Tag Archives: History

Some Facts for the Fourth

Happy-Independence-Day-USA-1-1Did you know:

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the same day, July 4, 1826.

James Monroe, 5th president of the USA, died on July 4, 1831.

Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the USA, was born on July 4, 1872.

(these facts from The Washington Post, July 2, 2014)

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Historical Romance Novels; a little history and some info

Historical Romance Novels; a little history and some Info originally posted back in March, 2013.  But still interesting information. (comments are 2 from the original posting.)

Historical Romance Th 2

The modern day romance novel can be attributed to Georgette Heyer who wrote Austen-like novels in the 1930’s.  The Grand Sophie being one of her most famous. From that time until the  early 1970’s there were novels with romantic elements like Forever Amber and  Gone With The Wind to name just a few.  All of these were published in hardcover editions, paperback books being somewhat confined to pulp fiction offerings.

In 1972 all that was about to change when Avon published Kathleen Woodiwiss’ The Flame and The Flower in paperback. It sold over 2 million copies and Woodiwiss followed up in 1974 with The Wolf and The Dove.   Also in 1974 Rosemary Rodgers came on the scene with Sweet Savage Love.  These early  paperback original novels usually had Alpha Males and helpless females with sex often of a violent (rape) nature.  Since the covers often pictured scantily clad women with dominating men leaning over them they were often referred to as “bodice rippers”. This term is not appreciated by current Historical Romance fans and writers.

Historical Romance_thumb[1]

Through the 1980’s and 1990’s the genre continued to evolve featuring heroines of a more independent nature and although the heros were still Alpha types they often redeemed themselves and the sex became consensual.  Humor was often added as well as suspense and mystery.  Considered a required feature is a happy-ever-after for the protagonists. The New York Times reports that romance novels,  are the fastest growing segment in ebooks, out-pacing general fiction, mystery and science fiction.

Romance Categories:

Ancient: Egypt; Greece; Rome; etc. – the ancient world.
Dark Ages: from the fall of Rome (410 AD) to 1065.
Medieval: from 1066, up to and including the 17th century.
Georgian: from 1702 to 1811 (the age of reason and freedom).
Regency: from 1811 to 1830 (includes the regency and the kingship).
Western: the wild, wild West! Contemporary or historical.
Colonial: early settlements, exploration, and Southern romances (including Americana).
Victorian: from 1830 to 1901 (including William IV’s reign).
Civil War: America – from 1861 to 1865 (the civil war era).
Vintage: from 1901 to 1945 (Edward VII, World War I, World War II, etc.)
 Celtic: historicals / paranormals / fantasies that take place primarily in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Brittany, etc.
Time Travel: modern-day heroes and heroines thrown back in time to meet their true loves.
Fantasy: dragons, fairies, wizards, and witches – oh my!
Paranormal: vampires, ghosts, werewolves, shape-shifters, goth, etc. Contemporary or historical.
Anthology: must contain at least one genre from above.

(this blog post was referenced from Wikipedia and Historical Romance Club.com)

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Filed under Books, Books Historical Romance, Favorites, Historical Romance, History

Review not by Deet( You’re gonna love this one)

I haven’t read this book.  That doesn’t mean I won’t, but what follows the blurb is one of the funniest reviews I have ever read on Amazon.  Tell me, would you read this book after reading that review? Read the blurb first.  ( I love this cover!! That gown is to die for!)

a-reliable-wife

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Book Blurb:

Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for “a reliable wife.” But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she’s not the “simple, honest woman” that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man’s devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt — a passionate man with his own dark secrets —has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

With echoes of Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, Robert Goolrick’s intoxicating debut novel delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis.

**

A 2-star Amazon review

By Alyssa Donati on March 20, 2012

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

as he flung her onto the crimson horsehair settee and ravaged her like a wild dingo. He bathed in her flesh, he scooped it up like rich creamy yogurt until her swarthy lover burst in and brandished a large shotgun. “Release that venomous tart!” He bellowed. “Never! I must have her! I shall devour her completely until only one dazzling amber eyeball remains!”

