Romantic Fiction, Reality Shaping and The Work

I don't pretend to undestand fully this kind of stories (it's a first after all), but what happend to Jonas in the prison was like a fall from manlyness so to speak. Even when he forgave her shortly after, what paralysed him truly was the fear of betrayal. For all his theatrics, in the end it is Sidonie who saved him from himself. OSIT
I grabbed a Balogh book pretty much randomly. Okay, not so randomly (cheapest with highest rating 'The First Snowdrop') Made a quick start on it. Right now I'm re-reading 'The Idea of History' in order to prepare for a discussion I will be leading on the book with a local group in a couple of weeks. But Balogh should provide a nice reprieve from the rigors of reading Collingwood. I can tell she's a very good writer.

I didn't want to get left out! I gotta know what all the hoopla's about.

And I've watched a good amount of Outlander. My boss, Anna and I would talk about that show. She's a big fan of the character, Jaime Frasier because of his high moral code. Oops! I meant stunning looks. 🤭
You have to read a sufficient number of them to get the full impact of what is being done here and to get a full grasp of the whole worldview that is being presented. When it began to dawn on me, I was just somewhat amazed. It goes totally against the whole post-modernist, socialist, libtard view of reality. Like 180 degrees, in fact.
Probably the postmodernists know it. Historical romance literature that retains traditional values has often been ignored, or ridiculed for being backward, non-intellectual, cheap, unsophisticated, cliché, tripe, old fashioned, bourgeoise, socially conservative and prejudiced, just to mention a few. I for one was exposed to that kind of education, romances did not have much space in the books on literary periods or styles, it was left out of consideration. I used to think it was sentimental cheap entertainment, produced by commercial interests for the sake of pacifying and manipulating consumers. That may also be there, but it lacked several nuances.

While romances most certainly were out, we still learned how one can interpret text and become informed about what the underlying social norms and beliefs are. It is a bit like analyzing historical sources, just like one from reading Greek plays can learn something about what the ancient Greeks believed in. Concepts like sophrosyne, hubris, and nemesis can become more alive when expressed in the story of a play. While we were taught to be critical with respect to the past, this was less practiced with values professed by the "modern" (the lastest materialist) trend, which of course was the correct one, or at least so established one could not easily question it and be considered serious. If one looks into the history, one could ask if this was deliberate, if we were being programmed not to pay attention to the historical romance?

The history of Regency romance
The following may tie in with an observation that historical romances do not go down well with the postmodernist view.

As I had never heard about Regency romance, I looked it up and found it began with Georgette Heyer. I will include a few excerpts from the Wiki, as it explains how this genre was ignored by the critics:
Despite her popularity and success, Heyer was largely ignored by critics other than Dorothy L Sayers who reviewed An Unfinished Clue and Death in the Stocks for The Sunday Times. Although none of her novels was ever reviewed in a serious newspaper,[91] [...] Heyer was also overlooked by the Encyclopædia Britannica. The 1974 edition of the encyclopædia, published shortly after her death, included entries on popular writers Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, but did not mention Heyer.[97]
Such an attitude from academia, might have helped to ensure romance literature was not a subject that entered education very quickly. It was tolerated, but not encouraged.

As an author, Heyer uplifted ordinary people:
Her books were very popular during the Great Depression and World War II. Her novels, which journalist Lesley McDowell described as containing "derring-do, dashing blades, and maids in peril", allowed readers to escape from the mundane and difficult elements of their lives.[26]
The Decameron, set during the most intense period of the Black Death, was also a means to divert and entertain the mind, maybe especially of women, but as I found out perhaps also to educate the readers, be they men or women.

