Friday, 29 May 2015

#WhyIWriteHistoricals #WhyIReadHistoricals

Here’s my ABC Top Twenty of why I love historical novels.

A   Architecture

      I just love Georgian architecture, whether as a London town house or a beautiful country mansion.

Berrington Hall (C) Heather King

B   Breeches and Top boots

      Men in breeches, neckcloths, elegant coats and top boots or Hessians are a swoon factor the half-naked men on some modern covers don’t have for me!

C   Carriages

      There is just something about a four-in-hand and a beautifully turned-out equipage that modern cars cannot emulate, although I’m sure they were nothing like as comfortable to travel in.

Royal Mail Coach JF Herring Snr

D   Dresses and Drawers

      Beautiful gowns with frills and flounces have never been my idea of comfortable clothing, but I love to see them and wouldn’t mind an elegant riding habit. I love to read a book where the author has taken the trouble to describe what characters are wearing.

E   Elegance

     The Georgian era is renowned for its elegance and reading a well-written novel or watching an historical drama takes me away from the ordinariness of everyday 21st Century life.

F   Furniture

     I adore old furniture, even utility stuff made during WWII. I especially love Welsh dressers and solid oak tables and cupboards, but equally, I like the elegant mahogany you find in many a National Trust property.

Dining Room, Hanbury Hall (C) Heather King

G   Georgette Heyer

      Georgette Heyer is the reason I am writing this blog. Had it not been for discovering her books when I was about eleven or twelve, I probably would not be where I am today. Thank you, GH!

H   Horses

      One of the best things about historical novels is the horses. Although they are probably more revered today, being much-loved by millions of adoring owners throughout the world, in bygone times they were a necessity. Without horses, Knights could not ride into battle, stage-coaches could not carry passengers and other items, and produce could not be carried about the country. Besides, I love horses.

I   Interiors

     Visiting a stately home and seeing a room decorated as it would have been in eras gone by is fascinating. Old buildings have an amazing atmosphere. Although a ruin, Witley Court in Worcestershire (England) has the most wonderful feel of secrets and ghosts from times long ago. Many years ago I was lucky enough to visit Salzburg in Austria and the fortress is alive with the spirits of centuries. (No, I’m no more mad than any other writer!)


J   Jane Austen

     What Regency author doesn’t love Jane Austen’s works? Of course, I can no longer read Pride and Prejudice without thinking of Colin Firth…

Mr Darcy's Costume as worn by Colin Firth
(C) Heather King

L   Losing myself in another world

      One of the beauties of reading or writing historical fiction is the opportunity to become so immersed in another era that time loses all meaning and everyday pressures and worries cease to exist – at least while you are in that world.

M   Manners and Courtesy

      I am a traditionalist and appreciate it when a gentleman holds open a door for me or a child says please and thank you. I’m aware I am a dying breed and yes, I am perfectly capable of opening my own door, but it is nice to have it done for me. I love that about Regency novels, that even when people were insulting each other, it was couched in such a manner as to be civil.

N   Names

      There have been lots of great names throughout the centuries which are now virtually obsolete. Joscelin, for a man, is one of my favourites.

O   Original

      Heroines must have something about them. They must be strong and engaging and preferably have some trait or quirk which makes them unique. That strength need not mean they are independent and headstrong, but can deal with whatever ‘life’ throws at them in a fashion which is enjoyable to read.

P   Posting Houses and Coaching Inns

     I just love old inns, especially if they still have their old stable yards!

R   Rakes and Rogues

     What reader of historical romance doesn’t love a rake or a rogue? I admit I do have a soft spot for one – provided he has some redeeming features, loves his lady and is reformed (or at least faithful) by the end of the book.

S   Social History

     Well-written and well-researched novels are a fascinating window on the way people lived in a previous time – and what a great way to learn!

T   Tattersall’s

      As a horse lover, a visit to London isn’t complete without a look-in at Hyde Park Corner and a walk down Rotten Row. The most famous horse sales and bloodstock agency in the world began life here. A must-see place, too, for young Johnny Raws from the country in any Regency novel.

V   Vauxhall Gardens

      The perfect setting for a clandestine meeting, a risqué masquerade or an elegant concert followed by supper and a romantic walk along the lantern-lit paths, I’m sure you will agree.

W   Witty Dialogue

       Possibly the element of good Regency fiction I like best, is the witty dialogue. Georgette Heyer was the grande dame of the concept and the rest of we poor mortals can but aspire.

Look out for more detailed posts on these subjects... Coming soon!
What are your top twenty?

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