Why do we enjoy reading Regency romance fiction so much? In 2017, two hundred years passed since Jane Austen’s death in 1815. Her novels are more popular today than they’ve ever been. There’s even a constant stream of new “Austen inspired” fiction.
I’ve been thinking about why I love Regency fiction. Here are three of my reasons. I’m sure you have your own. Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Manners: people were polite in the Georgian era
Good manners and courtesy cost nothing, but they create a civilized society. Few of us would enjoy living in the Regency era, with its many privations. However, we’d surely enjoy a society in which we could count on good manners.
Jane on manners:
“Good company requires only birth, manners and education and, with regard to education, I’m afraid it is not very particular.”
When did good manners fall out of fashion?
Elegance: grand houses — a room for every day of the year
If we lived in the Regency era, we’d hope to live in a grand house, rather than a hovel.
From Where would Mr Darcy live now? Jane Austen’s ‘Pemberley’ is on sale:
“Were Mr Darcy alive now, rather than roaming through fiction in 1813, he would undoubtedly direct his carriage towards South Yorkshire to view the phenomenon which is Wentworth Woodhouse, now being brought to the market by Savills… for £8 million.”
Wentworth Woodhouse, the article explains, has at least 300 rooms, perhaps as many as 365, a room for every day of the year: “… no one seems to have counted them. When King George V and Queen Mary stayed there in 1912 the Royal entourage took 75 bedrooms.”
A simpler time: a world lit only by fire
The regency era was a world lit only by fire:
“The first public street lighting with gas was demonstrated in Pall Mall, London, on January 28, 1807, by Frederick Albert Winsor.”
I’m sure that that long ago, vanished world, if we had to live in it, would be hugely uncomfortable. The last time we had a blackout at our house, the first for several years, I hunted for candles, and matches, and felt disoriented until the lights finally came on.
Looking on the bright side (pun intended), a world without phubbing (snubbing someone in favor of a mobile phone) has a lot to recommend it.
So, there you have it — three of my reasons for enjoying Regency fiction. I’m sure you have your own. Do share your reasons.
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