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Long's Notorious Countess Confesses
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KataO



Joined: 18 Mar 2011
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Location: Finland

PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My husband is much older than me (still happy after 15 years) and we have a president, who is about 30 years older than his wife.
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veasleyd1



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Natalie wrote:
Still waiting for someone to say they'd be totally fine with their daughter marrying a guy 18 years older Laughing


One of my sons is married to a woman 15 years older than he is -- has been for years, and they are very happy. She asked me about it with some apprehension before they married. My reply was that he was past 30, and if he hadn't figured out what he wanted by then, he probably never would. For what it's worth, both my other children (son and daughter) also married spouses somewhat older than themselves.
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csmiley



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My father was 18 years older than my mother and they were married for 31 years.
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chris booklover



Joined: 12 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Natalie wrote:
To those who responded to me:

First of all, I never assume the age difference must a dealbreaker for absolutely everyone. But I know it _is_ for some, so I wanted to provide a warning. I know I would have avoided if I'd know about that in advance.

Second, I have seen May-December couples doing fine, so I have no trouble imagining it. I've even met older guys who looked younger than their biological age and were attractive - but I intentionally avoided this situation, building a relationship is already hard enough, thank you very much.

But when it comes to romance, I read it for escape, I don't want to dwell on the implications of the age difference for the HEA. I'm already willing to overlook a lot of things in my romance reading, at least I can avoid this one.

Beside, I might be mistaken (been a while since I read the book) but I don't remember the age issue even being explored that much. Really, what would have changed if the hero was 10 years younger? The plot and the character development would have been pretty much the same (although it wouldn't have helped lukewarm chemistry, but that's another story).


May-December romances work for some people but not for others. This is true of virtually any trope in the romance genre and as such there is nothing particularly controversial about any reader saying that she does not like them.

What is much more problematic is the suggestion that there is something inherently wrong about such romances - as implied in the comment "Still waiting for someone to say they'd be totally fine with their daughter marrying a guy 18 years older." As one poster in another discussion of this issue observed, "We’re talking about age differences here in the language another generation reserved for differences in race and religion. And we’re justifying it in the same way. Life experiences are too different, interests just won’t be the same. Nothing against it ourselves, no way are we prejudiced, but it just squicks us out."

For me, if both partners love each other and are above the age of consent that is all that matters.
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

chris booklover wrote:


May-December romances work for some people but not for others. This is true of virtually any trope in the romance genre and as such there is nothing particularly controversial about any reader saying that she does not like them.

For me, if both partners love each other and are above the age of consent that is all that matters.


As one who is not a fan of large age differences (which for me is defined as more than 10 years), I think the last sentence is the telling one. If both are above the age of consent, then I have less or even no trouble with it. What I don't care for is when the heroine is in her late teens or barely into her 20s while the hero is near 40 (I'd feel the same if the genders were reversed but in romances the older hero is the far more common situation). There is just too much difference in brain development and life experience for me to find this pairing romantic. In real life I'm friends with at least one couple where one spouse is almost 20 years older than the other. Must admit that I have no problem with this in part because in those cases the younger spouse was at least 30 when they married. Somehow a 30 y.o. and a 49 y.o. doesn't seem like as big an age difference as 20 and 39. What it comes down to in the end is that we all have our own definitions of what is romantic in our reading, and, as in many other things, it's not necessarily the same thing as what we accept or even cheer in Real Life.
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Blackjack1



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think though that if we consider the issue of “life experience” when reading 19th-century historical fiction, we do have to take into account that women were considered emotionally “mature” by their early twenties because they were conditioned to mature early and were expected to marry much younger in the 19th century than they are in our contemporary moment. In the 19th century people even viewed childhood much differently that we do today and so people were forced to grow up quickly, marry and produce a family early in life. I know that my students struggle with this when we read Shakespeare, as in the case of Romeo & Juliet, and learn that teens were respectably married off and had their own family by twenty in the early modern period. And as we all know when we read 19th-century historical fiction, women were considered "on the shelf" by the age of 25, though men had more freedom with respect to age and any number of other factors. Therefore a 20-something and 38-year old man would have been more the equivalent of a 30-something and 48-year old man today than how we think today about a young woman in her early twenties and "a middle aged man." Genevieve from What I Did for a Duke struck me as quite mature for her early twenties, though her experiences in life largely came from a conventional private sphere woman's experiences of books and the study of art, whereas Alex had the freedom as a man to be out in the public sphere gathering his own experiences. I do though definitely agree that we all have our own definitions of Romance, but for me I find it important as well to read the past through the lens of history to better understand cultural attitudes. I was trained in this methodology and can't let it go even when reading books just for pleasure.
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chris booklover



