Weird Wednesday: An Exploration of Our Quirky World

Facts of Daily Life in the 19th-Century England.

We are delighted to welcome you to “Weird Wednesday,” a joint series, partnered with our friends at before the second sleep, that explores the quirky side of our universe.

We live in an extraordinary quirky world that often times we forget to pause in our busy lives to notice. During these times many cannot venture outside-another great reason to pick up a book-so we are bringing our explorations to you.

As many of you already know, I’m obsessed with history and cultures from all walks of like. Today, I’m exploring, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens knew by Daniel Pool. A book on the facts of daily life in the 19th-Century England. The book as a whole is mighty interesting but we are going to examine some of the information in its glossary. Needless to say, there are a little over a couple hundred pages but we won’t be covering it all. Let’s get started.

Quirky Meanings:

Abigail: A Lady’s maid.

Carking: Having the ability to worry someone or make them careworn.

Sounds about right.

Chine: A term applied to the spin of animals like pigs when they were being chopped up for cooking.

Gross.

Fly: A horse and carriage that was rented, usually by the day.

Who would have thought.

Glee: In music, the glee was a vocal piece for three people or more. In Jane Eyre, singers gather around the piano while Jane” the solo over, a duet followed and then a glee.”  and her pupil listen:

Jane Eyre was written by Charlotte Bronte and published in 1847.

Ha-ha: A landscaping device that consisted of a trench dug at some point in the view where it could not be seen unless one were very close to it. Also, called a sunken fence.

Ha ha! Too funny!

Ladybird: Not a bird at all but what we call the ladybug. Also, called a lady clock.

Had no idea that Ladybugs where ever refereed as that.

Milch cow: One that was giving milk.

Nob: Someone with a good deal of status. Used often in conjunction with “snob” in the sense snob initially had of someone of no status or pretensions.

Huh.

Rasher: A not very slice of ham or bacon.

I love the way this is worded.

Sell-out: To leave the army by selling the commission one had purchased to someone.

Skittles: Basically, bowling. One set up nine skittles or pins and then tried to knock them down with a ball.

When I hear the word “Skittles” I think of candy. Ha!

Snipe: A bird with a long bill that lives in marshes.

Is this the type of bird that is hard to hunt? Hmm… I wonder if this is the same name that referred to as Snipers? Or where it partly originated? I do believe Sniper was coined by the British Military in the 1700s? Need to look more into this. Can’t wait!

Stewpond: A special fishpond kept by manor houses in medieval days so as to have a supply of fresh fish.

That is actually a good idea. I wonder if people still actually do that?

Twelfth cakes: Cakes made for Twelfth Night. They contained a coin or bean that made the finder the “King” or “queen” of celebration.

I get the coin part but not entirely sure why a bean is used for this. Maybe it is explained in the book and I messed it. I haven’t read this book on quite sometime.

Whiting: A good-tasting small fish. Also, pulverized fine chalk used for cleaning or whitewashing.

Talk about two different meanings altogether!

This post was fun to but together. I highly recommend adding this book to your to-read list.

Stephanie Hopkins

About the book:

A “delightful reader’s companion”; (The New York Times) to the great nineteenth-century British novels of Austen, Dickens, Trollope, the Brontës, and more, this lively guide clarifies the sometimes bizarre maze of rules and customs that governed life in Victorian England.

For anyone who has ever wondered whether a duke outranked an earl, when to yell “Tally Ho!” at a fox hunt, or how one landed in “debtor’s prison”; this book serves as an indispensable historical and literary resource. Author Daniel Pool provides countless intriguing details (did you know that the “plums” in Christmas plum pudding were actually raisins?) on the Church of England, sex, Parliament, dinner parties, country house visiting, and a host of other aspects of nineteenth-century English life—both “upstairs” and “downstairs.”

An illuminating glossary gives at a glance the meaning and significance of terms ranging from “ague” to “wainscoting,” the specifics of the currency system, and a lively host of other details and curiosities of the day.