No, this is not a quote from Goolrick or A Reliable Wife, HOWEVER it could have been.

A reliable Wife is not terrible. There are some beautifully written passages and it does commence with an intriguing plot but unfortunately midway through the book begins to morph into a dime store bodice ripper. Goolrick’s protagonist is a miserable aging man who craves sex so much you begin to worry he’s going to go completely nuts one day and mount the portly old housekeeper when she’s taking out the trash. He winds up advertising for a wife and when she arrives he turns into Charlie Sheen (the new one with the Tiger Blood and porn Goddesses…) From then on the book’s plot becomes so preposterous and the sexual encounters so salacious and repetitive it’s truly hard to maintain interest. In addition to the bacchanalian sex, the sprawled limbs, the moist loins, the heaving bosoms etc…every character in this novel basically wants to drop dead (that is, if they’re not in the middle of intercourse.) Truly, I have never seen so many homicidal, suicidal, morose, pissed off, seething, wretched individuals crammed into one book. So, in summation, if you like watching irate vengeful people savagely engage in coitus and then drop dead, you might like this book.

(Deet says: I came across this book because it was on one of those Buy this for $1.99 deals I get in my e-mail so often.) 

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Regency Era Modes of Transportation

Regency Era Transportation

I read quite a few Regency Era romance novels.  There is always a mention of a horse drawn coach or carriage in every book, since these were the typical mode of transportation for the gentry and aristocracy.  The poor folks had to rely on walking.  Instead of wondering about what these vehicles looked like, I did a little research and thought perhaps you would like to see what they looked like also.  I got these pictures from Google Images and Bing Images, any errors I’m dumping at their feet. 🙂

Phaeton– This one was very popular with the rakish fellas because it was so high, a ladder was often needed to get onto the seat,  and it got them noticed.  It also was dangerous, it could easily tip over, that made it attractive to the daredevils.  There was no side protection so mud splatters were to be expected. carriage phaeton

Curricle– Another fashionable carriage for the gentleman.  It was light weight and speedy.carriage curricle

Barouche– A popular summer carriage for the wealthy. It had a hood over one of the seats.carriage barouche

Landau– This one came in at the end of the Regency Era.  It was expensive and very showy, perfect for being seen in the park. (although to my mind not as elegant as the Barouche)Carriage CLassicLandau1

 

Town Coach– Similar to a Landau but with a hard roof.  It was also called a ‘Closed Carriage”.  The nobility often put their coat of arms on the door.carriage Town coach

Mail Coach– this needs little explanation.  It traveled the roads delivering the mail across England and those who wished to travel  from one place to another could purchase a seat.carriage mail coach

 Dog Cart– It was not a cart pulled by dogs.  It was a carriage used on estates that could hold the hunting dogs being transported to a hunt.carriage dog cart

Hackney Coach– The taxi cab of London in the 1800’s.carriage Hackney-coach,_about_1800

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Recent Rerelease Review- The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley

Title: The Splendour Falls

The Splendour Falls

 Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Mystery

Author:  Susanna Kearsley

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark, January 2014

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating:  3

Description from Amazon.com:

Emily Braden has stopped believing in fairy tales and happy endings. When her fascinating but unreliable cousin Harry invites her on a holiday to explore the legendary town of Chinon, and promptly disappears—well, that’s Harry for you.

As Emily makes the acquaintance of Chinon and its people, she begins to uncover dark secrets beneath the charm. Legend has it that during a thirteenth-century siege of the castle that looms over the city, Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, hid a “treasure of great price.” And in the last days of the German occupation during World War II, another Isabelle living in Chinon, a girl whose love for an enemy soldier went tragically awry.

As the dangers of the past become disastrously real, Emily is drawn ever more deeply into a labyrinth of mystery as twisted as the streets and tunnels of the ancient town itself.

**

Susanna Kearsley takes  historical facts and actual locations and writes gripping stories about those that lived and those that live now.  She makes locations come alive and if you look up those locations you can see photos of the places where the story is set.  This makes the reading feel not so much a fiction but as if events are real.

