Fête or Famine: The Everyday Holiday

Holiday 2

One cannot have too large a party. A large party secures its own amusement. 

                                               ~ Jane Austen, Emma (1816)

I’m sitting in an Italian restaurant in downtown Indianapolis on a perfect Sunday afternoon, with my hands wrapped around the warm mug of an after-dinner cappuccino. As I look around the table at my friends (authors with whom I share a particular passion for reading and writing Christian fiction), I see familiar smiles. There’s laughter. Good food being passed around family-style. Talk of husbands and children. We engage in chat about the publishing industry and brainstorm storyline this and character that… And although none of us had to drive all that far to reach our small Sunday feast, this quiet afternoon in June became something of an unexpected getaway.

It made a holiday out of the everyday.

Our topic of focus this month is vacationing. And while many of us immediately think of vacationing as going away on a retreat (perhaps to the seashore or to an English cottage in the countryside), there are many definitions of a holiday that can remain quite close to home. Though the outdoor balls, picnicking and formal parties of the Regency defined the summer holidays in many ways, we may find that our modern celebrations are not all that different…

So in homage to the feast, festival, backyard barbecue and the good old county fair, here’s a little fun for finding a holiday in the commonplace, everyday gathering – the party!

Holiday 3

Village Fête (La Fête villageoise), Claude Lorrain (1639)

 To Fête or Not to Fête  

n. a feast or festival, a celebration, party; v. to celebrate or throw a party

The first use of the term fête is debatable. My mighty authors’ Thesaurus Rex App cites its first use in England by art historian and writer Horace Walpole (1717-97), followed by the first use of verb form in 1819. However, numerous historical resources cite the term to have been widely used in 17th Century Europe, as in the famous The Village Fête painting by Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens (1635) Village Fête by French painter Claude Lorrain (1639), and in the 18th Century, to describe painter Jean Antoine Watteau’s work as fête galante (a French term used to describe the lofty yet idle recreation of the aristocracy under the reign of Louis the XIV).

The English term fête comes from the French for the same word, and could also refer to the formal party or social gathering that was frequented in the Regency.

“Formal visits, balls and other social occasions feature largely in Jane Austen’s letters… those who could afford it, and who had time and the space, gave parties. Such social gatherings were the recognized means of meeting people…”    

            Dominique Enright, The Wicked Wit of Jane Austen

 

In Great Britain, the fête was a village fair, or carnival of sorts, that would include any number of amusements. They showcased games, outdoor activities, crafts, livestock and produce, and homemade baked goods and canning. (This would be comparable to the modern street fair or country festival in the States.) Though not all specific to the Regency alone, an interesting list of village fête attractions included raffles, coconut shies (late 1800s), bat-a-rat, tug of war, fashion shows, and music and dancing.

 One Mighty Famous Fête

As parties were frequently held by the Regency Era’s elite, there are several notable events that stand out through history. One such famous party was the Prince Regent’s Fete, held on June 19, 1811 at Charlton House. This was a marvelously sumptuous party thrown to celebrate the King’s birthday (though history argues that the true reasoning was to celebrate the lavishness of the Prince’s Regency). Invitations went out, though not everyone made an appearance. The Queen and her daughters (including Princess Charlotte) would not attend out of protest for such a party being held while the king was taken with illness.

[Wish to read more? Click HERE. Wondering what the impacts were for the Prince Regent after the famous event? Click HERE.]

Another famous fête occurred at the Tower of London in 1840. It’s a bit after the Regency Era, but still worth noting because of the guest list: a young Charles Dickens, artist George Cruikshank and host, novelist William Harrison Ainsworth. [Wish to read more? Click HERE.]

Holiday 1

From left: Kristy Cambron, Sarah Ladd, Dawn Crandall, Liz C. and Joanna Politano

Fêtes in Fiction

The ball, formal party, or fête, is a common setting for many Regency romances – just as are the notable guests that may make an appearance at them. I happen to adore Jane Austen’s ball at Netherfield Park, as a major setting in the iconic Pride and Prejudice.  That may be the one that gets the most press, but there are so many others! So while I finish off the last of my sweet Italian cappuccino and say a final fare-thee-well to my dear author friends, we’d like to hear from you, our readers. You’re here because you adore the Regency. So tell us –

What’s your favorite Regency fête in fiction, and why?

Share your favorite fête scenes with us here – we look forward to adding them to our recommended reading list with those deliciously lavish parties as setting number one!

[And for a little extra fun, here’s a link to the Regency Ball at Bath, 2010. Click HERE.]

In His Love,

Kristy

Portraits of Our Mothers

mother

The Washington Post headline read: “Survey: Half of women say they don’t have enough free time”. I confess that I laughed when I saw it on my Smartphone screen. No kidding? Half of us have enough hours in the day while the other half of us are just trying to make it through with our sanity intact? Whether it be for maintaining a household, rearing children (aka making sure they don’t destroy the house most days), focusing on a career or investing in the relationships in our lives, do women really have much “time to ourselves” to speak of? I wasn’t sure, especially since I was doing some quick reading during the halftime of my son’s soccer game.

Author Mom

Portrait of Madame Emilie Seriziat and son (Jacques-Louis David, 1795. Oil on canvas) Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When thinking about our topic of alfresco activities in the month of May, I just couldn’t let go of this concept of time. What would we do with scads of it to spend as we choose? Did I really have to sneak in a little research time in-between quarters for the soccer game? As Mother’s Day approaches, I had to wonder if time is an activity in and of itself  – and not just for women in the year 2013. We modern woman have entered the workforce with a vengeance, going from working an average 8 hours per week (at a paying job) in 1965 to working an average 21 hours a week in 2011. A whopping 56% of employed mothers with children under eighteen say it is very or somewhat difficult to maintain a balance between work and their home life (USA Today). And in 2011, women reported spending an average of 13.5 hours per week with their children.

