My copy from Amazon arrived yesterday. It’s a classic reprint, originally published in 1872. What a hoot. It’s a goldmine of comments that might have you rolling on the floor with laughter.
The book appears not to be just a set of rules, but contains a vast amount of thoughts on society, social intercourse (not the kind of intercourse you think I’m talking about), private habits, and social behavior, along with proper dress for a variety of occasions for men and women. (Ladies, only white gloves please. The new rage of lavender is scandalous. And for goodness sake, they better not be dirty!)
I thought that I would post interesting tidbits regarding English thoughts and ways of life as I make my way through the text. Even if the advice is 143 years out of date, you might be able to apply it to all those Regency and Victorian era books you read. Maybe the characters are not as well-bred as the author would have you believe. Here is one example:
“Let a man be of no matter what station, he has there a right to speak to his fellow man…” The thought here is that there is no harm in speaking to a person who is not of one’s class (i.e. lower) who happens to strike up a conversation. For example, it is considered kindly to reply to a statement from a lower-classed workman who might say, “It’s a fine day, sir.” No need to be a snob. Answer kindly. Nevertheless, there are boundaries to be kept when it comes to conversation.
“But of course, there is a limit to be fixed. Englishmen respect nothing so much as their purses and their private affairs, and in England you might as well ask a stranger for five pounds as inquire what he was traveling for, what his income was, or what were the names of his six children. It is a gross impertinence in this country to put curious questions to a person of whom you know little.”
Oh, and by the way, it is considered bad breeding and vulgar to ask someone how much something costs. For example, did you just comment that you liked my gown but asked how much I paid per yard for the fabric? Shame on you! You are definitely ill bred.
The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife is a Regency tale of a forced marriage that occurs because of a less-than-believable indiscreet moment of the hero and heroine.
Claire, who needs a breath of fresh air, retreats to the veranda leaving the ballroom. While she’s contemplating her search for a husband, the Earl of Roderick arrives challenging her decision to be alone and unaccompanied. Their little spat leads to a stumble on Claire’s behalf, and as the Earl helps her to recover from the fall, they are found in a compromising position. Her father demands that the man marry her to save her reputation. He succumbs to the pressure of the inconvenient wife, while Claire balks and complains over the swiftly arranged marriage to a brooding male.
The story quickly evolves into a rushed wedding and a snippy relationship between the Earl and Claire. Both are clearly miserable. Consummation of the marriage is delayed, and Claire is intent on running home to her sister to escape her newly arranged life. Will they finally fall in love? Well, I won’t give that spoiler away.
The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife is sometimes unbelievable in spots, with characters that are not very endearing. The story starts out well enough with two bachelors in search of a wife. However, as it progresses into the inconvenient marriage, I found my interest waning. Claire is a rather immature young lady who doesn’t exactly possess a pleasant personality. It was difficult to bond to either of the characters. I would have loved to cheer them on into a loving relationship but did not. Undoubtedly, for some readers it will prove to be a pleasant story that brings enjoyment.
Abigail Parker, the story’s heroine, is like any other young woman her age. She meets a handsome, dashing bachelor, who sweeps her off her feet and proposes marriage. Of course, she agrees to become his wife and leaves Vienna for England to prepare for their wedding and life with the man she loves–but barely knows. When she arrives at the impressive Rochester Manor, Abigail quickly learned that the man she is to marry is quite different from the man who romanced her back in Vienna.
Nora Rushton from Willow Creek Colorado is a young woman with a special gift of healing. Her father has taken great pains to keep her gift a secret, fearing she will be labeled a witch. He resents his daughter and the burden she has placed on him due to her special abilities.
Overall this this one deserves 4 crowns. (Reviewed by Countess Julie)
The life of royalty is akin to playing a game of chess. Kings, queens, bishops, and plenty of pawns fill the pages of The Queens’s Vow. As a child in school, history happened to be the subject I hated the most. However, give me a good book and an intriguing story, and you’ve won me over. On the pages of a textbook the facts of kings and queens could put you asleep, but in the hands of C. W. Gortner, they keep you highly engaged turning pages in anticipation of what is ahead.
The Queen’s Vow focuses upon the young Isabella of Castile starting at the age of three and continuing onward through adulthood. It begins with the sad reality that the death of a monarch can suddenly leave a wife and his children relegated to poverty far away from the throne. In this instance, Isabella’s half-brother, Enrique, rules Castile. He is married to an unfaithful wife with ambitions for her daughter, who everyone believes is the product of an affair and not of the king’s loins.