The works of Heyer are not referenced, but they are based on and contain verified details:
Her Regencies were inspired by Jane Austen, but unlike Austen, who wrote about and for the times in which she lived, Heyer was forced to include copious information about the period so that her readers would understand the setting.
Determined to make her novels as accurate as possible, Heyer collected reference works and research materials to use while writing.[37] At the time of her death she owned over 1,000 historical reference books, including Debrett's and an 1808 dictionary of the House of Lords. In addition to the standard historical works about the medieval and eighteenth-century periods, her library included histories of snuff boxes, sign posts, and costumes.[38] She often clipped illustrations from magazine articles and jotted down interesting vocabulary or facts onto note cards, but rarely recorded where she found the information.[39] Her notes were sorted into categories, such as Beauty, Colours, Dress, Hats, Household, Prices, and Shops; and even included details such as the cost of candles in a particular year.[38][40] Other notebooks contained lists of phrases, covering such topics as "Food and Crockery", "Endearments", and "Forms of Address."[40] One of her publishers, Max Reinhardt, once attempted to offer editorial suggestions about the language in one of her books but was promptly informed by a member of his staff that no one in England knew more about Regency language than Heyer.[41]

In the interests of accuracy, Heyer once purchased a letter written by the Duke of Wellington so that she could precisely employ his style of writing.[42] She claimed that every word attributed to Wellington in An Infamous Army was actually spoken or written by him in real life.[43] Her knowledge of the period was so extensive that Heyer rarely mentioned dates explicitly in her books; instead, she situated the story by casually referring to major and minor events of the time.[44]
If Heyer was not recognized by the critics in her lifetime, she left a legacy, more so than many officially acclaimed authors:
Heyer essentially invented the historical romance[93] and created the subgenre of the Regency romance.[31] [...]As other novelists began to imitate her style and continue to develop the Regency romance, their novels have been described as "following in the romantic tradition of Georgette Heyer".[32] According to Kay Mussell, "virtually every Regency writer covets [that] accolade".[94]
Regency romance is made up, it is fiction, but in the best versions, there is an air of authenticity.

As an example of others following the trail of Georgette Heyer, there is about Mary Balogh. The text is translated from a Russian site:
Mary Balow was infatuated with Georgette Heyer's novels. She felt completely elated at being immersed in a world that had hitherto been known only to her from Jane Austen's novels. And she knew that if she ever wrote again, she would re-create the romantic world of Regency England in her books.

I wondered if literature along the lines of Regency romances will affect the current social trends, as a change is indicated in this excerpt.
(Possibility of Being) I have a question about gender insanity and transgender stuff involving children and all this craziness. Is it something that will pass quickly like a fashion, or something that will affect the world for several generations?

A: It is more likely to cause tragedy and moralistic snapback.
How will the snapback come? Will people confined to the madness of COVID19 surrender to historical romances, romances about the time long before compulsory measures were put in place. I hesitate to speculate more.

There are a couple of transcripts which taken together may bring out the value of reading. Both fiction, and non-fiction can have a place. One can learn from both.
Reading and non-fiction
A: Reading is a good teacher so long as the material is apropos.

Q: (Laura) Well, I have been giving her things to read... (Alice) Is there anything I can do to help my sleeping problem?

A: See last response.

Q: (Laura) If you are awake, read. When you get sleepy, go to sleep. (Alice) But then I get waked up. (Laura) Then read again! (Alice) Will it work?

A: Yes. Did you suggest that we would recommend something that would not? Skip the novels... now is the "time" for non-fiction.
There are cases where one can consult fiction for the truth
The next is in a section that discusses the process of Ark coming to join Laura. First, the excerpt about fiction, later behind a spoiler the whole context, especially as it shows one aspect of a romance between two souls, which includes the risks of attack from negative forces.

A: Must beware of agents near.

Q: Can you give any clues about these agents near?

A: Have "look," if one is looking.

Q: What kind of look?

A: Consult fiction for the truth.

Q: You mean like spy stories? If they look like a spy, they are one?

A: Close.
Q: How many days will we be out of communication?

A: Not point. Just remember that anticipation is the "mother of preparation," and defense.

Q: So, anticipate or expect to be out of communication for some time...

A: No, it is for Arkady to be prepared!

Q: Are there any good guys who can come in and help? I mean, good grief! A flood no less! How come we haven't been afflicted with that sort of thing here?

A: No need as we have told you, it is Ark who is the vulnerable link, therefore, the attack goeth there.

Q: Is there anything WE can do to help?

A: Get the message through to expect the unexpected; feel vulnerable, and do not ever assume invincibility. Knowledge protects, and ignorance endangers... does it ever!!!

Q: Well, anything else?

A: Must beware of agents near.