With those stats, why wouldn’t we think that maintaining careers, taxiing kids to soccer fields and dance class, popping dinner in the microwave and rushing through the occasional load of laundry makes us busier than mothers in the Regency Era? After all, Jane quoted that a mother would have always been present. That must mean a mother had little by way of responsibilities in 1812, right? Wrong. She had more to do than choose fabric for her next ball gown, that’s for sure.

Author Mom 2

The Good Mother (Jean-Honoré Fragonard, 18th century. Oil on canvas.) Photo: Wikimedia Commons

One of the most interesting books I read in college was A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785 – 1812 (by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich). Martha Ballard was a Regency Era woman, mother, and midwife living in eighteenth-century Maine. (If you want a picture of the hard-working Regency Super-Mom, this lady was it.) She ventured out on ice-covered lakes to deliver babies in the middle of winter. She managed to have nine children of her own while performing duties akin to that of a physician on a somewhat regular basis. She maintained her frontier home in rugged New England and fashioned a domestic economy as an herbalist and healer. (Career. Kids. Balancing work and home. Sound familiar?) I recommend this book for a candid look at the Regency from a fresh angle – maybe to see a connection between those mothers of 200 years ago and the portrait of a special mother in our lives today?

When I think about the portrait that my sons have of me as their mother, I’d hope they could say what Jane Austen did in her quote; I was always present. Maybe I was stretched a little and couldn’t give every moment, but I would hope I was always present in the moments I could give. That I was indeed a constant friend and cheerleader. That the influence I had brought them up to fear the Lord, to grow in righteousness, and to always treat gently the women God has gifted into their lives. I would hope that they remembered the time – the honest-to-goodness quality time – their mother spent with them in their youth… That I put the phone away on the soccer field and stayed present in the moment at my son’s game.

I pray the portraits we women paint as mothers in this life (whether in the Regency or in today’s world) showcase an abundance of grace and beauty. I pray that they’re portraits of our mothers, just as they will be of us some day.

Portraits of our mothers on Regency Reflections…

Author Kristi Hunter

Author Kristi Ann Hunter, her mother, and eldest daughter

Author Susan Karsten

Author Susan Karsten (far right), her mother, and youngest daughter

Author Vanessa Riley

Author Vanessa Riley and her mother (left); Author Vanessa Riley and daughter Ellen on Stone Mountain (right)

Author Kristy Cambron

Author Kristy Cambron and her mother

Who is a special mother in your life? How has she invested the gift of time in your life?

 Have a blessed Mother’s Day!

In His Love,

Kristy

 

Hats off to the Races: Derby Fashion (and Giveaway Winner!)

Finish of the Epsom Derby, 1822. (Painting by James Pollard. Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Finish of the Epsom Derby, 1822. (Painting by James Pollard. Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The past weekend marked the opening ceremonies of the annual Kentucky Derby Festival in our fair city. It’s two weeks of celebration from the inaugural event (Thunder Over Louisville, the largest annual fireworks show in the country), including the Pegasus Parade, Great Balloon Race and the many parties leading up to the main event that draw celebrities from across the globe. The festival culminates in the Kentucky Derby (also known as the Run for the Roses), which has long been a traditional celebration of elegance and grandeur for horse racing’s elite.

This year will usher in a new tradition for me personally, as I will attend my first official Derby event at historic Churchill Downs, complete with a British-inspired ensemble and the all important Derby hat. (The Derby outfit, ladies, is quite an important part of the experience!) And though the world now recognizes the Derby hat as a tradition associated with Kentucky’s first Saturday in May, the upscale fashion at the race actually finds its roots in – you guessed it – Regency England.

In the Regency, horse racing was known as the sport of kings – and for good reason. Like the meets at Ascot, Doncaster, Heath, and Newmarket, the Epsom Derby became an affair that in many ways, was restricted to England’s elite. The Regency woman, always fashionable, would plan her ensemble months in advance of a yearly race. Dresses were specifically tailored and could be imported from Paris, Milan and Rome, just for the event. The extravagance of the hats too, were an important aspect of the overall attire. [For a complete look-book of spring Regency attire, including bonnets and hats, click here.]

Regency Hats. (Photo: public domain)

Regency Hats. (Photo: public domain)

In the late nineteenth century, businessman Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. (founding father of the Kentucky Derby and the grandson of William Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame) sought to raise the standard of horse racing in the United States. Upon traveling to London to attend the famed Epsom Derby (with local roots dating as far back as 1618, but its first Oaks Stakes race in 1779), Clark determined that a similar event could be christened along the banks of the Ohio River. He envisioned for the Louisville Jockey Club “…a racing environment that would feel comfortable and luxurious, an event that would remind people of European horse racing.” [Read more at Derbymuseum.org and in Never Say Die: A Kentucky Colt, the Epsom Derby, and the Rise of the Modern Thoroughbred Industry on Google Books. The historical ties to England are fascinating!]

At the time of the first Kentucky Derby on May 17, 1875, horse racing needed a serious image boost. Drinking and gambling were practices that worked to keep women and children away from the track in droves. Without the family atmosphere, Clark knew the business venture was sure to fail. He sought an avenue to make racing something of an elegant event like he’d witnessed at Epsom Downs. What would be key in the pursuit for families to attend the races? Get women to the track. And how to do it? Easy – do it with fashion. He solicited help from the women of Louisville’s elite to go door-to-door and promote the Derby picnic as a fashionable affair.

“Women coordinated their hats, dresses, bags, their shoes and their parasols,” said Ellen Goldstein, a professor at the Fashion Institute of New York. “To go to a horse racing event was really a regal affair. It was just as important as going to a cocktail party, or a ball.”

[Read more in A Brief History of the Derby Hatlink]

Today, the modern Derby fashionista can spend an average $100 to more than $2000 dollars on her Derby hat. (I can assure you the Derby attire of this mother of three will be on one end of the scale. Just for fun, I’ll let you guess which one!) But when each woman steps through the gates to show off her headpiece at the races, she’ll inevitably display a tradition that is decidedly Regency in tone. For if it not for the strong tradition of fashion established once upon a time at Epsom, would we have “the greatest two minutes in sports” as we know it today?

