Author Linore Rose Burkard Creates Memorable Character in Jane Austen Mold
When author Linore Rose Burkard sat down to write her novel Before The Season Ends, she probably didn't realize she would write a modern classic of British society beginning in 1813 through the eyes of character Ariana Forsythe. This character is so realistic, readers find themselves feeling her pain and euphoria as she glides through the magnificent homes of upper crust British society.
This is that rare novel which transcends the boundaries of any one genre with its mixture of history, humor and realism.
Realistic Portrayal of Regency Period in England
The Regency Period, which occurred during the early part of the 19th Century England, was a world so different from modern America, Ms. Burkard added a glossary explaining words and places of the period. One such location was Almack's in London, which was the ultimate Assembly in the early part of the 19th century. Assemblies were large gatherings held in the evening for the gentry or the aristocracy, usually including a ball and a supper. Several elite society hostesses possessed autocratic power of attendance as they alone could issue the highly prized vouchers (tickets) or not as they chose. Competition to gain admittance was fierce. Even the legendary Duke of Wellington was once turned away for being late.
For those not up on their English history, the Duke of Wellington became a national hero when he led the British forces against Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Although the British had several allies which helped them defeat the French Emperor at this world-changing confrontation on the soil of continental Europe, it is generally conceded Wellington played a key role.
Wellington's fame and celebrity were so great at the time, he would be above the level of a rock star or a Hollywood personality in modern America. So to turn away someone of his fame would be practically unthinkable, except among the elite of Almack's.
Ariana Forsythe Encounters Elite Prejudices of Upper Class
Nineteen year old Ariana encounters the elite prejudices of the members of Almack's and other British bastions of high society London during her odyssey through the "season" in which young ladies seek eligible bachelors to become husbands. It is a treacherous odyssey in that the incredible power of only one member of Almack's could prevent a young lady such as Ariana from even participating in this event deemed critical for a lady's admission into society.
Ariana must overcome the bizarre opposition of one of the powerful members of Almack's to even participate in the mate finding ritual from which the book receives its title.
London Society Place Where Rumors Destroy Reputations
London Society of the time was a place where rumors....true and false.....can destroy a lady's reputation within moments. The rules of society were so strict she could face dire consequences from infractions which seem meaningless in today's world. A lady who wandered off unattended for only a few moments from a social function could be roundly criticized and even face the ugly consequences of scandal. Or accidentally bumping into one of the elite matrons of society could result in expulsion from social events. It was this dangerous world Burkhard's female protagonist entered during the course of this page-turning thriller.
Ritzy Mayfair Basis of Ariana's Launch Into Society
Heroine Ariana's parents live in a rural part of England, so she must begin her entrance into the glamorous world of London's highest society by moving in with her aunt who becomes a major character in the book. Her aunt resides in Mayfair which is the ritziest residential area of London. It is located in the West End, and is only about a half mile square in size.
It would be comparable to the elite Highland Park neighborhoods of Dallas, Texas, or Upper Manhattan districts in New York City. It was a place where only the wealthiest rubbed elbows.
A major conflict occurs when Ariana realizes her aunt has ideas of an ideal husband which are completely different from her parents in rural Chesterton.
London Society Place Where Reputations May Be Salvaged
While London Society of the early nineteenth century was a place where reputations could be destroyed, it was also a place where they could be restored if a young lady had a powerful ally among the elite. In this absorbing book, such a person emerges by the name of Phillip Mornary, who is nicknamed the Paragon. Although he possesses the reputation of a rogue, he is powerful among the elite set, and his word support can restore one's reputation.
Carlton House Home of Prince of Wales
Part of the Paragon's cachet stems from the fact he is close to the Prince of Wales who lives in Carlton House. Given to the Prince of Wales by King George III upon reaching his majority, the London palace served as home for the Regent. He spent a great deal of time there and meets Burkhard's heroine there during a major social event. The Regent is one of Mornay's running buddies. Together they form part of a partying group of men comparable in a way to the famed Rat Pack of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin during their heyday in Las Vegas.
Ironically, even though he is in some ways notorious for his wild cavorting ways, Mornay's reputation remains intact, possibly because of his irresistible combination of wealth, power and looks.
Cut Was Social Means of Discouraging Someone
A "cut" was an effective means of social discouragement that involved pretending not to know or see a person who was trying to be acknowledged. A woman might use this technique in London Society to discourage attentions from another gentleman. Others cut people in general with this technique if they didn't want to get into a conversation with them. Getting the "cut" directly could be a humiliating experience. This is just another of the ways of the elite which Ariana observes during her perilous journey through the very unique world of London's high and mighty.
The cut is something, though, which, may be witnessed in the United States today. Some customs never seem to disappear.
Even the Paragon Not Safe From Slander
As one nears the end of this masterpiece of manners, it becomes even the Paragon is not safe from the vicious spread of slander and rumors. Although, normally his word is enough to save anyone else from scandal and rumormongering, he himself becomes the subject of an attack near the climax of this captivating story.
While he's always had the reputation of rejecting women who "set their caps" for him during the Season, he shocks everyone among his elite set with a different attitude toward Ariana. Despite his unorthodox ways, Ariana finds herself attracted to him, although it's believed he will never marry.
However, when a vicious slander comes to Ariana's ears about him, it is apparent even Mornay is vulnerable. It's up to Ariana to do her own detective work regarding the veracity of the rumor and leads to a thrilling conclusion to this must read book.
Burkhard Glossary and Research
Burkhard told me when asked about the research she did for her glossary that she researched for many years before the internet. She further said, "Writers today have it much easier to get answers. I had to spend hours in the library sometimes just to find a good map of 1813 or to get a question answered!"
Burkhard also said she's currently working on a time-travel novel.
Prior to that she wrote the Pulse Effex Series. The trailer for those books reads," When a catastrophic Electromagnetic Pulse hits the United States, few will survive the devastation that follows. Three teens and their families face life in a world gone terrifyingly dark...but can they keep hope alive?"
I would recommend that all my reader friends read Before The Season Ends. I look forward to reading other books by this talented author.