Q: Can you give any clues about these agents near?

A: Have "look," if one is looking.

Q: What kind of look?

A: Consult fiction for the truth.

Q: You mean like spy stories? If they look like a spy, they are one?

A: Close.

Q: Anything else? This is going to be a rough period!

A: Not if aware and prepared, and not caught up in fantasies.

Q: What kind of fantasies?

A: Energy wasted upon unnecessary communiques.

Q: So, he should not exert himself to be in contact with me if it might put him in danger? Is that it?

A: No, for the time being, suggest you cancel the "mushiness."

Q: Alright. Anything further?

A: No.

Q: I will be in a bad way through this ordeal until he gets here, so...

A: Better to be in "a bad way," than a pedestrian on the widow’s walk.

Q: Is there anything that we can do for protection?

A: We have told you! Be forearmed by being forewarned! Be careful that he does not believe the message.

Q: In other words, he needs to really believe what you are saying?

A: More important: what is a false sense of security?

Q: So, if he receives a message that he is secure and that all is okay, then is when he must be most aware?

A: One must not ever feel "secure," but think of it. When is one ever secure?
The post is already long, but I will end with what I learned
After reading posts in this thread, I looked up Anna Campbell. On a Russian site, I found Seven Nights, the first 150 pages in English, as a preview. First I read from about page 50-60 and until 150. That was fine, and I decided to read the first pages too, because how did it all begin? In the light of hindsight, considering I had read what followed, my impression of the beginning was that the author, from early one, leaves small hints here and there in the choice of words and descriptions. If the title had me believing this is a black and white story, then I discovered something very different. There are circumstances, actors, actions, unseen influences, and results which become the new circumstances etc. There are moral dilemmas that are explored in the development of the story. If one was to use the book as an object of study, one could formulate questions and make them a subject for exploration based on what the characters are reported to have felt, thought, said, and done.

I did not read the whole book, but if I was to given a choice between a good romance and a detective story, I would choose the romance. Detective stories are often about murder, fear, cruelty, crime, and insecurity. Of course, there is a mystery, which may serve as a good intellectual exercise and maybe a noble hero or heroine who catches the villain, but there is often very little love. Romances, on the other hand, gives love a much greater chance to be adored and idealized, while other less positive emotions still can be present, just as they are in real or virtual life, where they sometimes even dominate, as they do in many movies and videogames.

Reading the pages in Seven Nights was like a continuation of earlier reading. Just before the lockdown, I picked up The Decameron by Boccaccio, some stories from One Thousand and One Night, and the Edda or medieval Viking lore from Iceland. which I read during the intense phase of the lockdown. All had sections in the line of short romance novellas. Decameron is a mixed bag as far as depth and quality; he collected and adapted what was going around in the social strata he moved, but several are instructive of what might or can happen in human relationships, even today, although this book is from 1353. When I read a few of the stories in One Thousand and One Night, I asked myself, if some had been written or conceived by a man or a woman, or a bit of both. After reading the pages in Seven Nights, I tend to think, it was a bit of both. And by the way, reading those books during lockdown was uplifting and I learned something too. If the new normal is going to stay as it is for the moment, a dose of historical romance may be helpful along with other supplements.
My thought was that, if I am right and these books are as good as I think they are in terms of heightening and focusing emotional and creative energy, they just might be effective for focusing that energy on creating a new reality during this very specific and frightening time.

Thanks for the suggestion Laura! I went ahead and purchased a few of the recommended books. Having not have read any of them the appeal to me is that they sound like 'fun' reading and I just feel flat out of energy to read some of the dark heavy hitters on the recommended reading list (Hostage to the Devil for example). I would certainly say that my emotional state deteriorated quite a bit when Covid started and has just recently started to rebound after assimilating what the Cs said in the last session about keeping an emotional distance from the current state of affairs. Perhaps after these books I'll be ready to conquer my inner fears and become a 'real' man!
At first I was going to get to one of these books in due time, but reading everyone's reviews so far, and how some of the guys have really gotten into 7 Nights, have gotten a little excited myself and went ahead and ordered Indiscreet by Mary Balogh from the library. Plus, with Laura saying it's not as steamy as the rest and being a single guy and all, well... maybe I should start off slow and steady and work my way up from there. You know, exposure therapy and all.
I finished listening to The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie audiobook. I liked it.

