I had the pleasure of being a guest on the Scorching Book Reviews blog recently, where I wrote about my family history and how that has impacted on my reading.
Like many romance readers, my gateway books were Harlequin Historicals – mostly regency set books with husband hunters floating around ballrooms in gorgeous dresses, navigating the ridiculous etiquette, and making a rake fall hard in love. These books spoke to the young version of me on a very familiar level. I’d grown up with close connections to the aristocracy and my family idealised our heritage. As I’ve aged, I’ve understood the more difficult aspects of the aristocracy, and cringe at the way some members of my family idealise the past.
My father is the current holder of a defunct Russian title. The Russian aristocratic system is more complex than the English one which regency readers are familiar with, however, his title is similar to a Baron. Technically speaking, my great-grandfather was the last actual holder of the title, as he held it up to the Russian Revolution of 1917, when he was forced to flee from Russia with his wife and six month old son (my grandfather).
We grew up with wild stories about aristocratic life – the travel, the gowns, the etiquette – and the characters. Uncle Nicolai who owned an electric company in Britain and was sued by Edison. A one liner in War and Peace referencing the family. Speaking French in court, and Russian to servants. The scandal of one relative marrying a serf. The incredible journey of Aunt Elizabeth fleeing the Revolution by driving across Russia, through the Gobe desert, and eventually ending up in America.
It is little wonder that regency romance had an initial appeal for me. However, as I’ve grown older (and hopefully wiser), I’ve come to realise the ridiculous privilege that comes with such history.
The full post is here.