Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Travel: It’s All About the Shopping---18th Century Style (#MFRW_ORG #kindle)

Those of you who follow my blogs (Mom? bro?) are aware that I’ve written two prior blogs about this subject, one when I lived in southeast Asia ( and one when I spent a year in China teaching English to toddlers (
Weirdly, I’m not a particularly avid shopper. I don’t go malling and don’t view shopping as a pastime. Sometimes it’s okay when I’m in the mood, but usually...not. But when I find myself in a new, exotic city, I love to wander around the stores and see what’s being sold, compare foods, clothes, trinkets to goods I’d find in my hometown.
And thus it might have been for Isobel Kilburn, the heroine of Lovers in Tartan. At age eighteen, she traveled to Edinburgh to enjoy the 1766 social season before she was slated to enter an arranged marriage to Edgar, laird of the neighboring clan, the MacReivers.
Leaving aside the question of what strong-willed Isobel thought about being denied the choice of a mate, what would she have seen in the Edinburgh shops? How might she react?
Though Isobel was a high-born young lady from a wealthy clan, Kilburn Castle is located in the far northwest of the Highlands, far away from any town or city of substance. So imagine: before she arrived in Edinburgh, Isobel had never seen a shop. She would have seen goods for sale at fairs or other gatherings, but such events would have been few at remote Kilburn.
So the first wonder for Isobel would have been the city itself. And even now, in the 21st century, Edinburgh is a wonder and a joy. I’ve been there a couple of times, and it’s a lovely city. Then, however, Edinburgh had the undesirable reputation as the dirtiest and most crowded city in Europe.
Let’s get back to the question: what would have been sold in the shops of 1766 Edinburgh?
At the time Edinburgh was the center of the Scottish Enlightenment. From the 1740s onward, the city came to be seen as a center of forward thinking, especially in the areas of economics, history, science, philosophy and medicine—a new medical branch had been formed at the university there in 1726.  So bookstores and coffeehouses flourished. Having been educated by her governess, Alice Derwent Kilburn (the heroine of Desire in Tartan), Isobel would have been capable of participating in the intellectual discussions of the time. But ‘tis unlikely she was interested—her main pursuits at Kilburn were riding unbroken horses and getting into trouble.
And, though the city was unmarred by excessive industrialization, a linen weaving works had been established in Canongate. So drapers—what we’d call fabric stores—abounded.
And what was the nature of the city? Wealthy and cultured. Several major banks were headquartered there. Music was popular and the Edinburgh Music Society established in 1728. Many improvements were made during the time Isobel visited. And improvements were needed—as I mentioned, Edinburgh was thought to be one of the most crowded and unsanitary cities in Europe.  However, the overcrowding threw all social classes together—lords might live in the same tall row-house as a chimney sweep.
But the improvements changed that to a certain degree. The newer parts of the town were seen as more desirable than the older quarter, where the poor remained while the wealthier moved on.
I hope I’ve intrigued you enough! If not, here’s what the story is about:
Blurb: Lovers in Tartan by Suz deMello:

Scotland, 1766.

Edgar, Laird MacReiver, has never regretted his decision to wed Isobel, daughter of Clan Kilburn’s laird, until she bites his tongue and drinks his blood. Still, he's determined to bridle the wild child of the infamous vampire clan by any means necessary, including bondage and discipline.

But are some women impossible to tame? 

Find it here:

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