Joined: 12 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Susan/DC wrote:


As one who is not a fan of large age differences (which for me is defined as more than 10 years), I think the last sentence is the telling one. If both are above the age of consent, then I have less or even no trouble with it. What I don't care for is when the heroine is in her late teens or barely into her 20s while the hero is near 40 (I'd feel the same if the genders were reversed but in romances the older hero is the far more common situation). There is just too much difference in brain development and life experience for me to find this pairing romantic. In real life I'm friends with at least one couple where one spouse is almost 20 years older than the other. Must admit that I have no problem with this in part because in those cases the younger spouse was at least 30 when they married. Somehow a 30 y.o. and a 49 y.o. doesn't seem like as big an age difference as 20 and 39. What it comes down to in the end is that we all have our own definitions of what is romantic in our reading, and, as in many other things, it's not necessarily the same thing as what we accept or even cheer in Real Life.


No one is obliged to justify any of their aesthetic choices, at least in this forum. If a May-December pairing does not appeal to any reader, that is that.

Having said that, however, I do have some issues with the "life experience" argument (in addition, that is, to the points made in Blackjack1's comment). This argument seems to go well beyond a statement of pure artistic preference. It is at best a statistical generalization, and while it may be valid it certainly does not hold true for all individuals. Statistical averages do not marry each other; particular individuals do. Whether or not a particular couple create a successful long-term relationship depends on a number of factors, and age is at best one of them. I know, or have known, quite a few 20 year olds who are more emotionally mature than the average 35 year old. Similarly, several posters in this thread have identified happy and successful May-December relationships.

In fact, one could - and many have - made analogous arguments about relationships between people of different races or religions, claiming that interfaith or interracial couples are unlikely to have as much in common as couples who share similar demographic characteristics. We know that assortative mating is the rule rather than the exception - like tends to marry like - but that's a long way from saying that people from different backgrounds cannot have happy relationships. Again, none of this has any bearing on what any individual chooses to read.

Incidentally, I would be more concerned about the relationship in Tracy Garvis Graves's On The Island than that in What I Did For a Duke. This is partly because the hero was only 16 to the heroine's 30 when they meet (although they do not become lovers until later) but more importantly because she was his teacher. Relationships between teenagers and authority figures raise all sorts of red flags. Frankly, I'm a bit surprised that so few readers or reviewers have expressed any concerns about this.
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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing that I was thinking too with respect to the "life experiences" argument is to question what sorts of life experiences were available to young unmarried women of the 19th century (or earlier)? Women were raised to marry and the concept of "life style" choice is a very modern, 20th century notion. It would have been nearly inconceivable for a young girl to simply decide that she wanted something else for herself, even if she secretly did. Families expected girls to marry, otherwise, they risked becoming a financial burden to them. Jane Austen is a notable exception because she found a way to remain a spinster and work as a novelist, but biographies of her life take great care to note that she had some unconventional family support from a loving older brother. Women writers were not the norm, though there certainly are some that managed in what was very much a man's world. So, when I consider the life experiences for young women in the 19th century, I think more in terms of perhaps running an efficient household or helping their mothers to do so, perhaps caretaking of younger siblings or parents, meeting their social duties by learning to dance proficiently, write letters if they are in a position to gain literacy, and learning embroidery. For middle and upper-class women, what other life experiences are there prior to marriage? Keep in mind too that when it comes to cross-gender social opportunities, these were all carefully orchestrated and women relied upon chaperones to protect their reputations and ensure that men and women met in highly regulated circumstances.

