August 26th, 2008

Marriage/Engagement in the 1910s

I'm writing a story which involves an engagement circa 1917/1918. I've tried googling "Edwardian marriage customs" and "Edwardian engagement" as well as "Edwardian society," "1910s marriage customs," "1910s engagement," and "1910s society" but I can't seem to find anything that isn't about life within marriage rather than life beforehand. I'm wondering a couple different things:
  • How, first of all, would people tend to meet each other? As far as I can tell, the 1910s were sort of like the period of limbo in-between strictness and utter looseness, so their options are fairly open--but my instinct doesn't mean much. For the record, the people in question are probably upper-middle-class like, though that isn't set in stone.

  • What would be the proper procedure for arranging to marry someone around this time? Would you have to ask for the father's permission and all that still, or is it more open?

  • What sort of social limitations were there for an engaged couple versus a married one? I'm talking time spent alone, cohabitation--any of that stuff will help loads.
Any information related but not specifically asked about is also welcomed. Thanks!

Edit: yeah, this is a UK setting. Thanks for all the help so far.
Edit #2: for those who mentioned the issue of WWI--I figured that would probably make it harder to make the situation realistic, so if the time I originally thought of setting this in means "all bets are off" then I'll change it to late 1900s/early 1910s, before the ordeal officially starts. I want to avoid dealing with the whole wartime aspect as much as I possibly can and this seems to be the only way.

Military question for SF story

I'm working on an SF story that takes place in a future in which there are spaceships and space travel. Nothing unique there. I want the characters to be in the military and on a spaceship, and I'm trying to figure out what that would look like in terms of the military. In other words, what branch of the military would have/deploy spaceships? Would it be more than one branch or a new branch altogether? Is it really likely that a there is a new kind of military that polices the entire Earth but does not belong to any one country on it? How would the military in space be related to the armed forces on the ground? And so on.

Of course, these aren't questions that have definitive answers. But I was wondering what someone with military experience thought about that kind of scenario. The books and shows I've seen with military themes don't really talk about how they fit in with the way our military works, or they just make a space-faring military "universal," as if it belongs to the U.N. They also seem to use naval ranking which I find odd (as opposed to Air Force, which seems the most similar to flying a space ship).

Any thoughts welcome.

New Orleans Cliches

I'm revisiting my first novel, which was set in New Orleans shortly before Katrina. (I can't think of any way to handle Katrina fairly and sensitively, so I'll somehow make it clear that this was before.)

I've been to New Orleans many times and know my way around all parts of the city pretty well. However, I'm not as familiar with *bad* New Orleans fiction since I've mainly read the better ones like A Confederacy of Dunces. I don't want to repeat any of the worst cliches of New Orleans fiction, so I was hoping people here who've lived there or read a lot of NOLA fiction could tell me what they thought the worst cliches were. Alternately, if there is anything a writer could put in a story set in New Orleans that would make you feel like the writer really got it, what would it be?

I pretty much know to avoid anything you see in most tourist brochures, not to stick just to the French Quarter, not to attempt dialect, to be sensitive when dealing with race, and to avoid Emeril at all costs. I don't think I can get around using some of the more "spooky" cliches (sorry), but I want to avoid the worst of the worst.

Thanks in advance! I may not go through responses until tomorrow, but I do appreciate anybody who has any suggestions. :)

common folk remedies for insomnia in Japan

Setting: Present-day Japan, characters have lived in Tokyo for awhile but are mainly from the Kansai region
Search terms used: various combinations of Japanese, folk remedies, home remedies, cure, traditional, sleep, insomnia. I also read a 10-page article on JSTOR called "Some Japanese Beliefs and Home Remedies."

My character complains that he couldn't get to sleep last night, and one of his friends suggests a very common, simple remedy to him. I want it to be something as mainstream as hot milk or chamomile tea being used as a sleep aid in the US. Preferably not something that sounds incredibly superstitious or old-fashioned, or would take too long to describe (like, I'm not going to say something like "Did you try making an infusion of goat's milk, honeysuckle, and cat's tears, poured into a crystal bowl under the light of a full moon for one night, then boiled in a calfskin bag? It totally works!") The less exotic the remedy sounds, the better, and it doesn't have to be uniquely Japanese, as long as it's something that would be obvious for an average Japanese person to try. The character who makes the suggestion is originally from a rural area but has been living in Tokyo for many years, if this is relevant.

I've tried looking for Japanese home remedies, but all I could find were cures for the common cold and things like that.

EDIT: I think I'm going to stick with the warm bath suggestion, unless anyone has any better ideas.