Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Guest Rebecca Ann Collins: The Regency and Victorian Eras and Their Women

Today I welcome Rebecca Ann Collins and The Legacy of Pemberley, Book 10 and the last book in her Pemberley Chronicles, which follow the Pride and Prejudice characters forward into the Victorian era.

Leave a comment with your email for a chance to win one of the two copies of The Legacy of Pemberley which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Rebecca will select the winners. Check the comments to see who won, and how to contact me to claim your book. If I cannot contact the winners within a week of their selection, I will award the books to alternates. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only.

Rebecca selected the winners Julie Robinson and catslady. Julie, please send me an email at linda@lindabanche.com by November 16 so you can collect your prize. catslady, I already have your address.

Thanks for coming over, Rebecca.

Hello Linda, many thanks for your interest in The Pemberley Chronicles and the historical eras covered by the series! I’m glad to be visiting your blog today. They are both interesting periods of English history and many changes that took place in that time are reflected in the lives of the characters of the Pemberley novels.

The earlier novels are set in the Regency and Georgian periods while the later books are in the Victorian Age. The final volume, The Legacy of Pemberley (in stores this month!) is set in the latter part of the nineteenth century, with the widowed Queen Victoria on the throne.

The Regency actually takes up ten years—from 1811, when King George the Third was declared insane and his son, the Prince of Wales, was sworn in as Prince Regent, until 1820 when the old king died and the Regent became King George the Fourth. He subsequently ruled until his death in 1830 and the impression of continuity in personality and style created the impression of a continuous period of about twenty years during which Prince George dominated the social and political scene in Britain.

It was a period filled with energy, diversity and innovation in many fields of activity: art, architecture, literature, music, science and fashion, all encouraged by the Prince Regent himself. But, it was also noted for the wasteful excesses and licentious behaviour of the courtiers and other hangers on around the prince. This too was encouraged by the Regent whose private life was one of self indulgence and excess. It was an era when the power and influence of the monarch was much greater than it is today.

Seen against the poverty and powerlessness of the vast mass of the British people, most of whom did not even have the right to vote, the behaviour of King George and his Court was widely regarded as arrogant, and excessive.

While the Prince was an educated and accomplished man, many of his courtiers were haughty, foppish men from aristocratic families with contempt for ordinary people. In one matter particularly—the attitude towards women—they were high-handed indeed, treating most women as chattels, to be wooed, seduced and dumped. It was not a pretty prospect.

Throughout the Pemberley Series, a range of characters like Jane Bennet, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner and Mr. Darcy criticize the “goings-on” at the Court.

Fortunately, not all of society was afflicted with these attitudes, because many of the “respectable” families in the country did not flock around the Regency Court, particularly because of the dreadful reputation of the Regent’s courtiers. Many families of the rising “middle class,” who are represented in the novels of Jane Austen, as well as in The Pemberley Chronicles, preferred to keep within their own social circle, where some of them did a lot of good work among the poor and needy, who were largely neglected by the King and his government.

Unlike the foolish women who became enmeshed in the web of intrigue around the court, those who stayed within their own communities, lived busy and useful lives, finding romance among their circle of friends and relations, making their own entertainment and bringing up their families.

However, women’s roles were still very restricted, since there were few avenues for advancement. Educational opportunities were almost non- existent except for daughters of wealthy families and many girls in middle class families were self-educated, as in the case of Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, using the resources of family libraries.

The Victorian age saw a change, which though not sudden or radical, happened over the period of Queen Victoria’s long reign. Great political and social changes had taken place, extending voting rights and giving many middle class families wealth and influence, as trade and commerce flourished in Britain. It also saw the extension of education and the expansion of the role of women in society- as they became involved in teaching, nursing and business in their own right. The Queen herself set an example in moral and social values.

In the Pemberley novels, many of the women are active participants in their communities and families, not only as wives and mothers, but making a valuable social contribution organising political and community activities.

Characters like Caroline Fitzwilliam and Cassy Darcy are examples of women of this new age. They love passionately and care deeply, but are also capable of hard work and practical common sense—in a dynamic era of greater opportunity. This is reflected in the stories of The Legacy of Pemberley.

Thanks again Linda and I do hope you enjoy this final volume.

Book 10 in the acclaimed Pemberley Chronicles Series

Return to the halls of Pemberley one last time

“Romance and intrigue are on the menu as they were in all Jane Austen's novels.” —Book News

It has been fifty years since Mr. Darcy took Elizabeth Bennet as his bride, and through half a century of both true happiness and difficult trials, their love has never faltered. When Charles Bingley's declining health forces Darcy and Elizabeth to travel with their dear friends to Europe, it will fall to the next generation to continue the legacy of love and family their parents have spent a lifetime establishing.

Reunions of old friends go hand in hand with the introduction of new adversaries, and long hidden secrets come to light. But as this chronicle comes to a close, the sadness in parting is tempered not only by splendid memories, but the knowledge that the legacy of Pemberley will live far beyond the written page...

Rebecca Ann Collins is the pen name of an author in Australia who loves Jane Austen’s work so much that she has written a series of 10 sequels to Pride and Prejudice, following Austen’s beloved characters, introducing new ones and bringing the characters into a new historical era. Thoroughly researched and beautifully written, this series has been extremely successful in Australia with over 80,000 books sold. Fore more information, please visit http://www.rebeccaanncollins.com/.


Linda Banche said...

Hi Rebecca. The present is certainly better for women than the past. I'm grateful to the women who made it possible--women like Caroline Fitzwilliam.

Caroline certainly knew how to take on that developer who wanted to lop up the countryside into pieces. My kind of woman.

JoanneR said...

Today is definitely better for women, but the intrigue of trying to be a strong woman in those eras was certainly challenging.

catslady said...

I'm fairly new to reading about variations of P&P and am totally enthralled with them. So many major changes seemed to have been made in a fairly short amount of time. In some ways things have not changed with the excesses of the rich and powerful but I love reading about the women. And a timely blog since today is election day in the States. I can assume your books should definitely be read in order? or are they somewhat stand alone too.

Julie Robinson said...

"hose who stayed within their own communities, lived busy and useful lives, finding romance among their circle of friends and relations, making their own entertainment and bringing up their families"

When I read this, I thought, "Wow, that's been my life for the past 15 years" as a stay-at-home mom!
Of course, without the limitations imposed by society, so I'm thankful for all the women who've allowed us to advance educationally in order to open other avenues for women in society.

CityGirl said...

I didn't realize just how excessive the upper classes of the Regency period were - thanks for a intriguing look! Also, I always wondered what happened to Darcy and Elizabeth...

Ronda said...

This is a real eye opener. Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

gigis said...

Wow, it is really interesting how our perception of that time really differs from the facts.


Margay said...

Wow, lots of good information here! I would love a chance to read this book. I love Jane Austen, so I'm into the sequels and variations, as well.


catslady said...

Thank you so very much and congrats, Julie.