Life experience means so much more in our modern age, where young people have much more freedom to make choices and experience the world for themselves before "settling down."

When I first read some negative comments here at AAR about the age difference between Genevieve and Alex, it honestly was a surprise because this issue had not registered at all for me. I had to go back to the book to locate points where age was referenced and then I noted that Alex refers to himself as "old" but mainly because he feels old in terms of the things he has witnessed. It never would have occurred to me to consider a 30-something man as old though. And because of the historical circumstances, marriage between Genevieve and Alex would have been considered appropriate. So, I guess I'm left still with the question about what sorts of life experiences readers expect from unmarried young women that would have been in keeping with the actual historical customs of the period? In this respect I actually thought Genevieve was fairly unconventional in that she has at least a great curiosity about the world that exceeds many of her peers, and prior to the novel beginning she has made efforts to study and learn things that if more carefully scrutinized by more vigilant parents, probably would not have been allowed.
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blackjack1 wrote:
I think though that if we consider the issue of “life experience” when reading 19th-century historical fiction, we do have to take into account that women were considered emotionally “mature” by their early twenties because they were conditioned to mature early and were expected to marry much younger in the 19th century than they are in our contemporary moment. In the 19th century people even viewed childhood much differently that we do today and so people were forced to grow up quickly, marry and produce a family early in life. I know that my students struggle with this when we read Shakespeare, as in the case of Romeo & Juliet, and learn that teens were respectably married off and had their own family by twenty in the early modern period. And as we all know when we read 19th-century historical fiction, women were considered "on the shelf" by the age of 25, though men had more freedom with respect to age and any number of other factors. Therefore a 20-something and 38-year old man would have been more the equivalent of a 30-something and 48-year old man today than how we think today about a young woman in her early twenties and "a middle aged man." Genevieve from What I Did for a Duke struck me as quite mature for her early twenties, though her experiences in life largely came from a conventional private sphere woman's experiences of books and the study of art, whereas Alex had the freedom as a man to be out in the public sphere gathering his own experiences. I do though definitely agree that we all have our own definitions of Romance, but for me I find it important as well to read the past through the lens of history to better understand cultural attitudes. I was trained in this methodology and can't let it go even when reading books just for pleasure.


Actually, I wonder how much of this is based on what we know from romance novels versus actual demographic data. Georgette Heyer is famous for having people say that a heroine was "on the shelf" if she was older than 20, but did people really think that way in 1810? I don't recall anyone in P&P who says that Jane is on the shelf or too old to find a husband. The issues there are the difficulties of finding an acceptable match in a fairly closed society, which is why the arrival of two new unmarried men is so important, not that Jane is beyond hope due to her age. As for Romeo & Juliet, I've read critiques that said that they were considered extremely young even by Elizabethan audiences. Shakespeare used their youth in part to explain their characters and why they were so impetuous -- it is one of the reasons things did not go well and they were not meant to be role models.

Veasley is a source of lots of statistics on this, but from what statistics I can find, for example from the US Census Bureau, the average age at first marriage for women was 22 and for men was 26 in 1890 (age at first marriage was at its lowest in the 1950s). Not old, but not teenagers either, and certainly not a large age gap. From a University of Michigan paper, it appears that the age during the late 18th C (Georgian) England was 23 for women and 26 for men, again, not old but not teenagers and no large age gaps. The upper aristocracy did tend to marry younger because they could afford it.

I appreciate the truth of the later comment about life experience. Men could travel and participate in significantly more social, political, and economic spheres than women. But even a women could read, interact with others through charity work or social events, attend lectures and the theater. Our brains are not fixed until we are in our mid-20s, both male and female alike, and this is not something that has changed in the past 200 years. Plus, when it comes down to it, I'm a bit tired of the idea that when the hero is older and jaded only the fresh young thing can appeal to him. It's one reason I like Loretta Chase and Connie Brockway so much, as their heroines have a bit of life experience to them (appropriate to the period) and use it to win their heroes.
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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think many romance readers probably gain knowledge about prior centuries from historical fiction. This is just a guess on my part though since we would need more scientific data about AAR readers to be accurate about what readers here know and don't know about history. To be fair and upfront, I'm a college English professor with an MA and Ph.D. in English literature and so most of my knowledge derives more from the actual literary texts and research of the Victorian age than contemporary historical writing about the 19th century.

