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For me, Regency Romance usually means Georgette Heyer's books. But I still haven't found another writer like her. Let me tell you why.
For me, Regency Romance usually means Georgette Heyer’s books. But I still haven’t found another writer like her. Let me tell you why.
Let me introduce myself. I am a self-confessed, unabashed Regency Romance aficionado. For the uninitiated, Regency Romance is a sub-genre of historical romance novels set during the period of the English Regency or early 19th century.
Since I read my first ever Georgette Heyer novel (The Grand Sophy), I have endlessly searched library shelves and scoured book lists to find more writers like her. Alas, my search is in vain.
Ms Heyer is considered the Grand Dame of Regency Romances, some people even consider her to be the rightful heir to Jane Austen. However, I cannot agree with since, in my opinion, they write about different things.
Anyway, back to Ms Heyer. You will rarely find a Regency Romance novelist with her wit and charm, though there is no dearth of novels in this sub-genre.
Regency Romances are also called bodice rippers thanks to the high sexual content they contain which is absent in Ms Heyer’s books. However, my problem isn’t with the bodice-ripping. I am no prude neither can I point out any historical inaccuracy on the account of bodice-ripping. Well, I say, if you like it, rip the bodice away!
However, my real problem with the fresh crop of Regency Romance novels is with their depiction of the female protagonist or the ‘heroine.’ You would think they would be depicted in regressive or inferior roles. Far from it!
In fact, writers like Lisa Kleypas, Eloisa James and Julia Quinn introduce as many feminist tropes as possible in their books. According to the descriptions on the back covers of the books, the leading ladies are charming, intelligent, kind, generous and daring all rolled into one. But above everything else, they are closet feminists and can speak their minds and assert themselves.
I pick these books up with the singular hope that, in them, I will find a female character who will hopefully create a special place in my heart. You know like some heroines in Georgette Heyer’s books have. However, every single time I come away disappointed. This is mostly because, by the time I have read one-third of the book, the heroine has already started sounding annoying and silly.
The plot usually has her getting herself and the people around her in grave trouble. She has, in a bid to be assertive, failed to understand the logic of refraining from doing something foolishly adventurous.
Fortunately, since it’s fiction, everything ends in a ‘Happily Ever After.’ But if women in Regency England had, in reality, set out to do half the things these fictional women do, their population would seriously have dwindled.
I am a feminist and I am all for feminist based fiction. My only request is that let it sound reasonable, rather than preposterous! Give me another Arabella or Sophy or Fredrica – from Georgette Heyer’s novels. These women do nothing adventurous in life but still make me laugh. I refuse to believe there aren’t more writers like Ms Heyer, I’ll just have to dig deeper.
A version of this was earlier published here.
Picture credits: Photo by Gabby K from Pexels
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Lawyer-Knitter-Reader-Dog Parent. I have two blogs - One knit at a Time (https://oneknitatatime.com/) and The Indefatigable Reader (https://indefatigablereader.wordpress.com/). Check them out if you like knitting or reading. read more...
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Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
Here are a few of the gendered notions that the show propagates.
A mediocre man can give himself a 9.5/10 and call himself ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’, but an independent and successful woman must be happy with receiving just 60-70% of what she feels she deserves.
Darlings makes some excellent points about domestic violence . For such a movie to not follow through with a resolution that won't be problematic, is disappointing.
I watched Darlings last weekend, staying on top of its release on Netflix. It was a long-awaited respite from the recent flicks. I wanted badly to jump into its praise and will praise it, for something has to be said for the powerhouse performances it is packed with. But I will not be able to in a way that I really had wanted to.
I wanted to say that this is a must-watch on domestic violence that I stand behind and a needed and nuanced social portrayal. But unfortunately, I can’t. For I found Darlings to be deeply problematic when it comes to the portrayal of domestic violence and how that should be dealt with.
Before we rush to the ‘you must be having a problem because a man was hit’ or ‘much worse happens to women’ conclusions, that is not what my issue is. I have seen the praises and criticisms, and the criticisms of criticisms. I know, from having had close associations with non-profits and activists who fight domestic violence not just in India but globally, that much worse happens to women. I have written a book with case studies and statistics on that. Neither do I have any moral qualms around violence getting tackled with violence (that will be another post some day).