Guest blogger: Elizabeth Ellen Carter
Romancing the Victorians
One of the things I love about reading (and writing) historical romance is the opportunity to take a look at how others lived—not necessarily the rich and aristocratic, although that is fun—but rather the everyday folk.
People who went to work as we did, enjoyed their leisure time, fell in love, fought and laughed. The only difference between us is social custom and technology.
That’s one of the reasons why I love the Victorian era. Thanks to the rise of recordings—photography, film and records—we can see and even hear people who lived four, five, even six generations ago!
In fact, much of the technology we use today we owe to those inventive Victorians. We’ve mentioned photography (1838), film (1894), and gramophones (1877) but have you also considered the computer (1835), the fax machine (1846), telephone (1876), the radio (1895) the motor car (1885) and even television (1900).
It was the age of inventiveness and innovation built on the foundation of the Industrial Revolution a century earlier. You can’t cover the era without mentioning the engineering marvels of Isambard Brunel—the paddle steamships, suspension bridges and more.
The Victorian era seems to be at the crossroads of our modern history. It’s become so beloved that it’s even spawned the fantasy and science fiction genre of Steampunk.
Another reason I love writing historical romance is to explode some of the common myths about each historical period in which I write (I’ve covered Georgian, Regency, Victorian, Medieval and Roman).
One of my favourites is that the Victorians were prudish about sex. Nothing could be further from the truth!
The Victorians didn’t cover tables and piano legs with cloth because they were legs; they did it because fabric was plentiful and cheap thanks to the mechanisation of mills. Photography gave rise to more widespread pornography. Naughty and even erotic books for male and female tastes abounded. Even the concept of the Victorian patriarchal society maybe more myth than fact according to University of Glasgow research.
I had a lot of fun including some of popular inventions in my London-set Christmas novella The Thief of Hearts—speaking tubes, the polyphon, the Underground, even the shopping arcades as well as touching on the beginning of the equality movement and the rise of detective fiction.
We 21st century dwellers do owe a debt to our Victorian forebears.
The Thief of Hearts
December 1890. London, England.
Some seriously clever sleight of hand is needed if aspiring lawyer Caro Addison is ever going to enjoy this Christmas. To avoid an unwanted marriage proposal, she needs a distraction as neat as the tricks used by The Phantom, the audacious diamond thief who has left Scotland Yard clueless.
While her detective inspector uncle methodically hunts the villain, Caro decides to investigate a suspect of her own – the handsome Tobias Black, a magician extraordinaire, known as The Dark Duke. He’s the only one with the means, motive and opportunity but the art of illusion means not everything is as it seems, in both crime and affairs of the heart.
As Christmas Day draws near, Caro must decide whether it is worth risking reputations and friendships in order to follow her desires.