(It would be useful if Charlie and Billy could really work on my books when I'm not there! Or perhaps not — depending on what they came up with.)
I follow a timeline in my more recent novels. I didn't in my first books, the traditional Regencies, which I think it the usual thing in most Regency romances. Some of Georgette Heyer's are fixed against events in the war, but most could be in any year.
My Company of Rogues books were pinned to time from the beginning, however, because the plot links to the time around Napoleon's abdication in 1814. Having begun, I had to continue because the seasons and pregnancies clearly mark the passage of time. I've written 16 books set between 1814 and 1817, and the time between them is often very small, but I'm pushed onward. And here I am in 1817, with peacetime bringing economic depression, unemployment, and a high cost of living.
And social unrest.
I didn't intend to become embroiled, until a man slipped into a lady's bedroom in an inn, clearly avoiding people pursuing him with unpleasant intentions.
I learned about all this in school. The Corn Laws, the price of bread, Spa Fields, and then Peterloo, where a large gathering of the protesting poor were dispersed by the military, leading to many deaths. The meeting was held in St. Peter's Field in London, and the name of course, refers to Waterloo.
The tone of my education was that the protestors were in the right and the government oppressive, but I've learned since that underneath that lay something else — terrorism. There were people planning to completely change the social order — in effect to bring about a revolution similar to the one that had ravaged France. That had begun with reasonable protest and then spun out of control under the power of mob violence to become known as the Terror, which consumed most of those who had started it.
The peak of the French Revolution had been in 1793, only 24 years earlier, easily within memory for most, and many French had fled to Britain. Many British people knew people who had died on the guillotine, or at the hands of a violent mob. Mob terror wasn't only a French affair. There'd been many examples of mob violence in Britain, and especially in London for many decades. Windows were broken, sometimes houses set on fire, and anyone caught up in it was in danger of their lives.
The fear of revolution in the post-Waterloo wasn't imaginary. In any riot, there were people ready to target gunshops, arm themselves and kill, and others planning to break open the prisons to recruit those incarcerated, just as the Bastille had been stormed, hoping to build the riot into destruction of the state.
So was the government justified to forbid large gatherings and break them up by force? Was it wicked or wise to have secret agents within the organizers of protest, trying to find and stop those who planned bloody revolution?
How does all this resonate with Americans, whose nation is founded upon armed revolution, though thankfully a much less violent one? I'm truly interested in opinions.
Obviously my book won't be weighed down by all these issues, but they'll play a part, and the questions are fascinating me. What side would I have been on at the time? Would I have been marching against the Corn Laws, demanding employment and a living wage, or would I have been cheering on the government and soldiers who were saving me from the mob? Where do you think you would stand?
Do you like historical romances that involve real political and military events, or do you prefer them to me in a more general period setting. After all, it would be hard to date most of Jane Austen's novels, wouldn't it?
Another Christmas offering — Christmas Angel, a Rogues book set in the post war period, but in this case not much touched by the depression. A widow, children, older-woman/younger-man, a vile villain and elderberry wine for Christmas.