For a little instruction on the “how-to” of hats, here’s how the Royals do a smashing job at Epsom [click here]. And for those of us heading to the Kentucky Derby, some competition you might encounter in the hat department [click here].

Have you been to the races? Which Derby fashion was your favorite?

___________________________________________________________

HW~ GIVEAWAY WINNER ~

Thanks to all for catching up with author Sarah Ladd and celebrating the launch of her book with us - The Heiress of Winterwood. We are pleased to announce that the winner of last week’s giveaway (the signed book from Sarah) is:

Angela Holland

Congratulations Angela! To claim your amazing book, please send an email to:  cambron_k@yahoo.com

In His Love,

~ Kristy

Coffee Talk with Author Sarah E. Ladd – Part Two

HWWelcome back to Part Two of our coffee talk with debut author Sarah E. Ladd.

I am delighted to host Regency Reflections’ newest author, friend Sarah E. Ladd, in a virtual coffee chat. She’s monitoring the comments to our post today, so please stop by and join the conversation.

Without further delay – grab a fresh cup of tea and your breakfast scone. We’re jumping back in to our chat about our main characters, Amelia and Graham, and their amazing love journey…

 

K: Welcome back! So Sarah, we’ve talked the growth your main characters had to take to in order to be ready to love. How important was it to set Amelia and Graham’s love story against the foundation of faith in Christ?

Oh very important. Both Amelia and Graham had deep-seeded issues that they needed to deal with before their hearts were really free to love one another. The first step to finding that peace and freedom was accepting God’s love and forgiveness.   They both needed to accept God’s plans for their lives before they could really grasp the gifts that God was giving them.

K: Let’s talk about Graham. He’s quite a noble character. What is your favorite “Graham moment” in the book?

Without giving too much away, there is one scene in the book where Graham finally says goodbye to his wife, who passed away in the opening scene of the book.  When I was writing the first draft of the book, this was the scene where I really understood Graham’s struggle. The act of saying goodbye and mourning his loss was a major step in his journey to being able to love someone else.

K: Your publication journey began with a big contest win. Care to tell us more about the experience?

I think that writing contests are a great way for writers to not only grow in the craft, but to learn more about the industry as well.  In 2011, The Heiress of Winterwood won the Historical Romance category of the Genesis contest, which is a contest for unpublished authors held by American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). It gave me the opportunity to share my story with others!

K: So with the win for Historical Romance, our readers are probably wondering, “How difficult is it really, to write a historical novel?” What are the challenges? The joys?

For a writer, I think the answer to this question probably ties back to the idea of “you write what you enjoy reading”.  This is definitely the case for me!  I have read inspirational historical romances for as long as I can remember, and I can’t imagine writing a novel in anything but a historical setting.

I would have to say that one of the challenges of writing a historical romance is making sure that the details of your novel are historically accurate.  When transporting yourself to another time and culture, you really have to do your homework to understand the environment you are entering.  But therein also lies the joy. The more you learn about another period of time, the more you want to know. And that what makes it exciting … there is always something new to learn and a fresh ideas from which to draw inspiration.

K: I simply must ask the following two questions of each author I interview. Ready? What is your go-to verse – that Bible verse that has been the foundation of your journey as a wife, mother, and now, an author of Christian fiction?

Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

And second… Authors are more often than not prolific readers themselves. What books are currently stacked on your nightstand?

Right now I am rereading The Tennant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. (As Sarah’s interviewer hurriedly looks for a pencil and paper so she can write the title on her “To Read” list…)

Indy

From left: Authors Sarah E. Ladd, Kristy L. Cambron, Dawn Crandall. Authors’ lunch, summer 2012.

Absolutely!

Favorite Regency food:  Wassail.  In my family, we drink this every holiday season, and  it is one of my favorites! (You can find the recipe here. Trust me … you’ll enjoy it!)

Favorite color: Probably pink : )

Favorite Regency movie:  ‘Sense and Sensibility’ (1995 version).  I love the soundtrack of this movie!

Your signature quote:  This is my favorite Jane Austen quote:

There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart. (Emma)

Where you write: My office

Coffee or tea?  Coffee

Scone or biscuit?  Scone

Graham or Mr. Darcy? (I’m sorry, Sarah! I couldn’t help myself with this question…)Totally Graham! : )

Favorite travel destination – London or the English countryside? English countryside

Favorite moment of the book (Please leave us wanting more…): The “Happy Ever After” scene, which is what I call the l

K: Where can we find you out on social media?
Please join me! Facebook  | Twitter  |  Goodreads   |  Website

 

Sarah~ GIVEAWAY ~

Okay, Regency readers. Now it’s your turn.

Sarah’s giving away a signed copy of her book for one lucky reader. Click the GIVEAWAY link below and follow the instructions to enter.

GIVEAWAY entry link:   http://bit.ly/V90WSh

Stay tuned to find out who wins a book signed by our debut author!  We’ll announce the winner next week.

Our coffee cups may be empty, but our hearts have been happy for this opportunity to chat with you. It’s been a delight to spend time with you today, Sarah. And after all of this wonderful Regency conversation we now, more than ever, eagerly await the release of The Heiress of Winterwood!

In His Love,

Kristy

 

 

Author Sarah E. Ladd: Coffee Talk and Giveaway!

HW 2

Watercolor painting, Alphonse Mucha. (Photo: Wiki Commons, public domain)

Due to schedules of busy authors that also happen to be moms, author friend Sarah E. Ladd and I scheduled a virtual coffee date to chat about the exciting release of her debut novel, The Heiress of Winterwood. You’ll find out quickly, just as I did, that this author has a great love for all things Regency, as well as a true heart for the Lord. (Not to mention a sincere and mutual affection we both have for coffee!)

Sarah has her vanilla latte and I have my coconut mocha coffee in hand… We’re ready to start this virtual chat! So grab your favorite mug of coffee too (or English Breakfast tea), and join us as we celebrate the debut release for author Sarah E. Ladd:

Kristy: Hi Sarah – We’re delighted that you’ve stopped by Regency Reflections today to talk about your Genesis Award-winning and debut novel, The Heiress of Winterwood. I’ve prepared for the occasion with a cup of coffee and an edge-of-my-seat anxiousness to talk about this amazing book!