I'm not a good judge of how well it is written, so my comments won't be about the quality of the author's writing but more about my own impression of the book.

When I started the book, I was curious about it, but still not knowing if I would be able to really learn something good out of it. I found it odd to be reading such a book. And, to be honest, I didn’t like the detailed sexuality so much… but I kept on, as the story was getting interesting. Then, at about half of the book, the story got really interesting and when I finally finished it, I felt deeply inspired by it.

Now, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what was so inspiring about how the story developed and I also don't want to give too many spoilers. I can only say that the story is deep in its own way. It depicts the complexity of people, how appearances can be very different from what is in the "soul" of a person, so to say, how the complexities of life sometimes push people apart or shape people in an certain way, but there's opportunity for reunion, affection, care and transformation when people retain their integrity and value truth, brotherhood, friendship and love. It also shows how truthful love and caring can be healing and transform. How people can become better when they start learning from each other and getting over their sorrows and resentments.

What I find interesting too is that even though we find this kind of values and transformation depicted in some epic/adventure movies or some fantasy books, in this book, they are presented within the context of our mundane life. The epoch is not our own, of course, but I agree that the preoccupations and emotions in the book can be very similar to the ones we encounter today and what’s interesting is that the lessons come from the relationship between the characters and their interactions, their choices, etc., just like our own lessons usually come from our interactions and relationships. What comes to my mind is “simple karmic understandings”.

Well… now I think that I might have seen too much where maybe there isn’t that much, but that’s just how I felt after the last 3 or 4 chapters of this little book.

Now, I don't know if I should keep on with this saga of the Mackenzies or read another author. The good thing is that these books seem to do well for audiobooks to listen while working. :read:
Well, inquiring minds want to know, though it really is about the cheesiest title ever dreamed up and in almost no way really reflects the story (or only a small part of it), the book is: "Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed" {{{Shudder}}} and is by Anna Campbell. It is book one of a four volume set. The other three volumes are, in order: "A Rake's Midnight Kiss", "What a Duke Dares", and "A Scoundrel by Moonlight." There's a really fiendish villain who lurks through these volumes and some very interesting adventures along with the romance. This set is medium-high heat level, but the sex is not gratuitous; it is actually crucial to the plots.

I can appreciate what Neil wrote about young, single men and the burden that reading such literature might place on them. For them, the works of Mary Balogh might be better as the heat is much lower, but there is still enough "instructional" material to help them to visualize what a good relationship would be like.

One of you noted that these books are written by women. Yup, that's a fact. And a good thing, too. How better to learn how to relate to a woman (assuming that is what one wishes to do?) than to read the combined/condensed/almost formulaic descriptions of ideal relations (including sexual) from a woman's point of view? I've read a number of novels by men that included sex scenes to know that nearly all of them I ever read, had very little to do with love, monogamous relationships, family, children, and frankly, left me cold and revolted.

One of you mentioned reading novels about love and relationships in a modern setting that also talk about various problems we face in the modern world such as affairs with married men, children out of wedlock, or whatever. I don't think that is exactly what I had in mind when suggesting the reading of CERTAIN books in an effort to generate the emotions that might help to create a conduit of transformative energy. These books I'm talking about are highly idealized in terms of VALUES, though the issues the people deal with are, in many ways, similar to the issues of our own time. It is the idealized values and responses to the demands of same that interests me. It's a higher standard, emotionally speaking, than what one can derive from modern psychological dramas.

