High stakes card games are a feature of the typical Regency hero’s everyday life, and any house party worth the name would have devoted a room to cards. But how many of us nowadays play whist? When an author mentions the game what do you picture?
My husband comes from a family of card players. The Christmas holidays were never complete until we all sat up until 4 or 5 AM playing cards—mostly something called five hundred, which on the spectrum of complicated games lies somewhere before bridge and after whist. For the uninitiated, like me when I first started dating my husband, you had to start with whist.
So I learned to play, and so did our children before graduating on to bigger and better things. When I looked up the historical rules, I was surprised to discover that our family plays much the same game as they did during Regency times.
As I’ve just implied, whist is a forerunner of contract bridge, minus the complicated conventions, bidding, and dummy. The object of whist is for you and your partner to take more tricks than your opponents. It is played in teams of facing partners with a regular 52-card deck—known during the Regency as a French pack—using all four suits. The card values run in their usual order from 2 to ace, with ace being high.
Cards in the Regency period were made from woodcuts. Unlike modern cards, their backs where a uniform white, and they didn’t have numbers on them to denote their value. You had to surmise that from the arrangement of pips on them. Unlike our cards today, kings, queens, and jacks only faced one way; that is, they had legs rather than a body with two heads on either end. You can see some examples of period cards (and if you’re independently wealthy, consider acquiring them) here.
The game evolved in the 17th century from a forerunner called Ruff, but the standard rules as followed during the Regency were set out in Edmond Hoyle’s “A Short Treatise on the Game of Whist” in 1742. Its name derives from an obsolete term meaning quiet or attentive. A true whipster needs to pay close attention to which cards have been played.
Here are a few terms you might run across during a description of a game of whist:
Suit—One of four, as determined by the symbols on the cards: spades, hearts, diamonds, or clubs. When one suit is led, the other players are obliged to play a card from that same suit as long as their hand contains cards of that suit.
Trick—The four cards played in each round, one coming from each hand. The highest card played determines who wins the trick. There are a total of 13 possible tricks in any game.
Honor—All face cards and aces may be referred to as honors.
Singleton—When a player only holds one card of a given suit. If a player holds only two cards of a suit, this is known as a doubleton.
Lead—The first card played in a trick.
Book—The first six tricks taken by a team make up the book. Any tricks taken after a team makes book result in points.
Trump—Trump is determined at the deal. If a player is unable to follow suit, he may choose to play a trump (the word is a compression of triumph) card. A trump card automatically beats any card in another suit. If a subsequent player is also out of the led suit, he may choose to trump higher to take the trick.
Slam—A grand slam occurs when one team takes all thirteen tricks. It is worth seven points. If a team takes 12 of the 13 possible tricks, this is known as a small slam. A small slam gains the winning team 6 points.
Game—The total number of points necessary to win a game is agreed upon at the outset. Players generally decide to play to seven or nine points. So if the game is to seven, a grand slam is sufficient for a team to win in one hand.
Rubber—Teams may decide to play a rubber, that is best 2 of 3 games or best 3 of 5.
The deal: Cards are shuffled and dealt to each of four players. The very last card dealt (which goes to the dealer) is revealed. The suit of this card determines trump for that hand. On each subsequent hand, the deal moves to the left. Normally two packs of cards are used to move play along. While the dealer passes out the cards, his partner shuffles the other deck so that it’s ready for the next hand.
Play: The player to the dealer’s left has the first lead. He chooses a card from his hand, and the other players follow suit clockwise around the table. As long as a player has a card of the suit led, he must follow suit. If a player has no cards left in that suit, he may choose to play a trump or he may choose to get rid of a card in a different suit. A trump card beats any card in the suit demanded. If the player does not trump, he has essentially thrown his card away, but sometimes that’s useful to get rid of low cards.
The highest card played wins the trick, the person who played that high card has the next lead, and play continues in this fashion.
Scoring: In the Regency period, tokens resembling poker chips were used to keep score. These might be made of
cheap cardboard or elaborately decorated coin-sized bits of metal. A team scores one point for each trick taken after they make book. Since there are only 13 possible tricks and the book consists of 6 tricks, only one team may score after a given hand.
