Fashion Plate

If you like Texas Jot, please take a look at my other blog, Fashion Plate. It is the home of my handmade retro Barbie clothes and lots of delicious recipes from my cookbooks.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

No Periods In Romance Novels

As you can see by some of the books I've been reading, I've devoured my share of Regency Romance novels this summer.  I have been introduced to numerous dashing Dukes (who knew there were so many?) and countless downtrodden, spoiled or misunderstood young maidens.  What have I learned from all this? None of these women EVER had a menstrual period.  I find this quite amazing.  No cramps, no bloating, no bleeding and no emotional upsets?  Somewhere during the Regency Period (1811-1820) there must have been a female dealing with these monthly woes.
Of course, since it wasn't a concern of men, except for the sexual inconvenience...there doesn't seem to be much in the way of historical records to indicate methods of personal hygiene. The medical profession was sketchy to say the least. Patent medicines, superstition and quackery abounded. I can ascertain that during this era, there were no commercial belts (appeared the mid-1800's) or disposable pads, which arrived by the late 1800's.  The general historical consensus is that the ladies of the day didn't wear anything special and just went about their business, leaving their soiled clothes for the lackeys the clean.  (No panties at this time in history, either.)
Considering the cost of clothing, the fact that garment cleanings were few and far between and the frequency with which one wore the same attire, to say nothing of the modesty of the time, I have a hard time accepting this evaluation. I can only surmise that since U.S. women at the beginning of the 20th century were using rags, it just might have been commonplace in the 1800's, too.  Of course, life was a little easier for those women of looser character.  It seems mistresses, showgirls and actresses not only had access to birth control, but also methods of dealing with their monthly flux.  Obviously, information flowed more freely among these women who depended upon their bodies to make a living.
So, what is all this leading up to?  I think I may have found my niche...novels about women who actually have periods.  Here is an excerpt from my most recent attempt at accurate Regency romance, Miranda's Menstrual Woes.

Miranda pulled her head  out from under the covers and moaned. 
"Get me a hot brick and some cocoa, right now! And get this fire going.  I'm freezing."
Darcy turned toward  Miranda, seeing her normal golden curls in a tangled mess and a look of disdain on her face. 
"Yes, mam.  I'll be right back."
Darcy trudged down the servants' staircase, holding her hand against her aching back.  She had been up for hours, unable to get comfortable on the cold floor. After checking that Miranda was still asleep, she crept silently up the the servants' quarters and performed her morning ablutions.  This morning she was hampered by the return of her flux.  Wrapping an old apron around her body like a baby's diaper, she added some rags and washed the tell-tale spots from her dress.  As she descended to the kitchen, she was greeted by a steamy blast of air.  It was a welcome relief from the chill of the rest of the house.
"Miss Miranda would like a hot brick and some cocoa."
The cook, Mrs. Brewster,  did not acknowledge her request, but set a pan  upon the burner and began heating the milk.
"I"ll just grab a quick cup of tea while I'm waiting." said Darcy.
She sat there in the warmth of the kitchen, relishing her few blissful moments of rest. Just as the chill began to melt away, Mrs. Brewster flung open the back door and stood there taking in large gulps of the icy air.  Her face was bright red and covered with sweat. Darcy had witnessed this on more than one occasion, but knew better than to inquire about her health.  Mrs. Brewster had snapped off her head the last she had tried.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Brewster was feeling some relief  as the air surrounded her over-heated body.  She trembled slightly, worrying what these sudden attacks could mean.  It was as if the devil was trying to possess her body. No matter how hard she prayed, the demon was always there.

Dibs on the red cushion!
 Upstairs, in her lovely room swathed in blue moire, Miranda was sulking.  It just wasn't fair.  The Duke of Shandlee had offered a ride in his new phaeton and she was so looking forward to seeing the jealous glances she would receive when they drove through Hyde Park.  If only she would feel less nauseous by this afternoon.  She wondered if she would even fit into her gown for Almack's tonight. Last month, her decolletage was practically swollen up to her chin! In a fit of pique, she threw her latest Jane Austen novel across the room and knocked her favorite Meissen statue off the mantle.  It was the last straw.  Miranda was in engulfed in tears when Darcy returned to her room with the hot brick and cocoa.

As he stood on the landing, Horace, the Langston family butler, sighed.  Did every woman in the world have her monthlies at the same time?  The house would be in a state of upset for the entire week.  The housekeeper, Minerva, had already chastised him twice this morning and the day had hardly begun. Loyal as he was to the Langston's, Horace's thoughts drifted to the peace and quiet of a bachelor's residence.
Check out my other books at
Prudence Passes Through Puberty
Constance's Curse
Melissa's Monthly Madness
Lady Compton Has the Blues
and coming soon
Hester's Hotflashes

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