Thank you for having me!

K: Let’s jump right in. We’ve just met you in the elevator at a writing conference, and we’re in love with the fact that your first book is a Regency. Can you give us a quick summary of the story before the elevator reaches our floor?

Sure!  When Amelia Barrett vows to raise her dying friend’s infant daughter, she will risk everything to keep her word, even if it means proposing to the child’s father … a sea captain she’s never met.

K: The thought of proposing marriage is a bit terrifying. (Now I understand what the guys go through when they’re about to bend a knee.) But to have a woman propose marriage to a man, in the year 1814 – what kind of cultural significance does that hold?

I think that in order to answer this question properly I need to step back a bit. When I first started planning to  write this book, I knew I wanted to set the novel in the Regency period.  My goal was to write a strong heroine that really challenged the societal expectations of the time. So before I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) I asked myself the following question:  What is the one thing that a woman in the Regency period would never, ever do?  And the first answer that came to mind:  Propose marriage to a man.  And that is how the idea for ‘The Heiress of Winterwood’ was born!

So jumping back to the question … proposing marriage to a man would have damaged a lady’s reputationbeyond repair – and during the Regency, a woman’s reputation was her most prized possession.Keep in mind that Amelia had to be married by the time she turned 24 otherwise she would lose her inheritance, so not only was she risking social ridicule, but she was also risking her fortune and security.HW

K: In The Heiress of Winterwood, your heroine finds herself in quite a life-changing moment right from the first scene of the book. (I actually had a breathless moment when I read the first line!) How attached did you feel to Amelia as she walked through this heart-wrenching journey?

Oh my goodness!  I felt like I was in the room with Amelia, watching the tragedy unfold.  And as I wrote the rest of the book, I kept coming back to this opening scene, tweaking it and making sure it was true to her character.   Amelia’s reaction in this room really spoke a lot about the type of person she was, and that moment was truly a defining point in her life … it was the moment she decided that she would put someone else’s needs before her own and dedicate her life to making someone else’s life better.

K: You’ve written characters that give the readers a very intimate look at the inner struggles they face – Amelia with her heart for a young child and the fierce protection she feels as a new mother, and Graham, with his unwavering strength as he begins to understand what it means to be a father. Can you tell us more about the inner struggles your characters go through on their journey and how  they bridged those challenges to find love?

Amelia’s parents died when she was young, and as a result, she faced loneliness and was always searching for the true acceptance that a family could offer.  Because of this, Amelia feels an immediate connection with Lucy, the baby, for she wants to prevent this innocent child from growing up as she did …without love.  This leads us to Amelia’s struggle. You see, Amelia believes that she knows what is best for herself and for Lucy.  She believes that by careful planning, courage, and hard work she can create the perfect life for them both. But in the end, Amelia realizes that her own strength and determination will only take her so far, and it is only when she relies on God’s strength and seeks His will does she find peace and contentment.

Graham, on the other hand, struggles with the guilt of his past.  There are many things that the wishes he would have done differently.  Throughout the course of the story, he learns that in order to find true freedom from the stronghold of his guilt he must forgive himself and, more importantly, accept God’s forgiveness.  His journey is about breaking down the walls that he built around himself.

In essence, both Amelia and Graham dealt with the issue of pride, only in different forms.  When I wrote their stories, this Bible verse kept coming to me.  I think it fits both of their journeys:

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.  ~ Proverbs 11:2

               _____________________________________________

Keep your coffee cups on the warmer, friends… We’ll continue Sarah’s interview in our Friday post. But until then, drop her a line here with a comment and find her on social media to keep the conversation going. She’s so looking forward to talking with each of you!

SarahYou can find Sarah on:

Facebook  | Twitter  |  Goodreads   |  Website

GIVEAWAY: You’re in luck, Regency readers. Sarah is giving away a *signed* copy of her debut book,The Heiress of Winterwood, to one lucky reader of Friday’s post. In the meantime, Sarah will be monitoring the comments and would love to connect with you. So…

Now that you’ve met Amelia and Graham, what has you completely breathless to read their story?

Come back on Friday for the second installment of our Coffee Talk interview with debut author Sarah E. Ladd. (Hint: Make sure to join us. We’ve got a couple of surprises in store!) And don’t forget our GIVEAWAY – details to follow in the next post!

In His Love,

Kristy

 

The Regency Red Carpet

Welcome to March – our month dedicated to what else? Spring fashion!

Here in the States, the fashion world is still abuzz over one of the top events of the year – the 85th annual Academy Awards ceremony this past Sunday.  Arguably second only to Paris Fashion Week in its world-wide influence on the art of dressing well, the Oscars red carpet is rolled out each year and the world tunes in to see which star will win the title of… Best Dressed!

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Whether it’s a celebrity rocking a wicked-long train or donning a small fortune in Harry Winston jewels, the world’s fashionistas take to the internet to find the most sought-after trends as showcased by their favorite stars on this one night. What colors are in for the season? What fabric is a must-have for the fashion world’s elite? Is there a new cut making waves in dress design? When you think on our world of social media and instant Twitter feeds from the red carpet, it isn’t a wonder that we all have an opinion on what’s fabulous for the new season. But in the Regency Era – without our social media and the endless stream of celebrities to guide the rest of us down the spring runway – what would have been seen on their “red carpet” of the day?

A commentary on the complete Regency woman’s ensemble would certainly take more than one post (or perhaps a hundred posts), but we’ll give you enough here to get you started on your own Regency fashion journey through the month of March…

A good foray into the art of Regency dress might begin with the always popular element of color. You may be surprised to learn that in the Regency Era, the influence of color was just as fierce as it is today. While soft pastels and bold jewel tones reigned on the Hollywood red carpet this year, the Regency Era had some similar shades (with lesser known names) that ranked quite high on the list of desirables. A Regency lady might wish to be found in varying hues of:

- Canary (a bright sunshine yellow),

- Coquelicot (a brilliant poppy red),

- Jonquil (a rich golden-yellow),

- Pomona (a light gray-green, one of many popular shades new as of 1812),

- Primrose (a sweet butter-yellow), or

- Puce (a deep brownish-purple).

