For today’s Saturday Salon, I have the pleasure of welcoming dear friend and exciting debut historical author, Emma Locke!
Emma Locke is a writer and engineer living in the Pacific Northwest, where she loves hiking with her dog, hot yoga and riding out the annual 330 days of rain. Hiking and yoga give her time to plot, the lack of sun makes for perfect writing weather, and as for her day job, the dichotomy seems to work: her analytic side ensures her passionate, satisfying love stories don’t mulch under her bed, and her author side forces her to keep writing more.
Emma says: Thank you so much for inviting me to share a little bit about the inspiration for my new Naughty Girls series, Tessa! The Naughty Girls is a six-book series that initially came to me as a high concept a few years ago, when my girlfriends and I were single and dating. I decided to write a variant of Sex and the City in London, with heroines who are a bit more mature than the usual Regency debutante, and far more experienced. These “naughty girls” are able to access parts of London that are usually off-limits in the traditional historical romance, which set me on a quest to understand the seamier side of the Regency. Where did my heroines live? What did they do with their free time? Where were they received (and where were they shunned)?
I read all sorts of research books, mostly about bawdy houses, madams, and courtesans, and then just before Christmas, Isobel Carr sent out a tweet about her shiny new primary source. In 140 characters, Isobel convinced me that THE EPICURE’S ALMANACK, Eating and Drinking in Regency London ed. by Janet Freeman needed to go directly onto my Christmas list. Lo and behold, my brother put it under the tree. Thanks, bro!
Calendar of Good Living.
This book is designed to direct a man with a delicate stomach and a full purse, or any man with a keen strong stomach and a lean purse, where he may dine well, and to the best advantage, in London.
The ALMANACK is chiefly a restaurant guide, with hundreds of pages dedicated to commentary about different places to eat in London. I can’t stress how cool this is. Whether you need a restaurant name, or a fun fact, or the price of a meal, it’s in here.
Goose and Gridiron
The Goose and Gridiron, London House Yard, St. Paul’s Church Yard, is kept by Mr. Alleyn. Here, if there is not always a goose ready for a gridiron, there is a gridiron ready for a goose, or for any other bird or beast of prey which the guests order to be dressed on it. Here are also joints of all sorts, hot from one o’clock until five. At this house most of the western short stage coaches for Hammersmith, Turnham Green, Parson’s Green, Fulham, Putney, and Richmond, that go into the city, take up and set down their passengers.
Did diners tip in the Regency? According to Freeman, the answer is yes. (I haven’t read the entire book yet, but she says it’s in here.) Are you curious whether a certain restaurant still exists? There is a list of “Survivors” in the back tables. Would you like to know more about vendors of industrial kitchen equipment? Who doesn’t??
There is a section about local marketplaces, their wares and relative quality, and a chapter that lists common ingredients and when they are freshest during the year. (In June, “Buck venison is now introduced at polite tables, and continues in season until the end of September. The price of a prime haunch is from three to five guineas.”) There is a glossary of drinks (no, cosmos are not listed), the names and main ingredients of prepared dishes, and a glossary of other random terms. (I will definitely be using “body snatcher” in THE PROBLEM WITH SEDUCTION.)
Tessa says: I must have this book, Emma! So glad you told us about it. Wow, buck venison was a pricey dish. Three to five guineas was no small amount then. And I love the idea of being able to visit a restaurant or pub that was in existence two hundred years ago! A Regency London Zagat’s guide–so cool.
You’ve reminded me of my personal favorite resource for day-to-day details, THE LADY’S STRATEGEM, A Repository of 1820s Directions for the Toilet, Mantua-Making, Stay-Making, Millinery & Etiquette, ed. by Frances Grimble. It has everything a young lady of the era needed to know — from how to sew her own gloves and stays, to ideas for parlor games and dinner conversation, to recipes for skin tonics and hair preparations. Though some of the cosmetics recipes involve such worrisome ingredients as arsenic (in a depilatory) and egg whites (applied to the hair, and not washed out)! *shudder*
It occurs to me that if you put these two books together, you have the makings of a great early 19th century first date. A well-coiffed couple, a fine dinner out, and sparkling conversation.
THE PROBLEM WITH SEDUCTION is the second novel in Emma’s The Naughty Girls series, and it will be released later this month. Today, one lucky commenter will win the chance to read both an advanced, electronic copy of THE PROBLEM WITH SEDUCTION and an electronic edition of THE TROUBLE WITH BEING WICKED!
Today’s post has me thinking not only about the past, but peering into the future 200 years from now… What artifacts or practices from our present-day culinary and cosmetic life will fascinate and amuse 23rd-Century dwellers? My money is on flat irons and Hot Pockets. What do you think?