“I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.”
Ms Austen referred to Emma. Although this, my personal favorite of the Austen novels, was released shortly before Christmas of 1815, it is generally considered to be a novel released in 1816. Much can be said of this stellar and unique, especially for its time, novel, and this is a history post, not a book review. Let us look at the world into which this book landed.
1816 is possibly most famous for being the year without a summer. Because of the eruption of Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies—Indonesia—much of the world suffered cloudiness and abnormally cold temperatures in 1816, including Europe, England, and New England. Crops rotted in the fields instead of maturing, making prices of grain high; thus, many people were starving.
In addition to high prices, unemployment was staggering. Men released from the military due to the end of the war, not to mention the manufacturing of military goods and ship building for the Navy, wandered the roads out of work, hungry, and angry. Riots broke out. Part of me wonders if the aristocracy feared a revolution in England as France had suffered.
If the upper classes did fear such an uprising of the “peasants”, those apprehensions did not stop them from flocking to the continent for their entertainment. They had been denied the content for over twenty-five years.
Besides the restlessness from unemployment and starvation, or boredom
from having too much free time and money, the literary world saw many additions. Mary Godwin married the poet Shelley in 1816, as well as writing Frankenstein. Another book called The Vampire by Polidor was also released. Yes, monsters and vampires two hundred years ago. Lady Caroline Lamb wrote Glenarvon, which was a scandalous novel because it disparaged most important people In the haut-ton. And Charlotte Bronté was born.
Princess Charlotte, the only legitimate grandchild of George III, married Prince Leopold, who was brother to Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld,, who married the Duke of Kent, who was the fourth son of George III. They had one daughter—Victoria, who became Queen of England and Empress of India in 1837.
And if you have all that succession straight, congratulations. I have to look it up every time.
1816 proved an eventful year as the world recovered from war and struggled to find its feet in a changing society.
“Eakes has a charming way of making her novels come to life without being over the top,” writes Romantic times of bestselling, award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes. Since she lay in bed as a child telling herself stories, she has fulfilled her dream of becoming a published author, with two dozen books in print.
She lives in Texas with her husband and sundry pets. She loves watching old movies with her husband in the winter, and going for long walks along Galveston beaches in the summer. When she isn’t writing, she considers that housework is a time to work out plot points, and visiting museums is a recreational activity.
The Mountain Midwife by Laurie Alice Eakes
Back Cover Copy
For nearly two hundred years, women in Ashley Tolliver’s family have practiced
Ashley Tolliver has tended to the women of her small Appalachian community for years. As their midwife, she thinks she has seen it all. Until a young woman gives birth to a baby at Ashley’s home and is abducted just as she tries to take the dangerously bleeding woman her to the nearest hospital. Now Ashley is on a mission to find the woman and her newborn baby . . . before it’s too late.
Hunter McDermott is on a quest—to track down his birth mother. After receiving more media attention than he could ever want for being in the right place at the right time, he receives a mysterious phone call from a woman claiming to be his mother. Hunter seeks out the aid of the local midwife in the mountain town where the phone call originated—surely she can shed some light on his own family background.
Ashley isn’t prepared for the way Hunter’s entrance into her world affects her heart and her future. He reignites dreams of her own family she has long put aside in favor earning her medical degree and being able to do even more for her community. But is it commitment to her calling or fear of the unknown that keeps her feet firmly planted in the Appalachian soil? Or is it something more—fear of her growing feelings for Hunter—that make her hesitant to explore the world beyond the mountains?