Weird Wednesday: An Exploration of Our Quirky World

Weird Wednesday: Butterflies

Book Review: Mind of a Killer (Alec Lonsdale #1) by Simon Beaufort

In London 1882, a new reporter for the Pall Mall Gazette, Alec Londale, comes across a house fire, that is not uncommon in those times, approaches the scene to watch the firemen hard at work to prevent the fire from spreading to the other houses.  Looking around for someone to tell him who lives there and how the fire started, he approaches a woman, asking her questions. A body has been discovered. Alex begins to take notes and shortly after speaking with the first woman, another woman, who appears distraught, approaches him and ask him to meet her at a later date. She has information for him that can’t be shared at the scene. Alex is unobservant to her emotions and what she is saying or not saying. It is quite clear to him what she is and he dismisses her from his mind. Alex is young and is portrayed as a naive and green around the quills-if you will- about the ins and outs of being a reporter.

When the post-mortem on the fire victim comes back as something other than an accident, it isn’t long before a second body is found and this time the person’s throat is cut and then the bodies start to pile up.

Alex’s feisty female colleague, Hula Friederrichs is assigned to help him investigate the case. He isn’t happy about it but he needs all the help he can get! The further they investigate, they delve into the mystery and start to uncover a conspiracy so sinister, that it takes them to the upper classes of Victorian Society. The threat of their own lives become a reality as they get closer to the murder plot and they begin to question whom can they trust.

My fascination with the Victorian era’s class-based society, the stereotypes and double standards of the period, journalism, and the murder mystery genre prompted me to read this book. Those elements combined make for a gripping story. There is also the fact, I’m always curious how writers today portray the culture of the period.

Darwin’s theories are introduced in the story and taken to an unspeakable dark and evil height that will have you wondering how far will these people go to advance their objective. I don’t think I have ever been so thoroughly taken back by a theme that pushes the boundaries of this nature. In fact, it makes this story all too realistic and chilling.

Highly entertaining, and a thought-provoking read.

Stephanie Hopkins

I obtained a copy of Mind of a Killer from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

Cover Reveal: The Steel Beneath the Silk by Patricia Bracewell

A breathtaking conclusion to Bracewell’s Emma of Normandy Trilogy, brimming with treachery, heartache, tenderness and passion as the English queen confronts ambitious and traitorous councilors, invading armies and the Danish king’s power-hungry concubine.

Release Date: 2 March 2021

The eBook is available for pre-order now via the links below.

The paperback edition will be available for pre-order soon.

About the Book:

A breathtaking conclusion to Bracewell’s Emma of Normandy Trilogy, brimming with treachery, heartache, tenderness and passion as the English queen confronts ambitious and traitorous councilors, invading armies and the Danish king’s power-hungry concubine.

In the year 1012 England’s Norman-born Queen Emma has been ten years wed to an aging, ruthless, haunted King Æthelred. The marriage is a bitterly unhappy one, between a queen who seeks to create her own sphere of influence within the court and a suspicious king who eyes her efforts with hostility and resentment. But royal discord shifts to grudging alliance when Cnut of Denmark, with the secret collusion of his English concubine Elgiva, invades England at the head of a massive viking army. Amid the chaos of war, Emma must outwit a fierce enemy whose goal is conquest and outmaneuver the cunning Elgiva, who threatens all those whom Emma loves. 

Links:

Patricia Bracewell’s website

AMAZON

AMAZON.CO.UK

AMAZON AUSTRALIA

BARNES & NOBLE

KOBO

SNEAK Peek AT WHAT’S INSIDE

Interview with National Award-Winning Journalist Julie McElwain

me-iiI’d like to welcome back Julie McElwain to Layered Pages! I had the pleasure of being the first person to interview Julie about her book A Murder in Time and she is here with me to talk about her second, A Twist in Time. Julie is a national award-winning journalist. She began her career working for a fashion trade newspaper in Los Angeles, and is currently a West Coast editor for Soaps In Depth, a national soap opera magazine, covering the hit daytime drama, The Young & The Restless.

julie-melwainHi, Julie! It is a delight to chat with you again! First, tell me how your first book, A Murder in Time was received from your audience.

Thank you, Stephanie. I’m thrilled to be chatting with you again, too! I have to say that I was honored and humbled by how well A Murder In Time has been received. Book bloggers such as yourself were so kind and encouraging with your reviews, and the librarians from Library Reads chose the novel as one of their April recommendations. Overdrive, the digital library that is connected to more than 34,000 libraries around the world, selected A Murder In Time as their mystery to read last year, and it became a finalist in Goodreads’ Best Books of the Year, in the sci-fi category. I’ve been so blown away by this journey, and truly grateful for all the support.

