Why do Regency Romances have such a large and faithful following? Why are such period TV series as Upstairs Downstairs and Downtown Abbey so popular? Perhaps because we are drawn to the glamour and elegance of the era and are fascinated by the power and privilege of the select few which govern it. Indeed, when we read these novels, we are transformed into the magic of the graceful salons and the magnificent ballrooms of London, as well as to the opulent grand estates of the English countryside. And so, we follow the ladies and gentlemen, the dukes and the earls from balls and soirees during the London season, to the hunting parties and the local assemblies of winter in the country.
As we follow our aristocratic heroes, like them, we tend to escape the harsh reality which rages outside their noble bubble. Yes, servants are mentioned as well as housekeepers, valets, butlers and such. But, their characters are never developed. Unlike the TV series, in the novels they remain insignificant. Their only role is to enhance the plot. Tenants also remain obscure. Their only role is to reflect on the character of their landowners.
And yet, another class is emerging in the regency romance and it cannot be denied. There are doctors, surgeons, attorneys and stewards in the novels. And seamstresses! Yes- those independent, entrepreneurial businesswomen who dress our ladies of quality.
In the Mistress of Rye, there is a secondary character, Havisham. His social standing remains obscure. It is purposefully undefined. Havisham is the young Duke’s companion, his comrade in arms during the years of war, and his man of affaires during peacetime. Readers of the “Mistress of Rye” will follow the complex, delicate relationship between the duke and Havisham as the two balance adherence to their difference in station, with the deep mutual respect for each other. Havisham is the protagonist of my next novel. With no title and no noble connections, Havisham rises to riches and political power. We follow him as he manoeuvers the maze of English class boundaries in his quest for love.