History in Movies and Books

keira

I recently read this great post on Regina Jeffer’s blog. It reminded me why I love reading historical romance novels set in the same time period as Jane Austen. Although I am not a huge Jane aficionado, I enjoy the themes of her work. So many of her books have been translated into modern times. I think my favourite of these modern re-tellings has to be Clueless. It’s such a classic movie that introduced me to Jane Austen as a teenager. As a young woman, I was completely caught up in the excitement of Bridget Jone’s Diary. I adored Colin Firth in the movie and it fanned my lust for watching him on screen in anything I could find.

I remember spending hours watching my favourite Jane Austen movies with girlfriends. Sighing over Colin Firth’s wet shirt in Pride and Prejudice and I think I fell in love with Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma. This is still my favourite movie with her in it. I mean, how can you not love this cheeky, fun movie?

Of course, the movie I have lusted over in the past couple of years is Austenland. Kerri Russell is phenomenal as the Jane-aholic and it satisfies the desire in me to experience Austen’s time period without actually having to don a corset and do needlepoint or play the pianoforte (both of which I would fail terribly at. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, check out the trailer. I guarantee it will satisfy the inner corset geek in you.

Along with Regina’s post, I also saw something hilarious on Twitter the other day. It was a link to a montage of the best historical Jane Austen men. I think having it set to the song, “It’s Raining Men” was priceless and made it all the more fun to watch!

When I read a historical romance novel, sometimes the cover art influences how I visualize the characters, but often it’s movies I have seen in that time period that fill in the details. The dark halls of Robert Bruce’s reign of Scotland, the bucolic countryside of England and the adventures that take place at sea.

One of my favourite series is the Highland Guard by Monica McCarty. I’ve reviewed her on this site here and here. When I read her books, sometimes I go to her website which is amazing. It’s filled with photos of the places Monica writes about and she travels there to get inspired for her books. I can get lost on this website for hours, imagining the stories and history so vividly in the beautiful setting of Scotland. However, when I imagine some of the castles as they were in that time or the clothing of the women, I can’t help but visualize the beautiful story of First Knight, set in the time of King Arthur. I’m sure it’s not historically accurate to Monica’s series nor is it in Scotland, but something about the scenery and the castles sticks with me when I read these stories.

I also really love the series by Lisa Kleypas, The Wallflowers. I like all the books, but I think my favourite has to be It Happened One Autumn. I adore Lillian and Marcus. I could read this story over and over and never be bored. The plot, the setting and the love story are just so well developed and paced. Whenever I read this book, the movie Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightly . She reminds me of what I envision Lillian looking like. Although Jane’s books held a Countess or two and didn’t have American heiresses usurping the eligible men of the ton with their new money, it still reminds me of Westcliff’s estate and how it must have been to visit at a country party.

Two other movies that provide inspiration when reading historical romance novels are Vanity Fair and The Duchess. Although I didn’t love Vanity Fair as a movie, the beautiful setting and costumes made up for an uneven film. I adored the movie the Duchess and I think Keira Knightly should solely do historical movies as she has such a strong presence on screen. Now that I think about it, Keira has spent a lot of time in corsets. Her famous faint in Pirates of the Caribbean was due to a tightly laced corset!

It’s unfair when people label historical romance novels as ‘mommy porn’ as most of the movies I mentioned above are set in the same time periods and transport us away to another world, just like the books. Although most historical romance novels will never get the same treatment that Jane Austen’s stories are, they are still important. In fact romance novels are a source of major, major revenue for publishers and authors. People read these books for a reason and authors listen to their audiences and continually find ways to create new and exciting adventures in history. With the success of Outlander on the tv, it gives me hope that some of my favourite books will one day make it to the silver screen or even Netflix. I have had the privilege to read some amazing stories that I can’t understand why they haven’t been optioned. What book would you love to see made into a movie or tv show?

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5 thoughts on “History in Movies and Books”

  1. Romance is the most profitable genre in the publishing industry. From what I remember, it comprises 40% of all book sales and takes in $1.5 billion a year. My favorite historical romance is from Kleypas’s Wallflower series as well… “The Devil in Winter.” Sebastian, Lord St Vincent… Just the name. Sigh. I loved that he wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t even a good fighter. But how he loved and was so devoted to Evie. And how he became a better man. That dramatic scene in the casino and his “declaration of love” at the very end always make me cry. (I’m also partial to blond guys… and blue eyes… they look so good in TV and movies, Chris Pine, Ian Somerhalder). For costumes in period pieces, the movie that comes to my mind is Dangerous Liaisons (Glenn Close, John Malkovich).

    1. I love how Lisa Kleypas gave Sebastien the opportunity to redeem himself! It’s a great series! Dangerous Liasions is a great movie! Loved the Annie Lennox video for Walking On Broken Glass too!

  2. Ahhhh! I hate the term “mommy porn,” I even wrote a post about it. LOL.

    I’m reading this series right now called “Desperate Duchesses” by Eloisa James and I would die if book #5 was made into a movie. It would be the best. And honestly, I always see Colin Firth as Lord Beaumont!

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