That is fantastic to hear, Julie and 34,000 libraries around the world is outstanding! 

Would you please give us a brief description from your first book how Kendra Donovan stumbled through time?

Kendra traveled to Aldridge Castle in England to take down the man responsible for getting many of her fellow team members killed on her last mission. I won’t give away any spoilers in case someone hasn’t read A Murder In Time, but this mission also goes awry, and Kendra is forced to flee through a secret passageway. That’s when things take a really strange turn. When Kendra stumbles out, she is in 1815. Kendra’s mother is a quantum physicist, so Kendra knows something about time travel. She can only surmise that she went through a wormhole or a vortex. She only has theories, but it was an extremely painful experience!

I remembered reading about Kendra’s experience travel through time. It was incredibly vivid.  Tell us about your book, A Twist in Time.

Kendra’s attempt to return to her own timeline fails, but before she can worry too much about her situation, she’s caught up in a new mystery. Lady Dover, who was introduced briefly in A Murder In Time as Alec’s mistress (he dumped her for Kendra) has been viciously murdered, and Alec is the main suspect. Kendra and the Duke travel to London to clear his name, save him from the hangman’s noose and a crime lord named Bear.

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How has Kendra adapted to the early nineteenth Century thus far?

Even with the Duke of Aldridge’s support, Kendra struggles with being in this time period. Her parents had very rigid expectations of her, and when she rebelled, they abandoned her. Kendra survived emotionally by becoming independent and self-sufficient. Yet she is thrust into an era where women had no rights; upper class women especially relied on the men in their lives — husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles — to provide for them. As a real-life example, Jane Austen never married, and her oldest brother, Edward, gave her the cottage she lived in.

Kendra also hates being treated like a child. The fashions of the day required assistance to dress. And as a young, unmarried lady, she needs to be chaperoned whenever she leaves the house. This loss of independence is incredibly hard on Kendra.

On the other hand, Kendra is now forced to depend on other people for the first time since she was a teen. It’s great to be self-sufficient, but not to be so closed off from relationships. Some cracks might be forming in Kendra’s protective shell.

You really brought together characters in your story from different classes/walks of life and I admired how you portrayed that. I still believe in today society we can still learn from that.

Thank you! And I completely agree with you about today’s society. America was conceived as a nation without a class system, and England today no longer has the rigid class system that it once had. Yet I think it’s human nature to create hierarchies and be a bit snobbish when we look at groups that don’t conform to our own belief system.

I love trying to figure out how people came to their viewpoint. I’m seeing way too much divisiveness in present-day society, and shutting down or shouting down someone else’s point of view. I think the joy of a being a writer is to get into characters’ heads to see a situation through a variety of perspectives. It’s fun to have people at odds, battle, and learn from one another’s differences. Sometimes they may change. Sometimes they may just have to agree to disagree.

You also touch on the fact that there was no real police force at that time. Did you find it a challenge to make the investigation believable? The process was surely brilliant in my mind. Without the technology we have today, their process was surely a challenge at times.

The lack of technology drives Kendra a bit crazy. She can’t utilize something as basic as fingerprinting. While fingerprints were known as a method of identification during this time — and earlier — it wasn’t used in law enforcement until the late 1800s.

Kendra also has huge problems with the lack of police procedure. In both A Murder In Time and in A Twist In Time, I mention the Marrs murders, which are also known as the Ratcliff Highway murders. This was a true crime during that time, in which a family and their servants were slaughtered. The public was allowed to wander through the crime scene to satisfy their curiosity. Can you imagine that today? Kendra is appalled by what actually was pretty standard practice for that time of civilians visiting crime scenes.

Thankfully, though, basic police work — interviewing suspects and eye witnesses, comparing stories, checking alibis — crosses centuries. In fact, basic police work today still catches more criminals than utilizing technology, mainly because most police departments simply don’t have the budget for the kind of technology we see on cop shows.