My main issue with the "life experiences" topic concerns the tendency to interpret history through our own cultural mores and beliefs. I have followed medical advances to some extent about brain development and find it very interesting and compelling evidence, but this is a 20th-and 21st century theory and would not have been available to 19th-century people, even when we see the relevance today. It's problematic to take our modern notions and knowledge and try to put them onto previous centuries. I can see why it's appealing to do so, but historically it's inaccurate to the way people thought about their world and lived in it. So, even if young 20-somethings were emotionally immature compared to what we now understand about human development, they still married and raised families and conducted themselves as mature adults in their world. Did they do so satisfactorily compared to how people mature and raise families according to today's standards? Perhaps not, but we're discussing vastly different times in history here. History does matter when understanding how people thought about the world. So, Genevieve would have been considered mature enough to marry and mature enough to select an appropriate mate for herself as long as she had her parents' approval, which interestingly, she does. Long's novel attempts to assure us that this is a "happy ever after" for both partners, and if we interpret this through the lens of history, it seems fairly accurate to me.
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blackjack1 wrote:

My main issue with the "life experiences" topic concerns the tendency to interpret history through our own cultural mores and beliefs. I have followed medical advances to some extent about brain development and find it very interesting and compelling evidence, but this is a 20th-and 21st century theory and would not have been available to 19th-century people, even when we see the relevance today. It's problematic to take our modern notions and knowledge and try to put them onto previous centuries. I can see why it's appealing to do so, but historically it's inaccurate to the way people thought about their world and lived in it. So, even if young 20-somethings were emotionally immature compared to what we now understand about human development, they still married and raised families and conducted themselves as mature adults in their world. Did they do so satisfactorily compared to how people mature and raise families according to today's standards? Perhaps not, but we're discussing vastly different times in history here. History does matter when understanding how people thought about the world. So, Genevieve would have been considered mature enough to marry and mature enough to select an appropriate mate for herself as long as she had her parents' approval, which interestingly, she does. Long's novel attempts to assure us that this is a "happy ever after" for both partners, and if we interpret this through the lens of history, it seems fairly accurate to me.


But I did not mean that historical characters, whether real or literary, would have modern ideas, what I meant was that I have this knowledge and so find a harder time accepting the HEA. It's been a long time since I was in my teens, but what I found wildly romantic and appealing at that stage of my life changed by my late 20s. I can't help thinking that the same was probably true for many women in the past even if they wouldn't attribute it to their more advanced neuronal connections.
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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know I’ll be honest and state that I tend to think it's reductive to interpret human behavior just in terms of brain development. (I suppose one could argue that if brain development is fixed by mid-twenties, that also means that brain development is nearly fixed by early-20s.) We are biological creatures, certainly, but we're also social, cultural, and historical creatures as well. And I tend to think that cultural readings produce more nuanced and complex understandings of history, but that's my own bias and methodology. Nineteenth-century people did not have the "lifestyle choices" we have now. Social class was much more rigid as were a number of other elements, including gender. Marriage lasted until death for the most part and for much of the century, and so whatever emotional changes one experienced in different periods of life was tempered by the reality that social change was much more static. So your example that because you changed significantly from when you were in your late teens to late 20s doesn't seem to me a helpful analogy when examining 19th-century history because people's options in life were not nearly what ours are today. Women had little ability to act on "wildly romantic" or "appealing" fantasies, no matter what age. I also think too that our fantasies are just as much if not more shaped by our culture and access to ideas than to biology. Comparing a contemporary woman's fantasies to a 19th-century woman's has plenty of limitations. If we read 19th-century literature or historical fiction about the 19th century, I think it's important to recognize key differences in how people viewed their realities over the course of two hundred years, which is why I think history is important. On the other hand, I would be inclined to agree that "HEAs" were less likely for everyone two hundred years ago, and that many people suffered unhappy marriages and couldn't change their circumstances.

