|Another nice historical romance. |
I like the way authors take the name of real seats of the aristocracy and then change their location – hence Longleat masquerading as Chatsworth.
Set after the Battle of Waterloo we have the soldier back from the wars with trauma hidden in his psyche. And a less than stellar relationship with his father. All of which makes him melancholy and less than jovial. But hiding his pain from all but his friend’s sister who had had a young crush on him that resulted in a very public and very unfortunate action in a church.
And we have a young woman with an unusual hobby for the ton – a scientific one at that and so she has a keen mind and is well read.
We then have a courtship of the usual type and trope that goes up and down with many mis-adventures. Whilst we know from the first chapter that all will be well at the end, it is always nice to read how the author will get them there – if the style of the written word is good and contents are well plotted.
I loved this book – but then I am a keen gardener and plant afficionado and as it happens I collect agaves and aloes especially, of all succulents and exotic Mediterranean plants. Not cactii. But a few euphorbia. Preferably not too prickly! I do have an Agave Americana in my collection, and interestingly of all agave, these are now the most common, even though, to be honest, I have never seen one flower in a garden. I have seen them flower on Mediterranean mountain sides. The flower is not very exotic. Normally they grow a lot of offsets and propagation is through them. I have masses of grey agave from offsets.
I thought that the sensory discussion about smells having colours was interesting as this is a well known phenomena – people also have music colours and taste colours. And I liked the idea that smells produce emotions as people often associated perfume with a particular time, place, or person.
The setting up of the new Botanical Garden was fascinating. And how they transplanted the trees. In barrels. I always thought that they used sacking round the roots to transplant and to remove the soil. This was clearly a very different, and perhaps less brutal way, as the finer roots wouldn’t be damaged.
The argument over whether a botanical garden is for medicinal uses still ranges – especially now that we discover that many plants that were once thought to be ornamental – such as green beans – are now used for food; and others such as yew are used to extract (a cancer) drug from it called paclitaxel (Taxol), which is an antimitotic agent which stops cell division, resulting in cell death and this prevents cancer growth.
I knew about pineapples being a status symbol and that many wealthy plantation owners put a pineapple finial on their gates to indicate that they had grown them, but I was unaware about strawberries being a new plant. According to wikipedia, the garden strawberry was first bred in Brittany, France, in the 1750s via a cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America and Fragaria chiloensis, which was brought from Chile by Amédée-François Frézier in 1714. Strawberry fragrance is extremely complicated – it has 31 elements that give it its flavour and scent and it is claimed to be useful in alleviating diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and osteoarthritis.
I did like the idea of a bath oil to help alleviate period pains – the doctors all being male (at this time, and what about later researchers and grants?) would think that was nothing to concern themselves over. And so it has continued for many years. As has been said, if only male doctors got periods there would have been a cure for the pain and discomfort long ago! Today the use of oil for cramps is common in the complementary medical world, and they recommend: peppermint, lavender, cypress oil, clary sage, rose, copaiba, cinnamon, and bergamot peel, roman chamomile flower, ylang-ylang, cedarwood, geranium, fennel seed, carrot seed, palmarosa herb, and vitex leaf berry, not to mention siberian fir. So there is a large number of essential oils that can help and special blends are available.
So what did I think of the book apart from all this wonderful plant knowledge? I loved it. I thought it very clever the way the various stories about the people of Edinburgh were blended into the story of the Botanical garden move and the excitement over a unique flower and other special, and new to that time, plants. The style was good and easy to read as well as being informative. We well understood that this was a blend of historical facts and fiction. The visit in 1822 of the Prince Regent to Edinburgh was real. Sir Walter Scott and his insistence on tartan for the dress code elevated the fabric to become again symbol of identity – as it had been forbidden after the Jacobite Rising.
Free book for VIP Readers only.
This book actually talks about the background history to Cressmouth and how it became a Christmas village
It tells you of the people who were instrumental in setting up the various elements that produced the final village and the rationale for how it was set up – so for instance the villagers paid for a 100 years lease with no further rent with one Guinea. This ensured that no greedy landlord could impoverish them in the future.
It was also agreed that the food and entertainment and so on would be free to all, but when you take into account the amount of rent that they were going to charge for the Castle apartments, in fact the food and all the entertainments would be paid for with a hefty profit. Because every time they talked about the rent for the Castle apartments, the price went up, until it was over a year’s rent for a London town house. So this meant that if you could afford to rent one of the Castle apartments you got bragging rights, and your name would be inserted into the regular newsletters that was sent out by the Christmas owners and management, which therefore would bring in money, rather than paying out for adverts in other people’s newsletters.
There was also to be an annual edition which would bring out all the annual highlights, and would be charged for as a picture book that would be kept.
We know about the stringent terms on which the shops were leased from the previous story about the jeweller in which there were seven years to pay back the loan or you lost everything.
All of which meant that Christmas was profitable and yet appeared to be free for all to enjoy.
It was therefore organised so that the nobility and the rich paid up and those with no money paid nothing.
I’m going to give this one five stars because I like the rational of how Christmas was arranged. Below are the 12 books that complete this series.
Matchmaking in a quite different way – Darcy finds us a new take on regency house parties.
Here’s what you never knew about Regency house-parties – they are intended – often – for matchmaking – and that doesn’t necessarily include marriage! If you are eligible – i.e. a widow – you can find a ‘match’ at some of these parties – rather discretely – but not so much if the hostess gives you a map to who’s sleeping where!
Well who knew…. swingers and all.
Except that sometimes the people attending are not in that scene and didn’t realise just what kind of party they had been invited to and then get rather a shock.
But why not? Why assume that affairs are something we invented? We certainly didn’t, and if house parties for partner swapping or just discrete enjoyment happen now then why not then? I don’t know if it historically accurate but who cares, it is a fun scenario to imagine and a vastly different setting for a romance.
I enjoyed it.
Another in the Black Lives Matter and slavery theme. Set in the time period (1817) when being Black in England was unusual and not always recognised well by Society. Even when people were born free. And the ideas that brought about Abolition of Slavery were still in their infancy.
Honora came from America and had been courted for her dowry by a scoundrel – of which there were quite a few as Society men didn’t dabble in Trade or work to make a living – other than gambling of course! She existed, one can’t really say lived considering the state of it, in a house her husband had left her in, 3 years previously, with no money and no way of gaining any – her only options being to wait on her husband to deign to send her some, or for her to sell her possessions. She was far too proud to go home – even if she could afford the fare – and admit just how right her family had been about Frank Blake.
We also have the illegitimate children theme added in to this story and the need to conceal a pregnancy from Society as it would impact on future marriage possibilities let alone the difficulty of concealing the existence of the child if you were a woman and the father did t take responsibility. It was not uncommon for a rich man to require his wife to take into her family the offspring of his lovers – as long it wasn’t too many! It was easy enough to isolate yourself in the country if you were married, for a few months after a discrete bit of padding to enhance the lie…
A nice story line bringing out some of the social issues of the time. And a promise to kiss under the mistletoe…