Writing Romance in the Era of Downton Abbey

Highlighting Historical Romance with Ginger Monette

Downton Abbey…. It took the world by storm, and I was swept up in the drama of the Crawley family along with everyone else. I was fascinated how the British aristocracy opened their lavish country homes to be used as hospitals for wounded soldiers during WW1. I had just published a fan fiction romance based on characters from Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride & Prejudice and began to daydream, what would happen if the romance between Austen’s Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet unfolded against the dramatic backdrop of World War 1? It was out of those daydreams that my Darcy’s Hope saga was born.

SoldierGoodbyKiss Author's Blog Guest Author But before I could begin writing, I needed to research this unfamiliar era. After all, my knowledge of The Great War consisted of a whopping three details: 1914-1918, trench foot, and trench warfare. Surely research for this fabulous romance I had in mind wouldn’t require more than reading a few diaries, would it? [Rolling eyes in hindsight.] The more I read, the more I realised I didn’t know, and if I wanted to get the details right (and I did), research was going to take a lot more than a few diaries.

Nine months later I emerged from my tiny closet office with over 200 pages of notes on everything from the flowers that bloom in Belgium, to the rules regulating interactions between soldiers and nurses, to the “liberation” of women in wartime. Not only did I feel like a semi-expert on the culture of WWI, but I found the history fascinating and the people inspiring!

I was impressed at the intellect, adaptability, and sheer pluck of the people from our great-parents’ generation. They were a lot smarter than I’d given them credit for. In an era before computers, they were able to keep track of thousands of soldiers on the move and knew the exact location of each wounded soldier as he was transported from aid posts and field hospitals to larger hospitals on the coast of France or back in England. In addition, the British War Department maintained a continuous supply-chain of food, munitions, and equipment for some four million men.

As I read, I found the men themselves to be incredibly inspiring. Machine guns, poison gas, airplanes, and tanks made their debut in WWI inflicting destruction and horrific wounds on an unprecedented scale. Men lived in squalid trenches and saw their comrades dismembered and slaughtered on a daily basis, yet they remained cheerful and self-sacrificing.

3.-eye-prosth.-wiki-Prothese_met_klein_oog_en_bril_item_1--300x190 Author's Blog Guest Author I learned that many of medical advances we take for granted today were developed during The Great War. Sculptors working as medical aides developed prosthetics for disfigured faces. Skilled surgeons pioneered plastic surgery and orthopaedics, while doctors perfected blood transfusion techniques.

However, I was most moved by the way the British people pulled together. Everyone did something to aid in the war effort. Hundreds of women volunteered as nurse’s aides, worked in munitions factories or on farms, while others wrote letters, sent care packages, and knitted socks. Men too old to serve as soldiers became stretcher-bearers and ambulance drivers. They fashioned splints from scrap metal, turned church halls into hospitals, and emptied bedpans. These acts of kindness, big and small, repeated over and over made an enormous difference.

workroom-300x235 Author's Blog Guest Author I found the war wasn’t at all about boring dates, battles, and casualties. It was about people. People who sacrificed—their means, their time, and sometimes their lives for their fellow man. It was about men who lived in constant uncertainty and fear while their sweethearts, wives, and mothers waited and worried at home. They all kept persevering, smiling, giving, and sacrificing. As a result, I have been changed by what I learned. I’m challenged to heed their example—be cheerful amidst trying circumstances and to offer my own small acts of kindness even when they seem insignificant.

As we Americans commemorate our participation in WW1 this year, I challenge all of us to pay attention. Take this opportunity to watch documentaries or even read books like my Darcy’s Hope saga to get a glimpse into the past to better understand what our great-grandfathers experienced and the sacrifices they made. Each man has his own interesting story. And although my Fitzwilliam Darcy is a fictitious character, if you have any interest in Downton Abbey or Austen’s characters, I think you will find his story as told in the Darcy’s Hope saga fascinating as well.

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About the Series:  The Darcy’s Hope Saga

Escape to the era of Downton Abbey and experience all the drama of World War 1 alongside Jane Austen’s iconic Elizabeth Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy. In Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, you’ll watch the couple’s tender love unfold as they learn to work together and reconcile their differences at a field hospital only miles from the Front. Then, in Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey, Darcy is crushed when espionage separates him from Elizabeth and injury leaves him in a dark and silent world. But Donwell Abbey holds a secret that just might change everything….

Cover-188x300 Author's Blog Guest Author ***** 90% of reviews are five star!

“…a stellar example of fine Austenesque literature. …an exceptionally moving story complete with a compelling plot, danger, mystery, action, introspection, vivid detail, and an emotionally wrought romance.” ~Austenesque Reviews

The Darcy’s Hope Saga: 

Vol 1: Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes

Vol 2: Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey

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About the Author

HeadshotGinger-Monette--295x300 Author's Blog Guest Author Author Ginger Monette once aspired to plan marketing strategies for consumer-related products, but ended up as a hotel sales director. Later she became a mom and homeschool curriculum consultant. She lives with her husband, three teenaged children, and two spoiled dogs in Charlotte, North Carolina.

History came alive for her in homeschooling her three children through reading quality historical fiction rather than dull textbooks. But if she had been told she would one day write novels of her own, she would have laughed aloud.

“I fell in love with Pride & Prejudice after watching the 2005 movie adaptation. When a storyline began to consume my thoughts, the words made their way to my laptop and Tree of Life was born–along with a love of writing.”

In 2015 she took the grand prize in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library’s 2015 “Picture This” contest for her flash fiction piece Flanders Field of Grey. She enjoys speaking to groups on a variety of topics from how to choose curriculum to World War 1.

Ginger currently writes riveting romances inspired by Donwton Abbey and Jane Austen. Her use of compelling plot, vivid historical detail, and deep point of view has earned her stellar reviews for her Darcy’s Hope saga and a grand prize for flash fiction. Living in Charlotte, NC, Ginger enjoys Pilates, period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.


*If you love Period Drama or Jane Austen, join Ginger on Facebook at Ginger Monette Author.

*Want to read some incredible first-hand accounts from WW1? Check out my blog Blighty & Beyond online or on Facebook.

2 thoughts on “Writing Romance in the Era of Downton Abbey

  1. Thank you, Caroline! I loved weaving real situations/events from WWI into my Darcy’s Hope saga. Some of the things I “stole” from history include my chateau-turned-hospital setting, a chaplain serving in the operating theatre, and an outlandish story about two men whose observation balloon was shot down, and after a harrowing fall, they both lived to tell about it. But of course my main objective was to give readers a front row seat to watch the unfolding of a beautiful romance.

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Contact Info

Caroline Warfield, Author

Email : info@carolinewarfield.com