Cara/Andrea here, I'm delighted to have my good friend and fabulous author Teresa Grant visiting the Word Wenches today to talk about her Regency-set mystery series, which is set against the backdrop of political and social upheaval as Europe struggles to reorder itself after over a decade of brutal warfare. The attention to historical detail and descriptions of real-life people are wonderfully rendered in her books—which should come as no surprise given her stellar scholarly background in history. Teresa studied British History at Stanford, and received the Firestone Award for Excellence in Research for her
honors thesis on shifting conceptions of honor in late fifteenth century
The third book in the series, The Paris Affair just released last week (you can read more about it here) so I asked Teresa to chat with us about the the era and why she finds it such a compelling period to write about. So, without further ado . . .
Your books are not only compelling mysteries but also explore the complex psychological struggles of men and women trying to define their personal moral compasses in a world torn apart by the chaos of conflict. Can you talk a little about why you chose the Napoleonic Wars as a backdrop for your stories?
There are so many wonderful opportunities for spy stories in this period. I love spy stories, both James Bond adventure and the sort of intricate chess games and moral dilemmas John le Carré dramatizes so brilliantly. The Napoleonic Wars offers are a wonderfully rich setting for both types of story. So many different sides, so many different factions within sides. The French under Napoleon had been bent on conquest, but they had also brought much-needed reforms to many countries. Some liberal Spaniards saw supporting the French in the Peninsular War as the quickest route to progressive reform. And after the Napoleonic Wars, a number of the victors wanted to turn the clock back to before the French Revolution and saw any hint of reform as one step away from blood in the streets. Friends easily melt into enemies and back again. Napoleon’s longtime foreign minister Prince Talleyrand later became prime minister under the Bourbon restoration, Joseph Fouché who had been ruthless in using terror against enemies of the Bonapartist government was equally ruthless in going after Napoleon’s supporters who were proscribed from the amnesty after Waterloo. In the midst of breakneck adventure, a love affair can have political consequences, a tactical decision can shatter a friendship, it can come down to a question not of whether or not commit betrayal but only of who or what to betray.