Tags: romance novels

e. st v. millay

Longest post in a while, I think

Wouldn't The Way We Live Now be just perfect for a modernized adaptation? All about stocks and greed and cheating and the excesses of the super-rich ... Someone needs to make it.

I did a post on fashion and feminism (namely the idea that after periods where women are more liberated society responds by forcing women into more feminine fashions), and I should share it here since I think it's one of the few things I post there that's of general interest.

My Godey'ses and Peterson's are making me obsessed with Civil War-era dress. It's so annoying how easily my interests (obsessions) turn.

Jillian really thinks consulting is the way to go, re: employment, because museums are more likely to be able to get grants for projects than to be able to guarantee funding for a hire. I mean, one place I applied to seems to be simply not filling their educator position.

At the last library book sale, I picked up Wild Conquest, by Hannah Howell, because despite so many examples to the contrary, I have a bad tendency to believe the impassioned defenses of the romance novel as brilliant because it shows the human spirit and true emotion etc. etc. etc. Okay, I don't think the idea of the genre is bad - in theory, I love it. I love love stories. And I super love a lot of tropes that go with romance novels. But because so many of them are churned out by writers who have to put them out one after another, often in the same narrow subgenre, they can be really shitty.

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So no more romance novels for me ever unless they are by Eloisa James, I don't care how attractive the summary is, it will never be the way I want.

This is just to remind you, due to the Tumblrizing of LJ, that I'm using Dreamwidth! The original post is here: http://chocolatepot.dreamwidth.org/682958.html - comment wherever you please.
e. st v. millay

A few things

My god, people, it's just alternate character interpretations, UNCLENCH. Honestly, I have never seen a fandom more hostile to for-the-sake-of-it ACIs and fun revisionism.

The first four of these rules for romance writing manage to nicely encapsulate why I don't really like romance novels anymore. I mean, look, it basically says "give your heroine and hero the same personalities and circumstances as all other heroines and heroes".

Awesome new blog I've discovered, by Beatrice Behlen from the Museum of London.

I keep forgetting to do this meme. From [personal profile] shaggydogstail:

-Comment with "Winter is Coming"
-I'll respond by asking you five questions so I can get to know you better.
-Update your journal with the answers to the questions.
-Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions. (If you want. Totally optional.)

1. What is your favourite recipe?
I think I would have to say the Butter Chicken from my Indian cookbook ... but I can't remember the title or the authors and it's not here with me. But it's creamy and delicious and if it didn't involve so much butter and cream I'd make it more often.

2. Top five book quotes.
1) "I can no longer listen in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope." - Persuasion

2) "If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals." - Goblet of Fire

3) I have to make the admission that I'm really bad at remembering lines.

3. What is your worst habit?
Picking. I get hormonal and stress acne and I can't stop messing with it (which always makes me more stressed). It sucks big time.

4. Tell us a joke.
This is the funniest Tumblr I have ever seen, which I determine counts.

5. You've run away to join the circus! What's your act?
They don't let me out in public, I stick sequins on the trapeze artists' leotards.

This is just to remind you, due to the Tumblrizing of LJ, that I'm using Dreamwidth! The original post is here: http://chocolatepot.dreamwidth.org/667153.html - comment wherever you please.
e. st v. millay

The Secret Duke

So I decided I needed to read a romance novel, because I haven't done that in a while, but I only read Jo Beverley and Eloisa James now because the rest have too high a frequency of irritation for me. I hadn't read a Jo Bev in a long time so I can't remember what exactly it was that put her on my good list, but I saw one of hers at the book sale and it involved kidnappings, so yeah.

Anyway it's interesting to me because of the way RegencyWorld gets into people's heads. There have been a couple of instances where I'm impressed with Beverley's comparative understanding of 1760s clothing (like, she knows the difference between stays and jumps, that clothes are going to fit differently with them, and that stomachers are a thing), but there are these little things that don't bother me, it's just that I notice them and it's funny to me.

Like, she wants to show that Bella used to be frivolous, so she says that she never had to make decisions more stressful than how to trim a bonnet. Which isn't impossible, but with 18thc bonnets there just isn't that much trimming and it's not as changeable as Regency bonnet fashions. And then later on a guy wraps her up in a shawl.

It's just interesting, insert some academic-sounding line about clothing and the way it affects the way we think and conceptualize the world and the way it gets in our heads.

(There's also the gripe I have that applies to pretty much everyone - referring to a particular dress as the "[color] [fabric]". It's the logic of it. Do you have a dress in two materials for every color for every part of the day? If you don't, do you really need to specify that you want to wear the blue silk to the fabulous ball rather than the blue serge? Or that you're going to go for a long walk in the forest in the grey wool rather than the grey velvet?

OR JUST SAY "ONE" AFTER THE FABRIC, PLEASE.)

This is just to remind you, due to the Tumblrizing of LJ, that I'm using Dreamwidth! The original post is here: http://chocolatepot.dreamwidth.org/633206.html - comment wherever you please.
e. st v. millay

I forget the title

I really want to like this kind of ... I want to call it "jaunty" romance novel, but every once in a while it just, well, "enrages me" is a little strong for it, but it's so frustrating that every so often I feel like I'm running into a wall. It's a stupid issue but it's hard to get over.

The author wants the heroine to be super-fashionable. (Oh, you knew it was in this line.) So she critiques people's color choices a lot. And that's not a bad thing, but half the time it feels like she's picking colors at random to clash with someone's complexion (or being confusing about it - what is "in primose she would like like Banquo's ghost at a wedding" supposed to mean?), and the other half ... is puce. There is nothing really wrong with puce, and it's got a couple of different shades anyway, and what really irritates me is that it gets picked on (in historical romances in general) because Georgette Heyer didn't like it. Georgette Heyer sometimes using it as a joke about ugly clothes and bad taste =/= the color was thought to be unattractive in the period. I can find many references to it in high fashion.

Also, from cultural references in the text about what was happening ~20 years ago, I'm pretty sure this is set in the early/mid-1830s, but I have a sneaking suspicion the writer is still imagining it as the 1810s.
e. st v. millay

Why it's good to read bad fiction

(I've been on vacation for the past week and so I've seen very few posts and I should write about what I did, and I will later, but right now this.)

It's very rare that I won't finish a book. I think getting free ones for the Kindle is helping me get to the point where I can say, "Okay. This is not getting better. Let's not bother." The book pushing me onward this week is called His Not-So-Sensible Miss.

The first quarter or so of the book is seriously just about the hero and heroine, with nobody else appearing. The heroine, Emily, is the ward of a local duke (you will notice that I am unfazed at the casual use of a duke, because I am a broken woman) but the daughter of a vicar's daughter and a professor at Oxford, both deceased. She comes across the hero, Dillon Chambers, when he's working on this cottage he bought in the country and thinks he's a laborer - he lets her because he wants to ~get to know her~ without his money coming into it. They meet repeatedly at his cottage and have picnics and fall in love. Then he tells her to go have a Season like the duke/duchess are trying to get her to do and if she's still in love with him in a year to meet back there. Then he goes to London as well and meets her and of course she's angry and thinks he was fooling around with her. He starts pretending to court her not-sister, Claresta, to get near her, and Claresta agrees to help. This is about halfway through and where I put it down. (I should also mention that the Chamberses are a wealthy old family in the vein of the Darcys, but Mrs. Chambers is intent of getting a wife for her son with a courtesy title. This makes little sense. 1. That's not going to do anything for Dillon, he's not going to get a secondary courtesy title of his own. 2. It's not going to do anything for his children, unless he marries an only child whose father's title has nobody else to come to except his son. 3. That would be a worst-case scenario for any nobleman, sorry, men with titles could marry heiresses but noble daughters tended not to marry out of the nobility as they took their husband's status, so did their children, and the title could pass to someone who horrendously worked for a living.)

