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Mad and Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency

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Discover a feminist pop history that looks beyond the Ton and Jane Austen to highlight the Regency women who succeeded on their own terms and were largely lost to history -- until now. Regency England is a world immortalized by Jane Austen and Lord Byron in their beloved novels and poems. The popular image of the Regency continues to be mythologized by the hundreds of r Discover a feminist pop history that looks beyond the Ton and Jane Austen to highlight the Regency women who succeeded on their own terms and were largely lost to history -- until now. Regency England is a world immortalized by Jane Austen and Lord Byron in their beloved novels and poems. The popular image of the Regency continues to be mythologized by the hundreds of romance novels set in the period, which focus almost exclusively on wealthy, white, Christian members of the upper classes. But there are hundreds of fascinating women who don't fit history books limited perception of what was historically accurate for early 19th century England. Women like Dido Elizabeth Belle, whose mother was a slave but was raised by her white father's family in England, Caroline Herschel, who acted as her brother's assistant as he hunted the heavens for comets, and ended up discovering eight on her own, Anne Lister, who lived on her own terms with her common-law wife at Shibden Hall, and Judith Montefiore, a Jewish woman who wrote the first English language Kosher cookbook. As one of the owners of the successful romance-only bookstore The Ripped Bodice, Bea Koch has had a front row seat to controversies surrounding what is accepted as "historically accurate" for the wildly popular Regency period. Following in the popular footsteps of books like Ann Shen's Bad Girls Throughout History, Koch takes the Regency, one of the most loved and idealized historical time periods and a huge inspiration for American pop culture, and reveals the independent-minded, standard-breaking real historical women who lived life on their terms. She also examines broader questions of culture in chapters that focus on the LGBTQ and Jewish communities, the lives of women of color in the Regency, and women who broke barriers in fields like astronomy and paleontology. In Mad and Bad, we look beyond popular perception of the Regency into the even more vibrant, diverse, and fascinating historical truth.


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Discover a feminist pop history that looks beyond the Ton and Jane Austen to highlight the Regency women who succeeded on their own terms and were largely lost to history -- until now. Regency England is a world immortalized by Jane Austen and Lord Byron in their beloved novels and poems. The popular image of the Regency continues to be mythologized by the hundreds of r Discover a feminist pop history that looks beyond the Ton and Jane Austen to highlight the Regency women who succeeded on their own terms and were largely lost to history -- until now. Regency England is a world immortalized by Jane Austen and Lord Byron in their beloved novels and poems. The popular image of the Regency continues to be mythologized by the hundreds of romance novels set in the period, which focus almost exclusively on wealthy, white, Christian members of the upper classes. But there are hundreds of fascinating women who don't fit history books limited perception of what was historically accurate for early 19th century England. Women like Dido Elizabeth Belle, whose mother was a slave but was raised by her white father's family in England, Caroline Herschel, who acted as her brother's assistant as he hunted the heavens for comets, and ended up discovering eight on her own, Anne Lister, who lived on her own terms with her common-law wife at Shibden Hall, and Judith Montefiore, a Jewish woman who wrote the first English language Kosher cookbook. As one of the owners of the successful romance-only bookstore The Ripped Bodice, Bea Koch has had a front row seat to controversies surrounding what is accepted as "historically accurate" for the wildly popular Regency period. Following in the popular footsteps of books like Ann Shen's Bad Girls Throughout History, Koch takes the Regency, one of the most loved and idealized historical time periods and a huge inspiration for American pop culture, and reveals the independent-minded, standard-breaking real historical women who lived life on their terms. She also examines broader questions of culture in chapters that focus on the LGBTQ and Jewish communities, the lives of women of color in the Regency, and women who broke barriers in fields like astronomy and paleontology. In Mad and Bad, we look beyond popular perception of the Regency into the even more vibrant, diverse, and fascinating historical truth.

30 review for Mad and Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    How about this blurb: “Discover a feminist pop history that looks beyond the Ton and Jane Austen to highlight the Regency women who succeeded on their own terms and were largely lost to history -- until now.” Yeah, I loved this. I've not read a wealth of regency romance, but I’m always fascinated with regency England from a historical perspective. Jane Austen and Lord Byron? I’m in. The women mentioned? Of course I had not heard of them before. There are many untold stories of brave and bold women How about this blurb: “Discover a feminist pop history that looks beyond the Ton and Jane Austen to highlight the Regency women who succeeded on their own terms and were largely lost to history -- until now.” Yeah, I loved this. I've not read a wealth of regency romance, but I’m always fascinated with regency England from a historical perspective. Jane Austen and Lord Byron? I’m in. The women mentioned? Of course I had not heard of them before. There are many untold stories of brave and bold women, and I’m so grateful Bea Koch, one of the owners of The Ripped Bodice bookstore, took on this fascinating project. It turns out the true women of the Regency were even more vibrant and diverse than we ever expected. So much fun and well-written, I highly recommend this one. I received a gifted copy. All opinions are my own. Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader

  2. 5 out of 5

    Linden

    “The real heroines of the Regency aren’t empty-headed heiresses or scheming mamas—they’re intelligent, talented artists, thinkers, scientists, and so much more” says the author of this new book about women of the Regency period in England. (Jane Austen wrote during this time, and the historical novels of Georgette Heyer are set during this period.) One of the more interesting topics covered are women of color during the Regency period. Recommended reading lists are presented at the end of each s “The real heroines of the Regency aren’t empty-headed heiresses or scheming mamas—they’re intelligent, talented artists, thinkers, scientists, and so much more” says the author of this new book about women of the Regency period in England. (Jane Austen wrote during this time, and the historical novels of Georgette Heyer are set during this period.) One of the more interesting topics covered are women of color during the Regency period. Recommended reading lists are presented at the end of each section instead of at the end of this book, which seems intended to provide readers of Regency romances with some background of the women mentioned in these novels. Readers looking for more in-depth information might be better served elsewhere. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.