 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

And alas – there were also the more lackluster colors of straw (an unimpressive corn yellow) and the ever-popular Drab (a dull -) that a Regency lady may find mixed somewhere in her wardrobe. (Color Links: Regency color swatches, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath – 2011) And though not an actual color (but a value), the elegance of white was exceedingly popular if your red carpet rolled out all the way to such a stylish affair as the ball at Netherfield Park.Despite the color choice for your gown, if you’d walked the red carpet during the Regency Era there would have been no doubt about the style of dress. An Empire waist was the preferred silhouette – with a typically square or wide-rounded neckline and bodice that ended just below the bust (giving the illusion of a high waist). The skirts were gathered and tapered (rather than being heavily draped with petticoats and layers of bustled fabric, as was popular until the turn of the 19th century). And though you may have had the proper cut and color selection down, that’s not where the fashion story ends. Depending upon the day and hour of your walk down the red carpet, there was likely a proper dress to accompany the occasion. (Here’s a stunning commentary on half-dress, court dress, and every little thing in-between: Click here.)

Let’s not forget some of our favorite red carpet delicacies – the accessories! Hollywood starlets of today still fancy high heels, though the sky-high styles of today aren’t nearly as towering as the heights that Regency Era women rose to while wearing pattens.  (Click here to read our own Mary Moore’s  January, 2013 post about pattens. It is a must read!) And though a selection of well-placed jewels around the neck and in the earlobes are still in fashion, you likely won’t find a single Hollywood star sporting the ever-popular Regency fan, reticule (small, drawstring handbag),  parasol or feather plumes of ostrich, goose, peacock or emu to complete her ensemble.  (Though artfully placed hair extensions, evening gloves, shawls and capes still make the occasional appearance.)

The one thing that is decidedly missing from our modern-day red carpet is the endless stream of bonnet-clad ladies that we’d have had waltzing past two hundred years ago. These Regency head pieces were must-have items often made of straw or sturdy fabric (such as velvet or muslin) with lace, fabric, and satin ribbon trimmings in popular colors. Bonnets might also sport an artful array of artificial decoration, including: birds, fruit, flowers, feathers, jewelry (such as a brooch or pin) and beads. And despite the fact that our current culture prizes the bronzed look, no Regency Era woman would have fancied venturing out in the sun without her bonnet, lest she tan or freckle unnecessarily! (For a complete tutorial on the art of the Regency head-piece, click here.)

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

If you were playing the part of the Regency Era personal assistant, you’d probably have considered all of these items for the perfect Regency red carpet look. So now that you’ve got it all together, it’s time to take a stroll past the long line of paparazzi (uh, we mean artists with paint and easels ready) and have your fashion plate captured for that next edition of the popular Regency magazines. (For some great fashion plate images, click here to visit Linore Rose Burkard’s post from April, 2012.)

So… With all of this red carpet talk, who was on my best dressed list for this year? My vote for Best Dressed at the Oscars goes to… Click here. Who won your vote?

Welcome fashion, welcome spring, and welcome to all of you readers who have a heart for the same God that reigns today as He did more than two hundred years ago.

In His Love,

~ Kristy

A Suitable Match, Serial Story Section 6 and a Chance to Win

MatchCoverTo kick off our second year of celebrating Inspirational Regency fiction, we are presenting the serial story, A Suitable Match. At the end of the month we’ll be giving away a fabulous prize package filled with items tied to the story. For a chance to win, find the item mentioned in this section and leave a note in the comments. Details and a list of prizes can be found here. 

Missed an earlier section? Read it here: 1 2 3 4 5

The George and Pelican Inn, somewhere between Somerset and London
April 1818

“I should have known.” Twiford rolled his eyes heavenward but hesitated to move, seemingly content to stand for a moment and marvel at Miss Blackstone’s usual craftiness.

Chard on the other hand, had no intention of allowing her the formality of wheedling her way out of the slight. Why, she’d fairly convinced the group of them that she’d taken it upon herself to travel to London on foot, and in the dead of night no less. That took some doing. Yes, and it also took about ten years off of his life when he thought of her traipsing around a toll road at night, with a sick maid and not enough sense to have known better.

He turned and stared up at the door, feeling that his eyes narrowed unconsciously. Cressy had better be in there, he thought. Now that he knew she was safe, he’d kill her.

Appearing all too jovial at the prospect of catching her in the makeshift lie, Twiford reached out and took the befuddled servant girl’s tray in hand.

“Allow me.”  He cut over to the stairs. And though Ross was quick to take two steps up the stairs behind Twiford, Chard immediately side-stepped them both and bounded up to the second floor without looking back.

Muffled voices and creaking floorboards shifting behind the door signaled she must have known what – or who was coming.

Chard pounded on the door without any sense of decorum. “Open, Cressy. Now.”

Silence.

The three men stood outside the door, Twiford doing his best to balance the tray in his hands and Ross, with his usual glower, staring back at the men as if extremely bothered by the very air they breathed. Chard matched him scowl for authoritative scowl and stood tall despite the bristling.

“I am her cousin.”

“Driver.” Twiford corrected immediately.

“I have just as much right to be here as either of you,” Ross protested as if he actually believed what he said. “And you will not enter that room.”

“You lost the right to voice any concern when you up-turned her chaise in a bog.” Chard’s retort was hardly a whisper and he didn’t care. She was what mattered, the bull-headed beauty behind the door that he’d have to convince to go along with them. That thought was uppermost in his mind.

He tapped his foot impatiently and stared back at the door, willing it to open.

“Open up Cressida, or I am coming in after you.”

“I’d listen to him, Miss Blackstone,” Twiford urged, his tone sarcastic to a fault. “The Viscount Chard seems a mite put out at present.”

