Monday, August 28, 2006

Politics in Contemporary Romances

In Teresa Southwick’s To Kiss a Sheikh the heroine is a ‘former beauty queen, the pride and joy of her hometown’ (2005: 7). At dinner with the royal family of El Zafir, the King asks her ‘do you have a political affiliation in your country?’ (2005: 33) and her response is:

“Yes, Your Majesty. I’m a Republicrat.” [...]
“Republicrat?” Fariq frowned. “I studied the politics of your country, but I have never heard of this party.”
“Neither has anyone else. It has a membership of one. Basically I take the best from the Democrats and Republicans, then vote my conscience.” (2005: 33)
Apart from the fact that this made me imagine a new species of rodent, which would take its place alongside the elephant and donkey, this scene instantly brought to mind part of the film Miss Congeniality, where the contestants in a beauty contest are being asked about the one thing that would most improve society, and all of them (except the undercover detective, played by Sandra Bullock, disguised as ‘Gracie Lou Freebush’) immediately give a pat, acceptable response:
Contestant1: I would have to say, world peace.
Contestant2: Definitely, world peace.
Contestant3: That's easy. World peace.
Contestant4: World peace.
Interviewer: What is the one most important thing our society needs?
Gracie Lou: That would be harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan.
Gracie Lou: And, world peace.
Interviewer: Thank you, Gracie Lou.
The heroine of To Kiss a Sheikh is a beauty queen, so perhaps the similarity isn’t surprising. It's not that a desire for world peace, or a choice to be a 'Republicrat', can't be a sincere and principled stand, it's just that, as presented in the context of To Kiss a Sheikh and Miss Congeniality, the way the responses is framed presents them as acceptable to all, non-controversial. But is a non-controversial, non-party-political response representative of the treatment of politics in all contemporary romances?

I have read contemporary romances, including Crusie’s Welcome to Temptation, in which some of the characters are running for office and/or are politicians, but again, the situations in the books I’ve read have been non-party-political. Here’s an example from Karen Templeton’s Swept Away:
Luralene was asking Ivy how her mayoral campaign was going [...]. She still wasn’t quite sure how she’d gotten hoodwinked into running for mayor, although she seemed to recall the Logan brothers, the youngest of whom was her son-in-law, had a lot to do with it. But when eighty-something Cy Hotchkins decided not to run for reelection – it would’ve been his sixth term, but term limits were not a big issue in a town of a thousand where most people were just happy somebody was willing to do the job – who should throw her forty-year-old pillbox into the ring but Arliss Potts, the Methodist preacher’s wife known more for her culinary eccentricities than her leadership qualities. And before Ivy knew it, her daughter Dawn, the town’s only attorney, had gotten a petition going and amassed enough signatures to get Ivy on the ballot. (2006: 21)

But just because contemporary romances avoid references to political parties doesn’t mean they don’t deal with politics. If one accepts that the personal is political, then every romance could be considered political in the sense that romances deal with the politics of gender relationships, but there are plenty of romances which touch on other political issues. Whats remained a constant in my reading experience is that the politics is not presented in a party-political way. For example, here’s a hero, who’s just taken over a business, and the heroine, the PA he inherited, discussing employment issues as they relate to employees with families:
‘After the last time, I vowed I’d never have a PA who was a mother again.’
‘Very family-minded of you,’ said Lou.
Patrick’s brows drew together at the unconcealed sarcasm in her voice. ‘I haven’t got anything against families,’ he said. ‘It’s up to individuals whether they have a family or not, but I don’t see why I should have to rearrange my life around other people’s children. [...]’
[...] ‘You’re obviously not aware of the fact that Schola Systems has always had a very good reputation for family-friendly policies,’ she admonished him. ‘I was lucky to get a job there when I had to go back to work and the children were small, and especially to have such an understanding boss. Bill Sheeran was always flexible when people needed time at home for one reason or another.
‘It won him a lot of loyalty from the staff,’ she added warningly, ‘so if you were thinking of holding parenthood against your employees, you might find yourself without any staff at all!’ (Hart 2005: 16-17)
This is a political issue. In the UK the government has introduced policies giving workers the right to ask for more flexible working-hours (though employers are not obliged to agree). The Trades Union Congress (TUC), like Lou, argues that flexibility from employers leads to a happier, more productive, more loyal workforce:
Our long hours culture creates rigidity and promotes a downward spiral of disincentives to workers. A situation where 11 million UK workers say that they want to increase or decrease their hours of work cannot be good for business. This mismatch must impact adversely on the size of the recruitment pool, labour turnover, motivation and productivity. In fact, the way to utilise the skills of a changing, more feminised workforce is through strong partnerships to develop mutually beneficial patterns of working time organisation as is common in Europe. (TUC report, 2005)

