Are there fallen women in every era? Well, since I’ve written mostly in the Victorian era and a little bit into the Edwardian, I thought that I would stretch myself both forward and backward in time. I’ve not visited the Regency era, because I haven’t studied it much (though I’ve read my share of Austen books).
As far as the 1930’s, and 1940’s, you can say I have a fascination mainly because those were the years my mother became a young woman. She turned eighteen in 1930. Her marriage to my father in 1940 had been her second time to the altar. My mother lived until she was eighty-seven years old and never once told me that she had been married and divorced before she married my father. The news came to me from my brother, and I recently confirmed it through my ancestral research finding the marriage certificate from 1935. She was twenty-two when they wed. Did she think it a scandal that should be kept secret from me because she divorced? Frankly, I will never know.
Of course, every era has its view on courtship and marriage rituals. They have evolved as the hemlines have risen and women dared to show their ankles to men. What was considered scandalous in the early nineteenth century certainly wasn’t considered as risque in the 1930’s. Nevertheless, sex before marriage, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, divorce, and adultery all carry connotations of women who have missed the mark of perfection. The female who falls from morality’s heights is coined “fallen.” Men, on the other hand, are merely rogues who go on with their lives, for the most part, unscathed or perhaps to be avoided. In my Google search of scandalous behavior in 1930’s England, King Edward VIII’s lifestyle shares in the results. Even men partook in scandalous behavior in high society, making history.
Currently, I’m in the 1930’s with Lady Isabella. Let make one thing clear – I’m no historian. As a writer, though, I attempt to do my homework to avoid scathing reviews regarding my lack of knowledge. Do I miss the mark? Occasionally. Do I take creative liberties? Definitely. However, my hope is to leave you with a story that pleases in the end. As far as this era, I’ve always enjoyed the fashions, hairstyles, makeup, hats, and gloves. And who can forget about the handsome men in their three-piece, double-breasted suits? The 1930s were also the Golden Years of Hollywood, receiving condemnation from the church for the declining moral standards. (Frankly, I think we’ve been blaming them ever since.)
In the posts ahead, I’ll be researching the morals, economics, political climate, fashions, hairstyles, and makeup of the various eras. For this particular book, I have been learning about the 1936 Royal Ascot, since one of my scenes is placed during that event.
All of my ladies in this series will be wearing a red dress on the cover. I thought it appropriate fashion based on the disgraceful behavior of my new characters. After all, the red dress has been the iconic indication in most instances of bad female behavior. Can anyone forget Scarlett O’Hara’s grand entrance into Ashley’s birthday party and the meaning behind that scene? It has gone down in history.
I’ll be back with more about the 1930’s.