  3. 5 out of 5

    The Library Lady

    The author of this runs a romance novels only bookstore and is well connected in the book trade, and I assume that is the explanation of how such a mediocre book got into print. It is being described as "feminist" and "pop history," and neither genre deserves to get stuck claiming this book as an example of that sort of work. What you have here is a series of decently researched high school term papers on women in Regency England. You get mini bio after mini bio, reciting the facts of that person The author of this runs a romance novels only bookstore and is well connected in the book trade, and I assume that is the explanation of how such a mediocre book got into print. It is being described as "feminist" and "pop history," and neither genre deserves to get stuck claiming this book as an example of that sort of work. What you have here is a series of decently researched high school term papers on women in Regency England. You get mini bio after mini bio, reciting the facts of that person's life, with little to make you really get to know them as more than the literary equivalent of baseball cards. The language is readable, but the tone is cutesy. The bibliographies at the end of each chapter include movies, and several chapters use film references to support whatever argument she is trying to make-- without allowing for the fact that the films in question don't always stick to written history. I'll sum up by saying that this reads like a work researched by Mary Bennett and written up by her sister Lydia. And that is not a compliment. P.S. Speaking as someone who is the mother of 2 daughters, if the author can explain how she has given birth to a dog, I'd really like to know how she did it. "Dog mother!" SNORT!!!

  4. 5 out of 5

    CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian

    Sadly this is just not very good. The writing is awkward and the paragraph breaks make no sense. Although the content could be very interesting, it's presented in a generic flat way, like a first year university course essay, right down to the excessive use of direct quotations. Too bad, I was excited about this one 🙁

  5. 5 out of 5

    Simone

    I'm pretty sure that this author got this book deal because she owns a bookstore. That's the only possible reason why anyone would publish this unsophisticated book about a time that is so well-documented and richly nuanced. The Regency is such an important time in history, especially for women's issues -- it's a time that really marks the movement from womanhood as domestic to women in the world. We see the rise of scientists, mathematicians, political movers and shakers and many others, and Ko I'm pretty sure that this author got this book deal because she owns a bookstore. That's the only possible reason why anyone would publish this unsophisticated book about a time that is so well-documented and richly nuanced. The Regency is such an important time in history, especially for women's issues -- it's a time that really marks the movement from womanhood as domestic to women in the world. We see the rise of scientists, mathematicians, political movers and shakers and many others, and Koch seems to have had trouble finding many of these powerful, influential women. Instead, a book that purports to be feminist and about women begins (literally -- first sentence/page) with Lord Byron? What an odd choice. Every woman is given 3-5 pages and the entries honestly read as wikipedia entries -- there's nothing new or thoughtful about the characters, and no sense of how they fit into the context either of the time or now, in hindsight. Koch is a romance lover, but doesn't ever do any significant thinking about the relevance or power of the Regency in the genre. But what is truly devastating about the project is this -- it has no interest in being historical. Koch appears to have spent most of her time researching on Wikipedia and by watching....movies? Dido Belle has an entry, and an entire page of it quotes and pontificates on a fictionalized adaptation of her life? It's so weird, it reads like a middle school history paper. There is one shocking entry, however, that really spoke to how poorly researched this book is: In a later chapter of the book, Koch separates out three women as women of color in the Regency. Leaving aside the fact that these women are 1) separated out and 2) there are only three, while there are more in the chapter about mistresses (how?!), the worst bit is this: she uses Princess Caraboo as one of the examples of women of color in the Regency. Princess Caraboo was a white Englishwoman who pretended to be a foreign princess and duped an entire English village. It's a fabulous story, and Koch makes the argument that Caraboo pretending to be a woman of color means that history is not as white as we often make it out to be. It's an important point, and one that the other two women in the chapter make without question (film adaptations as primary source material aside). Except...here's the thing...Caraboo didn't pretend to be of color. Indeed, in all the research on Caraboo, including portraits and reams and reams of interviews and coverage of her pulling the wool over the eyes of a whole village, there is no discussion of her dying her skin or wearing any kind of makeup at all to darken her skin. She spoke a "foreign" language, and wore a turban, and that was that. Anyone who had done real research would have discovered that -- it's one of the most discussed issues about Caraboo's story among experts from the time. Historical fact aside, why Koch chose to highlight a white charlatan instead of any number of remarkable women of color of the time is truly bizarre. The writing is uninteresting, the research is atrocious, and the book, which so many romance readers would surely love if it were well executed, is the exact opposite.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    If Regency bodice-rippers are your gateway drug to women’s history, let this be a beginner’s guide to the topic. Koch introduces a number of Regency era women to the uninitiated. If you’re expecting something deep and absorbing and you have more than a passing familiarity with the history of the era, this book is not for you. If, you’re new to the subject and want a guidebook to learning kore, Koch more than gets the job done. Here’s hoping more novices take this book and run with it! Received fr If Regency bodice-rippers are your gateway drug to women’s history, let this be a beginner’s guide to the topic. Koch introduces a number of Regency era women to the uninitiated. If you’re expecting something deep and absorbing and you have more than a passing familiarity with the history of the era, this book is not for you. If, you’re new to the subject and want a guidebook to learning kore, Koch more than gets the job done. Here’s hoping more novices take this book and run with it! Received from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Trianna/Treereads