Or how about the environment? In Jayne Ann Krentz’s Sweet Fortune Jessie, the heroine, has been involved in exposing an environmental organisation, DEL, which was a cover for a fraudster who was tricking people into investing in non-existent technologies which he claimed would help to tackle climate change. Talking to her sister, Elizabeth, she comments:
“ [...] There aren’t any easy answers and there’s still so much we don’t know about ecology and the environment.”
“I can sort of see why people got excited about what Edwin Bright [the fraudster] was selling.”
“So can I,” Jessie said. “Too bad it wasn’t for real. (Krentz 1999: 268)
Climate change is, of course, both an environmental and a political issue.

Given the large number of characters in contemporary romances who have worked, or still do work, in the military and the police, romances can bring up issues such as gun control, the death penalty and foreign affairs. In Marilyn Pappano’s The Bluest Eyes in Texas, for example, the hero has fought in ‘the war in Iraq [...] where he’d spent more than a year and the Afghani mountains’ (2006: 10). As a result, ‘According to the United States Army, Logan was a hero, with commendations, medals and scars to show for it’ (2006: 120). One of the questions raised in the course of the novel, however, is whether this automatically makes him a hero in the eyes of the heroine and the reader. The heroine certainly doesn’t view him this way until close to the end of the novel, and therefore if she thinks of him as a hero it isn’t because of his military record. The villain, in fact, has also served in the army, and, very briefly, the novel raises the question of whether the army, as well as creating ‘heroes’ may also occasionally exacerbate violent tendencies:
Mac’s criminal record as a kid had been mostly petty stuff – shoplifting, vandalism, brawling. He’d never used a weapon, never done any real harm to anyone ... as far as the authorities had known. Had war taught him to enjoy killing or would he have graduated to murder regardless?
“He liked fighting,” Logan said quietly. “He was more gung ho about going to Iraq than anyone else in our company. He never seemed to feel a moment’s remorse over killing anyone. It got his adrenaline pumping, got him all psyched up.” (2006: 199)
The question is never resolved, but it is raised, as is the issue of the death penalty. The heroine muses that
She thought death was the only just punishment for what Mac had done to the Jensens ... but after he’d gone to trial. After he’d been convicted by a jury of twelve citizens. After he’d been sentenced to die. That was just. (2006: 221)
Later, however, Logan says that Mac would ‘rather die than go to prison. Being locked up in a cell the rest of his life is the worst punishment he can imagine’ (2006: 239). Clearly neither the hero nor heroine have any moral objection to the death penalty, though they may occasionally feel that there are fates worse than death for certain offenders. And perhaps it’s because I’m in the UK, but I can’t help but notice how many guns there are in many contemporary romances set in the US. In this novel, for example, the heroine notices the weapons in the trunk of the hero’s car:
Gun cases. Two obviously held pistols; the other two were for longer guns. He didn’t intend to take any chances with MacGregor. [...] But logic aside, the weapons made her uncomfortable. Sure, she carried a gun – two of them at the moment – but strictly in self-defense. [...] But going looking for someone armed to the teeth – that was more like hunting (2006: 28)
From my perspective, coming from a country with ‘some of the strictest gun legislation in the world’, both of them are ‘armed to the teeth’, and there is no way this story could have been set in the UK, because both of them would have been in breach of the law.