Here are a few photos of the actual locations mentioned in this novel, The Chateau Chinon in France, The Place de General DE Gaulle with the Fountain, the bar in the Hotel Chinon (actually The Hotel De France) and a room in that same hotel:

Chateau chinon1

chateau Chinon three graces fountain 2 Chateau Chinon three graces fountain

 

Chateau Chinon bar in Hotel De France

Chateau Chinon Hotel de France

She is masterful at creating flesh and blood characters. In this, one of her earlier books, the pacing is a little slow but the story so compelling that little mind is paid.  There is a mystery and there is a villain but we are lulled into not suspecting the true nature of the villain.  We are left wondering if the villain would actually have harmed our heroine.  The romance is slow developing and we are left to wonder for a long time if our heroine will find true love.

I am a huge fan of Susanna Kearsley’s highly original novels and although this is not my favorite, it is an outstanding read. Even if one of her novels is not my favorite she still writes heads above others in the genre.

I recommend this book to all readers who like to be placed in the actual location of the story and those who love a mystery.

(This is a reissue of a Kearsley book published in the 1990’s.)

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Some Entertaining Phrases in History

History

Awhile back a good friend sent me the following in one of those forwards that travel the internet.  I can’t verify the authenticity of the information but it all sounds truthful to me. But I just wanted you to know that I’m posting this as I received it and have not researched the purported facts. In fact it makes so much sense that I’m wondering where and how other phrases originated.

(I originally posted this on my blog on March 29, 2012 but it deserves repeating don’t you think?)

Interesting History

Where did “Piss Poor” come from?

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor.”

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot —

they “didn’t have a pot to piss in,” and were the lowest of the low.

Here are some facts about the 1500s:

 The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature

isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

 Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a “bouquet of flowers” to hide the body odor.  Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies, by then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.  Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath.

It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof.  When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.  Hence the saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed.  Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection.

That’s how “canopy beds” came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.  Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.”  The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance way. Hence: a “thresh hold.”

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day.  Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.  Hence the rhyme:

“Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.  When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.  It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “bring home the bacon.”  They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and “chew the fat.”

Those with money had plates made of pewter.  Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status.  Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the “upper crust.”

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey, the combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the

family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.

Hence the custom of “holding a wake.”

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people.

So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.

Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (“the graveyard shift”) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, “saved by the bell”, or was considered “a dead ringer.”

Now, whoever said History was boring!!!  If you have any “curious facts” post them in the comments.

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Recent Release Review-Thanksgiving by Ellen Cooney

Genre:  Literary historical Fiction

thanksgiving book

Author: Ellen Cooney

Publisher: Publerati, sept 2013

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 1

Description from book:

One family.  One table.  One meal.  350 years.

This dramatic, highly inventive novel presents the story of one family through many generations, as Thanksgiving dinner is prepared.

The narrative moves swiftly and richly through time and changes as we experience the lives of the Morleys against the background of historical events. This is history that comes fully alive, for we become part of the family ourselves, sharing their fortunes and tragedies, knowing their truths from their lies, watching their possessions handed down or lost forever. All along, in the same house, in the same room, Morley women are getting dinner ready, one part at a time, in a room that begins with a hearth of Colonial times and ends as a present-day kitchen.

Thanksgiving serves up history in a lively, entertaining way that offers an original viewpoint of the everyday concerns of one family across the generations.

**

The story starts in 1662 with Patience and Cale Morley and their meager supply of food and continues with their descendents in increments of 11-29 year spans until the present. Each  new date brings us into the November kitchen of the Morley women and in short stories we are drawn into the lives of the Morley family.  Family members are not always honorable but they are survivors.  The women have made many sacrifices as well as the Morley men.  The homestead has undergone many changes by each generation but the kitchen remains the domain of the Morley women.

