Part of the fun of historical fiction is stepping into another era . . . both the good and the bad. Beautiful gowns—yes, please! Wearing tightly-laced corsets under those gowns—maybe not. A simpler life with less technology might be appealing, but the lack of indoor plumbing certainly isn’t.
One of the best things about reading is that it can take us into the past while still keeping us firmly in the present. At the same time, there are customs of the past that we would love to see brought back into style today. For many of us, that includes some of the traditions of romance in years gone by.
I interviewed several of our historical fiction authors about the difference between romance and courtship today and in the time period they write about. Every Friday this month, I’ll post a different time period . . . with a fun giveaway at the end of each post!
Join me as we go back several centuries and talk with Jody Hedlund about love and marriage in the 1700s.
Book Title and Setting: Rebellious Heart, 1763 Boston
How was courtship different in the era of your novel compared to now?
First, courtship in the 1700s was a family affair. Parents often had a hand in choosing potential suitors and steered children toward appropriate matches. While such involvement may have had an overbearing quality to it, young adults of today could save themselves later heartache by obtaining family input on potential marriage partners.
Secondly, courtship in the Colonial era had an aspect of supervision. Most often young couples were together in groups or spent time with each other’s families. They were rarely given an opportunity to be completely alone without chaperones.
Young couples today have perhaps gone to the opposite extreme, pairing off alone too often. Having the benefit of group activities or chaperones helps couples focus on developing a friendship rather than letting the physical aspect of the relationship cause false intimacy.
Finally, courtship in bygone days was seen as a serious step toward marriage and commitment. Young people didn’t get involved in a relationship unless they were considering marriage.
While there may be some benefit to checking for compatibility by dating numerous people, all too often it leads to broken hearts, painful partings, and disillusionment. Perhaps modern young people have something to learn from the practice of waiting to court or date until they are more mature and ready for marriage.
Now it’s your turn, readers! Which one of these aspects of Revolutionary-era courtship would you most like to see make a comeback today, and why? Comment below, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Rebellious Heart. The winner will be posted in next Friday’s blog post, so be sure to check back to see if you won!