Contemporary romances, then, do touch on political issues, even if in a non-party political way. They may not discuss the issues in great detail, but one wouldn’t necessarily expect that in a work of fiction. And for a genre often accused of being ‘fluff’, romances can include serious reflections on some extremely important political issues. Here’s one final example. Charlie, the hero of Crusie’s Charlie All Night, and St Thomas More may not have a lot in common, but they do share an intense respect for the law:
“Listen to me,” Charlie said and the intensity in his voice stopped her in midsentence. “One of the biggest problems this country has is that people think a law is only a law if they agree with it. And if they don’t, it’s all right to kick guys like Joe [who is gay] out of the service and bomb abortion clinics because there’s a higher law at work. And that’s garbage [...] The law is the law [...] You can’t choose which part of it you like and which you’re going to ignore. It’s not a salad bar [...]. The whole thing stands, or the whole thing goes. [...]” (2005: 228)
And here is More, as portrayed in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons:
More: [...] I know what’s legal not what’s right. And I’ll stick to what’s legal.
Roper: Then you set Man’s law above God’s!
More: No far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact – I’m not God. [...]
Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
More (roused and excited): Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (Leaves him) This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast – Man’s laws, not God’s – and if you cut them down – and you’re just the man to do it – d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (1968: 38-39)
----
  • Bolt, Robert, 1968. A Man for All Seasons: A Play of Sir Thomas More, ed. E. R. Wood (London Heinemann Educational Books).
  • Crusie, Jennifer, 2005. Charlie All Night (Richmond, Surrey: MIRA Books).
  • Hart, Jessica, 2005. Contracted, Corporate Wife (Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin Mills & Boon).
  • Krentz, Jayne Ann, 1999. Sweet Fortune (London: William Heinemann).
  • Pappano, Marilyn, 2006. The Bluest Eyes in Texas (Richmond, Surrey: Silhouette Books).
  • Southwick, Teresa, 2005. To Kiss a Sheikh (Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin Mills & Boon).
  • Templeton, Karen, 2006. Swept Away (Richmond, Surrey: Silhouette Books).

11 comments:

  1. Just to comment on your first part about political parties, I think that there are several issues at play. The first is of course that by choosing no party, the author can avoid offending some of her readers. There is also an issue in the U.S. of not being very fond of partisanship in general. It's somewhat unseemly to identify too strongly with any party. In the real world of political races, you have to choose one, but if it weren't for such praticalities, I have a feeling most candidates would run as independents and most people would be OK with that. A lot of this comes from the winner-take-all two party system in the U.S. Since there are effectively only two parties, it is pretty much impossible for most to choose a party with whom they really agree very strongly. So, I think the idea of a Republicrat is both an avoidance of politics for the reader and a reflection of how Americans would like to act but can only do so in a fictional world where party identification can be successfully avoided.

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  2. I agree that part of this will be about avoiding annoying readers. What struck me, though, was the way that politics was brought into the conversation in To Kiss a Sheikh. I got the impression that it was supposed to demonstrate the heroine's intellectual credentials (she later thinks of how much she and the hero have discussed, including politics) but the discussion of politics doesn't go very deep. The heroine shows concern when she thinks more money is being lavished on the royal horses than on the general population, but once she works out that this is a benevolent monarchy, which cares for its subjects, her political qualms disappear, so clearly she's not that bothered about the place being neither a republic nor a democracy. So then, of course, I was curious as to what, exactly, the 'best' was that she was taking from the two parties. And, because you can't 'vote your conscience' freely - when it comes down to it your choice is limited - I wondered which way she'd vote in practice.

    Maybe it's not fair to analyse the book in that much detail, but the author did choose to bring up politics. I suppose, as I'm interested in politics, this was a tidbit which made me hungry for more politics, but I didn't get it. I felt that the analysis of individual political issues in some other contemporary romances was a bit more in-depth, despite the authors not making it explicit that they were touching on political issues.