A good whist player keeps track of the number of rounds played in each suit, as well as how many of the honor cards have been played during a hand. If the cards are divided evenly among the players, the first and second rounds in a given suit are generally “safe.” That is, the danger of an opponent trumping your suit is relatively low. As more rounds of a given suit are played, the danger of being trumped rises.
Naturally, luck is also involved as the cards are not always distributed evenly. While experienced players develop a sense of when to play which card, the element of luck keeps any hand from being completely predictable.
And here’s where the stakes come in. Obviously, players might wager on the outcome of a game or rubber, but I think we can safely say that Regency folk creatively wagered on any and everything. These are people who bet on the outcome of a raindrop race, after all. So they might conceivably wager that a game might be won in so many hands. Or a given suit might be drawn as trump before the deal. Or that a team might make a slam (before or after they’ve seen their hands). If you think about it, the possibilities are endless.
And just a heads up–Keep an eye on my agent’s Twitter stream next week. She’ll be giving away copies of both A Most Scandalous Proposal and A Most Devilish Rogue (which features a two-handed version of whist). @SaraMegibow
In case you missed Monday’s post, it’s release week for my second Regency romance, A Most Devilish Rogue, and I’ll happily use any excuse to post that cover. On second thought, have a different version–because you’re all tired of looking at the other one, aren’t you?
This is my UK cover. The book also released from Eternal books this week, along with the UK edition of A Most Scandalous Proposal.
And here’s yet another view. I had a great time showing George off at the RWA National Convention.
I gave you the blurb on Monday, so how about an excerpt? In this scene from chapter 1, George is on his way to a house party, and he is clearly not expecting to have a good time.
“Chin up, dear, we’ve almost arrived.”
George suppressed the urge to roll his eyes at his mother. Gads, how could the woman beam so after hours of jostling in a carriage through the Kentish countryside, crammed in with his sisters?
He exchanged a glance with Henrietta. “And not a moment too soon,” he said. “I can barely stand the excitement. We’ll go from being packed into this carriage to being packed into a house with entirely too many people.”
How he dreaded the thought of a house party, even if the host was his oldest friend. Worse than a ball, because the blasted things lasted days rather than mere hours. He could only escape to the card room in the evenings, while the rest of the day he’d have to find more creative means of avoiding his mother’s attempts at matchmaking.
Mama’s smile wavered not at all. “Sarcasm does not become you. How many times must I say it? You’d do better to put on a bright outlook. I imagine you’d attract a bride if you did that.”
His left eye twitched, as it always did when his mother brought up the topic of matrimony. “I’ll keep that in mind, should I wish to attract one. What do you recommend? Something like this?”
He pulled an exaggerated face that doubtless exposed his back teeth. God knew his cheeks would ache soon enough if he maintained the expression. It didn’t help matters that he’d tweaked a few bruises in the process.
“Stop this instant,” Mama scolded, but the woman, Lord help her, could never manage to sound stern. “Pity you had to turn up with your face all beaten. Why you men insist on pounding each other is beyond me.”
“It’s sport.” He’d explained the state of his face away with a minor lie about an incident at his boxing club. The truth would only give Mama the vapors.
“Be that as it may, I am certain you will meet your future wife at this party. See if you don’t.”
“Ah yes, and Henny”—he winked at his sister—“will announce her engagement to the head groom at the same time. Why, I think a double wedding at Christmas will be just the thing.”
Mama made a valiant attempt at creasing her brows, but an eruption of laughter quite ruined the effect. “You are completely incorrigible.”
“But endlessly diverting.”
“And if you turned that charm on a few young ladies . . .”
He held up a hand. “Madam, I believe I’m not the only incorrigible one in this conveyance.”
“Nonsense.” Mama tossed her head, and the feathers on her bonnet scrubbed across his sister Catherine’s face. “I’m simply determined. There’s a difference.”
Single-minded and obsessed were the terms that immediately leapt to George’s tongue, but he swallowed them back. Of course his mother wanted to see him wed. It was what mothers did once their children reached an appropriate age. Unfortunately, his idea of an appropriate age didn’t agree with hers by at least ten years. For God’s sake, he was only twenty-nine.
