I’ve probably been an avid reader of Jane Austen’s works since I was in middle school and I happened upon Pride and Prejudice. I had seen a black and white video adaption earlier in the year and had instantly become infatuated with the story. Next in line for romantic classics was Jane Eyre, and the rest of Jane Austen’s works followed after that. I’ve been fascinated by societal norms of various time periods ever since I picked up Pride and Prejudice. This fascination only increased when I saw the A&E adaptation with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. A story for another time.
This all has a point. Promise!
When I was in high school I discovered Patrica Veryan’s League of Jeweled Men, which is set during the Georgian period. Patricia Veryan is a “modern day” author, and the easiest way that I can explain this is that she wrote books in a time period she didn’t live in. It’s like me trying to write a book set in the Tudor era when it’s obvious I don’t live during that era.
Anyway I had this observation about a week or two ago. If you were to read Pride and Prejudice and then follow it when say The Mandarin of Mayfair, one of the League of Jeweled Men books, you’ll notice something. Patricia Veryan spends time explaining the cultural norms and societal appropriateness than Jane Austen does. And if you’re REALLY looking for a book that does this, I recommend reading A Sapphire Season. Books that are set in the time period they are written, have a sense of understanding and assumption in them. In Pride and Prejudice it’s assumed you know that it’s just not okay that Lydia runs off with Wickham and you know why it’s not okay. Whereas in Mandarin of Mayfair, you can see in words and actions by other characters of the inappropriateness of a woman proposing to a man.
I guess all I’m saying is that society has changed so much that it has to explained in literature how the rules and regulations are different than years ago. I mean, I understand why the waltz was such a scandalous dance when it was first introduced because I see what’s “wrong” with it. I don’t see anything wrong with waltzing, honestly, in fact, it’s one of my favorite dances.
There will come a time when all what we’re used to, the common phrases, everything will have to be explained in literature. It’s kind of scary…don’t you think?