    This one started a little rocky for me, the writing was a bit disjointed and there was a ton of info. But, as we went along I really started enjoying it. The chapters on women in STEM and queer women were my favorites, but each chapter is important and informative. I truly appreciate how Bea Koch looks at women as multidimensional people. She is correct in pointing out that often women in history are reduced to their status as "mistress" or "lady" and looked at as individuals, while they often a This one started a little rocky for me, the writing was a bit disjointed and there was a ton of info. But, as we went along I really started enjoying it. The chapters on women in STEM and queer women were my favorites, but each chapter is important and informative. I truly appreciate how Bea Koch looks at women as multidimensional people. She is correct in pointing out that often women in history are reduced to their status as "mistress" or "lady" and looked at as individuals, while they often are so much more than just their titles and often have their own circles that are not looked at. I was surprised at all the connections between the women featured. I also loved all the the connections to romance novels! Overall, I really enjoyed this one. It can be quite dense in parts, but if you are interested in history I recommend it. *Thanks to the publisher for a finished copy in exchange for an honest review*

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Mad and Bad is a mash up of Regency history and the media that popularizes it. So often we view Regency women through the lens of how they're portrayed through historical romance books or movies like Pride and Prejudice or Emma. Women can seem one note... virginal, quiet, frivolous, stifled. This book sheds a light on the various types of women who broke the mold through art and science, espionage, or who they dared to love. Each chapter is broken up into a category and it then dives into sharing Mad and Bad is a mash up of Regency history and the media that popularizes it. So often we view Regency women through the lens of how they're portrayed through historical romance books or movies like Pride and Prejudice or Emma. Women can seem one note... virginal, quiet, frivolous, stifled. This book sheds a light on the various types of women who broke the mold through art and science, espionage, or who they dared to love. Each chapter is broken up into a category and it then dives into sharing stories of women who fit that category. There's one on royalty (Queen Charlotte, Princess Caroline, Princess Charlotte); one on mistresses (where it seeks vengeance for the often ridiculed Caroline Lamb); one on Black women who lived in and impacted the Regency, featuring Dido Elizabeth Belle (the illegitimate daughter of a British officer who was raised by her father's uncle in England) and Mary Seacole (a nurse from Jamaica who traveled and worked all over the world, whose accomplishments are often overshadowed by Florence Nightingale's). I enjoyed the commentary Bea Koch provided of how often women from history are reduced to one thing: a lady, a sister, a caretaker, a mother, a helper, a mistress. Women are complex, and yet they are a footnote in stories of history that include them. While the author does not deep dive into any one woman, she lights a spark of interest for applicable readers. — I've seen several other reviewers remark that the short biographies we get in each chapter are not researched enough, or read like Wikipedia articles. I think this is noting that the biographies we get for each woman are rather short, like Wikipedia entries. We don't get an in-depth history of each woman, but that's the point - this book acts as a jumping off point, a way to honor and spotlight women who aren't as well known as their male (or, in some cases, white) counterparts. This book probably won't suit for people who have no interest in history, or in this period of history. Or, alternately, people who know a lot about this period of history may find it underwhelming - or if they're more interested in historical events rather than people. Same for people who enjoy history but don't like historical romance because it's "inaccurate". For those interested in the Regency era or those who read historical romance, this a great non-fiction read. It allows readers to read about women who were likely the inspiration for some author's characters (there is a geologist reminiscent of Minerva Highwood from A Week to be Wicked!). I liked the "recommended reading" at the end of each section, and that she included historical romances. I could go on a tangent on how historical romances impact history and are important to history but... I'll save that for another time and place. (But I will say those who think historical romances or movies/TV set in history are completely inaccurate don't look at books written in those time periods. Pride and Prejudice was written in the Regency and features an out of class marriage while ignoring other ugly realities of the era - like chamber pots and infrequent bathing. Art always romanticizes history but that doesn't mean it's worthless to it.) — I do want to list what I feel are valid criticisms for this book. I wish women of color would have been more heavily featured, and not just one chapter. So often history and historical romance is white washed, and we as readers need to question that and ask for more from historians, writers, media producers… There was one chapter that featured women of color (Black women), and three entries in that chapter, compared to other chapters that got more women featured. Out of these three women, two were Black - the other was a white woman pretending to be a foreign born ("ethnic" or exotic) princess. Perhaps hers could have been written into a chapter on criminals or infamous women of the Regency, rather than Black women. I think the editing on this book could have been a bit tighter. In the chapter on Jewish women, there was a note about a woman, Rachel Lazarus, who wrote to a writer about the anti-semitism in her work. It says the author responded, the pair struck up a friendship, and the author attempted to 'write' her wrongs in a later book - Harrington (1817). However later, this is rehashed twice. (Two pages later: "Both Maria and her father responded to Rachel's letter. ... Maria goes a step further. She tells Rachel she is writing a new book to make up for her past mistakes and asks if she might send a copy to her for perusal when it's done." And two pages after that they again talk about the book Harrington.) — Overall, this is a fun, fascinating, light read about women from the Regency era. This is not a be-all, end-all history book but provides insight to female friendships and accomplishments and is both a great introduction to the time period or something for those who want to dive deeper into learning about the Regency.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    2.5 This review is based on an ARC ebook received for free from NetGalley. I am not being paid to review this book and what I write here is my own opinion. My rating scale is below. review Bea Koch, one of the owners of the Ripped Bodice, a bookshop specializing in the romance genre, researches and reports on the women of the English Regency Era in this highly readable volume. Her research takes a broader view of the Regency Era, rather than limiting it to the 10 year period between 1810 and 1820 w 2.5 This review is based on an ARC ebook received for free from NetGalley. I am not being paid to review this book and what I write here is my own opinion. My rating scale is below. review Bea Koch, one of the owners of the Ripped Bodice, a bookshop specializing in the romance genre, researches and reports on the women of the English Regency Era in this highly readable volume. Her research takes a broader view of the Regency Era, rather than limiting it to the 10 year period between 1810 and 1820 when George IV served as George III’s regent. It covers portions of the Georgian and Victorian Eras as well. As one would expect, this book begins with a discussion of the Ton, specifically Almack’s and its patronesses and then moves onto the royal women of the period who, Koch writes, tended not to rely on each other, but rather on small circles of peers and advisors. It makes sense to begin here, because it is this crowd that is the main topic of discussion in Regency romance novels. From the legitimate members of the nobility, Koch moves onto mistresses. There’s a good deal of overlap between the groups. Koch takes pains to bring her selected mistresses’ other accomplishments to light, rather than solely highlighting the salacious bedroom gossip surrounding them. This is a deliberate authorial decision aimed at combating the tendency to limit mistresses to their romantic affairs and thereby overlook or ignore other aspects of their lives. There are several chapters devoted to the accomplishments and struggles of female entrepreneurs, artists, and scientists. These are all remarkable in spite of the stifling age into which they were born. It was interesting in particular to learn about the first woman in England to receive an official government position (Caroline Herschel). The final chapters examine queer women and the difficulties of labeling women such, conceptions of historical accuracy and race in the Regency, and finally Judaism in the Regency. There are figures at the end of every chapter, often contemporary cartoons or artwork depicting the women under discussion. There are also several works of recommended reading for those who wish to learn more, and it would be a surprise if most readers didn’t come away with at least one name to look up. Koch’s research was thorough, but in distilling it for brevity and readability she left a lot to pique readers’ interest. This was an intriguing look at an era in history which has come to be defined by fiction, and would make a great read for feminists, historians, and readers of Regency romances (which is not to say that one person cannot be all of those things or a combination of those things, people do contain multitudes, after all). Additionally, I imagine it would get a lot of reading in a library collection, or make for an edifying textbook in a survey course. rating scale 1 star - I was barely able to finish it. I didn't like it. 2 stars - It was okay. I didn't dislike it. 3 stars - It was interesting. I liked it. 4 stars - It was excellent. I really liked it. 5 stars - It was extraordinary. I really hope the author wrote more things.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Louise

