I love the romanticism of the late Victorian era.
Going via horse-drawn carriage to call on friends and leaving a crisp calling card if they’re not at home. Writing letters to far-flung family by candlelight. The notion of being courted – of walks through the park and carriage rides, of every glance and the slightest brush of hands being heightened, of formal dances!
But let’s be honest. What I really love are the dresses.
The fact is, though, I suspect all of it sounds a great deal more romantic than it actually was. Personal hygiene was still a bit suspect by modern standards. One would have to be awfully patient, waiting to hear back from letters (not my forte). All those romantic moments would have to be strictly chaperoned, and a girl could get herself talked about all too easily (er, maybe that hasn’t changed…). And if you weren’t of the upper class, imagine all the drudgery of housework (strictly a woman’s burden at the time), much of which has been alleviated by modern conveniences. Also, wearing a zillion layers of clothing would be cumbersome and hot and downright annoying after awhile, no?
But let’s be honest. The real deal-breaker is the lack of women’s rights. Being considered property of your father and then your husband? Not having access to higher education? Not being able to vote? No thank you.
So, I’d quite like to visit and wear a House of Worth dress and dance with a handsome gentleman at a ball – and then come back to my 21st century comforts.
Jess Spotswood grew up in a tiny one-stoplight town in Pennsylvania, where she could be found swimming, playing the clarinet, memorizing lines for the school play, or – most often – with her nose in a book. She’s been writing since fourth grade but studied theatre in college and grad school. Now she lives in Washington, DC with her brilliant playwright husband and a cuddly cat named Monkey. BORN WICKED, Book 1 in The Cahill Witch Chronicles, is her first novel. Book 2, STAR CURSED, will be out in June 2013.