Paris in 1901 – a time of photography and airships.
All right, I’ve had it. If I see one more book or television show or movie about the Tudors or Marie Antoinette or World War One labelled as a “Regency romance”, I’m going to scream!
Even if you use a slightly extended version of the term “Regency” to describe historical romance books (say, 1800 to 1830), I think it should be made illegal to call stories set a full century before or after the era “Regency romances”.
A popular author’s new historical romance series is allegedly set in the early 1900s, and yet it’s being labelled “Regency” by readers and publishers alike, and fails to include any of the massive changes that happened in the world in those ninety years between one era and the other. I’m seeing this so often in historical fiction that it’s driving me bonkers!
Here’s how it works:
Jane Austen, skinny dresses, Napoleon, and a man too mentally unstable to rule on the British throne.
Trains, photographs, telegrams, telephones, big sleeves and even bigger skirts, Christian morals hiding dirty lifestyles, and a short, (allegedly) grumpy lady on the British throne.
Cars, airships, early feature films, and a large, sickly man on the British throne.
Labelling an Edwardian book set nearly a century after Jane Austen died as Regency is like setting a book in 2019 and including the first Academy Awards (with Emil Jannings – born 135 years ago – winning best actor), Stalin’s purges, the birth of Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and the death of Wyatt Earp. Oh, and while we’re at it, we might as well include the Wall Street Crash and the beginning of the Great Depression, and pretend the internet doesn’t exist. In 2019.
Absurd? Yes. So please, please stop it. The past is a little more complicated – and interesting – than that.