A Nice Place to Visit…

The following is an updated re-posting of an article I wrote a few years ago:

I have always found history fascinating, especially 19th century history, and I particularly enjoy reading historical romances. Unfortunately, many of the romance novels published nowadays contain graphic sexuality, and it is becoming difficult to find ones which do not include detailed descriptions of immoral behavior. So I decided to write one which I myself would enjoy reading, with no graphic sexuality and with Catholic characters.

The 19th century experienced the 1812 War, the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, the reign of Queen Victoria and the invention of photography. I find myself in awe of the quality of the daguerreotypes and tintypes, but I am most intrigued with the expressions on people’s faces in these early photographs. Many, if not most, of the people in these old photographs have a neutral or unhappy expression (although I realize it was probably because it took so long to capture the image).

Years ago, I bought a book on the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 (which took place in Philadelphia) and I imagined being part of this extravagant event. Those brief thoughts were the beginning of my novel, In Name Only.

As much as I find history fascinating, there are many aspects of Victorian life which do not appeal to me, like corsets, repressed sexuality, outhouses, women having few legal rights, women dying in childbirth and so on.

I’ve been told by my physician that if I had lived in the 19th century, I probably would have died in childbirth. So I’m happy to be living in the 21st century, in a house built 19 years ago, where I can curl up on a comfortable Lazy Boy chair, turn up the heat and read a great historical novel.

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach
Victorian Clipart from: http://antiqueclipart.com/

Fiction Friday – Stealing Jenny

The first Fiction Friday post is from my upcoming novel, Stealing Jenny (to be published in September), which is about the abduction of a pregnant mother by an emotionally unstable infertile woman:

Jenny and her son began the short jaunt up the street to the bus stop. Caleb, at three years of age, was not walking as fast as she’d like, but the bus wouldn’t be arriving for another ten minutes. She thought back to Tom’s question about his mom coming over and helping her out at home. He wasn’t serious — just angry this morning — which was why he suggested it. But it annoyed her when Tom mentioned his mother in an argument.

Since the separation, then divorce, of Tom’s parents three years ago, Doris had become increasingly more belligerent. Jenny tried to be sensitive to her mother-in-law’s emotional highs and lows. But when she was having a bad day, Jenny was almost always on the receiving end of any criticisms and cross comments. Doris had always been critical of Jenny’s laissez-faire attitude towards housekeeping, but generally speaking, before the divorce, her mother-in-law would keep those comments to herself. Since the break up, however, that had changed.

Her mom had offered to pick up the kids from the bus stop next week, as well as perform the household duties, when Jenny was closer to delivery. Jenny understood why her mom wanted to be with her ailing sister in Saskatchewan, but she secretly wished that her mother would return sooner.

As she approached the bus stop, Jenny noticed a woman there. That’s odd. My girls are the only ones who get off at this stop. I wonder why she’s there. Immediately, she became uneasy and looked away. Stop it, Jen. This is Sutherland, a quiet neighborhood with virtually no crime rate.

The woman was smoking and staring in the distance. As usual, that area was deserted until the neighborhood kids returned home from school.

The lady looked familiar. She was tall and slightly overweight. Jenny glanced at her middle and realized that the woman was wearing a maternity top. When Jenny moved closer to her, the woman finally made eye contact. “Hello, Jenny. How are you?”

“I’m fine. Are you waiting for somebody?”

“I’m waiting for you.” The woman dropped the cigarette on the ground and stamped it out.

“Me? Do I know you?”

“Uh-huh. I work at the Sutherland Veterinary Hospital.”

“Oh, right.”

“How’s Bootsie doing?”

“She’s fine, uh…”

“Denise.”

“Right, Denise.”

“I remembered that you were expecting pretty soon?”

“Yes. You too?”

“Uh…yes, me too.”

“When are you due?”

“Around the same time as you.”

“Oh?” Jenny’s large round stomach looked about like it was about to pop compared to this woman, who appeared to be six months pregnant at most. She must be having a small baby.

“Well, you know,” Denise continued, “my cousin’s got these maternity and baby clothes and they’re all high end stuff and I remembered seeing you and wondered if you might like them.”

“That’s nice of you, but don’t you need them?”

“I’ve already taken a bunch and these are the ones I won’t use. Come over here. I’ve got them right here in my car.”

Jenny thought the woman was a bit strange, and again, she felt uneasy, but she wanted to be polite. After all, she did know her from the vet’s office and she was pregnant. If you can’t trust a pregnant woman, who can you trust? “I guess it can’t hurt to take a look, but I’m almost ready to deliver and won’t be needing any maternity clothes.” Denise walked quickly to a car parked close by, Jenny and Caleb following behind. She could see the woman opening up the back door and leaning in. She stepped back. “Right in there.”

Jenny lowered her head to peer inside. She couldn’t see clothes anywhere. All of a sudden, she felt something smashed against her face and nose. Breathing in a vaguely sweet scent, she jerked her head from side to side. She opened her mouth to cry out and inadvertently inhaled. She tried to move her arms, but she immediately went limp.

Stealing Jenny will be published this September.

copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach