alternate englands: when?

Belben, Philip (Energy Wholesale) Philip.Belben at
Mon Feb 7 05:47:56 EST 2005

Charlie, replying to Deborah:

>> -- Charmed Life is contemporary, right?
> Surely not - I had it down as Edwardian, with Lives of Christopher Chant
> Victorian (say the 1880s). With scare-quotes around both those periods,
> of course, but just going by general things such as technology, social
> mores and dress - any or all of which might of course be fundamentally
> different in Chrestomanci's world.
> Magicians of Caprona I also have down in Edwardian period, but one in
> which the Renaissance chopping up of Italy by foreign powers never
> happened (and neither did its unification at the time of Garibaldi).
> Only Witch Week seems to be definitely contemporary.
> Have I been 'seeing' these books very differently from everyone else?

Well, Charmed life is contemporary in the sense that Janet is brought in from a world that I think is meant to be ours, which is contemporary, and which split off from the Chrestomanci world some centuries before.

Magicians of Caprona gives us an additional clue: the year number is contemporary, although I think we're only told the last two digits.

My view has always been that the Chrestomanci world is intended to be contemporary, but with retarded technology, and different social and sartorial customs.  (Possibly Vicwardian values that didn't get shaken by the two World Wars and the rise of cheap technology - motor cars only just becoming common, for example)

Interesting technological point:  When Chrestomanci writes to his cousin Frank (in the background to Charmed Life), he writes two letters himself, but the third is dictated and "written by someone else".  OTOH in Lives of CC, there are typewriters in use at Chrestomanci Castle.

Also interesting: Carol Oneir's dreams strike me as a decidedly modern form of entertainment.  Janet in particular has no difficulty adjusting...


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