As always Darcy has managed to add in a social commentary to her Historical Romance series of novels.
In this book we consider the issues of illegitimacy; rape by aristocracy of housemaids and the inability of the maids to bring them to justice; poor laws and the dreadful houses for single women with children that separated them and failed to provide a means to earning a living; sterility when you need an heir and spare for the title; and finally childbirth and the dreadful rates of deaths in childbirth and of babies.
There were 3 main causes of childbirth death up till the 20th century.
1. Puerperal fever or Pyrexia – which was carried by doctors and midwives on their hands and clothes from one patient to anther due to lack of washing, disinfecting etc.
2. Placenta previa or separation of the placenta and thus haemorrhages. If the uterus failed to contract after birth or there was some trauma, all of these could cause blood loss which they were unable to stop and of course, there were o transfusions then.
3. Eclampsia or pre-eclampsia.
In all, there were up to 25 deaths in childbirth for every 1000. And still births were not recorded so we have no knowledge of just how many babies were born and not named. It was the custom for many families not to name the child until it had lived for a week or even a month. And thus a death would not be officially recorded.
It was no wonder then, that people feared childbirth… I know I would have died in childbirth if I had lived then and so would my son.
All the above not withstanding, it was a well crafted story with a nice romance and good story-telling. I enjoy her books and they do tend to make me think about the social inequalities and other social issues, which is a good thing, and makes these stories just that little bit more.