I found this novel to be well written and totally absorbing.  Ms Cooney vividly creates each era and setting and has us understanding the nuances of family interaction  throughout the many changes in circumstances.  It was interesting that she chose to make many of the women single mothers in times when this would have been scandalous but they didn’t seem to be scadalized.

I enjoyed this book and recommend it as a good read during this holiday time.  It gives an overview of  American Thanksgiving history through the lives of ordinary citizens in a realistic and compassionate way.

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History- The First April Fool’s Day Prank, 1794

unknown-portrait-1

Since this blog deals with  many novels set in the Georgian and Regency period I was delighted to find that the first documented April Fool’s prank was purported to have been staged by Henry, Duke of Grenfeld , England, 1794.  His French wife, who loved frog legs for dinner, was always disappointed because Henry refused to have them served.  On April Fool’s Day Henry had 25 frogs captured from his estate ponds and placed under dome covers on the banquet table.  He told his Duchess that especially for her, frog legs would be served.  The Duchess was delighted until the domed covers were lifted and the frogs catapulted over the table.  This never happened.

april_fools_day_comment_25

Have a Fun April Fool’s Day!

P.S.- That distinguished gentleman in the portrait goes on through history without a name.  He is not Lord Grenfeld, there is no one by that name as far as I know.

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Review- Out of Time: A Time Travel Mystery by Monique Martin

Title: Out of Time: A Time Travel Mystery (Bk #1)

Genre: Time Travel Romance

Author: Monique Martin

Publisher: Amazon Digital (self Pub.)

Source: Kindle Free

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com:

Professor Simon Cross has spent his life searching for evidence of vampires and avoiding emotional entanglements. When a mysterious accident transports Simon and his assistant, Elizabeth West, back in time, Simon finally finds both the proof that he’s been looking for, and the romance that he hasn’t.

Simon and Elizabeth’s developing relationship is tested by demons real and imagined. In 1920s Manhattan, there are more than mobsters vying for power in the city’s speakeasies. When the local kingpin with a dark secret sets his sights on Elizabeth, day to day struggles become a fight for their very lives.

**

I thought this book a bit slow for a good part of the first half.  But after that it took off like a shot.  The writing here is very good and the characterization of the introverted professor and the outgoing assistant is beautifully realized.  The blossoming of their love, and reluctance to acknowledge it, was written so well that I was actually feeling as frustrated with their situation as they were.

There was action and violence in the setting of 1920’s NYC.  The scenic description of the boarding house and speakeasy, the prices of goods and the bustling street life was fascinating.  The bad guy was scary, evil and surprising.  It was suspenseful.  I was often frustrated with the heroine’s flighty attitude but it did give our “Casper Milktoast” professor reason to develop into a superhero.

I recommend this well researched novel.

NOTE:  This is the second book I have reviewed this year with the title OUT OF TME.  Both are Time Travel books.

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Deet’s Life- Completing My (your) Education

Awhile back a good friend sent me the following in one of those forwards that travel the internet.  I can’t verify the authenticity of the information but it all sounds truthful to me. But I just wanted you to know that I’m posting this as I received it and have not researched the purported facts. In fact it makes so much sense that I’m wondering where and how other phrases originated.

Interesting History

Where did “Piss Poor” come from?

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor.”  But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot — they “didn’t have a pot to piss in,” and were the lowest of the low.

Here are some facts about the 1500s:

 The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperatureisn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be.   Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a “bouquet of flowers” to hide the body odor.  Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies, by then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.  Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath.  It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof.  When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.  Hence the saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed.  Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection.  That’s how “canopy beds” came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.  Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.”  The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance way. Hence: a “thresh hold.”

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day.  Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.  Hence the rhyme: “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.  When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.  It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “bring home the bacon.”  They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and “chew the fat.”

Those with money had plates made of pewter.  Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status.  Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the “upper crust.”

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey, the combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of “holding a wake.”

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people.So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.  Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (“the graveyard shift”) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, “saved by the bell”, or was considered “a dead ringer.”

Now, whoever said History was boring!!!  If you have any “curious facts” post them in the comments.

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