He caught Henrietta’s eye. Her mouth twitched into a smirk that spoke volumes. Better you than me. But Mama would turn her attention back to her oldest daughter soon enough. No doubt the moment they reached the ballroom where Revelstoke housed his pianoforte. Coupled with what Catherine passed off as singing . . .
In spite of himself, he winced. He prayed Revelstoke had laid in a good supply of brandy. He was going to need it in vast quantities if Mama insisted on her daughters being part of the entertainment.
The carriage rumbled to a halt at the head of a sweeping drive. The stone bulk of Shoreford House rose gray against a backdrop of blue sky. Shouts hailed from the yard, followed by a heavy thunk as the steps were let down. George leapt from his seat, ready to hand his mother and sisters out of the conveyance.
A gentle breeze bore the salt tang of the Channel, mingled with an earthy heaviness that wafted from the stables. The late August sun beat a gentle warmth on the back of his neck.
“I can’t believe you’ve actually come.”
George turned to find Benedict Revelstoke approaching from the main house, a grin across his cheeks. But as he neared the carriage, his gaze glanced over the bruises on George’s face, and he frowned. “I was about to ask how far your mother twisted your arm to convince you to come, but I see she’s resorted to more drastic means of persuasion.”
George clasped his old friend’s hand. “Do me a favor and don’t call attention to it. If I have to put up with any more cold compresses and female twittering, I may as well take to my bed permanently.”
“I don’t know how you’ll avoid it. Once Julia gets a good look at you . . .”
“I thought I heard my name.” Benedict’s wife appeared just beyond his shoulder, waddling from the house in the wake of a prominent belly. “Gossiping about me behind my back, are you?”
Revelstoke caught her hand and pulled her close. Their fingers entwined as if they couldn’t bear as much as an instant apart. For a moment, they stared into each other’s eyes, and in that brief expanse of time, they disappeared into their own realm where only the pair of them existed. It lasted less than two seconds, but an entire conversation seemed to pass between them.
Fighting the urge to roll his eyes, George cleared his throat. God help him if he ever became that love-struck.
Excerpt ©2013 Ballantine Books. All Rights Reserved.
A Most Devilish Rogue is available now at your favorite bookstore.
Good day, everyone. I hope you’re enjoying the temporary change of scenery around here. One of the perks of being webmistress and somewhat handy with graphics software (Hey, if you want a cheesy website banner, I’m your go-to duchess.) means I can redecorate.
But on to my topic, one I’m sure we can all stand behind. (Yes, I know that was bad, but I’ll always get you to laugh in the end. Ok, ok, I promise I’m done. Maybe.)
In a Regency romance, who wears the pants—the hero or the heroine?
Haha, that’s actually a trick question. The answer is neither. Even today, to someone from the UK, pants are something a man wears under his trousers.
So what does the self-respecting Regency hero wear if he wants to be decent? Trousers are one option, but they don’t exactly resemble today’s fashions. Adapted from the working class, trousers were worn looser and rough.
Despite what my cover art portrays, men did not wear belts during this time period. They used braces (suspenders—but that’s another word that has a different meaning in the UK) to fend off a wardrobe malfunction. For accessibility purposes, the various styles of trouser featured a fall front of varying width, either broad or narrow. Beneath the fall, the waistband buttoned closed.
One version of the trouser was known as the cossack. Deriving their name from the riders of the Russian steppe, these were of a very loose cut that owed more to comfort than fashion. They also featured strips of fabric that ran under the wearer’s foot to keep them tucked in.
Which only proves the 90s weren’t inventing anything new when stirrup pants came into vogue.
Depending on which decade of the early 19th century we’re using for our setting, breeches might be another option. By 1810, they were pretty much passé during the day, although older, more conservative gentlemen might retain their use. Men still wore them as evening dress–in fact, they were required if a gentleman sought admittance to Almack’s– until the dark trousers of the Victorian era usurped their place even in formal wear. Made of wool, cotton, linen, or silk, breeches were holdovers from the previous century with their baggy seats, although they were fitted about the leg.
