8 Reasons Why I Love SANDITON, BRIDGERTON, and Other Stories Set in Jane Austen’s Regency Era
I have a soft spot for historical fiction—be it a novel, film, or TV series—set in England during Jane Austen’s Regency era. I’m a huge Pride and Prejudice fan and my heart jumped for joy to learn that PBS’s SANDITON, inspired by Austen’s unfinished novel, and BRIDGERTON, Netflix’s megahit based on the novels of Julia Quinn, have both returned for a second season.
Here are 8 reasons why:
1. STEPPING BACK IN TIME
Reading or watching a Regency historical drama is like taking a ride in your own personal time machine. The Regency, a brief interval in the Georgian era, lasted from 1811 – 1820, when the Prince Regent acted as proxy ruler for his father, Mad King George.
I love being immersed in the sights and sounds of that time gone by and experiencing what it was like to live back then.
And the stories almost always feature strong, goal-oriented women (who I admire) and focus on love and courtship, two of my favorite subjects.
2. THE CLOTHING
Fashion in Austen’s time was so cool. Women wore filmy, empire-waisted frocks in imitation of the ancient Greeks and lavishly embellished evening gowns.
Men wore tight breeches, brocaded vests, frock coats, and cravats. There’s nothing sexier than a man in a cravat.
3. THE ACCESSORIES
Regency women decorated themselves with such élan. They wouldn’t think of leaving the house without these vital accessories:
- Bonnet or hat often embellished with flowers, fruits, feathers, and/or ribbons.
- Gloves made of fine kid leather. Elbow-length for evening.
- Delicate shoes. They called them slippers. And elegant, lace-up boots.
- Fans. Hand-painted and gorgeous, they had a language of their own.
- Outerwear: a spencer (short jacket), pelisse (full length jacket), shawl (often imported from India) or cloak (often trimmed in fur).
- Reticule (a small handbag designed to match one’s frock).
- Parasol (to shade oneself from the sun).
- Muff in cold weather. (Why don’t we carry muffs anymore??)
4. THE HAIRSTYLES
Fashionable Regency ladies usually wore their hair up, styled with braids and curls (again in imitation of the ancient Greeks), and embellished for evening with jewels, ribbons, flowers, and feathers. Stunning. No wonder they needed a ladies maid to help them dress!
5. THE HOUSES
It’s such fun to visit the grand manor homes and vast estates owned by the wealthy in Jane Austen’s time, have tea in their elegant drawing rooms, and stroll in their magnificent gardens.
Who can forget Mr. Darcy’s magnificent Pemberley? Or the Bridgertons’ exquisite, wisteria-covered family residence? (The exterior of the Bridgertons’ house, above, was filmed at Ranger’s House in Greenwich, London, built in 1722.)
6. THE LANGUAGE AND MANNERS
In Jane Austen’s time, men were called gentlemen and women were ladies. They bowed and curtsied and followed many other rules of deportment.
When I read a novel or watch a film or TV series set in the Regency era, I enjoy the characters’ refined manners and elegant language.
7. THE DANCING
In the era of Pride and Prejudice, SANDITON, and BRIDGERTON, dance lessons were obligatory from a young age.
Balls were one of the only opportunities for young women and men to meet and be together without a chaperone at their elbow. English Country Dancing also provided the excitement of physical touch, which was otherwise strictly forbidden until a couple was engaged.
I have been so fortunate as to dance the night away in costume at many Regency balls and it is always a thrill.
8. THE INSPIRATION
There are three stories set in Jane Austen’s era that I longed to read.
Since no one else had written them, I decided to write them myself!
The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen reveals the untold story of Jane’s impassioned, life-changing romance with the mysterious gentleman said to be the love of her life.
(International and USA Today bestseller, Library Journal Editor’s Pick of the Year/starred review; Regency World Magazine Best New Fiction)
The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen is the ultimate Janeite fantasy. In this book-within-a-book, the romantic tale from a priceless, long lost Jane Austen novel is interwoven with the story of the modern-day librarian who discovers it, only to fall for the man who could take it from her. (Starred review, Kirkus)
Jane Austen’s First Love brings to life Jane Austen’s real-life romance with a charismatic, rebellious teen over one mad, matchmaking summer, where she gains a lifetime’s worth of experience that will help make her into the literary titan she is destined to become. It’s set in the Georgian era, just before the Regency–a fascinating time!
(Library Journal Editor’s Pick; 5 Best of the Year Lists including Austenprose and Austenesque Reviews)
DEAR READERS: I’d love to hear from you!
What are your favorite things about the Regency era? Do you love Jane Austen’s novels?
Are you enjoying SANDITON and BRIDGERTON? Do you wish you could live back then? Why or why not?
I look forward to your comments!
I had the thrill of a lifetime participating in the Jane Austen Festival this month in Bath, England. It is the largest and longest-running Jane Austen Festival in the…
Summer is the perfect time to dive into a juicy novel. I’m a fan of many genres including historical and contemporary fiction, Christian and inspirational fiction, mystery, suspense,…