What challenged me the most is that my protagonist is a woman. Kendra can’t flash her badge to show her authority. She can’t haul a suspect down to an interrogation room. She has no official capacity. As I already mentioned, she can’t even go anywhere alone. She needs a lady’s maid to shadow her, or risk being ostracized. The Duke, of course, is her greatest asset in gaining access to the people she needs to interview, but it’s awkward for her to grill people in the ballroom.

Was there a scene you found humorous to write about?

Actually, there were several scenes that I had fun writing. I think the changes in language over the centuries lend themselves to humor. But also there are things that we take for granted now that were unknown back then, and that can be pretty humorous when you look at it through nineteenth century eyes. I won’t get into specifics, but at the end of A Twist In Time, the crime lord, Bear, views something that Kendra has done in a way that makes perfect sense from a nineteenth century perspective, but startles Kendra considerably. When I received the manuscript back during the editing process, I laughed when I came across the scene again. It’s just a little thing, but I hope readers will find it as amusing as I do!

Tell us a little about Sam Kelly. I have to admit; I enjoy reading about him. He is one of my favorites.

I love Sam Kelly as well! I feel like he’s a cop deep in his soul. You could take him out of the nineteenth century and plop him in the twenty-first century, and he wouldn’t change. He’d still be a bit rumpled, still love being a detective, and still love his whiskey. He may be puzzled by Kendra, but she earned his respect when she was nearly killed catching a serial killer. If she wasn’t a woman, I think Sam would try to convince her to become a Bow Street Runner.

Duke Aldridge’s prim and proper ways are entertaining to say the least but not in a snobby way. His open-mindedness does him credit. I am delighted you didn’t portray him as the stereotypical male we often see in stories such as this era. What are his attributes you find most intriguing to write about?

What I love about the Duke is that he is far more complicated character than anyone might suspect. He is a gentleman in the truest sense of the word, yet he’s not a pushover. He doesn’t trade on his wealth and title, but he will exert his influence if it means getting his way. The darkest period of his life came when he lost his wife and daughter — and that still haunts him — but the tragedy has made him more empathetic. He is enthusiastic and optimistic, which is a nice counterbalance to Kendra, who tends to be a bit more cynical and careful. The Duke recognizes that Kendra comes from a different time, but I sort of like that he does have an internal struggle on accepting Kendra’s more modern sensibilities. He loves the discussions he has with Kendra, but sometimes he is taken out of his comfort zone.

Can we expect another Kendra Donovan story, if so, how soon?

It will probably depend on how well A Twist In Time does. However, I can tell you that I am working on the third Kendra Donovan book, which I’m actually very excited about. There is a twist in it that I really don’t think readers will see coming, mainly because I didn’t see it coming when I was plotting the book in my head. If things go as planned, it should be out in bookstores April 2018.

Julie, thank you for this wonderful interview. It was a pleasure chatting with you. Please come back to Layered Pages soon. You are always welcome here.

Thank you, Stephanie. I spend most of my time writing, but when I talk to you, you make me think about the writing process. I love that!

Links: 

Author Facebook Page

Pegasus Books

Thank you, Julie! 

Review: Godwine Kingmaker by Mercedes Rochelle

Godwine Kingmaker

Harold Godwineson, the Last Anglo-Saxon King, owed everything to his father. Who was this Godwine, first Earl of Wessex and known as the Kingmaker? Was he an unscrupulous schemer, using King and Witan to gain power? Or was he the greatest of all Saxon Earls, protector of the English against the hated Normans? The answer depends on who you ask. He was befriended by the Danes, raised up by Canute the Great, given an Earldom and a wife from the highest Danish ranks. He sired nine children, among them four Earls, a Queen and a future King. Along with his power came a struggle to keep his enemies at bay, and Godwine’s best efforts were brought down by the misdeeds of his eldest son Swegn. Although he became father-in-law to a reluctant Edward the Confessor, his fortunes dwindled as the Normans gained prominence at court. Driven into exile, Godwine regathered his forces and came back even stronger, only to discover that his second son Harold was destined to surpass him in renown and glory.