    The Regency period of British History has long fascinated pop culture -- most notably in the form of Regency Romances a sub-genre of Historical Romance that can and does dominate the marketplace. Perhaps it's for that reason that Bea Koch, the owner of the Ripped Bodice bookstore (a store that only sells romance novels), wrote this book. Mad and Bad is a quick trip through a few luminaries from a broad spectrum of "types of women" like Mistresses or Artists or the Patronesses of Almack's. And I The Regency period of British History has long fascinated pop culture -- most notably in the form of Regency Romances a sub-genre of Historical Romance that can and does dominate the marketplace. Perhaps it's for that reason that Bea Koch, the owner of the Ripped Bodice bookstore (a store that only sells romance novels), wrote this book. Mad and Bad is a quick trip through a few luminaries from a broad spectrum of "types of women" like Mistresses or Artists or the Patronesses of Almack's. And I do mean quick trip. Essentially this book features a bunch of snapshots of some of the more prominent historical women of the time period. The biographies of these women are brief... about the size of a Wikipedia article... and don't go into a lot of depth. What you get is a taste, an amuse bouche, of these women's lives. But it's not really a filling meal... As a lover of both history and Historical Romance, I was really looking forward to reading this book. There are so many fascinating women in the regency featured in this book including two of my personal favorites: Mary Anning and Emma Hamilton. I was happy with their inclusion along with the inclusion of other awesome women who I've only a passing familiarity with, but I found the execution wanting. As in I wanted more. For example, I was excited to read about the patronesses of Almack's -- these monoliths have appeared or have been mentioned in many a Regency Romance and I have long wanted to learn the truth. And while I enjoyed this section, some of the Patronesses were left out and some of those who were featured didn't get much more than a quick summary of their life. It made me hungry for more. I appreciated that the author acknowledged that the Regency was less white, less straight, and less Christian than most people think. But again, I wanted more. Her section on Jewish Women in the Regency was one of her best, and I'm definitely going to be looking into more of these awesome Jewish Women. But it wasn't the meaty morsel I want out of my non-fiction. But that's not the only problem I had with this book, in her section on Women of Color in the Regency, the author, I feel, made a large misstep. The section only focused on three women: Dido Elizabeth Belle, Mary Seapole, and Princess Caraboo. The last one isn't even a woman of color, but a con-artist who pretended to be an "exotic foreign princess" to make money and mooch off of people. It didn't leave a good taste in my mouth. I'd have liked to have seen more women of color, including those from the Indian Subcontinent, featured rather than the Rachel Dolezal of the Regency. On top of that misstep, the book wasn't laid out in a logical fashion. In many instances, the book would interrupt it's quick dive into its featured woman to talk about someone else... most of the time another woman, but in one instance a man. I found it confusing... more suited to a footnote than a large interruption. I don't know if the final book will feature a Bibliography, the ARC I was provided was clearly unfinished and didn't have one. There is at the end of each section a list of Recommended Reading/Watching at the back, but it's not a bibliography. Not really. It features Movies, TV shows, and Romance Novels in addition to non-fiction sources. So did I learn anything? Yes, I absolutely did. But was it more than I would have gotten from a Wikipedia Article on the subject, I'm not sure. So because of that, and because of the other problems I did have with this text. I'm going to give this: Two Stars. I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    There are so many amazing women in history, and what you learned in school only scratches the surface. • Bea Koch’s Mad and Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency explores women’s contributions to the Regency period. Koch, a co-owner of The Ripped Bodice romance bookstote in Los Angeles, sells and reads a ton of Regency romances a year, so it’s only fitting that she explores the real-life heroines who inspired the fiction. • I absolutely loved the bite-size biographies. Koch ends each chapter with a reco There are so many amazing women in history, and what you learned in school only scratches the surface. • Bea Koch’s Mad and Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency explores women’s contributions to the Regency period. Koch, a co-owner of The Ripped Bodice romance bookstote in Los Angeles, sells and reads a ton of Regency romances a year, so it’s only fitting that she explores the real-life heroines who inspired the fiction. • I absolutely loved the bite-size biographies. Koch ends each chapter with a recommended reading list, which means the reader gets just enough to be fully interested in each woman and has easy access to more in-depth factual information and similar fiction romance titles. The organization of the chapters is well done and easy to follow, especially for a Regency period newbie like me. These women are all awesome and absolutely fascinating! • I love that Koch dedicated chapters to highlight women of color, Jewish women, and queer women of the period. I wish there were more than two women of color featured, however as Koch explains, the historical record from the time is still extremely whitewashed and their stories are still in the process of being uncovered. Overall, I learned a ton about the Regency period, and I really appreciate Koch’s approach to exploring history that encourages contextualizing that decade with the periods before and after. This book has got me on a quest to learn more about fantastic women from all eras of history! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ • Mad and Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency was released on September 1st and is available now! Thank you to @grandcentralpub for sending me a finished copy in exchange for my honest review. • Follow me on Instagram & Twitter @whatalexreads for book reviews, recommendations, and more!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Zoe

