Picture this …
It’s the Regency Era – an Era which, by the way, should Romance Novels be believed, stretches on for a few hundred years and has possibly continued even until this day. It is entirely populated by eligible aristocracy. Dukes and Marquis and Lords and Earls. All handsome, unmarried, and broken in a way that only can be fixed by the love of a good woman.
And there are the maidens. And disgraced daughters of Earls or vicars etc. And fiery spitfires (all with red hair. You can’t have a temper unless you have red hair. Also: they are all beautiful when they are angry). And wallflowers. And bluestockings. And just, lots of nouns that denote ‘this here woman is about to get HITCHEEDDD!!’
Oh. And widows.
You are a widow. You have a beautiful daughter. You want her to marry well. You are being favoured by the attentions of a Marquis hitherto elusive when it comes to showing intentions of marriage. You are CONVINCED that he is showing interest in your daughter. You are CONVINCED that an offer of marriage is to come. Also, you are mildly jealous. (You are thirty-seven, by the way. About to retire into a nursing home.) (He is forty. HE COULDN’T BE POSSIBLY INTERESTED IN YOU. OH NOOO.)
BUT THEN … your daughter WANTS TO MARRY SOMEONE ELSE.
(I KNOW. YOU – THE WIDOW – ARE QUAKING IN YOUR CUSTOM LEATHER BOOTS. YOU CANNOT BELIEVE IT TO BE SO.)
Your Marquis comes in. He declares his intentions. You feel TERRIBLE because you must turn him away. Your daughter is to be married … TO ANOTHER.
And then he says, before he leaves, that he must put in a good word for your daughter; that she is in love and ought to marry the man of her dreams.
(This device won’t be invented for a good few years – but you are a very forward thinking widow.)
Get this: The Marquis doesn’t want to be your daughter’s HUSBAND. He wants to be her FATHER.
(A line that, really, I never thought I’d have to type.)
I feel as though I could facepalm. My neighbours could facepalm. England – nay, EUROPE – could facepalm. The entire world hears your thoughts and collectively slaps their hands to their foreheads and groans.
Clearly there are two offenders here:
- The Widow … I’m not sure HOW you managed to miss the fact that the man is falling in love with you, but by George you’ve not got it. I’m sure that this obliviousness is Not Unknown in the world so I shall forgive you for it.
- The Marquis … mainly the Marquis … because if the WOMAN THAT YOU ARE COURTING BELIEVES THAT YOU ARE COURTING HER DAUGHTER THEN YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING VERY WRONG.
I foresee a VERY interesting and entertaining future for this couple. Full of charming misunderstandings:
“You mean the man who stopped our carriage in the middle of the night with a GUN wanted to ROB us??!!!?”
“Darling! Of COURSE I think you should buy those gloves – didn’t you realise that when I moved your cup three-quarters of an inch to the left on a full moon on the sixth day of the week last month when the dog barked twice and the footman coughed once? Why! I thought it was as clear as crystal!”
A Husband for Fanny can be found in Snowdrift and Other Stories by Georgette Heyer