I know some people don’t see the connection when chick lit is compared to Jane Austen, but I can’t help seeing many parallels between her world and ours. Maybe one of the reasons her works are classics?

A few days ago, I watched a show involving the new concept of speed-dating. At least, I think it’s a fairly new thing, I’ve been out of the dating scene (is it still called a “scene”?) for over 17 years. Yikes! Anyway, for anyone else who is terminally behind the times (when I first got spam about Paris Hilton I thought there must have been a scandal at a Parisian hotel), speed dating apparently involves couples seated at rows of tables who get to talk for something like 8-10 minutes before moving on to another partner. By the end of the evening, anyone who enjoyed their brief time together can arrange for a longer date.

Is this a hip and clever new way of weeding out people one would hate to be stuck with for a full-length date? Perhaps. But is it so different from Regency balls and assemblies, ranging from the exclusive events at Almack’s to the public assemblies held at inns and such in towns and larger villages all over England?

Think about it. Singles at a Regency ball were expected to have a range of partners; no more than a couple of dances with just one. And given all the action and intricate movements, were they left with much more than 8-10 minutes to converse?

A fairly efficient way for a busy aristocrat (one of those who actually minds his estate and his duties to Parliament) to interview potential brides.

But I’m also sure it was a good way to identify the partners a lady would rather NOT take a carriage ride with the next day. The aging roué with sawdust padding out his calves (Regency equivalent of a lounge lizard). The lisping, mincing dandy. The bored rake who despises country dances? (Which I happen to think are good fun.) The bluff country squire with long stories of his hunting dogs, who steps on your delicately embroidered hem with his BOOTS since he couldn’t be bothered to change into regular shoes for a ball. Oops! I think that last one has appeared on more than one Regency cover, impersonating a Hero. I’d better stop while I’m ahead…