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e. st v. millay

Monster post

So, I think my schedule for Dress U is going to be:

Saturday: Survival of the Fittest (most important of all, for reals); Lazarus Dress; Taming the Stash; lunch; Dressing for the Titanic; The Dark Dress of Tim Burton; Late 16th/Early 17th Century Embroidered Jackets

Sunday: Characteristics of Civil War Era Fashion; Telling the Mistress from the Maid; Good Movie, Bad Costume

I haven't decided what I'm doing on Sunday morning, it's tough to pick when nothing is the absolute MUST MUST MUST like some of the classes. Part of me wants to do the extant gowns class, but part of me thinks I can see extant gowns pretty much any time I want, I ought to learn how to use the fashion-mag patterns instead.

You'll notice I'm not doing any events - next year I will, once I've met people IRL and it's more comfortable (and once I have a stable of costumes to make a good showing with, ha). I know my limitations when it comes to social events, I want to be sure I'm not going to sit in a corner before I pay $30 to do it.

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So I've been watching Cake Boss lately on Netflix and it's awesome? I always thought it was more about drama but no, it's just making awesome cakes. My mom should get Netflix, she'd love this.

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I got a (free?) book on Amazon called The Five Sons of Charlie Gisby. It's essentially a genealogical research paper, and it's fairly good - I didn't expect to enjoy it that much, to be honest, but it does illustrate the time period and place well, I think. It's making me want to write a research paper on Ruth, Ella, and Mertis, although I think Margate is a better place to be researching than Susquehanna County, PA.

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I love the free promotions on Amazon. I also just read Wallflower, the first book in the Old Maids Series, by Catherine Gayle. Well, the fact that I finished it when I normally heave gusty sighs and delete/return romance novels these days should say it all. It's not on par with the Duchesses series (THE DUCHESSES ARE THE BEST) and there were some significantly ????? moments, but these were balanced out by the awesome climax.

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Two links:

Fantastic Voyage, on Community and Doctor Who.

The Mommy Wars Redux: A False Conflict, on "stop framing the issue about working vs. ubermothering as being a fight between women, the problem is the patriarchal society that makes the conflict exist you idiots."
e. st v. millay

I mean I'm not a Napoleon!wife, but still

Just finished The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, if you can call it finishing when you skim from halfway through to the end. Definitely an anti-rec. It can't decide whether it wants to be an old-fashioned swashbuckling Scarlet Pimpernel adventure, a standard romance novel, or a Janet Mullaney-esque modern tongue-in-cheek romance. The adventure made me want to jettison the romance novel clichés even more (STOP FIGHTING ALL THE TIME YOU IDIOTS), and the tongue-in-cheek jokes made me notice the downside of the old-fashioned aspect (no French characters that were helpful or in any way positive). It also seems like kind of a let-down to set it in that short peace between the Reign of Terror and the Napoleonic Wars, just because the Terror is a much more exciting time to be doing daring deeds. So basically, for me it failed to be a fun adventure story because the adventure didn't happen, an interesting love story because the characters were too flat, and a fun semi-parody by taking itself too seriously the majority of the time. The chaperone, Miss Gwen, was so obnoxious to me but the narrative clearly thought she was a spunky older woman ... but I found it annoying that she was a stickler for propriety when it came to the girls but was just rude to anyone she felt like being rude to. Especially Napoleon, who was not short ffs.

Don't even get me started on the framing story with an American scholar coming to Britain to research things, that sort of thing makes me shrivel in embarrassment. Just write a British self-insert, ffs.
e. st v. millay

More Summer Reading

A Kiss Before Midnight, Eloisa James

Not as good as the others that I read in Mexico. It just felt like James wasn't trying. Maybe she was pushed into doing a fairy tale series by her publishers? Because this is the first book in a fairy tale series - this one is Cinderella, and the next is Beauty and the Beast. I didn't feel much of a connection to the characters, except maybe Victoria (the step-sister), who was beautiful and sweet and a little dim and nice to Kate. I didn't feel like Kate (heroine) had been that mistreated because it was hardly shown - step-mother Mariana was hardly in it. Part of what I like about Cinderella stories is the emotional release of the "oh, at last we can be together!" part, and I just didn't get it.