If you were going riding, that’s another story. Buckskin breeches were all the thing for equestrian pursuits, and given that the ideal cut was skin-tight, I’m certain the ladies appreciated the view. On the downside, buckskin couldn’t be washed, and tended to sag over time, so the conscientious gentleman would want to replace his riding breeches often so as not to offend feminine sensibilities.
If a gentlemen really wanted to rough it, he might choose a denim-like cotton called nankeen for his riding breeches. I suppose that’s the closest the era gets to jeans, and who doesn’t like a hero in a well-fitting pair of Levis?
Beginning in the 1790s, a new style was adopted from the French revolutionaries, a garment known by possibly the least sexy term ever—the pantaloon. Not to be confused with lacy feminine undergarment of the Victorian era, the Regency pantaloon reached the ankle and fit like proper riding breeches. That is to say, skin-tight. To make up for the non-sexy term, at least we can say our heroes probably looked sexy while sporting these garments—although I recommend looking at lots of period prints just to be certain.
And if some men felt a little less, shall we say, well-endowed in certain areas, they might pad out their pantaloons. Get your minds out of the gutter. I’m talking about the calves. The point of all this fitting was to show off the lower leg. I, for one, am not averse to letting my gaze trail a bit higher, though.
The cover art of my latest release, A Most Devilish Rogue (available tomorrow), inspired this post, and George my hero would certainly let himself be seen only in the most fashionable versions of these garments. One lucky commenter (North America only, please) will win a signed copy, along with an Amazon gift card. So tell me, readers, how do you prefer your hero to dress?
Here’s the blurb:
Years ago, when Isabelle Mears was still a young miss too infatuated to know better, she surrendered her innocence to a dishonorable man. Though ruined and cast out from society, she has worked hard to shelter her illegitimate son, Jack. Having sworn off men in her quiet but dignified life, Isabelle is unprepared for the deep longing that rips through her when a handsome stranger rescues her rambunctious six-year-old from the pounding ocean surf.
George Upperton is a man in trouble with debts, women, and a meddling family. He is, by all accounts, the last gentleman on earth Isabelle should be drawn to. But loneliness is a hard mistress, and caution gives way to desire . . . even though Isabelle is convinced that happiness can’t be found in the arms of such a devilish rogue. Only when Jack is kidnapped does Isabelle discover the true depth of George’s devotion—and how far a good man will go to fight for the woman whose love is all that matters.
The winner of Barbara’s bookmark is Collette Cameron. Congratulations! Barbara will be contacting you so she knows where to send your prize.
And while I have everyone here, I’d like to draw your attention to the box on top of the right sidebar. We’ve installed a new mailing plug-in. If you subscribed to this blog in the past, you will need to sign up again. If you would like to receive notifications of new posts, all you have to do is leave your email in the box and hit the submit button.
Don’t forget to check back Monday, when Duchess Leigh treats us to a post on royal babies. Very timely, I say!
I’d like to welcome another debut author to the blog today. Barbara Bettis loves creating stories of other times and places, of heroines to die for and heroes to live for. Her first book, SILVERHAWK released last week from Wild Rose Press. Congratulations on your debut novel.
Barbara: Thank you. I’m excited to see Giles and Emelin’s story in print. I’ve loved it for a long time.
I remember seeing that title come up quite regularly as a contest finalist. Can you tell us a little more about it?
Barbara: Love to. SILVERHAWK is about a knight who is everything a proper lady should never want, and lady who is everything a bastard mercenary can never have. And every time I start to talk about it, I get all carried away, so let me just share the blurb.
To avenge his mother’s honor, Sir Giles of Cambrai has come to England to kill his father. First, however, he’ll take sweet revenge by kidnapping his sire’s new betrothed. But when Giles uncovers a plot against King Richard, he faces a dilemma: take the lady or track the traitors. What’s a good mercenary to do? Both, of course.
Abandoned in a convent by her brother, Lady Emelin finally has the chance for home and family. Yet now she’s been abducted. Her kidnapper may be the image of her dream knight, but she won’t allow him to spoil this betrothal. Her only solution: escape
Rescuing the intrepid lady–while hunting the traitors–is a challenge Giles couldn’t anticipate. But the greatest challenge to both Giles and Emelin is the fire blazing between them. For he’s everything a proper lady should never want, and she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.
