These are two I rewatch occasionally if I need a little grounding in the Regency era. First up is a BBC documentary where they attempted to recreate the Netherfield Ball. It really makes me realise how very much of that world has changed and been lost in our time. One of the things I sort of struggle with in writing JAFF is determining how much detail to include. Austen wrote assuming that her readers knew every detail of that world, so there was a lot she could leave unsaid. But as I learn things, I often want to include them, so I've always tried to include some detail and explanation, but not so much it gets in the way of the story.
The second is the Supersizers Go Regency. If you haven't watched any of these, be warned, they are addictive. Two hilarious people spend a week dressed up in the fashions of an era, eating the food. What really strikes me about the Regency one is the chasm between English and French cuisine at the time (not that the chasm has narrowed in modern times, but still).
When Mrs. Bennet assumes Mr. Darcy has a French cook, she's not just making a comment on his wealth, but also a comment on his very Englishness (it's why I've given him traditional English female cooks, while Mr. Hurst most certainly has a French chef, even if he likely can't quite afford it). I read a very good commentary on Emma once that explained Mr. Knightley and Frank Churchill as opposites, reflecting your very traditional old roast beef of England sort (Mr. Knightley; I mean, even his name is knight-ley), contrasted with a sort of frivolous poncy French type whom everyone truly believes would ride into London just to get his hair cut. The war with France hardly surfaces in Austen's work, despite it being a constant presence, but it does in aspects of commentary like this.
I'm a guest at Austenesque Reviews today, talking about these very things !
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