1920s


Thank you to Romantic Historical Reviews for what has just become my favourite review for Prohibited Passion. Reviewer Anita calls the prose ‘beautiful’ and the portrayal of the Prohibition era ‘fascinating’. Best of all, are her comments on the sexual tension – ‘sweet but hot’.

You can read the rest of the review here: http://www.romantichistoricalreviews.com/prohibited-passions-by-rae-summers/

ProhibitedPassion-1 (Large)My latest 1920s romance, Prohibited Passion, is free Friday and Saturday on Amazon only. I’d really appreciate it if you’d take the time to download – and if you actually read it and review it,  I promise you my lifelong thanks!

Set on a transatlantic cruise liner, this short, sweet novella tells the story of respectable English widow Jenny, whose careful life is turned upside down when she gets stuck in an elevator with a suave Prohibition gangster.

Prohibited Passion is available from Amazon and Amazon UK.

DearJulia_w6910_750My 1920s novella, Dear Julia, has taken 1st place in the Short Romances category of this year’s Preditors & Editors poll. Thank you so much to all my lovely friends who voted.

In the words of Angie from Romancing the Book, in this story “Rosalie likes fixing things – and people. William doesn’t want to be fixed, but he really doesn’t have much say. He underestimates her one time too many, but is soon just as captivated by her as she is with him.”

If you haven’t yet read this book … come on, you know you want to!

An Innocent Abroad is now available! This coming of age story is set on the Amalfi coast of Italy in the early 1920s.

Fresh from finishing school, Isobel Harrington is sent to spend the summer in Italy with cousins in order to catch the eye of the eligible Hon. Christopher Barrett.

But rather than Christopher, it is enigmatic Italian Stefano who awakens Isobel’s sensuality, and who introduces her to the daring new idea that anything is possible, if only you want it enough.

Get your copy at Amazon, Amazon UK or The Wild Rose Press. And it’s available at a special discounted price on All Romance eBooks.

Let’s Misbehave is also currently on sale at the low, low price of just $1.99 from The Wild Rose Press or from Amazon.

Have you discovered Pinterest yet? It’s another way to while away precious time not writing, and it’s very addictive.

I’ve set up boards for my two latest novellas, Dear Julia and Innocent Abroad, as well as one for all things 1920s related. Have a look – and please let me know if you have a Pinterest board of your own, or if you stumble across any great boards with 20s Inspiration.

It was in DJ Taylor’s book Bright Young People that I first encountered the Jungman sisters, and while recently dipping back into this delightful read, a social history of England in the 20s, I was inspired to blog about them.

Zita and Teresa (nick-named Baby) Jungman were the daughters of Dutch artist Nico Jungman and his English wife Beatrice Mackey. Both girls were still young when their parents divorced, and in 1918 their mother married Richard Guinness (distantly related to the beer family).

Their mother’s remarriage opened up a whole new world for the girls; a world of wealth and privilege. Already blessed with good looks and good minds, they now also had the benefits of good connections and money. Armed with these advantages, the sisters took London by storm … literally.

For them and their friends, London in the 20s was a round of masquerades, scavenger hunts, pranks and parties. Or as Evelyn Waugh described it in his novel Vile Bodies: “Masked parties, Savage parties, Victorian parties, Greek parties, Wild West parties, Russian parties, Circus parties, parties where one had to dress as somebody else, almost naked parties in St John’s Wood.”

The Wilsford Group, photographed by Cecil Beaton (Zita is on the left of the group, and Teresa second from the right)

Cecil Beaton described Teresa as “like a white Gloxinia, with her Devonshire cream pallor and limpid mauve eyes.” Older sister Zita was the quieter, deeper one, described by her friend Loelia Ponsonby as a “master of unusual ideas.” Another friend, Edith Olivier, remembered that she “never moved with the herd.” The sisters were leaders, not followers. They pioneered the famous treasure hunts that became all the rage among the Jeunesse Doree, and by 1930, when the next generation of Bright Young Things was already burning out, Zita and Teresa were living quiet, exemplary lives out of the spotlight.

And this is what I find so fascinating about these two young women: in the midst of all the partying and debauchery of the 20s, they remained true to their own beliefs and to themselves. Devout Catholics, they never compromised their principles. Both refused to get involved with divorced men, and though both sisters were later divorced themselves, they never re-married. Lord Longford once said of Teresa that she was “more like a nun, like a very friendly and fascinating nun.”

Zita Jungman

Between parties, they attended mass and delivered meals to the needy. During the second world war, Zita worked as an ambulance driver in France, coming dramatically close to being caught by the Germans when France fell. After the war, they lived quietly and modestly together, for more than half a century.

For a more detailed inside glimpse into the lives of these two remarkable women, read this article by biographer Hugh Vickers, who met the sisters several times while researching his biography on photographer Cecil Beaton.

There are just two serendipitous moments in their lives I’d like to share:

Teresa Jungman

One of Teresa’s greatest admirers was the novelist Evelyn Waugh. His other great unrequited love was Diana Mitford (one of the famous -and infamous- Mitford sisters, who married first Bryan Guinness, then Oswald Mosley). In 1985 Teresa’s daughter Penelope married Diana’s son, Desmond Guinness.

Later in life, Teresa and Zita moved to Ireland, to live in a garden cottage on the estate of Teresa’s daughter and son-in-law. Both sisters lived to the ripe old age of 102, Zita dying at that age in 2006, and Teresa at the same age in 2010.

These kinds of coincidence would be unbelievable if written in a novel!

I’ve known of Sergei Diaghilev, master of the famed Ballets Russes, since I was a girl, but it was only when I researched this post that I discovered he was so much more than just a ballet icon. He was an impresario in the truest meaning of the word, the Cameron Mackintosh of his day.

More than that, he was a man who brought all the artistic disciplines together: art, music, dance, drama. He was a man who pushed boundaries. His collaborations with composer Igor Stravinsky, ballet master Leonide Massine and designer Leon Bakst changed the face of the ballet, if not all stage performances.

Sergei was raised in a wealthy, cultured home, (the family’s wealth coming mostly from vodka distilleries). The heaviest influence during his adolescence was his artistic stepmother. He studied music and singing in St Petersburg, but when it became evident he would not have a successful career in music, he moved instead into management at the Imperial Theatres, under Prince Sergei Volkonsky. However, he challenged the authorities and after the turn of the century he was discharged and branched out on his own.

His first excursion to Paris was in 1906, and he returned several times in the following years with different performances and exhibitions. In 1909 he was invited back to Paris and the Ballets Russes was launched. Included among the company’s first performers were Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina and Vaslav Nijinsky.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Diaghilev remained in Western Europe and never returned to his homeland. His career, however, continued to ascend. His reputation was as a stern, demanding taskmaster, but his legacy lives on to this day.

He died in Venice in 1929, at the end of that glorious decade he so epitomizes, the Roaring Twenties.

If you are interested in reading further, Amazon has dozens of books about Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes.

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