The Romance genre celebrates happiness. After all, isn’t that what the “happily ever after” ending is all about? We’re such optimists, we romance writers and readers. We believe that love conquers all. We relish stories where the hero and heroine face seemingly insurmontable barriers to happiness, but, through love–and the ability to change–they achieve their happy ending.
The Regency period lends itself very well to the these ideas of love conquers all and happily ever after. The idea of marrying for love was a relatively new concept by the Regency period. Before then, people married for advantage or security or power, but the concept of the individual and individual happiness was a new idea. I think this was partly what made Jane Austen successful in her time period. Her books, especially Pride and Prejudice, juxtaposed the old concept of marriage for advantage with the new ideas of love and personal happiness.
Not only is the concept of happiness relatively new, the concept of beauty changes in the 1700s and early 1800s. More natural beauty became desirable. The formal gardens of the 1600s were torn down to create the “natural” landscapes of Capability Brown. The powdered wigs, brocades, lace, and voluminous skirts of the 1700s gave way to more natural silhouettes. Men’s clothing, influenced by Beau Brummell, became simplified and form-fitting. Women’s dresses, with empire waists and filmy fabrics also showed off the female body from top to toe.
When wars closed Europe for the Grand Tour, it became fashionable to tour the British countryside, searching for the “Picturesque.” Touring the Lake District, visiting ruins (or building faux ruins on your country estate) became the thing to do. Taking pleasure in the natural became a new source of happiness during the Regency.
Who of us doesn’t smile when we see beautiful clothes or a beautiful landscape? Enjoyment of beauty is a part of happiness.
Love, happiness, beauty….that’s my idea of the Regency. And I love escaping “real” life by spending my reading and writing time in such a lovely place.