    Light, insightful, and fun! Mad & Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency is an informative, intriguing look into the importance and influence of a bold, noteworthy set of women from the regency period on the literature we indulge in and enjoy every day. The writing is educative and descriptive. The characters are intelligent, independent, and driven. And the novel is a fascinating, enlightening tale about the intricacies of the higher echelons of Regency society and the women who were plucky enough to Light, insightful, and fun! Mad & Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency is an informative, intriguing look into the importance and influence of a bold, noteworthy set of women from the regency period on the literature we indulge in and enjoy every day. The writing is educative and descriptive. The characters are intelligent, independent, and driven. And the novel is a fascinating, enlightening tale about the intricacies of the higher echelons of Regency society and the women who were plucky enough to pave the way for the feminist ideals of today. Overall, I found Mad & Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency to be a quick, easy, fascinating treat full of facts and illustrations of a group of women who were certainly ahead of their time and without a doubt an inspiration for us all. Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carly

    A solid primer for anyone looking to know more about the Regency and the women who existed in all manner of society circles throughout that time period! I'm not very well-versed in it, personally, so it proved to be a very educational and entertaining read that didn't necessarily go too in-depth on its subjects. A lot of figures I either wasn't familiar with or had never heard of at all, so I appreciated the accessibility of the writing and the clear passion the author has for her subject (as we A solid primer for anyone looking to know more about the Regency and the women who existed in all manner of society circles throughout that time period! I'm not very well-versed in it, personally, so it proved to be a very educational and entertaining read that didn't necessarily go too in-depth on its subjects. A lot of figures I either wasn't familiar with or had never heard of at all, so I appreciated the accessibility of the writing and the clear passion the author has for her subject (as well as all the books she lists as recommended reads!). I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Bayer

    This book really intrigued me but I couldn't get into it. It read like a long list of biographies of people I'd (mostly) never heard of, and lacked a real sense of story-telling or intrigue. I assumed that it was well researched but other reviewers have really eviscerated it so I'm no longer sure. As someone who loves history and loves learning about lesser known people from history, I expected to love it but it missed the mark for me. I read a temporary digital ARC of this book for review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rhode

    Enjoyable, readable and fast-paced women’s history. Recommended as an entertaining backgrounder for anyone who never learned this history and for handy, quotable use by those who are battling “but historic realism” NWLs (nice white ladies). As a collector of books on women’s history, I found this book itself, as an object in the history of people writing books about women’s history, noteworthy. The second wave feminist histories were denser, heavier doorstops positioned as scholarly work with le Enjoyable, readable and fast-paced women’s history. Recommended as an entertaining backgrounder for anyone who never learned this history and for handy, quotable use by those who are battling “but historic realism” NWLs (nice white ladies). As a collector of books on women’s history, I found this book itself, as an object in the history of people writing books about women’s history, noteworthy. The second wave feminist histories were denser, heavier doorstops positioned as scholarly work with legions of details and footnotes acting as armor in the battle to be taken seriously and believed at all. Then came a pop culture versions of the 90s that were fluffy and filled with zap-pow graphics and modern slang to make them relatable. This latest version, written by a millennial feminist, is a kind of mash up of these styles. It’s serious but digestible. The illustrations are a few photos of primary source paintings and materials at the ends of chapters instead of cartoonish pictures within the text. If you want to know more, there are source footnotes in an appendix. Also, it makes a concerted effort to address diversity such as WOC, sapphic women and Jewish women, who were often left on the cutting room floor in the books of our foremothers. For what it is and what its goals are, this is a good effort with a fun cover.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jessica (the naptime writer)

    I love history—reading about things people have used & made, what they valued, who they were secretly or not so secretly sleeping with. All of those things really interest me 👀. . . So when I saw the fun, arresting cover of Bea Koch’s Mad & Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency, I knew I wanted to pick it up. . . Focusing on British women primarily in the Regency period (1810-1820), M&B offers a compelling glimpse into the biographies of often forgotten or overlooked women of the period & calls our attent I love history—reading about things people have used & made, what they valued, who they were secretly or not so secretly sleeping with. All of those things really interest me 👀. . . So when I saw the fun, arresting cover of Bea Koch’s Mad & Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency, I knew I wanted to pick it up. . . Focusing on British women primarily in the Regency period (1810-1820), M&B offers a compelling glimpse into the biographies of often forgotten or overlooked women of the period & calls our attention to how they lifted *each other* up & passed along what advantages they could. . . I learned a lot from this quick read & I love how Bea places the women she focuses on within the specific time she’s considering but also in light of the current way romance novel heroines are written. Think that some romance novel heroines are unrealistic? Check out Bea’s book-she has something to tell you 🤣. . . If you are a fellow layperson like me, someone who doesn’t know a lot about the Regency period beyond the basics, I think you’ll enjoy this one. I do feel like there are some possible generalizations in there, & sometimes I wanted more depth instead of so many biographical vignettes, but M&B is a passionately told, entertaining female-focused history that I feel like will enhance my understanding of romance novel heroines & I love that. . . 3.5⭐️. Thanks to Forever Pub & Grand Central Pub for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Silvana [The Book Voyagers]