On the difference in age though between 19th-century men and women there are interesting books written on this topic. Just from some of my favorite 19th-century novels, the idea of older man-younger woman was a fairly popular theme in literature. There are plenty of very famous older man-younger woman couples for those who are interested...: Emma and Mr. Knightly from Austen's Emma, who is 16 years her senior; Dorothea and Mr. Casaubon from Eliot's Middlemarch; Marianne and Colonel Brandon from Austen's Sense & Sensibility; Amy Dorrit & Arthur Clennam from Little Dorrit, Lucy Snowe & Paul Emmanuel in Bronte's Villette, and of course the nearly 20-year age difference between Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester from Bronte's Jane Eyre. I'm sure there are many others but these are the ones that stood immediately stood out for me. One prevailing idea is that younger women were considered dynamic and active partners in an inter-generational marriage and these marriages were believed to have promoted more gender equality than same-age marriages for women who were seeking more agency with their spouses. There was a popular 19th-century belief that same-age marriages were more conservative in terms of women's equality. I can see this theme playing out in a number of the books listed above. It seems reasonable that historical romance authors would be interested in this theme as well, especially if they are readers of the period about which they are writing. Just for the record again though, I'm not advocating inter-generational marriage but I am interested in how people of the 19th century thought about their lives.

Well, I finally received my copy today of A Notorious Countess Confesses, which was delayed by the hurricane and am greatly looking forward to beginning it tonight!
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msaggie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:58 am    Post subject: A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long Reply with quote

I just finished Julie Anne Long's A Notorious Countess Confesses and agree totally with Blythe's DIK review here at AAR. In fact, I am re-reading it now, and also have a hankering to re-read another comfort-read romance featuring a blonde vicar, To Love and To Cherish by Patricia Gaffney. The heroines in the two books are quite different, and there is a lot more angst in Gaffney's book (one of my favourites of hers). As in any romance featuring vicars, one wonders how the issue of chastity will be handled. Neither of these books would be in the "inspirational" genre, but I think they both have some careful elements of pastoral care, which isn't too preachy, and fits in with the characterisations.

I really liked the portrayal of how Adam and Evie fell in love, and their struggles in the face of the general opposition (even within themselves) to their growing feelings for each other. The ending was a bit of a deus ex machina, but wonderfully romantic. The other thing that spoilt my enjoyment was the editing errors with Evie's title - she was Lady Wareham in some places and then Lady Balmain in others - mine was the kindle version. I wonder if the author intended for Balmain to be the family name of the Earl of Wareham. Anyway, despite the problems with the peerage title and style, and overly modern usage of language, I still enjoyed it as a historical romance! Indeed, it ranks among the top Pennyroyal Green novels - my favourites include What I Did for a Duke, The Perils of Pleasure, and Like No Other Lover.
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Mark