    But in general, I just wanted to show that romance, despite being thought of as 'fluffy', can and does deal with serious subjects. It deals with other serious subjects too, and, in fact, you can't get much more serious than love, in the sense that love's a very important force in shaping people's lives.

    And yes, I know about 2-party systems. That's pretty much how it works out in the UK, with Labour and the Conservatives, though there is a smaller 3rd party, the Lib Dems, and things are changing, particularly in very local (e.g. city level) and national-but-not-UK (i.e. Scottish and Welsh) elections.

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  3. A line from a category remains with me long after I have forgotten the title and the author. One of the female characters said (and I may be quoting loosely), "We don't care what our children grow up to be as long as they don't grow up to be Republicans." The very fact that that one line is imprinted when I remember nothing else about the book suggests to me that such open party affiliation must be rare indeed.

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  4. j as in jennifer29 August, 2006 18:39

    “One of the biggest problems this country has is that people think a law is only a law if they agree with it...The law is the law [...] You can’t choose which part of it you like and which you’re going to ignore. It’s not a salad bar [...]. The whole thing stands, or the whole thing goes.

    It's interesting that you choose "Charlie All Night" for your column on this topic, because I just finished this book, and what struck me funny about this line from Charlie is that, if Americans did not have this particular attitude, we would have paid the Stamp Tax and the Tea Tax without qualm and perhaps today would be just another star in the Commonwealth crown. What Charlie and Sir Thomas More don't say is that because men make laws, they are often unjust or just plain don't make sense. If Quakers had had such respect for the law, they wouldn't have helped hundreds or thousands of American slaves to freedom.

    Perhaps what Crusie was revealing in "Charlie All Night" was that Charlie, while something of a rebel against contemporary norms, also has quite a conventional streak, while so many heroes of romance are portrayed as unconventional. When you think of how many romances feature heroes who are highwaymen or pirates or rebels or Jacobites, you get a sense of the political liberalism of the romantic story.

    In the romance genre, the hero who is a highwayman or a pirate is nearly always so for a good reason. He has been Wronged, and is determined to put the wrong to right. Usually the Wronger is a rich, powerful person the hero has no way of attacking outright, so he rides by moonlight. Indeed, in the poem "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes, the villains are the cruel British soldiers, who are only trying to catch an outlaw. We should be on their side, if we follow More's mores. But no, the Highwayman is a splendid figure, a gallant figure, while King George's men are ugly, murderous brutes who shoot the Highwayman "down like a dog on the highway."

    The politics of historical romances can be fascinating. So many are set in Scotland that one forgets the Scots under Bonnie Prince Charlie were trying to usurp the British crown. Though it wouldn't have been a very good idea, the Scots felt their cause was just and noble and they fought gallantly for it. They lost in the books of political history, but in romantic history, King George's men come off very badly indeed, and romances will nearly always side with the guys in kilts.

    In Patricia Veryan's novels of Georgian England, there is sympathy for the Jacobites, even among loyal King's men. Though hiding a suspected Jacobite could mean hanging, the characters do what they feel is noble and decent, not lawful.

    In Roberta Gellis' novels, the personal is always political and her characters often deal with the conflict between men's notion of honor and loyalty to one's king, even if that king is undeserving of such loyalty, and women's more pragmatist attitudes and the politics of the hearth. That is, a woman must do what is right for her family and her home, and worry less about the fate of nations, unless they impact the family's livlihood. A man is loyal to king and country, but a woman is only loyal to her man.

    Indeed, it is hard to imagine a non-liberal romance novel, though notions of historical correctness do come into play. For instance, I've never read a romance novel that was sympathetic to Napolean's cause, though Napolean and Josephine were romantic figures. I've never read one that wasn't sympathetic to the aristocrats that died during the Reign of Terror. (The US' war of liberty was honorable, but the French just went too far?) The plight of native populations often finds sympathy with the writer: the Scots, the Irish, the Native Americans, the African natives, the Indian natives, etc. In "Sleeping Beauty" Sir James defies his monarch and imperils his own position to preserve the safety and liberty of a tribe of Africans sitting atop a gold mine.

