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WHAT IS REGENCY? By Blair Bancroft - page 5 / 10





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two kinds of Regency romances. Traditional Regencies pride themselves on the authenticity of their language, the quality of the repartee, the correct details on manners, costume, furnishings, objets d’art, carriages, household management, recipes, etc. Sentences tend to run on, even in dialogue. There is much more “flow” of language than in an Historical.

Language - Regency-set Historicals. In addition to more sex and swashbuckle, Historicals generally use modern English and shorter sentence structure, with only a few catch words thrown in (“bloody hell,” for example, has been done to death). If, however, an author uses words or concepts so modern they were completely unknown in the early nineteenth century, you can assume she has little knowledge of, or respect for, the era about which she is writing. Some of the modern expressions one can encounter are enough to jar a reader right back into the twenty-first century. (One of the most famous of these unacceptable modernisms was the author who referred to the Regency’s famed Cyprian’s Ball as “The Hooker’s Ball.”)

Drama - Traditional Regencies. Although I tend to put more action into my Regencies than some, this is another huge divide between the two Regency styles. Traditional Regencies are generally tales of home and family. Even if there’s a smuggler or even a murder, the emphasis is on how the family is affected. The drama lies in interaction between people; not just the hero and heroine, but between various extended family members, some of whom can be eccentric. Or among typical members of the community. The “community” can be London, Bath, Brighton, a country house, or a village. The drama can extend outside of England, if the author is knowledgeable about that place.

One “Jane Austen” rule I personally break in all my books is ignoring the Peninsular War. I’ve never been able to do that. The single greatest outside influence on Britain during the Regency was Europe’s war with Napoleon, and Britain was fighting its share of the battle in Spain and Portugal, under direction of Arthur Wellesley. The

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