Interesting subversions: Victoria is actually Kate's illegitimate half-sister; the prince has an awesome illegitimate half-brother who is his right-hand man (and should have been the hero); the prince is poor; Kate was going to leave for London with her godmother, the awesome Lady Wrothe (who used the phrase "wardrobe malfunction" at one point and part of me was thinking, "that sounds SO wrong here," and part of me was, "hahaha, BRILLIANT") at the end anyway, which is an interesting subversion but also ruined the tension, imo; the prince was into archaeology and (anachronistically) proper ways of doing it.

Final score: don't bother.

The Watsons/Emma Watson, Jane Austen and Joan Aiken

I've only just started it but I may not finish. My god, Aiken, you not only can't write in Austen's style (which is very obvious when you go straight from the original chapters to hers) you can't pick up on all her characterization! It seemed pretty obvious to me from the beginning that Elizabeth wasn't as anti-Tom Musgrave as she pretended to be. And Aiken has a horrible habit of making everyone either dreadful and you want to kill them, or pure and perfect with everyone else being mean to them. FFS.
e. st v. millay

A post with actual content for once

Yesterday I splurged and bought Fables: Witches and Rose Red. Bellflower Totenkinder ♥ ♥ I hope she's not gone for good - sure, she walked off into the sunset with that boxer guy, but you can't get rid of anyone in Fables. All those dead characters came back in Haven, after all, and there's too much buildup in this Cult of Blue thing for me to believe Boy Blue is never going to be seen again in any shape or form. Bellflower's not even dead, just going into voluntary retirement. And she's immortal.

Someday I will do Red Riding Hood cosplay. That's how my hair looks now, you know.

Maybe it's just me, though, but I felt like Snow White and Rose Red's backstory wasn't planned out from the beginning. It's like he decided going in that Snow was going to be the lead, and then wanted to wow readers a bit with including Rose since she's much more obscure. And he's been making it clear that Snow is from both SW&RR and SW&7D since early on, but the flashback in Rose Red felt less like, "And now I reveal the elaborate way Snow can be both Snows!" and more, "Oh, gosh, how can I connect these two conflicting stories?"

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Started reading Talk of the Ton, one of the romance novels I picked up at the book sale. It's a collection of four novellas, with the first one by Eloisa James. You know, there's really only one thing she does that annoys me - she gets clothing just right and most mores as well, but she always works on the assumption (that basically all others do as well) that men of the past didn't want to get married, that they'd avoid it unless in love or forced by financial/familial necessity. But that seems very, very presentist to me. It might also come about from people seeing that historical women had few options beyond marriage but men didn't, so making the assumption that men didn't care much about it? From what I can tell, though, men generally did want to get married - generally speaking, it conferred adulthood and respectability, and it meant having someone to take care of your home and make sure things were running smoothly. Which is selfish etc. but I find fairly understandable. I guess it would be harder to plot out novels if the heroes actually did want to get married, though.

Gramma brought these lingerie gowns she had in a closet when she came up for Owen's graduation. They are in such great condition (though a little smelly) - one is definitely my great-grandmother Ardis's high school graduation dress, which would be ca. 1919, I think? and there's a little white baby's dress (with adorable tiny swastikas on the yoke) that was probably hers as well. And then there's another that I think may actually be her mother's - Mertis's. (Yes, their names were Ardis and Mertis. And my grandmother's is Phyllis.) It seems to be ca. 1909 which would be too early for Ardis to have worn it. Must do research!

Adorable piece of R/Hr art, hey.