Today I’ve got my friend Sandra Sookoo back for a visit. As you can see from the title she’s talking about clothes-the difference between now and 1863.
Though I love writing stories set in historical time lines, there are a few things that make such a venture difficult—namely the clothes.
Imagine your daily routine now: wake up to the alarm, stumble out of bed and into a nice, warm shower, blow dry your hair, put on makeup, get dressed in barely-there panties, a bra, some sort of shirt and pants then slide your feet into some sort of shoes. That’s it.
Now imagine yourself living back during the Civil War era, circa 1863. You wake up to no alarm. There were no electronic devices—or electricity. Most likely there are chickens around, roosters too that herald the dawn. No shower either, though running water was around in some parts more advanced parts of America, there wasn’t water heaters or the aforementioned electricity, and that running water wasn’t what we’ve become accustomed to. Mostly just a pump in the kitchen area. Sometimes women had a bath but those usually came at the end of the day and not every day at that, with sharing the bath water a common occurrence. Only loose women wore makeup during this time, so you’d go bare in the face department. Oh, and the hair? Most of the time it was put up. Why? All that hanging hair would get in the way of work and it would get dirty so it was pinned up.
Undergarments? Well, depending on your station in life you’d wear a camisole and drawers, petticoats, a corset, garters and hose, either a skirt and blouse or a dress, gloves, bonnet/hat and button-up boots (or slippers for evening) as well as a crinoline for party functions. Now imagine how much that extra fabric would weigh let alone try to move around (or climb into and out of carriages) with the corset and crinoline.
Imagine you’re locked in an embrace with your beau. Too many clothes are…well too many clothes. I wonder how many girls changed their minds during the fight with the fabric? LOL
Bet your life doesn’t seem so bad right about now.
Now that you’re grinning, I brought a blurb and a scandalous excerpt from my latest book A WOLFISH SCANDAL. It’s a Civil War-era historical with paranormal elements.
Here’s the blurb:
He has nothing to live for. She has nothing to lose. Together, they have everything to gain.
Lyndal Carson’s life is at a premium. Afflicted with a heart ailment wherein she can drop dead at any time, she makes a pact with herself to create one scandal and to really live before she dies. Tired of being a handmaiden to her family, she writes the letter that will change her destiny.
Grey Rutledge, a werewolf who is hounded by a reporter and haunted by memories, endeavors to provide a diversion large enough that the paper will forget its interest. He invites twelve women to his estate on the premise of choosing one of them for his mate. After the loss of his family, the only thing he wants is heirs and a woman by his side.
As the days go on, both Lyndal and Grey find that elusive piece missing from their lives. When their respective secrets are revealed, they both run the risk of losing everything. Danger catches them unaware during an innocent afternoon but it’s what is decided as life hangs in the balance that will change their lives forever.
With a tiny sigh, Lyndal proceeded on her journey. She clutched the strings of her reticule in one hand. Feeling a tad parched from the hot May sun and dust, she ducked into a café on the corner ofWashington Street. After being led to a table near one of the windows and placing her order for a pot of Earl Grey and a plate of tea cakes, she arranged her full skirts over her crinoline and gazed again at the street traffic.
Somehow, she needed to affect a change in her life. If I want to matter to someone, if I want to make a difference—leave a memory behind—I need to stop waiting around for excitement and find it myself.
Perhaps it was interference from Providence; perhaps fate had one more trick up her sleeve, or perhaps it was merely a careless gust of wind when the front door opened, but a page from the Indianapolis Journal on an empty table nearby fluttered and took flight. It came to rest against her skirts. Lyndal bent slightly and plucked the errant paper from the floor then gaped as a headline from a personal advertisement caught her eye.
Wealthy land owner in Noblesville, Indiana hosting a house party—including Independence Day festivities—for the express purpose of finding a mate. Marriage could be an eventuality but the certainty of that outcome is not a definite. Companionship is the more immediate necessity. Experience in sensual bedroom arts is preferred but not required.
Inquires collected through the 30th of the month. Please indicate physical characteristics, flaws and any special talents. Also include a brief history and a short essay of why you would like to be considered.
