It’s the season of love and romance so what better time to celebrate words and books that deal with relationships of a romantic nature. No matter your opinion, reading preference, or avoidance of all things romance-based, you will probably have read more of it than you imagine, from Shakespeare to the classics.
I very much enjoyed my OU studies of the period 1450-1600, where we had to cover European culture and belief as well as the politics and sovereigns of several countries besides our own. One of the more pleasant topics was Courtly Love, and the related sonnets of Italian Petrarch, and English Wyatt. Music and poetry were believed to create a moderating influence on human passions and also to exercise a spiritual influence, making love poetry and music a powerful combination.
It was an idealised love, where the object of the man’s affection was usually out of his reach, when he could declare his undying love but not have to consummate his passion. One of the most influential manuals of the period was THE COURTIER by Baldesar Castiglione, an Italian courtier, author and diplomat. This was a book of medieval-type courtesy, setting forth the ideal qualities, appearances, behaviour and manners of the perfect courtier’s lady and the ideal male courtier.
Ideally, the man should be skilled in verse and prose writing, able to read music and play several instruments, thus providing constant entertainment for the ladies. He must of course be noble and skilled in arms and sports. The lady should be highly educated, feminine at all times, gracious and modest, with some degree of beauty. Although expected to be intelligent and knowledgeable in order to appreciate and take part in the conversation and performance of men, most ladies had no equal status with him. And not much changed over subsequent centuries!
Whether you celebrate St Valentine’s Day, or ignore it completely, you might enjoy the touch of romance in one or other of the following two novellas.
Pride and Progress is set in Victorian times and I enjoyed adding a few scenes incorporating the language of flowers so beloved of the era. It is FREE to download from 9-13th February.
Miss Emily Morton is content with her village life as a teacher in the north east of England in the 1870s, until the new railway arrives along with the handsome Scottish station master, Arthur Muir. Emily detests the railways, while it is Arthur's passion. Each is challenged by the other but will pride allow for progress?
For those who prefer a more contemporary story, Venetian Interlude is reduced to 99p from 9th-14th February.
Scottish art historian Livy arrives in Venice for a short break before picking up a cruise. The last person she expects to meet is Seb, the handsome half Italian, half Scottish guy she first met and fell for at university before their worlds diverged.
Now, Livy is still single and Seb is even more appealing and apparently unattached, both happy to renew their long friendship. Will it be third time lucky as Livy and Seb explore beautiful Venice together before time runs out?
Happy Valentine’s Day!