What fascinates you about the medieval period?
Barbara: You know, I’m not quite sure. I think it’s tied up in my interest in history. I’ve loved the stories of knights and ladies and quests for as long as I can remember reading—King Arthur’s Round Table I recall devouring early on. In those stories, there seemed to be a chivalry, an altruism, a romantic gallantry missing from today. Not altogether true, of course. What can I say? I started reading very young.
Of course, once I got to school, and later researched and really learned about the period, the reality of the hardships of life and the limited opportunities—especially for women, some of that romance dissipated. But the fascination with earlier times never faded.
Do any other time periods catch your fancy? Tell us about them and why.
Barbara: History was one of my minors in college. I’m interested so many periods, that question is difficult to answer in a short space, so I’ll just mention Greek and Roman–especially Greek. So many foundations of our own culture are found there, including Greek drama and dramatic structure (in college, I thought Aristophanes’ Lysistrata had a good idea for halting war). The Napoleonic years, also, I find interesting.
What else might we see from you in the future?
Barbara: Right now I have a sequel to Silverhawk with my editor. It’s Stephen and Evelynn’s story. I spent the last months getting it edited and revised. My WIP is a Regency, my other favorite period for my own writing. I’m looking forward to getting back to it.
Naturally, many of us here also love the Regency. The bio on your website indicates you’ve always loved reading. What was your favorite book or series growing up?
Barbara: I had no one favorite. Of course, Nancy Drew! One of my first memories of reading involves my sitting on my grandmother’s couch, absorbed in a book of fables and folk tales. All the pre-Disney, dark versions of fairy tales, written as cautionary stories for children? Scary.
I read everything I could get my hands on, including my uncle’s stash of very old Westerns (they were tame back then. I appreciated Luke Short’s economy of words.)
I had a similar book of fairy tales growing up, and I loved them. Anything else you’d like us to know about you?
Barbara: I’m the grandmother of a varied crew, including four teen-aged granddaughters. This summer I’ve re-discovered the calming effect of chocolate.
Thank you so much for hosting me today. I’ve enjoyed being here.
You’re quite welcome. And I’m sure we can all vouch for the calming effect of chocolate.
You can find Barbara at:
Buy Link: http://amzn.to/1bQX3td
Barbara is offering a beautiful bookmark to one lucky commenter.
I’m happy to welcome a new author to the Dashing Duchesses today. Gina Danna has recently released her first novel, but she has a lot more in the works.
Ashlyn: The word on your latest release is that it’s a Regency-set paranormal with pirates. Tell me more about it.
Gina: The story is c. 1800, beginning in the West Indies and ending up in England. The hero is a pirate who is captured by the British and, according to law, must be hanged. Problem is, he isn’t just a pirate, he’s vampire. He’s already dead so when they offer him a chance out, to rescue a nobleman’s daughter from French pirates, he leaps at the opportunity. I mean, how does a dead blood-sucker carry off a hanging without problems? As captain of a pirate vessel, he must contain his urge to drink his crew so he has a medicine man, witch doctor (or Voodoo if you will), who concocts a brew to contain his thirst. That is, until he rescues our heroine. Then mayhem ensues.
Ashlyn: You’re not just a historical romance author, you’re a real-life history professor. How does your academic background influence your writing?
Gina: I have graduate degrees in history and have learned the art of research very well. My stories have to be historically correct – I want to take the reader back to that time and place, like transported there. It’s interesting to find that people in the past are in so many ways not any different than us today – same faults (okay, maybe not a vampire but voodoo exists!), triumphs and plunders just their surroundings change.
Ashlyn: Your email signature line contains the following quote from Nikita Krushchev: “Historians are dangerous people. They are capable of upsetting everything.” In what ways do you like to upset things?
Gina: LOL The statement is more in reference to politics (though applicable in many places) and how many times, the past tries to be reinvented to today and usually, a historian will point to the sameness and how it didn’t work before.
How do I like to upset things? In my stories, my hero and heroine are usually faced with the situations that we can relate to. The reader wants to warn them, but can’t…
Ashlyn: I hear you like to dabble in various eras. Can you tell us about some of your other projects?
