Monday, 13 August 2012

Pride and Prejudice - Guest Austen Author - Sharon Lathan

*curtain rises*

Say hello to Austen Author Sharon Lathan everyone! 

*clap, clap, clap*

Austen and the Romance Novel
by Sharon Lathan

For all that some refuse to label Jane Austen’s novels as “romance” (and indeed they are more than simply that) there is no doubt that finding one’s “true love” was a large part of the plot line. Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, Catherine Morland, Emma Woodhouse, the Dashwood sisters, and Fanny Price ended their respective novels with mates perfect for a host of reasons, but with love a prime factor.

Was Austen writing of a popular notion for the era?

Historically in England, once out in Society a woman had one duty to fulfill: Find a suitable match. By “suitable” the objective was not a man who one loved but one who possessed wealth and rank. A woman who did not secure a good marriage would forever be reliant upon her family or the charity of others to survive. While this may have worked out well for some, in general marriage was the only hope, thus requiring her to make a very wise choice.

This concept is foreign to us yet for the lady of the past it was the way of things. Most women of the gentry class or aristocracy gave scant consideration to choosing out of deep passion. Of course, women are by nature sensitive creatures so emotions often got in the way! Hence the “wisdom” of allowing rational parents to become involved, the daughter knowing that her future security was at stake and thus trusting that a potential husband’s pedigree and wealth was thoroughly examined before he was offered. Indeed this was the whole point of staying within the ton and meeting at places like Almack’s Assembly where only those who were of the best quality and had passed inspection hung out!

Yet by the 18th century the idea of marrying with love as an incentive was gaining ground. Both males and females were deciding that this could add to the union in a positive way. Go figure! However, while this notion advanced and was desirable, practicality did not quickly disappear. Parental approval was necessary for the woman under 21 to marry and although a man certainly had greater freedom in his choices, he too may be beholden to a parent’s pocketbook or Society’s favor. Dashing off to Gretna Green solved the problem of marrying without approval but in most cases only led to worse complications.

By the way, Gretna Green was not the Las Vegas of historic Britain! It was simply the first town over the Scotland border. Scotland and England were not united at this time and did not share the same laws, so a marriage could be conducted anywhere in Scotland without parental consent or proper reading of the banns.

The Regency was an era of high romanticism to be sure, but it followed closely on the heels of the previous eras where ideals were quite different. Strict rules of conduct between the sexes were rigidly enforced in large part because of the rise in romantic sensibilities. You see this in the response of Mrs. Bennet to Lizzy refusing Mr. Collins. To her mother, a woman from the previous generation, marriage to a man with a career and who was heir to Longbourn was far more valuable then waiting for love or passion as a deciding factor. Conversely the effect upon the family by Lydia’s actions (if Mr. Darcy had not saved the day) reveal the penalty for behaving with passionate emotions reigning.

Thus the answer to my question - Was Austen writing of a popular notion for the era? - is yes. However, in each of her novels she tempered the belief in marrying for great love and passion with pragmatism. Each of her heroines married men out of love but they were also well established or as in the case of Mr. Darcy fabulously rich!

That definitely sounds like a romance novel to me! What do you think? And of the Austen lovers, which couple is your favorite and why?




Sharon Lathan bio--
Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga seven volume sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Sharon began writing in 2005 and her first
novel, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One was published by
Sourcebooks Landmark in 2009. Her eighth novel will be released in April 2013, The Passions of Dr. Darcy an epic tale of an English physician in Georgian Era India.

For more information about Sharon, the Regency Era, and her novels, visit her website/blog at: www.sharonlathan.net or search for her on Facebook and Twitter. She also invites you to join her and other Austen novelists at Austen Authors: www.austenauthors.com

9 comments:

  1. Definitely Anne and Rick are my favorite couple. BTW "Gretna Green was not the Las Vegas of historic Britain" - hilarious!!

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  2. Thanks for having me on, Alex! It is always a pleasure to chat about and celebrate Jane Austen. I'll check in periodically for comments so keep them coming!

    Hi Cecilia. Glad I made you laugh. It is the best medicine, you know. LOL!

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  3. I don't care what anyone says, most of Jane Austen's books are romances. If I recall correctly, everyone of them has a happy ending for some couple. But she was also a product of her era, and as such, gives us a much needed view into the times.

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    1. I totally concur, Ella. Personally (and I don't wish to ruffle feathers here) but I think those who have a problem with the "romance" tag on Austen are envisioning the bodice ripping cliche attached to the romance genre. They don't realize that a "romance" novel is simply a story with a HEA. How it gets to that may involve some ripped bodices - LOL! - but it certainly does not have to.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Hello Sharon!

    I know you know my answer, but yes it’s Darcy & Lizzy. As to why, I think I see bits of Lizzy in me. Im sure it’s why I have always felt a connection to her. :) Now about it being a romance novel or not, well it’s safe to say we know there are strong themes of family, wealth, and standings within society in the story, but is there love/romance? Of course there is romance!! Every love story starts and ends differently, and I think Jane knew how to mix love with real life perfectly. The romance is in the dialogue, at least that’s what I read. So if P&P is not a romance, well I must have been reading it in a foreign language! Isn't romance about the knight saving and professing his undying love for the fair maiden?? Maybe that’s just my version. :)

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    1. Hello friend! Darcy & Lizzy all the way - you betcha!

      Yep, it is a romance to me. No doubt. "Reading it in a foreign language" - yep, my thoughts exactly!

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  5. I have to say I really liked marrianne and willouby together but for the happy ending I say Elizabeth and darcy. They seemed so wrong for each other really and yet so right.

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  6. Great post, Sharon! Truly insightful. And I have to say my favorite Austen couple has to be Lizzy and Darcy. Their romance was a meeting of the minds as well as hearts and souls and for me that is a rare and beautiful romance!

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  7. Awesome guest. She seems really cool

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