    Mad and Bad: Real Heroine of the Regency is an introduction to the ladies who lived in that period. I loved the prologue because yes, we know and are taught (in school mostly) (or well, that's me personally studying Literature in college) about all the great writers and leaders from the Regency-- all of them men. But never really go too deep or mention at all the women who were also leaders, game changers, poets and artists. "The wife of..." is always the sentence where they are mentioned and th Mad and Bad: Real Heroine of the Regency is an introduction to the ladies who lived in that period. I loved the prologue because yes, we know and are taught (in school mostly) (or well, that's me personally studying Literature in college) about all the great writers and leaders from the Regency-- all of them men. But never really go too deep or mention at all the women who were also leaders, game changers, poets and artists. "The wife of..." is always the sentence where they are mentioned and that's not it. So what Bea Koch shows us in this lovely book is the real heroines that had and still have an impact today. I say it's an introduction because the book gives us descriptions and biographies of each of these ladies. If you didn't know about them, like me, this new information will be amazing. But I'm sure many have researched and probably know more about the topic, so I don't know if this book will give them new stuff to know, you know? But for me, it was a really great book! Royalty, sculptors, poets, famous mistresses, and so many ladies that stood at the top of their game. The mention of romance novels throughout the book was a lovely touch and made me go all "woaaah I know that novel, and that one" and so on.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    Thank you to Morgan at Grand Central Publishing and the author for the review copy. All opinions in this review are my own. Before I write about anything else, I want to take a second to appreciate how awesome this cover is! The good news is Mad & Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency is just as amazing as its cover! Each chapter of Mad & Bad focuses on a group of women from the Regency, which history has either ignored or turned into footnotes in the stories of men. Koch also discusses how the group Thank you to Morgan at Grand Central Publishing and the author for the review copy. All opinions in this review are my own. Before I write about anything else, I want to take a second to appreciate how awesome this cover is! The good news is Mad & Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency is just as amazing as its cover! Each chapter of Mad & Bad focuses on a group of women from the Regency, which history has either ignored or turned into footnotes in the stories of men. Koch also discusses how the group is represented in Regency romance novels. I love that each chapter has resources at the end for further reading. These lists offer both history books as well as romance novels. Also, Koch owns her own bookstore devoted entirely to romance novels called The Ripped Bodice. I will definitely be adding it to my bookstores to visit list!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katie Bogdan

    5 stars Do you love Jane Austen? Do you love Regency romance? If so, then you have to read this book. So much of what we know about the Regency has been filtered through a very specific white, male lens. Mad and Bad peels back that veil to reveal the period in all of its multicultural and complex glory. The stories of trailblazing women like Mary Anning, Anne Lister, and Caroline Lamb are framed through the greater context of how women really lived during the Regency and it is an absolute wonder t 5 stars Do you love Jane Austen? Do you love Regency romance? If so, then you have to read this book. So much of what we know about the Regency has been filtered through a very specific white, male lens. Mad and Bad peels back that veil to reveal the period in all of its multicultural and complex glory. The stories of trailblazing women like Mary Anning, Anne Lister, and Caroline Lamb are framed through the greater context of how women really lived during the Regency and it is an absolute wonder to behold. As the owner of a bookshop dedicated to romance, author Bea Koch offers a unique perspective on the material. and often discusses how literature written about the Regency period has shaped our understanding of it for better or for worse. Best of all, she offers recommendations that cover a diverse scope of badass heroines at the end of every chapter. This book is an absolute must-have for historians, romance readers, and strong women everywhere. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jaime Arkin

    3.5 stars! Loved this glimpse at some ladies that we just don’t hear enough about! I would have loved if this dived a bit deeper because I felt like it just skimmed the surfaces of most of these women! Check this one out if you love history and want to learn the names of some women in the regency that made some waves!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tessa Buckley

    This book is about the aristocrats, mistresses, actresses, women of colour, scientists, lesbians and fraudsters who are either glossed over or misrepresented in standard historical biographies. For anyone who is used to reading regency romances, it is illuminating to discover what diverse lives the women of this period led. An interesting book, which I was sorry to finish.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amy Andrews

    Some chapters are more interesting than others, but overall this is a very accessible set of bitesize biographies of some of the Regency's most interesting and unique women. Not extensive by any means, but probably a good place to start if you want to dip your toe in to the feminist angles of the era.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alex Richey

    This audiobook is both a love letter to romance novels set in Regency England and a historical analysis of the women who lived during that time. Narrator Rengin Altay's amiable performance creates an approachable listen as she details women that most of history has forgotten. Many Regency romance novels feature white women with wealth, and several sections of this work discuss women such as these who managed to live more independently. Also included are chapters on women who go beyond the popula This audiobook is both a love letter to romance novels set in Regency England and a historical analysis of the women who lived during that time. Narrator Rengin Altay's amiable performance creates an approachable listen as she details women that most of history has forgotten. Many Regency romance novels feature white women with wealth, and several sections of this work discuss women such as these who managed to live more independently. Also included are chapters on women who go beyond the popular perception of Regency heroines, including lesbian and Jewish women, women of color, and scientists. Historical romance listeners, especially fans of Jane Austen, will find the many brief biographies fascinating. A.K.R. © AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine [Published: OCTOBER 2020] From my AudioFile Magazine Review of the audiobook performance.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anne Morgan