    On the other hand, romance novels often extoll the heroic rebel, but they romanticize the aristocracy, as well. It would not be hard to believe the heroine of "To Kiss a Sheik" would marry into a benevolent monarchy as long as it allows women the freedom to vote and hold jobs, too. Otherwise, you'd wonder what a female Republicrat was doing there.

    Many modern romances seem to acquaint wealth and status as the highest goal one can attain (it proves the hero's masterfulness)even if all that money doesn't make one happy. What makes one happy? Love, of course. Conservatism and liberalism meet, live happily ever after.

    Oddly, the heroine's job in most historical romance novels is to change the hero's mind about women, conforming to liberal attitudes regarding women's equality, but in many contemporary novels (at least of the 70s and 80s) the heroine's initial struggle for independence ends up with her happily married to her antagonist, expecting his bouncing babies. Perhaps it's why I prefer historicals.

    And certainly you can't get more liberal than the paranormal romance. Vampires and werewolves are people too, deserving of love and happiness. As a matter of fact, the only heroine I've ever read who declares herself to be a Republican is Betsy Taylor, who becomes a Vampire Queen is "Undead and Unwed." The reason seems to be her support for gun rights and a contempt for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Otherwise, she has gay and black friends, so she must have liberal sympathies, right?

    I can't really address the gun issue, except to say that they have always been a romantic symbol in American history, since Hawkeye in James Fenimore Cooper's "The Last of the Mohicans," if not before. But what hero of a historical romance novel is not proficient with a deadly weapon? I can only think of a couple.

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  5. j as in jennifer29 August, 2006 18:48

    Sorry for the disjointed thoughts above. I didn't have time to make them into a cohesive whole.

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  6. No need to apologise, Jennifer, it was all thought-provoking. I did deliberately make my initial blog post just about contemporary romances, because they seem to approach politics rather differently from the historicals. Wylene seems to have found an exception which proves the rule about party affiliation in contemporaries, but in historicals there are plenty of heroes who are in the House of Lords and are Whigs (not so many Tories, perhaps unsurprisingly, since Regency heroes and heroines tend to oppose the Corn Laws). In earlier periods one also sees clear political allegiances, e.g. Roundhead v. Cavalier, or Stephen v. Matilda.

    When you think of how many romances feature heroes who are highwaymen or pirates or rebels or Jacobites, you get a sense of the political liberalism of the romantic story.

    I haven't come across any of these in my reading. The last Jacobites I can recall reading about were in Heyer's The Masqueraders, which I first read years ago. I wonder if this reflects some difference between the UK and US romance markets.

    The politics of historical romances can be fascinating. So many are set in Scotland that one forgets the Scots under Bonnie Prince Charlie were trying to usurp the British crown.

    Again, I haven't come across any Scottish heroes for a long time. Apart from a couple written by American authors, which seemed to be set in fantasy-Scotland, that is.

    Bonnie Prince Charlie had the better claim to the throne, I think. James VII of Scotland and James II of England was ousted in the 'Glorious Revolution' and went to live in France. His daughter, Mary, and her husband William took the English and Scottish thrones. But James had both a son and then a grandson, James Francis Edward Stuart (aka The Old Pretender) and Charles Edward Stuart (aka The Young Pretender and Bonnie Prince Charlie). Mary didn't have any surviving children, so she was succeeded by her younger sister Anne, who also had no surviving children, and the throne passed to Hanoverian cousins. Unless one believes that James Francis Edward Stuart was illegitimate (and there were rumours spread to that effect) then the Jacobites were in the right about the succession.

    men's notion of honor and loyalty to one's king, even if that king is undeserving of such loyalty, and women's more pragmatist attitudes and the politics of the hearth.

