Thursday, May 19, 2005

regency as a galaxy far far away

I have just finished reading a Stephanie Laurens -- one of her Cynstar series. These are supposidly set during the Regency period, but are more akin to a fantasy than actual history. Yes, it is a romp and details such as the dress, and the furnishings are accurate. But some of the social mannerisms pulled me out.
Even though the heroine is unconventional, would she really go into gaming hells and would people be that polite to her? Or would she find herself in hot water much more quickly? How much did people really waltz? Would people not notice if other people disappeared for hours on end and then reemerged dishevelled? Or if one man suddenly appeared on the edges of a ball?Wouldn't someone notice? Would a single woman's family not know that she had attended several disreputable places, particularly in a ton where tongues wag? Does it really matter if the story sweeps you along? Do I want to analyse the story?
I know about Regency England and found myself quibbling about the risks that were taken, but it was enjoyable way to pass a few hours and to serve as a patlette clearing exercise once I had decided to forego any pretence that this might be how Regency London was really like and simply enjoyed the bodice ripping nature of the story. I like have always liked these sorts of historicals as well as the more serious sort..
Having read other books of hers, she obviously knows what her target audience wants and provides that. Good for her. Her writing style can be a bit jarring, but then that is me. She does a very good sensual scene. her heroes tend to be rakes with a heart of gold who only need a firm but fiesty woman to tame them. For a few hours traffic on the stage -- it is very pleasant and readable.
Yes to a certan extent it is Disneyland history but equally she does not make any great claims for it being otherwise. What history she does show is with a light touch, a flavouring. She does show the double standards of the time quite well.
This sort of book does touch on the problem of what sort of historical ficiton should one be writing? Sort that could have happened given that time's morales or the sort that simply uses the historical backdrop as a setting and really exists in a world all of its own? Or should we not question and simply enjoy the pleasure her books bring?

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