Responses should be addressed to Mr. Franklin Garrett care of Rutledge Estates, Route 5. If you are chosen as one of the twelve candidates, further instructions will be sent no later than June 15th. As a footnote, ladies’ maids or attendants will not be needed and are definitely not desired. Rutledge Estates boasts more than enough staff.
Shock ricocheted through her insides at the audacity of a man blatantly asking self-respecting women to reply to such an inquiry. Just think of the scandal! What kind of gentleman would proposition one woman let alone ask for a dozen to reside in his house without a proper chaperone? She crumpled the paper in her fists. A man who was not a gentleman. A man who cared not for conventions or rules. A man who wished to live life on his own terms. Her skin prickled. He must be quite powerful to thwart the proprieties and make it a public spectacle—or very daring.
“Is there a problem, miss?” A young woman in a black dress and white frilled apron asked as she set out the items for tea.
“Oh, no, but thank you. This looks lovely.” Only when the woman moved on to attend to other diners did Lyndal smooth the paper out on her lap once more.
Experience in the bedroom arts? Surely the person who wrote this missive didn’t mean to take the women he selected into his bed. Her cheeks heated at the thought. She swallowed around the lump in her throat. Was it a lark, a practical joke played on the newspaper office to take readers’ minds off the war, a political stunt, a personal statement? What arrogance was at play to even pen such a request, what bold confidence that anyone would respond. Searching through the society section, her gaze landed on a grainy black-and-white photograph of the man in question.
Too blurry to do him justice, the one feature that seemed to jump off the page was his eyes. Intense, dark and focused, as if he watched her from the paper, they demanded her attention and subsequent submission. Her heart beat a little faster. Dark hair, heavy brows and a strong jaw that spoke of determination and an unwavering will. Yet her focus returned to his eyes. In her imagination, she could easily invent a tale of wounded vulnerability or maybe basic human need. Would his lips be firm or supple against hers? Was he a man of gentle caresses or did he demand women yield fully to him in the bedroom?
A blush heated her whole body and again, her heart raced with excitement or fear. Nonsense, Lyndal. You would never succumb to such temptation for the express reason you will not respond to this advertisement. Yet she couldn’t look away from his eyes. As a whole, the picture portrayed a man of power, a man of magnetism. What would he be like? Was he as terrible as she thought based solely on his advertisement? Would she want to be judged on so little?
I hope you’ll snag your own copy of A WOLFISH SCANDAL. You can find it here:
Liquid Silver Books: http://www.king-cart.com/cgi-bin/cart.cgi?store=linda018&product_name=A+Wolfish+Scandal&return_page=&user-id=&password=&exchange=&exact_match=exact
Prize for this post: A reproduction bar of Civil War-style soap plus book swag. Winner will be chosen tomorrow so please be sure to leave your contact information.
If you’d like to connect with me on social media, you can do so here:
Believing is Seeing blog: http://sandrasookoo.wordpress.com/
Thanks so much for dropping by!
I enjoyed today’s post. You’re right — getting dressed (or undressed!) in 1863 must have been no simple matter. With those corsets, petticoats, and multiple layers of clothing, no wonder women were always swooning!
Yup Sandy, I can’t imagine lugging all that extra clothing around LOL
Thanks for having me on your blog today 🙂
Hi Sandra – I love your work especially it’s humour Yeah one wonders how men and women coupled in those days with all that material lol Would a woman enter a café alone in that period?
Best of luck with the book!
Thanks Sue! 🙂
Hi, Sandra. It’s a pleasure to meet you.
My back just hurts thinking about the weight of all those clothes. Yikes.
Hi Ciara 🙂 I’m still trying to imagine having to take care of an urgent call of nature LOL
Reblogged this on Many Worlds From Many Minds and commented:
Good things to consider when you are writing anything historical (or futuristic, depending on your society). Sandra’s post outlines some details of living in the past that many of of don’t consider (and some of us don’t want to consider)… Just remember this when you’re drooling over Viggo Mortensen and Liv Tyler… and imagining her after the ride from Rivendell covered in trail dust and horsesweat, and him covered in four day old orc blood.