t, why on earth not?!), take a look at it. (More on this in a different post soon, I hope.)
  4. I also managed to type up a whole screed of the new novel, The Sisterhood, and write another couple of thousand words this week. I keep finding more things I need to research, but I am enjoying the story very much! I know I’m not writing for ‘me’ exactly, but it doesn’t half help confidence if I feel happy about what I’m writing.
  5. I went to the bookshops at the two universities local to me (Kent University, at which I studied many moons ago, and Christ Church University, at which I worked for more than a decade until I became too ill this year) and they’ve both agreed to stock Petticoats and Promises, which is splendid news.
  6. We’ve had a couple of days of sunny weather, which is lovely when we’re on the cusp of autumn.

Satisfied Saturday Six

The SSS celebrates six things that have gone well, or at least okay, in the past week. It is the creation of Terry Egan, who is all things wonderful.

1. This Thursday, I got to meet a very old friend whom I had never met in person before. We’ve been friends for over 15 years online, but as she lives in Alaska and I in the UK, trying to meet up has not been realistically. By chance, however, she was around locally just for one day – and I got to go and actually meet up! Fabulous.

2. I have finished the first draft of my article on toilet habits in the Regency Period. Not something I’d ever researched before, but it was strangely fascinating. And once again reminded me that I’m glad to live in a world of flushing toilets.

3. The sekrit project I mentioned last week is going from strength to strength and should hopefully be officially launched this week. Look out for a Huff Post story about it, as well as me going on about it all over Facebook and Twitter…

4. I ordered various things online recently, and they have been drifting through the post. Even when it’s something like a feather duster, or a maths book, it’s somehow still quite exciting to get parcels through the door! (And yes, I had ordered both of those things. Welcome to my world!)

5. Having damaged my back rather nastily a week ago, it’s feeling much better now. I had a few days of swearing and taking painkillers in large doses, and it has slowly been recovering so that now it’s not too bad as long as I don’t make any sudden twisty motions. (Or knit. Annoyingly, there is apparently a ‘knitting’ muscle in one’s back.)

6. I’ve been trying to lose weight for a while, and it’s finally beginning to pay off. I noticed in a recent photograph of myself that I didn’t look quite so enormous. As I’m unable to exercise, it’s really quite a challenge, so I’m quite proud of having managed to lose a bit.

Friday Fiction (Article Snippet)

Again, this  is my most current article for Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine. I’m writing about ‘Cranks, Quacks and Miracles’ – alternative health treatments in the Regency.

Jane Austen shows a number of hypochondriacs in her stories (Mr Woodhouse in Emma, with his gruel and his soft-boiled eggs, and Mary Musgrove in Persuasion with her tendency towards ill health whenever she felt herself neglected come to mind) but it is in her unfinished novel Sanditon that she particularly concentrates on medicine – looking at both conventional and experimental (to put it mildly!) treatments. Indeed, Jane Austen specifically uses the phrase “quack medicine” in describing the Parker sisters, saying that they had “an unfortunate turn for medicine, especially quack medicine”. Mr Parker, their brother, is first introduced to the heroine, Charlotte Heywood, when he sustains a carriage accident, trying to find a doctor for the village of Sanditon. (As an aside, I was fascinated when I first read the book that he had seen a notice in the ‘Kentish Gazette’ – a local newspaper I grew up reading, and which is still in print.) His sisters’ alleged poor health had encouraged him to look for the doctor, though it turns out, when Diana Parker writes to her brother, that she has for the moment eschewed conventional medicine, saying:

“[P]ray never run into peril again in looking for an apothecary on our account… We have entirely done with the whole medical tribe. We have consulted physician after physician in vain, till we are quite convinced that they can do nothing for us and that we must trust to our own knowledge of our own wretched constitutions for any relief.”

Of course, this is a decision not dissimilar to ones made by many people today, who find themselves dissatisfied with the results of conventional medicine – though perhaps, given the limits of medical knowledge in the Regency, Miss Parker had more reason for her suspicions!

Satisfied Saturday Six

The SSS celebrates six things that have gone well, or at least okay, in the past week. It is the creation of Terry Egan, who is all things wonderful.

1. My knitting is getting on quite well. I’ve taken it down to the park and knitted whilst watching Child play football, which is a lovely restful pursuit.