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read & enjoyed ANCC yesterday. I real vicar hero and a heroine unapologetic about having been a kept woman made a nice change of pace from most of my reading.
I'm too vague on English attitudes over time toward the Irish to be sure, but suspect that there would have been more expressed prejudice. Having 3 for 3 drunk/mean/runaway Irish fathers certainly used a stereotype. I also thought there was a bit more casual use of "God" than would have passed without comment.
On the typo/mindo front, I noticed one each of several common errors & a couple new ones:
[page/paragraph/line #s on Sony Reader with 262 epub pages]
[dozens each of Lady Wareham & Lady Balmain for heroine]
5/1/3-6 book . . . proscribed [prescribed]
44/5/1 Lady Redmond [Ardmay]
114/1/6 gone [went] at the fence
122-123/6/2 She raised her chain [chin] arrogantly.
138/4/1 wasn't adverse [averse] to
153/3/2 tempted her to trod [tread]
156-157/3/1 Evie lay [laid] that letter
188/1/1 toward his [her] voice
215/3/2 squeezing between [through] a gap
225/1/1 Evie's voice [Evie] seemed to hear
BTW, on the whole thread about h/h age differences, they have never bothered me. My maternal grandparents had a 13-year difference, and one of the first romances I ever read was These Old Shades, with a difference of around 20 years, so both real life and fictional early exposures make age differences a non-issue for me.
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blackjack1 wrote:
You know I’ll be honest and state that I tend to think it's reductive to interpret human behavior just in terms of brain development. (I suppose one could argue that if brain development is fixed by mid-twenties, that also means that brain development is nearly fixed by early-20s.) We are biological creatures, certainly, but we're also social, cultural, and historical creatures as well. And I tend to think that cultural readings produce more nuanced and complex understandings of history, but that's my own bias and methodology. Nineteenth-century people did not have the "lifestyle choices" we have now. Social class was much more rigid as were a number of other elements, including gender. Marriage lasted until death for the most part and for much of the century, and so whatever emotional changes one experienced in different periods of life was tempered by the reality that social change was much more static. So your example that because you changed significantly from when you were in your late teens to late 20s doesn't seem to me a helpful analogy when examining 19th-century history because people's options in life were not nearly what ours are today. Women had little ability to act on "wildly romantic" or "appealing" fantasies, no matter what age. I also think too that our fantasies are just as much if not more shaped by our culture and access to ideas than to biology. Comparing a contemporary woman's fantasies to a 19th-century woman's has plenty of limitations. If we read 19th-century literature or historical fiction about the 19th century, I think it's important to recognize key differences in how people viewed their realities over the course of two hundred years, which is why I think history is important. On the other hand, I would be inclined to agree that "HEAs" were less likely for everyone two hundred years ago, and that many people suffered unhappy marriages and couldn't change their circumstances.

On the difference in age though between 19th-century men and women there are interesting books written on this topic. Just from some of my favorite 19th-century novels, the idea of older man-younger woman was a fairly popular theme in literature. There are plenty of very famous older man-younger woman couples for those who are interested...: Emma and Mr. Knightly from Austen's Emma, who is 16 years her senior; Dorothea and Mr. Casaubon from Eliot's Middlemarch; Marianne and Colonel Brandon from Austen's Sense & Sensibility; Amy Dorrit & Arthur Clennam from Little Dorrit, Lucy Snowe & Paul Emmanuel in Bronte's Villette, and of course the nearly 20-year age difference between Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester from Bronte's Jane Eyre. I'm sure there are many others but these are the ones that stood immediately stood out for me. One prevailing idea is that younger women were considered dynamic and active partners in an inter-generational marriage and these marriages were believed to have promoted more gender equality than same-age marriages for women who were seeking more agency with their spouses. There was a popular 19th-century belief that same-age marriages were more conservative in terms of women's equality. I can see this theme playing out in a number of the books listed above. It seems reasonable that historical romance authors would be interested in this theme as well, especially if they are readers of the period about which they are writing. Just for the record again though, I'm not advocating inter-generational marriage but I am interested in how people of the 19th century thought about their lives.

Well, I finally received my copy today of A Notorious Countess Confesses, which was delayed by the hurricane and am greatly looking forward to beginning it tonight!


I promise this will be my last post on the topic, but I did want to say that I'm not quite so reductive as to assign everything to brain development, even if I believe it does play a role (along with a number of other factors) in the ability to better foresee long term consequences of actions made today. And I also want to defend myself that by life experience I don't mean one has to travel the world, go to graduate school, or run a company to get life experience. What I think women could do in the 19th as well as the 21st C is observe the world around them (even if it was a more prescribed world than women have today), especially how people talked to and treated each other. I understand that people thought differently about their lives back then, I'm just saying that I don't enjoy May-December marriages in my romances even if they were socially acceptable (and when the hero was a duke, of course everyone exulted for the heroine even if they had the example of Georgiana right in front of them). For that matter, I don't enjoy first cousin marriages in romances either, even though I know they were also historically acceptable (it's one reason why I like Alcott's 8 Cousins far more than the sequel Rose in Bloom). It's all a matter of reading for pleasure, and if something doesn't give me pleasure, then I don't read it.

I think the idea of the younger woman having more agency is interesting and not one I'd come across before. Usually in novels the advice given to the hero is to take a young wife precisely because she is more malleable, but I've no idea if this was a fictional construct (perhaps even one of Heyer's) or not.
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