Saturday, April 25, 2020

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The Gossip's Choice by Sara Read - Book Tour


Blurb “Call The Midwife for the 17th Century” 
Lucie Smith is a respected midwife who is married to Jacob, the town apothecary. They live happily together at the shop with the sign of the Three Doves. But sixteen-sixty-five proves a troublesome year for the couple. Lucie is called to a birth at the local Manor House and Jacob objects to her involvement with their former opponents in the English Civil Wars. Their only-surviving son Simon flees plague-ridden London for his country hometown, only to argue with his father. Lucie also has to manage her husband’s fury at the news of their loyal housemaid’s unplanned pregnancy and its repercussions.
The year draws to a close with the first-ever accusation of malpractice against Lucie, which could see her lose her midwifery licence, or even face ex-communication.

Excerpt
The atmosphere in the Three Doves was strained all evening. As Martha hadn’t returned, Lucie had served supper, and afterwards Jasper had read from the Bible and asked them to answer theological questions. Ned remained surly all evening and became even more so when Jasper informed him of his decision that the apprentice’s truckle bed was to be moved to his and Lucie’s chamber until further notice.
The next announcement was a shock for Lucie, as Jasper declared that he had been praying and reflecting on the money the King had sent during the summer. The two bright guineas had been in the locked metal chest in his chamber since they arrived; Lucie had given Martha and Ned their share from her own money. Jasper told them that God had helped him reach the decision that this money should go into the parish funds for poor relief. The Stuart court’s profligacy and loose morals, not to mention rumours of its attachment to popery, were everything Jasper opposed, and while he was proud that his wife’s efforts had been recognised, he felt they were unable to accept the money.
‘This decision has been a long time making, husband,’ Lucie said. ‘I took it for granted that you were reconciled to my reward, since you had not mentioned it since the day it arrived.’
‘That’s true, but the extravagant fee Lady Calstone sent lately troubled me anew. We both work hard and take a fair fee for our labour. All we asked from the Manor was that they should settle their fee and not that they should give us large sums, presumably to assure our discretion in the other matter.’
Lucie noticed Ned’s ears pricking up and wondered what he was thinking. Given his recent rioting in the alehouse, she was seeing the lad in a fresh and not very positive light.
‘Furthermore,’ Jasper continued, ‘I was disposed to pray on the matter, and the answer revealed to me was that we should accept your customary fee – with something more for your additional troubles – and the later treatments we dispatched, and then the rest should also go to the parish poor funds. It will make provision for the winter months, when the parish is called on most for relief.’
‘As you wish,’ said Lucie demurely, but with regret. She might be unchallengeable in the birthing chamber, but accepted without question that Jasper was master of his own household. That included her earnings. It was fortunate that the painter she had retained was no longer coming. She did have some pin money saved from her household allowance but having the Calstone and royal money to keep would have been a significant addition to her personal fortune.





Author
Dr Sara Read is a lecturer in English at Loughborough University. Her research is in the cultural representations of women, bodies and health in the early modern era. 

She has published widely in this area with her first book Menstruation and the Female Body in Early Modern England being published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013.
She is a member of the organising committee of the Women's Studies Group, 1558-1837 and recently co-edited a special collection produced to celebrate the group's 30th anniversary. 

She is also the co-editor of the popular Early Modern Medicine blog. With founding editor Dr Jennifer Evans, Sara wrote a book about health and disease in this era Maladies and Medicine: Exploring Health and Healing, 1540-1740 (Pen and Sword 2017). 

Sara regularly writes for history magazines such as Discover Your Ancestors and History Today. In 2017 she published an article 'My Ancestor was a Midwife' tracing the history of the midwifery profession for Who Do You Think You Are? magazine in 2017. She has appeared on BBC Radio 3's Freethinking programme and is often to be heard on BBC Radio Leicester and BBC Radio WM.

Follow Sara on Twitter @saralread


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