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I’d like to first say that this period in English history is probably without a doubt my favorite. I am quite the critic when it comes to reading historical fiction during this extraordinary time…when I saw this book tour available for this book, I knew that I had to read this story. I wanted to know how seriously Rochelle takes her history and how she will portray this period and the people. I’d have to say I was thoroughly fascinated with her look into this time. She gives you a really good sense of it if you will. That’s what I want in a story. To be transported back.

This story centers on Harold Godwineson’s Father, Godwine. He became Earl of Wessex under King Canute. For those of you who don’t know, Canute is Danish by birth. He and his father conquered England. I highly recommend you read up on King Canute.

Anyhow, I really have never had an opinion about Godwine. I knew he was powerful and how he got his power. I have always been more interested in his son Harold-the last king of the Saxon rule. They were both two powerful men in their own right. Although what Godwine built for his families power was amazing! It really is extraordinary how he rose from his commoner status and how his family rose even further with Harold. This story shows Godwine’s power and intelligence-I think-perfectly. The story begins with him as a young boy who was befriended by the Danes. By chance really and was befriended by King Canute. This is that story and more. A brilliant story at that. Gosh there is so much to this story and I could go on and on about it. But instead of me doing that, I really encourage you to read the book.

I will caution those who are critical of authors for taking liberties regarding the historical aspects of a story. I will say this with a firm voice, “This is Historical Fiction!” I did spot some of that in this story and even asked the author about one particular scene via social media. How she explained it to me worked perfectly in her story. Matter of fact there is a part of history about a piece of land that Canute and Godwine was viewing and where Canute was telling Godwine about it is where she took some liberty. Still she kept it believable and I actually want to do further study on it. So thank you, Rochelle for including the scene in your story. Readers, I can’t tell you what it is because I don’t want to give spoilers….so go read it and find out!

I adore the authors writing style, premise, how she brought it all together. She knows how to write historical fiction and I can’t WAIT for the second book to come out. I hope it will be soon! I’m rating this book five stars. Thank you, Rochelle for a fine story. We readers of history do appreciate it.

Oh, and one last thing….I pretty much agree with Rochelle’s portrayal of the Normans! Ha! 🙂

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Available at

Amazon US

Amazon UK

About the Author

03_Mercedes-Rochelle-Author-265x300

Born in St. Louis MO with a degree from University of Missouri, Mercedes Rochelle learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they built themselves.

For more information please visit Mercedes Rochelle’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Godwine Kingmaker Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 20 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views Spotlight at Genre Queen

Tuesday, April 21 Review at Book Nerd Spotlight at Unshelfish

Wednesday, April 22 Review at Flashlight Commentary Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, April 23 Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Saturday, April 25 Spotlight at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Tuesday, April 28 Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, April 29 Review at Broken Teepee

Thursday, April 30 Guest Post & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More Spotlight at The Writing Desk

Monday, May 4 Review at Impressions in Ink Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews

Tuesday, May 5 Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 7 Review at Bookramblings Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Friday, May 8 Review at Layered Pages

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Book Review: Equilibrium by Evie Woolmore

Equlibrium is an evocative tale of two sisters-Epiphany and Martha-who are mediums performing on stage in a theater in London, England in the early 1900’s. A Lady Adelia Lyward sees the performance and wants Epiphany to give her a private reading. She wanted to learn the truth of her brothers death not knowing the sisters have a connection to her household. Martha was a housemaid to the Lyward’s two years previous and fell pregnant by Adelia’s husband, Lord Rafe Lyward. In disgrace Martha left the Lyward’s household, gave her child away and attempted suicide in the River Thames, she survived… But there is more to the Lyward’s household then meets the eye.

The beginning of the story starts slowly but I was pleasantly surprised as I read on to discover how the mystery surrounding Adelia’s brothers death is revealed. However, I would have liked to have seen the historical elements to be stronger and expanded further on-such as the social changes in England during this period and I wanted to have a clearer picture on the details as to why Adelia’s brother went to South Africa during the Boer War then what was told.

Overall this story is rich in complex characters with remarkable depth despite their shortcomings. Epiphany’s voice gave- what I believe- a comfort to those she was interacting with at times and I thought she gave the story a calmness and a delicate reality to this tragic and harsh story that was unfolding. I recommend Equilibrium to readers who enjoys historical fiction with spiritualism influences.

~Stephanie
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