If you are feeling bereft at having finished the Netflix series, curl up with some steamy slushy books instead
Romance is one of the most lucrative fiction genres, a billion-dollar industry featuring stories full of banter, courtship, and smoldering chemistry. So how did an entire subgenre of literature spring up around a few thousand rich people who lived during the 1810s?
Fans of historical romance are versed in the Regency language. It never occurred to me that since Bridgerton seen by the general public on Netflix would need definitions. This article defines terms such as promenade, facer, Ton, courses, with child, sire an heir, swoon, snuff, modiste, countenance, rake, duke, viscount, a diamond of the first water, and the dark walk. I hate to think the public doesn’t know the meaning of some of these words, but nonetheless, one must educate the masses.
Two romance novelists break down the show’s historical terms. There was just one problem. Watching the drama, which is set in 1813 London, occasionally felt like translating a foreign language. From talk of the “ton” to notorious “rakes,” I was often confused by the characters’ Regency speak. But apparently if I read romance novels, I might not have mistaken a rake for a gardening tool instead of a man.
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, has written her first novel for adults, to be released by the leading romantic fiction publisher Mills & Boon. Her novel Heart for a Compass is a fictional historical saga inspired by her great-great-aunt.
The article linked below makes the point, “The Duke and I, was first published in 2000 – twenty years ago, well before woke culture, the #MeToo movement, and our growing understanding of consent and healthy gender dynamics.” We are back again to the conundrum that historical romance needs to stay pure to the times in which women lived, or we need to tweak the past so that it doesn’t offend those in the present.
Recently I read a review for the Earl’s Well that Ends Well, a new release by Catherine Heloise, on another book website. I won’t go into the review itself but would like to focus upon a comment left by a reader. Perhaps it brings up a singular thought or one that is currently running through the historical romance genre as readers deal with the past versus the present. Can readers find enjoyment in love stories that deal with toxic relationships and time periods that were oppressive to women? On the other hand, are more progressive readers going to demand that authors write novels in tune with today’s social expectations?
It’s an interesting argument that I think is going to split the genre going forward. There will be readers who want historical norms with romance, and others who want a modern romance version set in a historical setting. I think there can definitely be a blend of strong heroines in books going forward as discussed in a previous post, “Changing Heroines in Historical Romance.” All you have to do nowadays is read book reviews and focus on the five and one-star comments. The split of opinions on the subject is growing.
Talk to me! Do you mind reading about “toxic” relationships? Of course, characters should have flaws and the healing of couples can bring two together into healthy relationships. Do the oppressive eras that women dealt with rub you the wrong way, or are you able to handle it if the female character has a bit of spunk?
The problem with Bridgerton is not in how it portrays society but in how it portrays the relationship between Daphne and Simon. Beneath the veneer of romance, it’s a mutually manipulative and toxic relationship and one that shouldn’t be emulated. Unfortunately, it’s this sort of relationship that Bridgerton chooses to center, and in doing so, the show fails its modern audience.
“Quinn hopes the Netflix series might draw more attention to the genre.” We can hope!
Julia Quinn, the Seattle-based author of dozens of bestselling historical romance novels (whose real name is Julie Pottinger), is on the phone, remembering the moment she learned that her series of books about the Bridgerton family in Regency London was headed to the screen.