Lady of Leisure

You probably have noticed by now that I think there are too many Dukes in Regencies.
(Of course, if I were to receive an offer for some work of mine contingent on bumping the hero to a duke, I will probably end up eating these words!)

The same goes for stories with “millionaire” or “billionaire” which a friend who is into contemporaries told me is becoming more common. I like variety and I can believe in a happy ending as long as the hero and heroine have the means for a comfortable life. The Regency hero needn’t be a duke to provide that. How about Mr. Darcy and his “beautiful grounds”?

But here’s my confession. Part of my love of Regency romance is about the wealth, because it’s the fantasy of living like Mrs. Darcy. Although I’m happy with my life as it is, sometimes I wish for more time to do things I love. So how would I do as a Regency lady of leisure?

I swim and ski. OK, not so Regency. But my other favorite forms of exercise are walking and horseback riding (though I haven’t done the latter in many years). Check.

My favorite indoor amusements include reading, music and just about any sort of arts and crafts. Check. And ditto on not having as much time for them as I’d like, especially music. I’ve been living vicariously through my kids on that one.

My favorite entertainment: plays and concerts. Check. I can’t complain about being deprived, since we’re once again regulars at the local Cider Mill Playhouse and Binghamton Philharmonic. But wouldn’t it be fun to have the means to be a real patroness of the arts?

But my fantasy Regency happy ending wouldn’t be all frivolity. Without all that pesky housework to contend with (or the snow shoveling!) it shouldn’t be hard to be an attentive mother, as Lady Torrens, pictured here with her children, was reputed to be (The New Monthly Magazine, 1820):

“Lady Torrens has, with great success, directed the powers of her fine understanding to the most useful of all objects, that of practical education. She has six children ; and it is impossible to contemplate the quickness of their understandings, and the docility of their dispositions, without feeling how much may yet be done for society, by early training, and a proper attention to the circumstances which are calculated to awaken the mind and to regulate the temper.”

Though I don’t know if I’d want six!

I also sometimes wish I had more time for social issues that concern me. In my Regency fantasy, I might get political.

So how would you spend your time in your Regency happily-ever-after fantasy?


About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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Beth Elliott
11 years ago

With a large estate to provide the income, I’d happily live a Regency period life [even with the inevitable large family]. There would be a house in London so I could enjoy plays, concerts and exhibitions, visits to Brighton and Bath occasionally, plenty of riding, walking and gardening when at home. Perhaps I could develop better strains of fruit over the years. There would be all the people on the estate to supervise and a charity to organise help for wounded and disabled soldiers.
I’d patronise a skilful modiste – the fashions are a major part of that era’s charm – and any spare time would be spent reading Horrid novels and doing embroidery. The children would learn something from all of this as well.

11 years ago

First off I want to say “Thank you!” Lately I have been reading some modern day romances/chick lit and have been a little disappointed that the guy the girl should have liked in the beginning and who she ends up with in the end after being with a bunch of inappropriate men all turned out to be millionaires. Now there was one book where it didn’t matter and never became an issue, which I enjoyed. It just seemed like it was some sort of reward for finally choosing the right man. And as I type this I know the hero in my WIP is rich, but in the end he will actually lose all his money.

As for being a lady of leisure I hate to admit it, but I am now and that’s unfortunate. After getting laid off in August I still have yet to find a job. They say it normally takes 9 months and I haven’t reached that milestone yet. So I spend my days reading, writing, walking my dogs and keeping house for my parents since my mother works and my father has had a leg amputation, a triple bypass, a stroke, and a seizure in the past year. I know that I am needed at home, but I would like to have a job. That’s why I started writing a book. I don’t expect to get published, but it makes me feel like I’m doing something each day which is a good feeling. And I’m having fun. I would consider my DVD watching the modern day equivalent to going to the theatre and to concerts. So now I am a lady of leisure only not in Regency times. One thing I would miss greatly about being in Regency times and marry a duke is I would not be able to cook and bake, two things I love. I enjoy making complicated dishes, but also simple dishes with clean, pure flavors. My specialty right now is a margarita cupcake with tequila lime frosting. My life would be must less pleasant without them.

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Hahahaha, Rachel. I would LOVE to be freed from needing to cook. Having my meals prepared for me sounds like heaven.

I would like to think that I, as a Regency lady, would also devote some of my time to doing good works. Perhaps rescuing children from exploitation by others.

11 years ago

Well Diane, I’m looking for a job…are you looking for a live-in chef?

Louisa Cornell
11 years ago

I would dearly love to have a staff to cook and clean for me! Heaven! And a coach and driver to take me wherever I want to go? Wonderful! I hate driving!

I would be able to spend more time writing (undoubtedly horrid gothic novels) and more time on my needlework. (I miss cross-stitching and quilting!) Oh, and I could spend more time on my music, a most worthy pass-time.

I wouldn’t mind teaching my own children and I would be certain they all (boys and girls) got a well-rounded education and took many trips to historical places and to museums when we were in Town for the Season.

I could attend the opera and the theatre, which I seldom get to do these days.

And I could acquire a marvelous library of rare books!

And I would undoubtedly establish a charity to bring orphaned children and animals together in a country setting where they could live out their days enjoying each others company without at worry about food or want.

Sigh! Oh to be a Regency lady of leisure! I might even do without running hot water to do so!

Elena Greene
11 years ago

Beth, I like yours, especially the reading of Horrid Novels. 🙂

Rachel, I’m glad you get what I’m saying about dukes/millionaires. I’m sorry to hear about the job and your father. Hang in there and I hope you enjoy any moments of leisure you do get.

As to the fantasy, I think that as a duchess, you go into the kitchen and have some fun. It might be though eccentric but normal has always been so overrated. 🙂

Diane, I love to cook but some days it would be nice to have someone else do it. We do have one takeout & video night a week, which helps.

Louisa, I love your fantasy too, especially the orphanage.

Jane George
11 years ago

Oh, sigh, riding. I miss them horsies.

11 years ago

I would love to be able to spend more time walking, traveling, visiting. Being able to be a patron of the arts would be a major bonus. I know our symphony is always short of funds. To be able to sponsor a performance or a season would be wonderful.
To be able to spend time seeing to family without worrying about cleaning house, fixing meals, and cleaning up afterwards would be wonderful. Extra time for educational activities and just a nice walk on the grounds.
I’d have more time and influence to work on my favorite charities/volunteer activities. To be able to focus on making a difference would be so nice.

I think living the life of Regency aristocracy would be very easy to get used to.