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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

CLOSED Time Travel, a Quiz, & a Giveaway ~ guest post from Laurie Viera Rigler

Time Travel, a Quiz, & a Giveaway

~ from Laurie Viera Rigler

We've all read the books (or at least seen some of the movies). We've all fantasized about being magically transported to the world of Jane Austen and indulging ourselves in a whirlwind of assembly room balls, elegant gowns, and our very own Mr. Darcy.

Chances are, our idea of life in Austen's world comes mostly from Hollywood and the BBC, and not from the novels themselves. Jane Austen didn’t write lots of period detail; in fact, her stories were quite spare in that regard. She wrote for her contemporaries, and thus there was no need to describe a world they already knew.  

Not to mention the details that no lady would dream of putting to paper, and no movie would think of including. Like a tutorial on the finer points of Regency-era hygiene (see below), a description of what typically passed for a bathroom in those days (that would be a chamber pot), or what kind of knickers one wore under those long, empire-waisted gowns (that would be none!).

Of course, none of that matters when we are in the realm of fantasy. But imagine you have the opportunity to buy a ticket on a time machine to Austenworld. You'd want to prepare yourself for the many adjustments to your life that this exotic land would entail--and not only in terms of physical conveniences, but in terms of your social world and your basic liberties. Especially if you're a single woman.

Not that you wouldn't want to go anyway. It's just that you might want to make it a round trip instead of a one way. Or maybe you're made of stronger stuff than that.
In any case, you might just find yourself looking with new eyes at a number of things—good or bad-- that most of us take for granted in our own world. For example:

1. Your Daily Ablutions

" What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps one in a continual state of inelegance."
--Jane Austen, Letter (1796-09-18)

Imagine how inelegant you might feel without the ability to take a nice cool shower on a hot summer’s day. Such conveniences were yet to be invented, and a bath involved sweating servants heaving buckets of water upstairs, something that definitely would not be practical on a daily basis. But perhaps we inhabitants of the 21st century are just too darn neurotic about washing our bodies.

And deodorant? Fuggedaboutit. But don't fret; there's always cologne liberally applied to a handkerchief. Or on oneself.

Choose A or B:
a. Ewwww! There’s no way I’m going without my daily shower and my favorite roll-on.
b. There's very little I wouldn't forgo in order to get up close and personal with Mr. Darcy/Knightley, et al. I’ll take a daily basin and ewer over our contemporary obsession with cleanliness any day.

2. Your Beauty Regimen

Imagine a Sephora-less world. A world without concealer, mascara, and lip gloss. A world in which the following piece of beauty advice is delivered without any irony whatsoever:

"Wear a piece of lead beaten exceeding thin, for a forehead-piece, under a forehead cloth; it keeps the forehead smooth and plump."—The Compleat Housewife, 15th edition, 1753

Hard not to raise an eyebrow when reading that (unless you're using Botox).

Let's say you manage to obtain some rouge (or make it yourself). Using it would generally be frowned upon unless you're well-to-do, middle-aged/married or a widow. Or getting over an illness. Even then, you'd better have a light hand, as the natural look was the fashion by the time Austen was a young woman.

The bottom line: If you're a single woman, you'll probably be pinching your cheeks and biting your lips to get a little color into them. Unless you manage to sneak a swipe from your mother's rouge pot (which she denies using, and which may just be the sole item in her cosmetic arsenal). Better hope your application of her forbidden goods escapes detection, lest you be labeled a loose woman or worse.

Choose A or B:
a. I'm not about to wear a lead headband. Or go to the assembly ball without at least a dab of lip gloss and a touch of concealer.
b. Who needs an arsenal of paints and powders, let alone all that time it takes to put it on? A turn in the shrubbery with Mr. Darcy is all I need for a glowing complexion. Besides, everyone else would be sans make-up as well, so what's the big deal?

3. Regency Dream Date

Imagine your dating pool is limited to those of your own rigidly defined social class. The only way you can meet a potential mate is via introduction by a mutual acquaintance. Or the master of ceremonies at an assembly ball. If you do manage to meet someone you like, and who likes you, too (and if you're a woman you are strictly prohibited from making the first move), the only acceptable "date" is him visiting you at your parents' house (you're not allowed to live alone as an unmarried woman), or maybe a country walk (where friends or family will almost certainly tag along), sitting next to him at a large dinner party (yay!), or a dance at a ball (which is probably your only chance to have a somewhat private conversation, and certainly your only chance to touch).

Oh, and you're not allowed to write each other either. Unless you're engaged. So even if all the wonders of modern communication were at your disposal, you'd be prohibited from sending a single text.

Then again, there's something terribly romantic about all those sidelong glances, maneuvering to be near each other, and making every word count.

Choose A or B:

  1. How would I ever really get to know a potential mate if we can only get together in a group? Doesn’t sound like a recipe for a lasting relationship.
  2. I like the idea of having my peeps in the periphery when I’m interviewing the MOMD. They can always set me straight if I’m not seeing him for who he really is.