    That's interesting, because from what I know of the medieval nobility they were almost constantly involved in intrigues. And if a King was undeserving of loyalty, all that meant was that you had to try a bit harder to control his favourite/replace his favourite with a new favourite who was on your side.

    In "Sleeping Beauty" Sir James defies his monarch and imperils his own position to preserve the safety and liberty of a tribe of Africans sitting atop a gold mine.

    Do you mean the novel by Judith Ivory? He ends up with an aristocratic title, however, which seems to me to imply that the Crown is Good (i.e. recognises nobility/virtue), even if all the aristocracy/upper classes isn't. And I'd agree that although there may be some 'bad' aristocrats, in general, as you say, although 'romance novels often extoll the heroic rebel, [...] they romanticize the aristocracy, as well'.

    What Charlie and Sir Thomas More don't say is that because men make laws, they are often unjust or just plain don't make sense. If Quakers had had such respect for the law, they wouldn't have helped hundreds or thousands of American slaves to freedom.

    This is such a tricky issue. As they say, one person's 'terrorist' is another person's 'freedom fighter'. The thing with More is that he didn't accept all laws. Eventually he was pushed to a point where he had to choose between the law and his beliefs. To quote from Wikipedia:

    More was asked to appear before a commission and swear his allegiance to the parliamentary Act of Succession. More accepted Parliament's right to declare Anne the legitimate queen of England, but he refused to take the oath because of an anti-papal preface to the Act asserting Parliament's authority to legislate in matters of religion by denying the authority of the Pope, which More would not accept.

    and allegedly

    while on the scaffold he declared that he died "the king's good servant but God's first."

    It's hard to tell from reading Charlie All Night how far Charlie would go in his acceptance of the law. Maybe he only accepts the law because it's based on the Constitution, and because he's living in a democratic state? He might feel differently about the laws of an undemocratic state.

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  7. j as in jennifer29 August, 2006 22:05

    It's hard to tell from reading Charlie All Night how far Charlie would go in his acceptance of the law.

    Well, he certainly didn't agree with it. And the laws regarding marijuana don't make a lot of sense, particularly when alcohol and tobacco are even more dangerous, addicting and harmful. In the U.S. it's illegal to even grow hemp, which does not get humans high at all. I don't use pot but I have to agree that our laws are just stupid and political in this instance. Because he does live in a democratic state, I suppose he feels he can change the law. Good luck! Perhaps if it was Alli who got cancer, he would not sit on the sidelines here.

    Regarding the Stuart's claim to the throne, yes it was the better claim, but James II refused to convert to Protestantism even to save his monarchy, and the English would not tolerate anyone who allegiance with the Pope, a figure of evil and corruption back in those days. They couldn't stand the Declaration of Indulgence, which gave what amounts to freedom of religion in the British Isles. But, nevertheless, the Hanoverians were crowned as their chose monarchs, so to support the sons of James was treason, even if it makes no sense to us today. Might makes right, after all, and if God had smiled on his claim he would have won the Battle of the Boyne. Funnily enough, I remember watching a pirate movie ("Captain Blood?") in which the pirate was convinced to give up his piracy when he got word of the Glorious Revolution. Evil King James had been supplanted by Good King William and Mary. To Americans without a clue, this seems like a plausible reason to cease pillaging the high seas, I guess. :) Another interesting thing I learned: Our New York was named for James II while he was Duke of York.

    It's interesting to hear you say that you don't hear much about this topic in England. Have you not read the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon? Do you not know the novels of Patricia Veryan? Perhaps because so many Scots settled here after Culloden, there are more sympathizers here. I've read many novels on this topic (perhaps because I am descended from the Scots myself) and I even read a novel which centered around how badly the Irish were treated in the wake of James' loss, though I cannot remember the name of it. The English always come off badly in these novels, sorry.

    I can recommend "The Mistress of Willowvale" by Patricia Veryan as a highly enjoyable, delightful read, if you're interested. It may have gone out of print, though, alas.