That threat seemed to hold some weight, as it was but a moment more of the muffled noises before rusty hinges began their telltale squeaking. The door finally opened wide and there she stood, the most maddening beauty in the world, with her hands clasped demurely and a quite angelic look painted upon her face.

“Good morning, my lord.”

“Here,” Twiford said, offering the tray to her. “We thought you might fancy the orange marmalade.”

Chard didn’t hesitate. He didn’t even take the time to wave the tray off. Instead, he stormed into the room and slammed the door back in his friend’s face.

“Must you always pick up and leave in the dead of night?”

To the rather direct comment, Cressida took several steps backwards and sent a woefully helpless glance over at Knighting. The maid shrugged from the corner. She did not appear ready to contradict his authority.

Good, he thought. She’ll have no choice but to face me. “Yes, Miss Blackstone. I am speaking to you.”

“I didn’t leave in the dead of night.”

“Could have fooled me,” he muttered under his breath, both of them knowing full well that he referred to the last time she’d packed up her belongings and slipped out of his life. He didn’t intend to give her a second chance to attempt the same.

He crossed the room and in a veiled fury, began tossing things into her bags. A hair comb. A small, leather-bound Bible. Were those stockings? It wasn’t until he began wadding up dresses that Knighting lurched forward in response, the strict dictations of propriety too much to allow him to be up to his elbows in a lady’s linens. She took up the duty of properly folding her lady’s wares instead, freeing him to turn and face his problem once again.

“Can you give me one good reason why you shouldn’t be accompanied on the road to London? And before you try to pass another sweet-smiled lie on us poor, unsuspecting men, I’d caution you to think twice.” He stood before her with his legs braced apart and arms folded across his chest. When she didn’t answer but twisted her hands and furrowed her brow rather nervously, his anger began to dissipate.

“This is not the time or place to discuss it, Chard.”

Her whispered declaration cut to the heart immediately.

Though he’d been furious at the thought of her venturing out on her own, he had to swallow a bit of guilt at his attempt to reproach her for it. But how could he tell her? How would he find the words to explain that while Twiford and Ross had been arguing over who was at fault for their current predicament, his heart had climbed clear up to his throat and set to beating rather wildly.

He stood then, staring into those eyes he’d once known so well, and caved under her spell again. You fool, he thought. She’ll only hurt you again.

“I’ll be waiting downstairs. Be packed and ready to depart in ten minutes.”

***

Cressida didn’t much take to being hoisted into a traveling coach and plopped down on the seat like an errant toddler, but that’s exactly what had happened. After barging into her room, her former fiancé had insisted that not only was he accompanying her on the trip to London, but that she and Knighting would be riding in his coach for what remained of the journey.

Chard now sat across from her and peered out the window, his head bobbing as the vehicle sailed over the bumps and numerous ruts of the road.

Cressida watched him in silence, noting that he seemed quite austere and …older somehow. As if the past years had treated him coolly. As if he’d changed beneath the familiar façade that was taking such care to ignore her completely. It was off-putting that they had an opportunity to talk and yet he now seemed to earnestly avoid it.

Was he still so very angry with her? Could she believe that anything mattered to him once? That perhaps… she may have mattered to him more than a cache of money to line his pockets?

Cressida broke the silence before she could talk herself out of it. “Is there is no Viscountess Chard?” Her voice cracked slightly, causing her cheeks to warm with a blush.

He turned and stared back at her, the pointed gaze making her feel like melting down into her boots.

“No. There is not, Cressida. Were you planning on reapplying for the position?”

* This section contributed by Kristy L. Cambron, paris-mom.blogspot.com. *

Did you find the hidden item? Note it in the comments below for a chance to win. 

Don’t forget that the readers will ultimately choose who truly loves Cressida, and whom she loves in return. Already have a favorite? Go vote for him! Want everyone else to vote for him too? Grab a voting badge from the Suitable Match Extras page

How do you think Cressida should respond? What do you think the other gentlemen think of Chard’s monopolizing Cressy’s attentions? Read the next installment!

THE CONTEST AND POLL ARE NOW CLOSED. Feel free to continue to enjoy and share the story.

My Year with Miss Austen

The winter months can be rough. According to a New York Times article from a few years back, it is likely that four out of five of us won’t keep our New Year’s Resolutions through January. Forbes.com states that nine out of ten of us go about making a resolution in the wrong way, thus spelling trouble for achieving our goals in the new year. And alas, Health.com tells us that less than half of us (a mere 46%) will still be on target with our New Year’s Resolutions after the six month mark has passed.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read a Regency Era novel each month in 2013. (Think “Kristy’s Regency Book Club” for one.) So with all of this gloom and doom predicted around resolutions in the first month of the year, what’s a gal to do? I’m following the advice from Forbes.com and will be looking for small lifestyle changes to add a little Regency into each day. Care to join?

Here’s how I plan to enjoy the Regency in 2013, one month at a time:

Austenland 2

Keri Russel (Jane Hayes) and JJ Field (Mr. Henry Nobley), in Austenland (2013)

JANUARY: Austenland

Based on the book of the same title by author Shannon Hale, Austenland has been generating a lot of buzz this month at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. While Sony Pictures Worldwide has yet to issue an official release date, publicity for the film has increased in the first month of the year. In fact, Sundance screenings of the film have completely sold out – indicating that Jane’s appeal is just as real today as it was when Pride and Prejudice was first published 200 years ago. [Austenland - Desertnews.com LINK]

FEBRUARY: The Other Kind of Romanticism

February, Valentine’s Day, and romance… they tend to all go together, right? But the romance we associate with this month isn’t the same Romanticism. The Regency Era fell in the middle of the Romanticism movement, which saw its high point from the end of the 18th century to the first part of the 19th century. The movement ushered in a renewed focus on the arts and sciences, particularly those of the natural world, and a moving away of classical (Greco-Roman) themes in art and literature. [Romanticism LINK]

MARCH:  What to Read… That is the Question.

