Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why I love the Georges by Emery Lee *giveaway*

As a lifetime history buff, I have always held a singular fascination with the 18th century and with the Georgian Age in particular. Although in courtliness it may be surpassed by the “Sun King,” and its intrigues by the Medici’s and Tudors, the Georgina age represents a fascinating paradox.

The naissance of this era, called after the scions of the House of Hanover, was the direct result of the Act of Settlement when with the death of Queen Anne’s death, Parliament bypassed over fifty Catholic aspirants to the throne, in order to settle it upon the closest Protestant, a German princeling who neither desired the crown, nor spoke the English tongue!

It was the birth of pluralistic government. What history says of the reluctant but avaricious Georg Ludwig, is that he left England to rule itself as much as possible, and took his living from it as much as achievable. During this rather apathetic reign, Britain began a steady transition as the true power gradually and bloodlessly (in contrast to France!) transitioned away from the absolute monarchy favored by the Stuarts of old, and toward a government led by a cabinet of ministers and a parliament largely elected by the people.

It was a time of intrigues, where for half a century the exiled and ill-fated “Pretender” sought to regain the throne he had lost for Catholicism. (It was joked of James Francis Edward Stuart that he traded three crowns for a mass!)

While called the age of enlightenment, criminals were yet pilloried or executed, and left to hang in gibbets for buzzards to pick their flesh, and debtors were incarcerated, sometimes for life, while the powerful aristocracy was protected from prosecution for their own crimes by the privilege of peerage.

This same nobility used an outer fa├žade of honor and politesse to cover its multifarious sins. In the words of Dr. Johnson: “Vice, in its true light, is so deformed, that it shocks us at first sight; and would hardly ever seduce us, if it did not at first wear the mask of some virtue.”

In upper class society, marriage was seldom pursued without social or financial gain. Gin was cheap and readily available. The cities were rife with prostitutes and gambling. All of these harsh realities were readily exposed by the pencil and brush of the brilliant artist and social commentator, William Hogarth.

The Georgian age also saw tremendous growth of the arts especially geared toward the common man. At a time when Italian opera dominated Europe, the greatly beloved English composer Handel (German born but naturalized) usurped the Italians to introduce his English language operas and oratorios.

The modern romantic novel was crafted in Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, and then spoofed by the brilliantly sardonic wit of Henry Fielding in Shamela. The stage was revived and flourished with bawdy satires led by men like John Gaye, whose Beggar’s Opera lampooned the blatant governmental corruption of the day.

The Georgians by-and-large were a profligate and riotous breed: hard drinkers, with little regard to sexual morality. Brothels abounded to suit any particular fancy from flagellation to sodomy, the English” vice. Mercury pills may have killed more patients than the syphilis it was meant to cure.

Those of rank and title pursued every manner of pleasure, dissipation, and gaming. They drank hard and played harder – wagering on bare-fisted pugilism, (sometimes employing cudgels), cock fighting, bear, and bull bating with astronomical stakes often laid out at the hazard and card tables. And let us not forget the horses that were particularly suited for this fast-living crowd who admired no virtue more than “bottom.”

The Georgian gentlemen of the turf applied themselves wholeheartedly to perfecting the racehorse by importing Eastern stallions, those kings of the desert known for unparalleled stamina. The Byerley Turk, the Darley Arabian, and later the Godolphin Arabian were some of the very best horses selectively crossed with the blood of the early mares of Charles II to create an entirely new type of horse that became known around the world as the English Thoroughbred.

As fodder for an historical novelist, the Georgian era offers untold delights, and with such a legacy, how can I not love the Georges?
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Emery Lee is a lifelong equestrienne and history buff who resides in Northeast Georgia with her husband, sons, and horses. Her debut novel THE HIGHEST STAKES, SOURCEBOOKS April 2010 release is an epic tale of passion, intrigue and horse racing.


Her second novel, FORTUNES'S SON, set in the Georgian gaming world, will be released November 1, 2011.
To know more about Emery Lee and her novel, don't forget to visit her website: http://www.authoremerylee.com/

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THE GIVEAWAY

As a kick off for the spring horseracing season, Emery Lee is offering a copy of her book, The Highest Stakes. To participate, just follow the rules:

- open Worldwide (for those in the US this will be a signed copy)
- leave a comment and don't forget your email address
- the contest closes April 25 at midnight GMT

Good luck to everyone!

24 comments:

  1. I would love to read more about this era.

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  2. Sounds fabulous! I will cross my fingers for a copy.

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  3. Please enter me as the book sounds awesome.

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  4. Please enter me, this book looks very interesting. :)
    liedermadchen(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  5. Please enter me too! It sounds like a fascinating book set in an interesting time.

    jtwebster.books@gmail.com

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  6. While I am aware of the era and have read some books set in this time, I don't really know much about it so I found the post very interesting.

    So much so that I would really like to get my hands on the book and possibly the authors next one as well.

    Thanks for the giveaway and for opening it to worldwide entries.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

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  7. Thanks for the opportunity, do enter me in this giveaway please! :)

    lugameso@hotmail.com

    Lucy x

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  8. I would love to enter! Haven't read much about this era and it has horse racing :)

    Thanks for making this international!

    crimson_haze(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  9. This sounds like a great read-please enter me in the contest! Thank you!

    gemmamoy@hotmail.com

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  10. I agree that Georgian England is a time with great potential for entertaining novels. Enjoyed the information about the English thoroughbred. Would love to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway.
    lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

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  11. This is such a great book - please don't enter me, I already owns a copy. Just wanted to tell Emery that I am looking forward to November when her next one comes out. Good luck to everyone who has entered. I am sure you will love the book!

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  12. I've never read anything set in this era before, but I'd love to try it out with this book. My e-mail is Samanthakathy@gmail.com

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  13. This book has been on my TBR list for a while, so I would love to enter the giveaway!

    christina(dot)behe(at)gmail(dot)com

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  14. Very interested in this one.

    leo(at)developments(dot)co[dot]nz

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  15. Thanks for the giveaway! I love historical fiction, particularly ones about the 18th/early 19th centuries.

    susanna dot pyatt at student dot rcsnc dot org

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  16. Yes! I also am really intrigued by the Georgian Age as well. I'd love to win this book!

    abookishaffair(at)gmail(dot)com

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  17. Thank you all so very much for your interest, and especially to Terry for the glowing endorsement!
    If you would like to read an excerpt of THE HIGHEST STAKES or get a sneak preview of FORTUNE'S SON, please visit my new website or my Goodreads author profile:
    http://authoremerylee.wordpress.com
    http://www.goodreads.com/story/list/3318236
    I hope you will drop by.
    Warmest regards,
    Emery

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  18. Thanks for the giveaway! This sounds like a great read. Please enter me, this book looks very interesting.

    AtiaAusten(at)gmx(dot)de

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  19. My knowledge of this period is sketchy. Please enter me for this giveaway and thanks for opening it to all. Much appreciated.

    mystica123athotmaildotcom

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  20. This sounds very inetresting! I love reading and learning at the same time! LOL

    kah_cherub at hotmail dot com

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  21. Sounds fascinating and living in a horseracing and breeding town the subject is of particular interest. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

    catsplace31(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)nz

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  22. I would love to learn more about this era and I absolutely love horse racing! So this is right up my alley!

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  23. I forgot to post my email address above.

    taylor_ward11@yahoo.com

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  24. Thanks for the chance!

    spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

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