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  8. the Hanoverians were crowned as their chose monarchs

    One of the main points about kingship is that it's got very little to do with who the people choose. There have been periods when a small number of 'the people' did get some choice - e.g. in the Anglo-Saxon period 'Succession to the throne was not guaranteed as the witan, or council of leaders, had the right to choose the best successor from the members of the royal house' (from here) but at the time of the 'Glorious Revolution' that procedure hadn't been used for centuries. It was possible to just kill a king. That's how the Tudors took over, but at the time Henry VII took the throne there were few, if any, viable alterative contenders:

    The first of Henry's concerns on attaining the monarchy was the question of establishing the strength and supremacy of his rule. His own claim to the throne was limited, but he was fortunate in that there were few other claimants to the throne left alive after the long civil war. (Wikipedia)

    Charles I, of course, was beheaded, but no new King was crowned until his son, Charles II was restored to the throne. So really, the hereditary principle, involving male primogeniture was very strong, and it's still in place. The people don't get a choice.

    James VI was very keen on the idea that kings governed by the grace of God, literally, as is stated in their full title. Here's his address to the Lords and Commons in 1609/1610. They still use that form of words: Elizabeth II is 'Elizabeth the Second by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Our other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith'.

    the English would not tolerate anyone who allegiance with the Pope, a figure of evil and corruption back in those days

    I'm sure there were lots of people who felt that way, but that's still a big generalisation, because there were plenty of Catholics in England at the time and James had quite a lot of support, though he lost quite a bit of it over time for various reasons.

    It's interesting to hear you say that you don't hear much about this topic in England. Have you not read the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon? Do you not know the novels of Patricia Veryan?

    I've read plenty of novels by Nigel Tranter, and, of course, the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. And there's always Sir Walter Scott, though he verges on the 'fantasy Scotland' as far as I'm concerned. There are also plenty of children's novels set in Scotland in the past, for example An Edinburgh Reel by Iona McGregor, and many of Mollie Hunter's books. I'm just saying that there aren't many Scottish heroes in the Mills & Boon historical romances or Robert Hale historical romances I've read recently.

    I'd not heard of Patricia Veryan, and when I checked just now I saw that there aren't many of her novels available in the libraries in my area (I live in Scotland). I've heard of Gabaldon, but I've also heard conflicting reports regarding her reliability re Scottish history, and I'm not into long series where the end is not yet in sight and isn't guaranteed to be happy.

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  9. Actually, I should be clearer still - there have been a few Scottish-set medievals from M&B in the past year or so. I can remember seeing two by Margaret Moore and one by Juliet Landon and there may be others (I certainly don't claim to have a perfect memory, or to have seen everything that's come out ;-) ), but I mostly read Regencies. I've not seen any about Jacobites.

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  10. j as in jennifer30 August, 2006 17:46

    One of the main points about kingship is that it's got very little to do with who the people choose.

    Of course, I know that. What I meant was, among the people who do the choosing. The Parliament, the Lords in power, etc. Even in the United States today, the people have very little power in choosing our own president. Our candidates are chosen by party caucuses in states like New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa -- real centers of power! By the time the general election comes around, our candidates have already been locked in, whether we like them or not. Very seldom is it the best candidate; usually the one with the most money who is least controversial. Voilá! King George W. So don't feel bad about a monarchy pretending to reign by the grace of God. : )

    I've heard of Gabaldon, but I've also heard conflicting reports regarding her reliability re Scottish history, and I'm not into long series where the end is not yet in sight and isn't guaranteed to be happy.

    Okay, Gabaldon is no "Braveheart" when it comes to historical accuracy, I'll admit. :) And no, it doesn't end in sweetness and light; happiness is a pretty hard slog for poor Claire. But Jamie is such a solid hero. And I enjoy the political intrigues.

    I wish I had some Patricia Veryan to loan you, but I believe I've only found her at the library. She is a hard author to find in bookstores.

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  11. Interesting. Very.
    Come to think of it my heroine makes some strong political statements, indirectly.

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