If that’s the question, then we aim to answer it here at Regency Reflections.  We’ve compiled a list of current books available from our authors. And if you come back soon, we’ll have updates on upcoming releases posted throughout the year.  (You’re most welcome!) Ruth Axtell    Linore Rose Burkard    Laurie Alice Eakes   Sarah Ladd    Mary Moore    Naomi Rawlings

APRIL:  What Did She Just Say?

So you don’t know a ha’penny from a farthing? Is a livery a stable or a piece of clothing? And just where is Grosvenor Square? Never fear. We’re here to help. Particularly if you’re new to Regency Era fiction, you might find that some assistance with the language is in order. We cordially invite you to partake of the information in the links below, so that you might brush up on your skills with the language. (After all, who wants to be accused of being a ninny or a fop when it comes to Regency terminology? [Regency Glossary, JaneAusten.org  Glossary]

Regency dress

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

MAY: I’ll Take Season Etiquette for 100

It may sound a bit like Jeopardy, but there’s a lot to know about the Regency social season. From the ball to the proper time to call, one could certainly make a social faux pas if you’re not careful. That’s why it’s essential to know your stuff. The London Season coincided with what? Which month signaled the official start of the “season”? And low neck dresses and short sleeves were reserved for what time of day? If you want to make sure you fare well on the Marriage Mart then do your research, ladies! [The London Season – LINK, Jane Austen Centre – Regency Fashion LINK]

 

JUNE:  Inspiration, Please

Here at Regency Reflections, we live and breathe writing good stories that our readers will love. While similar to fiction you’ve probably read before, there’s one additional component woven into an inspirational book – a story steeped in a journey with Christ. When you’re looking for a good Regency story to read by a roaring fire, we hope you find comfort in knowing that your story will be encouraging to your Christian walk as well as entertaining to your heart. [For your reading pleasure: Amazon - LINK, Barnes and Noble - LINK]

JULY: The Jane Austen Festival, Your Hometown, USA

The Jane Austen Centre at Bath is set to celebrate their annual festival in honor of the authoress this April (and in which they’ll celebrate the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice). But if you don’t think you’ll make it to the UK this year, then The Jane Austen Society of North America may have a celebration you could attend a little closer to home. With over 70 regional groups across the continental US and Canada, chances are there is a chapter a stone’s throw from your back yard. [Find your local chapter here – LINK]

RR 3

The Jane Austen Centre, Bath (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

AUGUST: Happy Birthday, Georgette!

Born in this month in 1902 (d. 1974), British author Georgette Heyer is beloved by historical romance readers both for her charming characters and rich settings that are reminiscent of Miss Austen’s Regency world. But Georgette is not alone in her book writing genius! Other beloved authors of the genre: Marion Chesney (M.C. Beaton), Julia Quinn, Patricia Veryan, Dawn Lindsay and Debra Raleigh. So if you’ve not ventured far beyond Jane’s novels but you’re drawn to the genre, you might pick up a Regency romance written by one of these authors. [Georgette’s books – LINK]

SEPTEMBER:  Celebrate the Empire Waist!

Now that I know what to read, how to speak, and where to go to celebrate the Regency, this gal needs a dress! There are lots of resources out there to find the right period dress – whether you’re looking to buy or to make your own. A couple of sites that celebrate Regency fashion are listed below. [Elegance of Fashion blog – LINK; Sense and Sensibility PatternsLINK]

OCTOBER:  Write It Down

Whether you are an avid reader or a would-be author, journaling is a classic way to learn more about yourself (or in this case, the Regency). Find out what other writers have essayed on the subject in the annual Jane Austen Journal. [The Jane Austen JournalLINK]

NOVEMBER: It’s Cold. I Want a Warm Fire and a Good Movie.

Enough said, right? Here’s a list of must-see films. (Caution: This list may cause one to spend insane amounts of money on Regency entertainment. We are not responsible if your spouse questions your spending habits!) [Your fabulous link to classic romance: LINK ]

DECEMBER:  I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

For those of you that are fond of entertainment news, you’ll know that the start of a new year sparks excitement for the Hollywood awards season. But for writers, the new year ushers in a season of another kind, and that’s contest season. December is the perfect time to begin thinking about polishing that new manuscript, or even writing something new and submitting it for a contest. So put on your dinner dress or cravat, walk on stage and prepare to accept your award! [JASNA 2013 Essay Contest, Romance Writers of America (RWA) Contests, American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Contests]

And there you have it – a full year of super-simple (but  delightfully amiable) tips to incorporate your love of the Christian Regency into your daily routine. Because as we know, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that if you make New Year’s Resolutions next year, you’ll have a whole new outlook if you were able to conquer them the year before.

In His Love,

Kristy

 

For Auld Lang Syne, My Dear

Happy New Year

It’s New Year’s Eve and it seems we’re all experiencing a bit of “Cinderella Syndrome”… We have up until midnight before 2012’s party comes to a close and a new fairy tale is ushered in.

It’s exciting, isn’t it? The slate is wiped clean and anything is possible in the new year! We’ve got a new chapter to write in our lives. We’ll have a new story to tell. And whether we’re singing, dancing or making merry on this happiest of holidays, the door to possibility is wide open with the simple tick of the clock!

So how will we spend those final moments of the year? Some of us may revel in the possibilities – What delights will the new year bring? (Eat, drink and be merry, maybe? Luke 12:19) Others might look back to days gone by – Shall we sing another chorus of Auld Lang Syne and think fondly on years past? (After all, there is a time for everything under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:2-8)

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

We’ve probably all had an opportunity to sing it a time or two…

Maybe you’ve joined in with the enormous crowds that link arm in arm at New York’s Times Square and sway back and forth while the familiar notes play. Possibly you’ve watched as director Frank Capra’s iconic character George Bailey comes to truly appreciate the years he’s lived and joins in with the singing at the end of the wildly popular Christmas film, It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). Or as you circle around the fireplace with loved ones near, maybe you’ve hummed along with the notes to ring in January 1st. However it’s celebrated or sung, this song is ingrained in our American culture and in those English-speaking countries around the globe. Arguably, it is the song to define the transition from one year to the next, whether we joyfully welcome the new year or lament on days long past… It signifies the transition from the Christmas holiday season to the possibilities of the new year beyond.