    When we think of the phrase "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" we think (of course) of Lord Byron and the men like him: dangerous rakes who could seduce a woman with a glance. But in Mad and Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency, author Bea Koch turns this idea on its head by examining Regency England through the women who did't meet the stereotype of a demure Regency miss. Koch refutes critics who bash Regency romances, claiming the historic time period is window dressing for stories with far too 'm When we think of the phrase "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" we think (of course) of Lord Byron and the men like him: dangerous rakes who could seduce a woman with a glance. But in Mad and Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency, author Bea Koch turns this idea on its head by examining Regency England through the women who did't meet the stereotype of a demure Regency miss. Koch refutes critics who bash Regency romances, claiming the historic time period is window dressing for stories with far too 'modern' heroines, by introducing us to real Regency heroines, from Lady Jersey and Caroline Lamb to DIdo Elizabeth Belle and Caroline Herschel. Among the contradictory aspects of the Regency, sex and decorum are at the top of the list. So it is only natural that Koch starts Mad and Bad with some of the real "bad girls" of the era- women who pushed against Society's rules to be influential mistresses of royalty or highly placed politicians. Any reader of Regency romance knows Almack's Assemblies and the strict and starchy Patronesses who ruled Polite Society. But Koch gives us the behind-the-scenes stories of their affairs and intrigues that would shock any debutante. How many Patronesses slept with the Prince Regent? Or with each other's husbands? Who really ruled the ambassadorial home (and work) of Count and Princess Lieven? Once she has hooked you with sex, Koch introduces us to women who might not be shocking by today's standards, but certainly didn't fit the stereotypical Regency mold. Artists, authors, and actresses the reader may know by name are fleshed out into real people following their muse. Female scientists, astronomers, and geologists struggle to be recognized in a man's world. Today we think of movies or books that add LGBTQ and non-white characters as being "politically correct"- Koch introduces us to famous, infamous, and relatively unknown, but true life, LGBTQ and non-white people living in Regency England. Koch looks past the scandalous reputations women like Caroline Lamb have to try and find the real woman behind the myth, to put them in context of the times, and to show us the networks of women (and sometimes men) who supported them. The writing style of Mad and Bad is relaxed and informal, the people are introduced in relatively short pieces, as the book itself is not designed to be in-depth biographies. Instead, it is an introduction to a world many readers might not have known even existed, and an introduction to the people who may become the forefront of history as we ask new questions about the "real" Regency England. Koch provides the reader with plenty of 'recommended reading' and bibliographies to access more in-depth histories of any of the individuals who particularly grasp your attention, and I know my own "to read" list about doubled because of this! My only complaint was the tendency towards repetition, a little more editing would have pushed this review from 4 to 5 stars easily. An excellent introduction to a few of the strong women of Regency England who helped pave the way for women to this day. I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    An introduction to some of the real women who lived during the Regency period. Regency romances focus on happy marriages. This book show some of the reality: marriages arranged by families, usually for family benefit, sometimes thinking of the benefit of the girl involved, but usually only financial or societal, not personal. Lots of unhappy marriages. Some women were able to live life on their own terms, but often at a price: social isolation and sometimes ostracism. Chapters are: Introduction t An introduction to some of the real women who lived during the Regency period. Regency romances focus on happy marriages. This book show some of the reality: marriages arranged by families, usually for family benefit, sometimes thinking of the benefit of the girl involved, but usually only financial or societal, not personal. Lots of unhappy marriages. Some women were able to live life on their own terms, but often at a price: social isolation and sometimes ostracism. Chapters are: Introduction to the Regency world and why we're here; The Ton: either you're in or your out; Game of thrones (royal women); Mistresses; The family business: artistic families; Our STEM foremothers; The fairer sex (lesbians and other non-traditional relationships with women); Historical accuracy and Regency England (women of color); Educators and ambassadors: Jewish women in the Regency; Our Regency. Most chapters have one or two black-and-white illustrations at the end that are referred to in the text. There's also a bibliography pertaining to the chapter, which includes romance novels, often series, that touch on the topic. This book reminds us that Regency England wasn't just Christian white women marrying Christian white men. There were Jewish and mixed-race people in England. Some women had ambitions: literary, artistic, scientific and were able to follow up on these desires. Women weren't isolated one-offs. They had friends and relatives that they corresponded with or met with to share their abilities and learning. I'm a little doubtful of some of the accuracy. In the chapter on mistresses, Emma Hamilton plays a large role. The text refers to an illustration that supposedly depicts her, but the caption calls her Emma Hart. Also in the same narrative, one of her lovers is Horatio Nelson, who was referred to as a famous general. Anybody who knows anything about the period should know that Nelson was a famous admiral. General and admiral are similar ranks, but in very different fields. What else did she get wrong that her editor didn't catch and fix? A good reminder of women we don't hear much about and perhaps a start to further research.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Mad and Bad was one of my most hyped books of the year, especially since I’ve fully converted to a guns-blazing fighter against anyone who weaponizes the term “historical accuracy” against women and marginalized folks, who were in fact doing things in history, in spite of being obscured. And while it definitely feels a little overly simplistic, I still felt like it served its purpose of reminding me (a I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Mad and Bad was one of my most hyped books of the year, especially since I’ve fully converted to a guns-blazing fighter against anyone who weaponizes the term “historical accuracy” against women and marginalized folks, who were in fact doing things in history, in spite of being obscured. And while it definitely feels a little overly simplistic, I still felt like it served its purpose of reminding me (and hopefully others) that women (including women of color, LGBTQ+, and Jewish women) were contributing members of society during the Regency, just as much as many recent historical romance novels claim, and even touching on some topics I hadn’t learned that much about and doing so in a manner that is fairly approachable. I appreciated Koch making a statement about the Bridgerton casting, as a major example of wrongful use of the term “historical accuracy,” prior to exploring the lives of the real BIPOC who lived during the Regency. And while it’s hardly the only case of racism in the name of “historical accuracy” (Adriana Herrera came through like Queen on Twitter this past week in the latest dust-up), this is a reminder that Black people’s presence didn’t magically happen in the civil rights era. Other great moments were the chapter on early women in STEM, which was even more plentiful than I thought (and I knew of at least a couple of them), and Jewish people in the Regency, disconnecting the narrative from Heyer’s stereotypical portrayal. This is a fun book, and while it may not have a lot that’s new for those who are well-read in Regency history, it is a great introductory book for those who have primarily been conditioned by patriarchal bias taught in school or who primarily know the period from reading Regency romance novels.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pibble