The early years of Isabella’s life, with her less than emotional stable mother and younger brother, fill the first few chapters. However, when she and her brother, Alfonso, are finally called to court by their half-brother, you sense the fear of the unknown. Welcomed by the king, but their presence unwanted by the queen, the two of them suddenly become pawns in everyone’s plans for the realm. However, it’s here that Isabella knows without a doubt that one day she is destined for greatness.
Drowning in a court with unscrupulous advisers and rampant immorality, Isabella finds the court to be a dreadful place. The one bright moment, however, is her introduction to Fernando, Prince of Aragon, who at the age of 12 has led armies into battle. She dismisses him as a boy, even though he speaks of marriage like a man. In his mind, they are destined to be together, and when he departs for Aragon to return to his father, he merely writes for her to wait for him. And wait for him she does – for years.
The book is filled with twists and turns and the ups and downs of Enrique’s rule, Isabella’s favor from the king and subsequent displeasure, along with the characters who play the game of chess behind the scenes. She matures into a strong woman who faces her future with braveness. I, on the other hand, count my lucky stars for having not been born royalty in an age such as this when the ambitions of others could very well threaten your livelihood and your life. There is an underlying fear of betrayal and captivity that is unsettling in Isabella’s journey to the throne that lasts for quite some time. Finally, in her late teens, she is reunited with Fernando, who she marries against the king’s wishes. The act sets into motion an upheaval that eventually leads her to the throne of Castile.
Though we often read of the conquests of kings and queens in their adulthood and later years, it’s not often we can journey with them on their way to the throne. Of course, if you know your history, Isabella is not without her questionable acts later on in her reign, which are alluded to in the story when a man of the cloth tells her that she’s been chosen by God to clean the land of its wickedness.
C.W. Gornter is an engaging and intelligent author who takes his readers into the world of history-making everything come alive. From the descriptive scenery of Castile to the moldy and musty-smelling castles, the book breathes life on every page. As an author myself, I find his style and writing highly engaging.
I highly recommend The Queen’s Vow for anyone looking for a great historical fiction of a famous queen, sprinkled with the love of her husband, Fernando. I found the story extremely intriguing from her childhood to the coronation and her early years of rule. However, when Jewish persecution and the Spanish Inquisition were initiated at the persuading of others, I found my interest waning in the book.
I think that relates back to the bad taste in my mouth left by a profoundly disturbing movie – Goya’s Ghosts. Perhaps I had high hopes for Isabella and Fernando because I enjoyed their characters early on but found fault in their actions later in their rule. The author, who did a great job creating living and breathing reincarnations of kings and queens, brings you to a place of being intimately acquainted with these historical characters. That is a mark of a good writer, especially when their actions bring you disappointment — you almost take it personally.
On a side note, for my historical romance readers, there are fleeting portions of romance within the book. Nevertheless, I rate it a Four-Star – Princess of a Charming Story (even though it’s about a Queen).
Reviewed by Countess Victoria
There is little romance between Captain Sterling and Amelia at the onset. Only fleeting thoughts of their agreeable personalities and appearances. At first, Amelia’s plan is rejected, but when the Captain has a change of heart, obstacles keep them apart. In certain scenes affections rise, but are suppressed, until a difficult situation brings them together in love.
I really wanted to understand the heart of Amelia, but couldn’t quite get there except for her determination behind her quest to marry the Captain. She comes across as a goodhearted woman with values, but she restrains her affections and passions.
As far as Graham Sterling, the man of the sea, he read superficially with little insight into the workings of his heart other than his career that has forged his life and character. Toward the end of the story, more of his own personal struggles are revealed. I really don’t warm up to him as a likable hero that I could imagine falling in love with. There are no intimate scenes to steam up the story, except for a passionate kiss and final declaration of love which doesn’t quite make up for the lack.
I understood why, when I realized The Heiress of Winterwood is published by Thomas Nelson. There are Christian undertones throughout the story, which contains themes of faith, trusting God, the creator’s plan for one’s life, and forgiveness. Portions of scripture are sprinkled throughout the story, and a few prayers are expressed by the characters.
The book was well written and your mind easily envisions the Regency surroundings and way of life. BUT, I can hear my English teacher screaming at me not to start sentences with conjunctions like “but” and “and.” Good gracious, things have changed over the years, and I guess I need to get over it. BUT, it’s like nails scratching on a chalkboard in my mind when I read a text with BUT and AND starting a sentence. Yes, I know, I’m old fashion. Blame it on Mrs. Marone, my strict high-school teacher. AND I know I should get hip with my own style of writing to catch up. Well, maybe.
All in all the book is on the puritanical side of Regency, with a bit of suspense and intrigue thrown in for conflict. For me, it was a three crown Duchess of a good read. Personally, I just need a bit more romance and passion to stir my heart and fill my fantasy needs of being swept off my feet.
(Reviewed by Countess Victoria)