Robert Burns

Photo: Robertburns.org

Often referred to as “the World’s National Anthem” (because of the association with New Year’s celebrations the world over) and “the Song that Nobody Knows” (because the tune is recognized but the lyrics often forgotten), Auld Lang Syne was written by celebrated Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns in 1788. Conflicting accounts state that it was an original work penned by Burns, while others reference his compilation of James Watson’s formerly published ballad “Old Long Syne” (1711). Nevertheless, Burns’ version was included with other compiled and original works for a collection sent to the Scots Musical Museum publication with the following note:

“The following song, an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man.” (Lindsay, Maurice. “Auld Lang Syne”. The Burns Encyclopedia. 1959)

 

While the literal English translation for Burns’ Auld Lang Syne  title is “old long since”, there are many interpretations that have made their way into popular culture: “long, long ago”, “days gone by”,   and “old times” to name a few. I especially love the contemporary connection to the phrase “In days of auld lang syne”, which Scottish novelist Matthew Fitt used to liken his retelling of fairy tales to the familiar storybook beginning, “Once upon a time…” From Elvis Presley to Billy Joel, Rod Stewart to Prince and Miles Davis, modern-day celebrities have taken turns performing their renditions of the popular song as a part of accepted holiday revelry. Most recently, actress Lea Michele (of Glee fame) sang her own version of the song in the 2011 film New Year’s Eve. (It was not my favorite film by any stretch of the imagination, but Lea’s rendition of the much-loved song was fresh and electric!)

wiki commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Whether we feel like Cinderella or not, it won’t be long before the clock on the wall clicks over to midnight and we’re all officially a part of 2013.  As we all join in the celebration of a new year, I hope you’ll take a look at the lyrics and as the familiar tune begins to play, remember the magic in the words written so long ago. (You just might be the only person to get the words right if you’re caught singing in the Times Square crowd! <wink>) Like the Bible, which was written so long ago but has truth that still breathes life today, Burns’ version of Auld Lang Syne has managed to stand the test of time from the Regency Era to 2013.

We here at Regency Reflections hope that you not only have the memories of days gone by to keep you warm in the upcoming winter months, but we pray for God’s loving provision to bring you joy in the all the years ahead.

May you be richly blessed in the new year and beyond!

Jeremiah 29 11

In His Love,

Kristy

With this Ring… in Gretna Green?

When my husband and I were married some twelve years ago, there were few impediments for us to reach the altar as soon as we wished to. He knelt down on one knee to ask me, I gave an enthusiastic “Yes!” and almost immediately afterwards, we began making our joyful plans.

Besides the all important wedding gown, the perfect candlelit venue and the explosion of decisions that had to be made, we focused little on what the government required for our union and more on how we would put our personal mark on the day we’d pledge our future lives to each other. In fact, we lived in a location that had minimal government restrictions – we were citizens of the country and were of legal age so we had but to file with the county official’s office and in turn, would have been required to wait only 24 hours before making our walk down the aisle.

In researching Regency Era marriage for a recent book project, it was fascinating to learn how different our options would have been had we lived in England some 200 years ago.

Of course the differences in how an eligible young lady would have made her social debut, how a young man and woman would meet and how courting would commence is in stark contrast to what we know today. But as for government, it’s interesting to find that there is just as much government restriction on the act of marriage (and just as much dodging of said restrictions) as there would have been in force during the Regency Era.

Country road in Gretna Green, Scotland (Photo: Wiki Commons)

The first of these restrictions involved the literal “Las Vegas” of the day – or Gretna Green, Scotland. It was to this elopement location that many couples embarked upon a journey along the Great North Road from London in order to quickly exchange their vows. Similar to the little wedding chapels that one might find along Nevada’s famous neon strip, the tiny village of Gretna Green became the virtual Vegas of its day.

It lies just over the border to Scotland and at the time, became a famous spot for couples escaping the 1754 Lord Hardwicke Marriage Act that was still in effect in the Regency years. The British government dictated that a couple must have parental consent to marry if under twenty-one years of age. In contrast, Scotland’s age for eligible marriage was just sixteen. This led to many couples fleeing up the road on a days-long journey to traverse the border and become a Mr. and Mrs. both quickly and legally.

With this ring… (Photo: Wiki Commons)

Another stark contrast in Hardwicke’s Act dictated the waiting period required to be married in satisfaction to the church. In the Regency Era, Hardwicke’s Act would have compelled couples to be married in a parish building by an ordained minister.  By Scottish law, a man and woman could be married with virtually no notice and required only to make a commitment before two witnesses in order to make their marriage contract binding. This spurred the act of marriages performed by “anvil priests”, or blacksmiths that acted as marriage officiates in the village for runaway marriages. [Click here for more information on anvil priests.]

Another practice for a couple wishing to be married in the Church of England was the reading of the banns of marriage (also known as “banns”). This proclamation of marriage was announced publicly within the church for three weeks in succession prior to a marriage taking place (mainly so that anyone citing a credible reason that the marriage should not take place would have adequate notice to make such a stand against the union). Today, a couple may be required to participate in marriage counseling or take classes to satisfy the requirements of a particular church or denomination, but the requirement would be independent of government decree. In addition, couples may declare their intent to marry by proclaiming their engagement in a public announcement, newspaper article or engagement party, though these practices are social in nature and are not dictated as a requirement by the government. For those traveling to Gretna Green, no such proclamation was expected or required.

It is interesting to note that now more than 200 years after the time of these original runaway marriages, Gretna Green remains an extremely popular wedding venue. In fact, it is estimated that one in six Scottish marriages occur in the small village made famous for its take on marriage minus the control of government.

Today, a wedding ring is a must. The making of a marriage promise is still a lifelong commitment. And whether or not we travel to Gretna Green to exchange the all important vows or whether we follow the requirements of the government in the locale where we live, we still say “with this ring…” with as much heart as those couples would have all those years ago.

May we find joy in the union just as they did.

In His Love,

~ Kristy