    I received a review copy of this book, but the opinions below are my own. I have only a passing familiarity with the Regency era but am interested enough that I thought it would be fun to find out more about this brief period from 1810-1820 or so. The author includes stories before and after this time period, but it's understandable given that lives generally don't start or stop within a ten-year period. She tells story after story of women who subvert expectations and otherwise live lives that g I received a review copy of this book, but the opinions below are my own. I have only a passing familiarity with the Regency era but am interested enough that I thought it would be fun to find out more about this brief period from 1810-1820 or so. The author includes stories before and after this time period, but it's understandable given that lives generally don't start or stop within a ten-year period. She tells story after story of women who subvert expectations and otherwise live lives that go against the grain of Regency society, using sources such as letters, diaries, and other first-hand accounts (like the husband who, when divorcing his wife, published a 188-page rant about his wife, blaming the failure of their marriage on the fact that "she held that marriage should be companionship on equal terms"). Many of these stories feel like myth-busting, though I wasn't personally familiar with many of the original myths. I would have liked to learn more about each woman rather than reading many short biographies per chapter, though the author did provide an extensive further reading list. I did start to lose track of names and dates fairly quickly when jumping from biography to biography within each chapter. As it is, the book is a nice choice when you have only a few minutes to read. Overall, this book felt a bit like snooping through a stack of personal letters: a bit hard to track the timeline, sometimes repetitive, but fascinating nonetheless.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Devann

    This is probably a better book if you are really into regency stuff, but I didn't even know the regency was only a ten year time period until I read this so I am probably not the target audience. I generally enjoy this little mini biography books about women throughout history but for some reason I don't feel like I really learned a lot from this one. There were a few good entries but most of the time I felt like I was just being bombarded with everyone's family tree and who was married to who e This is probably a better book if you are really into regency stuff, but I didn't even know the regency was only a ten year time period until I read this so I am probably not the target audience. I generally enjoy this little mini biography books about women throughout history but for some reason I don't feel like I really learned a lot from this one. There were a few good entries but most of the time I felt like I was just being bombarded with everyone's family tree and who was married to who etc and it was just so much information that it started going in one ear and out the other. I also felt that the organization left a bit to be desired. Overall it's okay and I get that a lot of women are going to fit into a few different areas, but it found it particularly weird that the section on women of color had one woman who was just *pretending* to be non-white and she could have easily moved the queen that had African ancestry to that section instead since I think she was trying to keep all the sections to about 3 or 4 women each. I guess she included her because it showed that there were people of color in the regency who were well off and so much so that a poor white woman would find it advantageous to pretend to be one, but I still don't think it was a good choice to feature a white woman in the one section specifically about women of color.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    A fun overview of women bucking accepted norms during the Regency and surrounding eras. It's less in depth than I would prefer, since a number of the historical figures were ones I knew a considerable amount about, but if you really don't know much about the era this is a great entry. I could really feel where this book pushed back hard against the people who complain about "revisionist" or "politically correct" historical romance novels that include women of color, queer women and nonbinary peo A fun overview of women bucking accepted norms during the Regency and surrounding eras. It's less in depth than I would prefer, since a number of the historical figures were ones I knew a considerable amount about, but if you really don't know much about the era this is a great entry. I could really feel where this book pushed back hard against the people who complain about "revisionist" or "politically correct" historical romance novels that include women of color, queer women and nonbinary people, and working women - the point is that these people have always existed and were gradually erased as historical romance codified itself into an exclusionary world of cis-het white women in ballrooms (I love me a Heyer romance, but she definitely has some issues). The one thing I would really change is to pull Princess Caraboo out of the chapter about women of color as a major figure. She is interesting, particularly in the aristocracy's response to a "foreign" princess, but doesn't fit into a chapter about women of color who didn't have the privilege of passing as white.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Eva Scalzo

    written by co-owner of the ripped bodice, mad and bad: the real heroines of the regency is a pop history collection that endeavors to shine a light on some of the influential figures of the regency period. the prose is breezy and provides an engaging peek at historical figures that some romance readers will recognize from their appearances in historical romances. some sections focus on lesser known figures as well. there's a section that tries to dive into diversity in this time period. we know written by co-owner of the ripped bodice, mad and bad: the real heroines of the regency is a pop history collection that endeavors to shine a light on some of the influential figures of the regency period. the prose is breezy and provides an engaging peek at historical figures that some romance readers will recognize from their appearances in historical romances. some sections focus on lesser known figures as well. there's a section that tries to dive into diversity in this time period. we know that there were people of color in regency england, even though history has done its best to whitewash them. the problem with this section is that it lacks some real depth. partly it's because the format of the book doesn't allow for digging deeper, but also because it might be that the author isn't really the best person to do a deep dive into racial issues prevalent in the time period. **mad and bad: the real heroines of the regency will publish on september 1, 2020. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/grand central publishing in exchange for my honest review.

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