Friday, October 31, 2014


I've never understood why some people don't like historicals — for me they're not "books about history" but stories set in a different place, that's all. A good story is a good story, and I don't care if it's historical, paranormal, contemporary, crime or whatever. As long as it sweeps me away to somewhere else, I'm a happy reader.

I think it started when I was a kid. I read every book I could lay my hands on and didn't care what sort of book it was, as long as it entertained me. So I don't get it when people tell me "I don't read historicals" or "I only read historicals" or "I don't read paranormals" or "I only read contemporaries" or whatever.

I got a letter from a reader recently telling me that she doesn't usually read historicals, she always thought they were boring, but she was given a copy of one of my books. It sat there for ages, and she was going to give it away, but she started reading it one day when she had nothing else to read — and now she's bought the rest in the series.

I have a number of letters like that. I think that's the key to liking any subgenre - you just have to find one book or author you like, and it opens you up to others.

A historical author group is promoting a "Fall back in time" campaign, where people post selfies with a favorite historical romance. So here's a couple of pics of me, with two of my fave Georgette Heyers. I first read her when I was a kid, and I've reread some of her books umpteen times — they're some of my favorite comfort reads.

What I love about these books is that they're funny and lively. Venetia is the most romantic - it's about a bad-boy rake and a beautiful heroine who is very much a match for him. But there's some very funny moments — he's the kind of rake who can charm women, and to see him bend "nurse" around his thumb is a delight.

The Unknown Ajax is about a gorgeous hero who is so quietly self-confident that when he realizes everyone thinks he is some illiterate clod, can't resist playing up to the role.

I'll post a few more favorites — other authors I love — in a few days. In the meantime, do you have a fave historical?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Wedding Dresses

I'm blogging at the word wenches about a wedding dress exhibition I attended, with pictures.

But I couldn't fit in all of the pictures I wanted to, so I'm putting some more up here. Unfortunately the signs that explained the dresses in detail were hard to read -- in small white print on a dark red background, and far enough from the viewing are that I couldn't read them, especially since the light in many of the rooms was quite dim — I presume to protect the dresses. And although I bought the guide book, the dresses are simply listed at the back, with no cross-referencing, so I can't match them to my photos. So I'm very sorry but I cannot even provide dates for some of them.

This outfit was made in England for a sixteen-year-old bride, married in 1827, who emigrated with her husband to Australia.

Below is a silk satin dress worn by a Melbourne bride in 1915.

This gorgeous dress was worn for a wedding in 1957

This is the same dress from a different angle.
A view of back lacing on a jacket.

The graceful fall of a Victorian era dress.
The inside detail of the boning in a jacket. The picture below shows it in slightly more detail.

A boned bodice being formed on a dressmaker's dummy.

A corset with suspenders for stockings attached.
This dress was worn by Kate Winslett when she portrayed Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility

A dress in formation on the dressmaker's dummy.

The foundation of a dress in preparation on a dressmaker's dummy

Beading and fine detail work on a dummy.
Close up of some amazing embroidery

Gwyneth Paltrow wore this dress in the production of Emma.

This is a detail of the lace train on the dress Gwyneth Paltrow in the production of Emma

The back view of a Victorian-era dress.

A stunning Edwardian-era outfit (at a guess). There's another view below.

This is the top half of the dress Natassja Kinski wore in the production of Tess of the d'Urvervilles, by Thomas Hardy. There is more below.

The whole outfit
 Detail of the skirt.
Victorian era? Not sure, sorry.

I loved the medieval flavor of this outfit. The sleeves are hooked to the wrists by a ribbon.

The pictures below are of a "dress" that was made by pinning old tissue paper patterns to a dressmaker's dummy. It's gorgeous and very detailed.

Look at those rosettes. Click for better detail.

This stunning, rather OTT dress, is made of silk crepe, velvet, chiffon and tulle and is encrusted with pearls and embroidery. It was made in 1889 in Paris by Maugas, whose clients included royalty and the nobility of Europe. The bride's father was a successful—clearly a very successful—local Melbourne butcher. It must have weighed a ton to wear.

A gorgeous dress. no details, sorry.
Detail of some pearl beading and embroidery

Such pretty undies. Sorry, no details.