Gina: I am currently revising my Civil War novel, writing my prequel to my Ancient Rome story and am shopping my English Victorian. I also have another Regency at the editors. This story is the only one (so far) with a paranormal twist.
Ashlyn: Wow, lots of variety for readers looking for different eras. I have to say, I’ve read the opening of LOVE AND VENGEANCE, the one set in ancient Rome, and if you’re looking for grit, you’ve got it. Gladiators and political intrigue. Yum! Gina, I also hear you’re a Civil War era re-enactor. Tell us what it’s really like to wear the hoop skirts and corsets. And if you want to give us any tips on using the privy while dressed in pantalets and petticoats, go for it!
Gina: Ah yes, my favourite period – the American Civil War. My mother used to accuse me of having more CW dresses than modern ones. Couple facts – ladies changed clothes many times a day (3-4 in winter; up to 9 in the summer!). The fancy ball gowns with their scoop necks and exposed arms were not worn until after 9 at night (prior & you might be considered one of “those” ladies so Scarlett O’Hara drives me nuts with that picnic dress – so not!). To get dressed in a hoop-dress: put on your chemise then pantalets; stockings next (cotton or wool or imported French silk – white at night; black in day & brand new color: tan!) with garters above the knee (not belts – that’s later), shoes (short boots in day, slippers at night; no higher than 2 inch heel) and finally corset. Corsets are designed 4 inches smaller than you waist. You cinch yourself in (no need for maid to do this! Trust me) leaving 1 to 2 inches open in back. Average waist size – 20 inches. Shoes have to be on 1st because can’t bend over to do this with a corset. LOL
Next – under-petticoat then hoops (cage crinoline) and then over-petticoat (to hide wires). Now you can put on the dress! Dresses were cotton, wool or silk. You change a lot so you don’t have to wash as often. (Another story!) They also wore fake cotton collars and undersleeves (engagements [sic]) because your neck and wrists get filthy during day & it’s easier to clean these than a dress. Dresses are 7 yards of material and must be disassembled to wash…oh what fun! Put on a hat, gloves (kid-leather) and wrap and now you’re ready to go out!
All sorts of variations on this BUT for the privy – with all those petticoats, hoops and skirt, that’s a lot to manage! So the ladies pantalets were split – two leggings sewn to a waistband but crotch left unattached. You lift all the skirts and more or less (excuse me here) squat. Pantalets open and you’re good to go! At reenactments, you’ll see the handicap latrine taken by us in hoops! LOL
Ashlyn: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. I definitely have a deeper appreciation of the effort it took to dress a lady during the Civil War era–especially when you consider she changed up to 9 times a day. I think I’ll stick with my simpler Regency outfits.
Her Eternal Rogue
Alexander Barrington flees his tyrannical uncle for the open seas where he becomes a ruthless pirate who turns vampire.
Captured and sentence to hang, a fate he must avoid to keep his vampire self hidden, a reprieve comes if he rescues Lady Lavinia Sinclair from the French pirates and returns her to her fiancé in England.
In this Vampire Diaries meets Pirates of the Caribbean, Alexander falls for the woman who makes him feel human and alive, but can he really have her without exposing what he is – a thief, the undead? The damned? Refusing to taint her innocence any further, he erases her memory of him and vanishes into the night but can he really exist without her?
Available on Amazon http://bit.ly/HerEternalRogue
Because when duchesses do something, they do it right, and we took the RWA® National Convention by storm, darling.
Several of us were involved in workshops, including Anne Barton, Valerie Bowman, Sara Ramsey, and me (along with our fellow Lady Scribe Erin Knightley) speaking on what an author might expect during the first year after her first contract. (See the shout-out in Beyond Her Book.)
Many of us participated in the Literacy for Life signing on Tuesday night, where we helped raise over $52,000 for literacy causes all over the world.
On Thursday, the Duchesses all dressed up in their finest and attended high tea at the Ritz in Buckhead.
I unfortunately, had to bow out because my publisher signing conflicted with tea. Sometimes even a duchess has appointments she can’t get out of. But my fellow duchesses were kind enough to send along these pictures, so I’d know exactly what I was missing. Don’t worry, I’ll get them back, someday when they’re not expecting it.
