I spend a lot of time researching life during the early 19th century. In my debut release, AN UNEXPECTED WISH, my main character, Anne Townsend, is a twenty-eight year old spinster who’s life changed dramatically when she and her sisters end up booted out of their home by their unscrupulous stepbrother and on their own with little money. She goes from being wealthy and pampered, to being poor. Think Emma Woodhouse ends up like Miss Bates.
Gone is her maid, the cook, a housekeeper, her horse, new clothes, new books, and all the things she had taken for granted in her life. She must now make her own breakfast, help with the cooking, gardening and laundry.
In the early 19th century, there were far more women than men. Young ladies were left with few choices to earn their way when left with little or no money. They were at the mercy of family for their very existence.
But what if your family didn’t want you? What options did you have to earn a living? Society didn’t give women much choice outside of wife and mother. A woman can be a companion to some rich woman. A woman could become a governess. She could become a seamstress, mantua maker or other trades that could use the skills she’s learned as an accomplished woman.
Or she could enter into service as a maid in a household. Factory work was just getting off the ground and that offered opportunity, but did not pay a living wage for backbreaking work and extremely long hours.
Unfortunately, none of these allow her to keep her place in society. None of them paid well. None provided any retirement or future security. It had to be frustrating and frightening to have to solely depend on family or take a chance at being ostracized from society for trying to make your own way.
Anne’s desperation was a strong motivation for climbing the Fairy Steps for a wish to make her life better. It would be like buying a lottery ticket today.
As much as I love studying the past, I wouldn’t go back to live in that century. I like the fact that women can be appreciated for our intelligence. I cannot even imagine being an intelligent woman without any way of improving her circumstances. How frustrating to know what needs to be done but lack the opportunity to do it?
How about you? When faced with losing everything you have, and no easy way to make a living except ostracize yourself from your society, what would you choose?
An Unexpected Wish
LOVE IS IN THE AIR
Anne Townsend doesn’t ask for much. Plain and poor, she’d settle for the funds to put food on the table. Making a wish on the fabled Fairy Steps is hardly a solid solution, but to see her two sisters taken care of, Anne’s willing to try anything. Yet when she finds herself suddenly surrounded with suitors, romance is now a possibility for the spinster everyone always ignored except with the one man who will never want her…
Nathaniel Matthews has no time for courting. As the eldest, he has his family’s lost fortune to rebuild, and his reckless brother to manage before he gambles his future away. Odd that Nathaniel can think of little but kissing bright-eyed Anne, who seems to be fighting off admirers from all sides. Is it the country air, or is Nathaniel ready to discover that love has a magic all its own?
Eileen’s giving away a digital copy of AN UNEXPECTED WISH. Enter via the rafflecopter below.
Eileen Richards has been writing for most of her life. Poetry, totally inappropriate answers to essay questions in school, and interesting error codes during her 30 year IT career has prepared her for the manic world of publishing.
She writes sassy regency romps set in the small villages of England where the rules are bent a bit and gossip rules the day.
Eileen resides with her husband and their diva of a greyhound in North Carolina.