4. Sealing the Deal

All that restriction of movement in #3 above is all about one thing: Keeping ladies chaste until they say "I do." A woman wasn't even supposed to kiss her man before marriage. Meanwhile, we in the modern world navigate a labyrinthine set of conflicting "rules" served up by friends, family, and self-appointed relationship experts as to how not to give away too much too soon to the wrong person.

Choose A or B:

  1. I cannot imagine marrying someone without first making sure our chemistry has all the right elements.
  2. I am so tired of figuring out if I should wait till the third date or the fifth or not at all that I’d welcome a world where sex means a sacred, lifelong commitment.

5. Happily Ever After

Let's say you've found your very own Mr. Darcy/Mr. Knightley/Captain Wentworth/[fill in the blank with the Austen hero of your choice].  What happens after "I do"? Is it all just blissful days and nights, or are there other forces at work?

For example, did you know that your property becomes your husband's, or that you wouldn't be allowed to earn your own money? If you marry well, however, marriage settlements would entitle you to a generous allowance. In any case, marriage is considered to be your career, and the most desirable one there is for a gentlewoman. The only other options being maiden aunt, governess, or paid companion, and the latter two are simply the last resort of impoverished ladies. Gives one a little more sympathy for Charlotte Lucas's decision to marry Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice. Or, on second thought, maybe not.

Not that you're lying around all day eating bon bons as the mistress of a great estate. Running the household and managing all those servants is a big responsibility. Plus there are many ways in which your good works can improve the lives of those living on your husband's land.

And how about starting a family? In Austen's day, there was not much in the way of contraception, and married women were often continually pregnant. Three of Austen's sisters-in-law died from childbirth, two of them after delivering their eleventh child. These were the days before even the routine medical practice of washing one's hands existed, let alone all the other wonders of modern medicine we take for granted.

The good news is that if you married well in Austen's day, you'd have a full contingent of servants and nursemaids to make life a whole lot easier. Ten kids? No problem! We have staff! Not to mention an Austenesque hero as the father of your brood.

  1. I'm as romantic as anyone, and I love children. But some things are non-negotiable. Like female self-determination, my choice of career, and an epidural.
  2. With my 21st century knowledge, I’d do a little family planning of my own. Plus I’d find a midwife who washes her hands and a mate who supports me in pursuing my passions, whatever they are.  

I could go on, but you've got a journey to pack for!

First take a moment to review your answers:

If you chose mostly A:
"I’ll take a round-trip, please. I love me some Mr. Darcy/Mr. Knightley/Capt. Wentworth, but I’m already in a long term relationship with electricity, indoor plumbing, and personal freedom.

If you chose mostly B:
"That’ll be a one-way ticket to Pemberley, please. No baggage. Buh-bye!"

If you're split down the middle:
"That’ll be a one-way ticket, long as I can sneak in a few little essentials, like my SonicCare toothbrush…you mean there's no way to charge it?…And tampons….what do you mean I won’t be able to buy any more?...Okay …when do you think they’ll have wireless there? Hmmm… maybe I should switch to a round-trip? Or can I book when I get there?"

It is indeed a dilemma.

****GIVEAWAY****Laurie has offered up signed copies of both Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict to two lucky winners!
  • 2 winners will receive signed copies of both Austen Addict books, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict
  • open to US/CAN/UK
  • Ends September 5th
  • Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter!
  • Make sure to leave your answers to Laurie's quiz in the comments (or whether you answered mostly A/B)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author:
Laurie Viera Rigler’s novels Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict (both published by Plume in North America and Bloomsbury in the UK) could have been considered semi-autobiographical had they not involved time travel and body switching. Her short story, Intolerable Stupidity, in which Mr Darcy brings charges against all the writers of Pride and Prejudice sequels, spin-offs and retellings, appears in the anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It (Ballantine). In addition to working on her third and fourth novels, Laurie is the creator of the Babelgum original web series Sex and the Austen Girl, in which the heroines of her Austen Addict novels debate the pros and cons of life and love in our world vs. Jane Austen's world. All 23 episodes can now be found on Laurie’s YouTube channel as well as on her online home, janeaustenaddict.com, a veritable vortex of Austen-inspired diversions. You can also find Laurie on Facebook and Twitter.

Click here to be taken to the Austen in August Main Page! Fab button artwork c/o Antique Fashionista!


  1. When I was pregnant I became obsessed with reading about 18th and 19th century delivery practices. It made me soooo thankful for modern medicine (and that was before I could really understand just how fabulous an epidural is). Your last question was the only one I responded A to, but it was such an emphatic A that it might negate all my previous answers.

    This was a great way to indoctrinate the uninitiated into the ways of the Regency world. Very cute.

  2. I chose mostly A’s but I think I want to go on the day Capt Wentworth would have bathed and spent only a day there. Maybe even go in the winter so that no issue of sweating in the summer heat.

