Romantic Wednesdays: Making the Roaring 20s Roar

~posted by Marlene H.

What made the Roaring 20s roar? Or in the case of romance, maybe that should be RAWR! Thanks to Downton Abbey, there has been a revival of stories set in the 1920s, and wow!

Not all stories with romance in them are necessarily romances. But romance certainly adds spice to a tale that has plenty of other things going on.

phryne and jack 2My current favorite example is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Set in 1920s Australia, this TV series features a female private investigator who seems to fall into cases, and dead bodies, wherever she goes. But Phryne’s adventures have led her to collaborate, and sometimes work against, Detective Inspector Jack Robinson of the Melborne police. While they solve crimes together, Phryne and Jack have an absolutely simmering chemistry that makes viewers ask themselves: “Will they or won’t they?” (I think the question is “when will they?” myself) But the sparkle of their banter, whether it involves their current crime or the mystery of their relationship, is utterly entrancing.

cocaine blues by kerry greenwoodThe TV series is based on a marvelous book series by Kerry Greenwood, the first of which is Cocaine Blues. The fascinating thing about the books as compared to the TV series is that Phryne’s romantic interests, book-wise, go into an entirely different direction than the TV series. But Phryne is still absolutely captivating, whoever her leading man happens to be.

Speaking of piffle, or speaking piffle, another 1920s-set mystery series that includes a romance (and was also adapted for TV) is Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey series. Wimsey often seems like a 1920s version of the Scarlet Pimpernel, since he hides himself and his fearsome intelligence under the guise of being a completely strong poison by dorothy l sayerslightweight fop. Although he’s not Bertie Wooster, Wimsey is always playing a part. While it has been said that Sayers fell in love with her own creation, in the “series within a series” Strong Poison, Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night, Sayers introduced the novelist Harriet Vane, first as a murder suspect Peter frees, and then as the woman he pursues across multiple cases until she marries him. Their love story amongst the corpses is both intelligent and romantic. (The series has been continued by Jill Paton Walsh, so the fun, and the piffle, are not over).

If you like your romance with just a touch, and I do mean just the teeniest bit, of a paranormal element, Jenn Bennett’s new Roaring 20s series takes place in a 1920s San Francisco filled with bootleggers, speakeasies and bitter spirits by jenn bennettspiritualism. In the first book in the series, Bitter Spirits, a bootlegger under a curse hires a spiritualist-medium to get to the bottom of who cursed him and why. In the process these two wounded souls find love along with a terrible plot to control San Francisco’s sin trade. In the sequel, Grim Shadows, an archaeologist brings a cursed relic back from a dig in Egypt, and then dodges smugglers and con men to find out the secret he’s brought back from the mummies’ tombs.

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