We need romance, sparkle, joy, and Jane Austen
A Valentine's podcast episode with romance writer Felicity George on updating our heroes, our heroines, and our cultural attitudes about what's romantic
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Just in time for that much-anticipated and dreaded day - Valentine’s Day - we are celebrating, or commiserating, by dropping a brand new podcast episode that’s all about romance, sparkle, joy, and Jane Austen.
But as always here at the Austen Connection, we’ll wade in a bit farther and also look at much more - from fantasy and contemporary romance and the craft of romance writing, to how writers are incorporating post-#MeToo issues like consent and empowerment into steamy situations and stories about desire.
In this episode, romance author Felicity George talks about all of the above, and also her love for the Regency, romance writing, and the long 18th century.
Our conversation covers everything from early romcom - perhaps the first, Frances Burney and her Evelina - to Felicity George’s take on how contemporary romance writers are updating heroes and heroines, and about how can we change the narrative of romance from power imbalances to more contemporary and consensual visions of romance.
Such a great discussion!
And, Felicity George talked about updating the heroine of her own new novel: In A Lady’s Risk, main character Lady Margaret - or Meggy - geeks out on books about science and agriculture.
Ag-science mixed with our steam? Something we didn’t even know we wanted!
So, how are these romantic worlds and characters, our Darcys and Knightleys and Lizzys and Emmas - created? And how are romance writers today building on and expanding the romance tropes and characters and worlds created by Jane Austen, and also 18th and 19th century novelists like Frances Burney, with Evelina, and Maria Edgeworth, with Belinda, favorite writers of Austen?
Author Felicity George has some thoughts.
She’s in the midst of producing a new romance series, the Gentlemen of London series, and the first installment A Lady’s Risk is out right now with A Courtesan’s Worth and its Knightley-esque hero Alexander on the way.
During the pandemic lockdown, Felicity George went from lots of romance reading to lots of romance writing, when schools and her own drama classes that she teaches were on pause. She says her imagination went wild, and her dream to write romance became reality.
Felicity George also talked with us about what seems like a contemporary word in today’s romance and dating culture: consent, and how the concept of consent can enter into steamy romance. She says as a romance writer she has to walks on a line between strong romantic stories that are sexy, consensual, historically accurate, and publishable - all at once.
Enjoy this conversation with author Felicity George.
And, let us know:
Are you a romance and/or Regency romance reader or writer? What are you enjoying reading, or writing, right now? What are your favorite characteristics and tropes in romance and in Jane Austen and in anything in between?
What are your thoughts on contemporary aspects of consent and Jane Austen’s characters? What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?
Let us know what’s on your mind, and your thoughts after (or before) listening to this conversation, friends!
And, thank you for being here and sharing the love with us this Valentine’s weekend.
Whatever Valentine’s Day brings you this year, please take the time to enjoy some romance, some sparkle, some joy, and some Jane Austen.
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Links and Community
Music from this podcast episode features:
“Friendly Dance” by Nico Staf
“Sunny Traveler” by Nico Staf
“Emotional Mess” by Amy Lynn and the Honey Men
Visit the website of Felicity George and learn more about the Gentlemen of London series here
24 Carrot Productions has an awesome program - Lovers’ Vows at Mansfield Park - coming up, and with a couple of shows streaming online. We have our ticket! But remember that the times shown on the performances are on Melbourne time so you might be signing up to watch on an entirely different day. Math is required. (Unless you are in Melbourne, as some of our subscribers are - hello, Melbourne friends!) But, wherever you are: The online productions give you access for two weeks following the performance.
Have you spotted the Austen Connection to the Super Bowl? In an ad featuring Alicia Silverstone she’ll reprise her Clueless character, Cher, based of course on Jane Austen’s Emma. Here comes the plaid!
Madonna, misogyny, and Jane Austen - thanks to one of my journalism friends and Jane friends in this community (hi, Kathy of!) for passing along this fascinating article in the WashPo which unpacks the Madonna Grammys controversy and name-checks Jane Austen.
Also enjoyed this amazing article about a team of codebreakers who cracked the code of a trove of prison letters written by Mary Queen of Scots between 1578 and 1584 and just now decoded! It reminds me of the amazing story of Anne Lister’s coded love letters and diaries. Great stuff! Even a Regency romance writer could not make this up!
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Happy Valentine’s Day!