2.  I’ve written about half of my article about Regency Period cranks and quacks, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the research for it!

3. Ooh, I bought a bottle of Bollinger champagne last Sunday! I felt very outrageous. Sadly, it’s not for me, but a present for a family member having an Important Age birthday. But I don’t mind – it’s the entertainment of having bought it at all that I was very much amused by.

4. I might as well mention it here, as it is soon to be properly official: I am in the process of losing my employment (as opposed to self-employed writing). This is, obviously, not something to be satisfied about but after a meeting on Tuesday, I was reassured that the quality of my work had never been a problem – the problem is simply that through no one’s fault, I am simply too ill to go out to work. It’s nice to know that I did a really good job whilst I was there (and even I can’t doubt the sincerity of my ex-work on this matter). It is very sad – I was, and remain, passionate about the job; but I can’t hold my workplace to blame for needing someone who can actually be there, nor can I magic myself better in order to go back.

5. I seem to have lost a bit of weight this week. It probably just means I’ll put it back on again next week, but it’s still quite pleasing.

6. I had to take Rory-cat to the vet on Thursday for his booster injections. She told me he was “perfect”. OF COURSE HE IS – but it’s always nice when someone else mentions it!

Friday Fiction (Article Snippet)

So, I have recently been writing about mistresses in the Regency Period for Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine, and I thought I’d share a little bit of it with you for  today’s Friday Fiction. (I continue apparently not to know what ‘fiction’ means.) Here am I wombling on about the difference between mistresses and prostitutes

In the Regency Period (and indeed in other eras) there was a definite difference between a ‘mistress’ and a ‘prostitute’. A mistress belonged to, or was ‘kept’ by, one specific man, whereas a prostitute would have sex with any man for money. Mistresses might be taken up by one man after another, and perhaps have the role of courtesan in between gentleman lovers; however, a mistress was by definition not a prostitute. Whilst it was expected that she would have sex with her lover whenever he required it, she would also be likely to have a social or emotional relationship with the man as well. For the mistress, it was not necessarily a bad choice, though it could have problematic outcomes not only for the lady herself but for her family. For a start, it would be considerably more difficult to marry after having been a mistress: if Darcy hadn’t forced Wickham to marry Lydia Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, it is very unlikely that anyone else would have married her – and the ill reputation would also have fallen upon her sisters.  It also left a woman reliant on the gentleman in question: in Sense and Sensibility, we are shown the downward spiral of Eliza Brandon’s life after her first affair.

Friday Fiction (Article)

Author’s Note: An excerpt from an article I wrote for Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine a few years ago. On the ever popular subject of alcohol.

 

Alcohol!

 

“Does [Mr Allen] drink his bottle a day?” the obnoxious John Thorpe asks Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey, going on to say that “at the last party in my rooms… upon an average we cleared about five pints [of wine] a head”. Now, even taking into consideration that Thorpe invariably exaggerated everything he’d ever done, there was still a note of truth in the comment. Alcohol was known to flow freely at the universities. Drunken students are not merely a modern phenomenon!

 

But drinking a surfeit of alcoholic beverages was certainly not limited to students. Jane Austen herself wrote in a letter to her sister that “I believe I drank too much wine last night at Hurstbourne; I know not how else to account for the shaking of my hand to-day. You will kindly make allowance therefore for any indistinctness of writing, by attributing it to this venial error.” And as to the parties of the ton, it was positively expected that the wine should flow freely throughout the evening and into the early hours of the morning. The Prince Regent, predictably, took drinking alcohol – as he took so many other things – to excess. Indeed, he was not sober even at his own wedding, and his new wife Caroline would later claim that George was so drunk that he “passed the greatest part of his bridal night under the grate, where he fell, and where I left him”.

 

Even away from the upper classes, however, it was common for adults to start drinking with their breakfast. Ale was a common accompaniment to the large plates of black pudding and other meats which constituted a Regency ‘breakfast’. Indeed, small beer, a phrase used to describe the second, weaker, brewing of an ale, was even drunk by children. Whilst it was low in alcohol (approximately 0.8%), it is nevertheless difficult to imagine anyone but the most hardened drinkers nowadays starting quite so early in their libations. And even they would be unlikely to give it to their children. Of course, the dangers of drinking untreated water meant that it was actually safer to drink beer than fresh water, which may give some measure of defence to the Regency drinkers.