    BTW I loved your books; I read them both and laughed out loud. I have leant them out and have not gotten them back yet, they keep getting passed on to others. I hope I win so I can finally have a copy of my own again. :-)

  3. I think I'd prefer to just visit, not stay, especially since I'm happily married in this day and age! This did remind me of Lost in Austen, though, especially when you talked about hygiene (they showed how they took care of their teeth back then in the miniseries, among other things).

  4. Mostly B's with an A. Umm, I think I wouldn't mind a sweaty Darcy smelling of horse. I might sneak a toothbrush though... fresh breath might be necessary. ;)

  5. It was a scary time to be a woman, no power, but if you had a good hubby you'd be ok unless childbirth carried you off. Having had my children by c-section makes me think I'd have more chance of surviving these days but I'd love to go back and visit for a few days.

  6. I had mostly B's with 1 A. I hope I'd have the option of a return trip, just in case, and my 21st century knowledge would give me an advantage to making some things more tolerable.

  7. I was split-A/B. I love me some good hygeine. Lol, but there's something to be said for the romance of that era.;) What a fun post! Thanks for the giveaway.

  8. Thanks for so thoroughly unromanticizing Regency era England for me! Just kidding. It is fascinating how we've advanced. I've always wished I lived in an older time, but then I hear about all the modern conveniences they lacked and I'm not sure I could deal with all of that.

  9. Sorry, Amanda! ;-) I'm with Erlynn on the sweaty Darcy smelling of horse. Wouldn't mind that either. And thanks, Danielle--I hope you can have your very own copies again! Thanks, all--am loving all these comments!

  10. I think I had a split between the As and Bs. I would love to have a time machine to at least go back and visit - - and maybe visit when it's not that time of the month and on days when I could bathe! I would definitely miss my computer (but could get over it for Mr. Darcy) and ice cream and even aspirin. Hmmm.

    Thanks so much for the giveaway opportunity. Loved the post, Laurie!

  11. Hmm, 3 B's and 2 A's. I guess I'm staying at Pemberley, but would miss indoor plumbing and electricity

  12. This was a fun post! But no, I wouldn't want to go visit. I wouldn't last a day there.

  13. Well I totally surprised myself...all B's. I didn't plan on a one-way ticket however. I just think of camping in a tent, or the days I can't get a shower without 3 little kids wanting in with me. I then do the sponge bath thing and wash my hair in the sink anyway. My husband makes the majority of decisions (with help from me of course), I take care of the household and he does the rest. I'm home with 4 grandkids each day so the career bit the dirt at least a decade ago. And I don't care that it did. I don't wear makeup much since I have a naturally blushing type face so not much of a loss. However since even the ancient Egyptians had eye makeup I'm figuring I could come up with mascara of some sort. It's the only thing I wear now. And since I'm menopausal and had my kids naturally no problem. The sweating however would be a factor to consider. Wow, who would have thought that middle age would be the perfect time to be a Regency casting type. I would hopefully retain some of the medical and hygiene knowledge of today however to avoid dying any earlier. No bleeding etc. for me. And didn't the men have accessibility to a condom type thing that was tied at the top. I'm sure I read that due to the popularity of mistresses and prostitutes. Not saying that it worked but it would have been a bit of a protection if they chose it. Even if I was young again and the possibility of pregnancy would be the no seeds planted rule (at times anyway). oops sorry I just had to wiggle the wrong direction right then. (got a cramp in my leg or something you know) Great post. I never thought of myself as a "B" kind of gal.

  14. BBABB! :-) LA of Austenprose sent me over...very amusing quiz! I thought that I was too practical to want to go to Regency England~~thanks for the opportunity to win!

  15. I'll take a turn in the shrubbery with Mr. Darcy any day! And while I'm at it I may as well steal some of mama's blush. Its a one way ticket for me.

  16. Mostly B's for me... I've already got a lot of Austen-esque freedomless stuff going on in my life, I'm pretty sure I could handle a couple more. ;)

  17. Overall, I think I'd like to simply visit that era. Although the Austen era sounds like an amazing place to be, I don't think that I would last too long. I'm too fond of my modern conveniences and sharp tongue. ;)

  18. I am all A's. I am not a travel-back-in-time girl.

  19. I was mostly A's, but for Q number 4: Sealing the Deal - I went for an uncharacteristic B.

    As you said, it is indeed a dilemma lol

    Fun quiz <3 :D

    Mary DeBorde M.A.D.

  20. I chose mostly Bs. It seems odd to me, as my life is full of technology. However, I do love the past. The fashions of the Regency period, the dancing, etc. monstrous fun! And though, it lacked the niceties of the present and the freedoms we women have now, it seems to have been a calmer, simpler time. I also prefer the old middle class to today's - I'll take a servant or two!

  21. Thanks, everyone, for all of your comments, and thank you, Misty, for inviting me to the Austen in August party!


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