Saturday night was the big awards ceremony. As regular readers no doubt already know, some of us were up for awards: Tracy Brogan in the Rita® for Best First Book and Sharon Wray in the Golden Heart® for Romantic Suspense with two manuscripts. While neither won those awards, Sharon did win the overall Daphne with Rogue’s Escape and Tracy won a Booksellers Best Award for her Scottish historical Highland Surrender. Congratulations, ladies!
And now we’ve saved the best for last. Skeptical readers might say we planned it this way, but even duchesses have their limitations, as annoying as that is. Trust us, we couldn’t have planned this if we tried. Recently we decided to invite a new duchess to our ranks. Her name is Joanna Shupe, and she was up for a Golden Heart in the historical category this year. As it happens, she won her category, and as it happens, our very own Jen McQuiston was the presenter for that category.
Big, big congratulations to Joanna, and welcome to the Duchesses! We’ll, um, let you know about the initiation procedure later. We promise it’s painless. Mostly.
Cosmopolitan magazine is actually older than I realized. It began in 1886 as a family-oriented publication, believe it or not, before evolving into a literary magazine and finally, in the 1960s with the arrival of Helen Gurley Brown, to the incarnation we know today.
But I’m not here to talk about that. I’d like to delve further into the past and talk about an even older version of the women’s magazine. Did you know one existed as early as the late seventeenth century? Oh, it wasn’t exactly a magazine, but it did contain a lot of the elements we’d recognize today in the latest issue of Cosmo.
The Ladies Dictionary Being a General Entertainment For the Fair-Sex was first printed in 1694, and true to its title, it was a dictionary with alphabetized entries, but these entries covered such varied topics as diet tips, the latest rage in cosmetic recipes, and dating advice.
So what is the seventeenth-century duchess who is concerned about a bit too much, shall we say, embonpoint to do? The dictionary advises some gentle exercise, to be sure. “Chase your body as much as you can, that the blood may be stirred in the Veins and the Skin sit more loose.” More on what to do if you overexert and your Skin sits too loose in a moment.
The dictionary also touts this remedy: a bath in claret. Oh yes, break open a few casks of wine to melt those extra pounds away, but that’s not all. Before stepping in to your enormous wine-glass (just think, those giant champagne glasses that used to be popular in such places as Niagara Falls and the Poconos had yet to be invented), you must first infuse wormwood, calamint, chamomile, sage and squinath into the concoction.
I’m not sure I want to ask what squinath is. Here’s hoping it’s an herb of some kind.
But what if you only have a few saggy spots you’re concerned about. Not to worry. Seventeenth-century weight-loss technology has a treatment to offer you, too, and you don’t have to worry about staining your best towels. Maybe.
All you need is a little chicken and goose grease, pine, rosin, pitch and turpentine. Mix with wax, cool, and you
have a lovely plaster to apply to your cellulite. Doesn’t that sound just as effective as anything the modern era offers?
But what of that all important topic in women’s magazines? I’m talking about dealing with the opposite sex here. The dreaded D-word. Dating. The dictionary advises playing hard-to-get. “There is no such want of Man yet that thanks to our French and Irish enemies, that you Ladies should be in such great haste to yield at First Appearance of a Foe. Besides, you will get better Conditions if the Enemy does not know how weak you are within.”
Sounds like love was a battlefield centuries before Pat Benatar.
I shall leave you to ponder one final make-up tip: “A painted face is enough to destroy the Reputation of her that uses it.”
Ashlyn Macnamara writes Regency romances with a dash of wit and a hint of wicked. Her debut A MOST SCANDALOUS PROPOSAL is at your favorite bookstore now. A MOST DEVILISH ROGUE will be available in late August.
Their graces have received a message through the contact form that indicates followers of our blog might enjoy it if we posted the names of our giveaway winners on a regular basis. In the past, we have simply left a comment to the winners of our giveaways and then contacted them via email. However, we’re happy to announce our winners in a more public fashion.
Don’t forget to check back with us on Monday when Duchess Diana tells us about her upcoming debut, Seducing Charlotte.