This is it in a nutshell. All of these books that I'm concerned with do exactly that: people getting over themselves for the sake of others. And they do so in spite of just agonizing internal considering!!! The four books mentioned above are exactly that.
Thank you very much Laura, I will be ordering them!
From here: Romance Reading on the Rise: Top Ten Things I Learned From Hist-Ro

Top Ten Things I Learned From Hist-Ro
  1. Never underestimate the gift of comfortable shoes.
  2. Gossip is for dippy debutantes and malevolent matrons.
  3. When donning a disguise, don’t forget to bring a change of clothes.
  4. Kindness is a virtue, especially when practiced without prejudice (ie be kind to every maid and man).
  5. Honesty is the best policy. You can avoid a lot of life’s foibles through frankness.
  6. Overindulgence can lead to underestimation of consequences.
  7. Traditions and rules are only as good as the company that keeps them.
  8. Everyone has issues with their upbringing, whether Duke or dustman.
  9. It doesn’t matter if you are a Diamond of the First Water or a Wallflower. If you are true to yourself, good things will come your way.
  10. When in doubt, a little makeover is good for the soul.
Thank you Laura for this info. I’m feeling really excited about trying out the books you’ve recommended as they aren’t what I would normally reach for. It all sounds really interesting. Being immersed in and absorbing something good would certainly be most relished at the moment!
For your listening pleasure, audiobook of Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed, free courtesy of your participating library.

Or e-book if you prefer.

Lots of libraries are handing out library cards over the internet. Such as

My wife will read and I will listen. She thought it was hilarious that I asked for us to read this, and I'm eating crow for saying in the past that her fiction reading didn't have educational value.
Today walking the dogs I was feeling very happy thinking about this thread. I was remembering how when very young I started to read sagas, and some romantic books. It was so the start of my passion for books. This new genre of books is funny to discover; I look for the authors in the libraries on the island, just found one in English, "Charity girl" by lady Heyer. I will pick up tomorrow. For the others I will buy some next month.

I was thinking also that books can save us. They saved me in many occasions and now they will save us I am sure. So let's start this new adventure I said to myself, with romantic stories, romantic and more, as we can see. ;-) And doing this in group, like a book club! is more interesting.

I remember also a good book seller I knew that told me one day that this genre of literature was extremely popular and an amount inconsiderable of women bought them. Ah ah. I was very surprised at the time. The book seller was surviving as a book store thanks to these books.
Over the past couple of days I have begun reading the Horsemen Trilogy by Mary Balogh. I have just finished book 2 and am about to start book 3. Reading the books seems to lift my general spirits and renew my hopes, which was exactly what I needed in this time. I recognise so much of the characters and their situations in my own life, this is truly what people are like, isn't it? Either way the books inspire me to higher emotions. I used to read a little fiction when I was younger but I stopped long ago with romantic books even though they were always my favorite.. I was brainwashed I guess, to read more postmodern, depressing stuff. I ended up stopping reading fiction at all... even though I worked in a bookstore and had access to a lot of literature. I definitely see a possibility of there being an agenda of keeping this literature suppressed, as people have already suggested.
One thing that has struck me is that we are lucky to have this sort of material (and all other knowledge available to us of course). I keep thinking of the servants and poor people in the books whose lives must be somewhat grey compared to the main character's. What did they have, back then, to uplift themselves? In our time you can be poor but still have access to a wide range of ideas, it is really something.
For your listening pleasure, audiobook of Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed, free courtesy of your participating library.

I use Overdrive, Hoopla, and Libby, which are free apps that work through your library (you download and set them up with your library card) and allow you to listen to or read books (also for free) on your devices. Seven Nights is not available through any of my local libraries via Overdrive or Libby, but it is on Hoopla! :clap:
J'ai reçu la livraison du livre " La magie de Noël " de Marry Balogh hier vers 17h, il mes reste 70 pages à lire, j'avoue que je n'ai pu m'empêcher de lire la dernière page... Je ne vous dévoilerai la fin...
C'est le genre de lecture que j'avais vers mes 12 ans, ce qui remonte à loin, cela m'a fait plaisir de me reconnecter avec ces belles histoires romantiques à souhait malgré la psychologie torturée de certains personnages...
Je devrais recevoir vers le 24 août le suivant Des fleurs dans la tourmente Kinsale, Laura

I received the delivery of the book "The Magic of Christmas" by Marry Balogh yesterday around 5pm, I still have 70 pages to read, I confess I couldn't help reading the last page... I won't tell you how it ends...
It's the kind of reading I had when I was about 12 years old, which goes back a long way. It was a pleasure to reconnect with these beautiful romantic stories, despite the tortured psychology of certain characters...
I should receive around August 24th the following Flowers in the storm Kinsale, Laura

Translated with (free version)
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