Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Would Elizabeth and Georgiana have been presented at court?

This was a question I asked myself as I was doing the edits for A Constant Love, because some readers had expressed doubt as to whether this would have been the case for two women who were not of noble birth, and particularly Elizabeth, whose father owns a fairly small estate.

The impression I had got from Georgette Heyer's Regency World was yes, if they were expecting to move in society during a London season. Particularly Georgiana, given her grandfather was an earl, and, at least in ACL, she has a close relationship with the current earl and countess. She had an aunt, Lady Brandon, who was familiar with court and would have wished to present her, and Georgiana is also the only female in this generation of her family healthy enough to come out into society (Mr. Collins certainly thinks Anne de Bourgh would have been presented, were she not so sickly).

Elizabeth is the trickier one. She has no noble connections, so who is to present her? Her mother and Mrs. Gardiner? Neither of them is of gentle or noble origins. And yet it also seemed to me the sort of reaching and perhaps inappropriate sort of thing Mrs. Bennet would have done, to present her daughters at court, no doubt with some degree of snickering from the other ladies there. Perhaps more significantly, Sir William Lucas indicates a familiarity with St. James's, which to me indicates Charlotte Lucas would have been presented, and if Charlotte Lucas was presented, I expect Mrs. Bennet would have then felt she needed to present her own daughters.

I also wanted to keep the story moving at the same pace. If Georgiana was to be presented, and Elizabeth had not been presented, Mr. Darcy might have presented her as his new bride, but that would have made that scene longer and more complicated than I wished to have. I also liked that this scene was exclusively female, and as much as I love Mr. Darcy, his presence would have changed it. And I did think it was necessary that they had already been presented before attending the ball at Carlton House later in the story.

So I kept it in, both because I thought it was a reasonable possibility, and to keep the story flowing as I wanted it to. There are other times when I had to sacrifice a bit of accuracy to do so -- for example, the Thames isn't nearly as straight as the sailing scene makes it out to be, but attempting to add that into the mix, while explaining sailing, was going to needlessly complicate things. Hopefully these little sacrifices have been worthwhile!

The side project

Just what is this special side project I've been working on? I'll give you a hint...