I’m very excited that MIRA Books has re-issued my 2008 Edwardian historical romance The Last Rake in London. It has a new title – Dauntsey Park – and a gorgeous new cover!
Writing about the Edwardian era was a new departure for me. The book is set in 1908 and the research was fascinating. In may ways the time period reminded me of the Regency, almost 100 years before. Not for nothing was the Edwardian era know as “The Gilded Age” with its opulence and excess, at least in the higher strata of society! Like the Regency it was also a time of huge change, both in society and in terms of technology. It was the era that saw the first mass-produced cars most famous which was Henry Ford’s Model T. The telephone was a novelty (as anyone who has seen the struggles of Carson the butler with it in Downton Abbey will know!) and the first flying machines were taking to the air. Parts of the London Underground were built and it was already known as “The Tube.”
Fashion was also as glamorous as in the Regency period. Both women and men in the upper echelons of society changed their clothing several times a day depending on the social occasion. Men wore the “sacque suit,” a three-piece suit including waistcoat, worn with coloured shirts and a silk tie. The tuxedo was coming into fashion, replacing the tail coat for formal evening wear. In The Last Rake in London, the hero’s great-aunt comments unfavourably on his “modern” outfit when he appears wearing a tux. For sporting pursuits the knickerbocker was fashionable, worn with a Norfolk coat of tweed.
For ladies the most glamorous gowns came from the House of Worth in Paris. Sumptuous clothing in silk, satin, chiffon, tussore, faille, crepe de chine, mohair, and cashmere was all the rage. For full effect, it needed to be trimmed with lace, fur, feathers or braid. Hats got larger and larger during the Edwardian decade. Even the food was trimmed with added decoration; roast pheasant would be served with its tail feathers! The dinner table was a work of art. It would be adorned with flowers, perhaps in gold or silver wicker baskets, with roses a particular favourite, entwined with ferns and ivy. The table flowers were often chosen to match the hostess’s gown! Such attention to detail required a huge hall of servants to carry off. At Ashdown House during the Victorian and Edwardian period there were forty outdoor servants attending to the garden and grounds, the potting sheds, flowerbeds and hothouses. There were another forty indoor servants keeping the house going.
There is an excerpt from The Last Rake in London, much more background research, and a special contest here on my website!
Are you a fan of Downton Abbey? Do you enjoy historical fiction set in the Edwardian era? I’m offering a copy of Dauntsey Park: The Last Rake in London to one commenter today!