Monday, July 1, 2019

Layer-out of the Dead: Once a Matriarchal Profession


Congratulations to "Erin", the winner in Jeanine's giveaway. Please contact JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE to claim your prize!

The layer-out of the dead of times past was the equivalent to today’s mortician. Preparing bodies for burial was predominantly performed by women up until the later portion of the Victorian era when mourning and all the practices that came along with it became its own business. Once men learned of the money that could be had in preparing bodies for burial and honoring the loss of loved ones, morticians became fashionable and the “business” of burying the dead was born, displacing many of the jobs previously performed by women to men. And as you may have guessed, the layer-out was well, out of fashion.
The business of dying became a consumer affair full of tradition and etiquette. Not only were there specific mourning clothes, procedures, and practices after a family member passed on, there were preparations one often made while one lived. It wasn’t uncommon for families to go without the necessities while living to ensure they had the money needed to provide a proper rather than pauper like burial for any of their family members if they died. “Burial clubs” ensured such appropriate funerals, by providing an insurance policy of sorts, to families making sure its members were cared for and provided proper funerals, when needed.
The job of preparing a body for burial had morphed into a business, one that no longer needed a simple layer-out of the dead, like my novel’s heroine, Lucy Wycliffe. But for hundreds of years before that, women had been the primary preparers and caregivers of the dead before they were seen to pass on to whatever they believed to be the next world.

About the Book:

When two murders strike the sleepy Victorian town of Clun, England, an unlikely partnership forms. But can the killer be found before there is a third?

Lovely Digits is the town oddity…

But quirky spinster Lucy Wycliffe prefers to ignore gossip and embrace her position as the town’s layer out of the dead, despite how her parents’ deaths thrust her into such unlikely work. Lovely Digits, as she’s known to the local townspeople, no longer dreams of marriage, but takes pride in providing dignity to the dead. Desperate to hold on to her family’s cottage and support her widowed sister and young niece, an unexpected offer of employment as assistant to the constable arrives at the perfect time.

Former sailor John Brodie is the mysterious new constable…

 But John Brodie is far from a stranger to Clun or the events of its past. Accepting the position as constable in the small town is a double edged sword meant to heal his past and redeem his future, but falling for the beautiful and intelligent Lucy Wycliffe was never part of his plan. As the killer closes in, will John reveal his secret and risk losing everything to save Lucy’s life?


Excerpt:

Clun, England
1849

A knocking on the cottage door above stairs startled Lucy, and she poked her finger with the thick sewing needle she held.
“Thistles,” she cursed, pressing her apron to her bleeding thumb. Evidently, repairing the tear at the hem of Becca’s dress would have to wait.
Who would be calling at such an early hour? It was hardly half past nine.
“Enter,” she called up from her root cellar.
She shuddered as the door squeaked open above her. She should oil the blasted hinges on the ancient door, but who had time for such nonsense? Her finger throbbed, but the blood had stopped. Shaking it in the air, she caught sight of the pale female form on her prepping table.
What am I complaining of?
Poor Becca. Lucy swallowed hard. Covering and repairing the girl’s wounds would prove difficult, but she’d try. Becca was her friend. Had been her friend.
“I hear if I need a body prepped, you are the person to see.” A deep rich baritone boomed against the cottage rafters.
The man’s neatly clipped tones screamed city. Londoner, most likely. What would he want here in Shropshire? Nothing of much import ever happened here.



Giveaway
Enter for the chance to win a free e-book copy of my debut release, Lovely Digits! *U.S. Residents Only!*


About the Author:
Jeanine Englert is a Golden Heart ® Finalist and Daphne du Maurier Award winner in historical romantic suspense. After years of writing in secret, she joined Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers in 2013 and has been an active member ever since. She writes Scottish Highland historicals and historical romantic suspense novels. When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved pups, and of course mysteries with other readers on Twitter @JeanineWrites, Facebook, or at her website www.jeaninewrites.com.

Her debut novel, Lovely Digits, released in June of 2019 by Soul Mate Publishing, is a Victorian romantic suspense that won the 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award and was named a 2018 Golden Heart ® Finalist for best unpublished romantic suspense.

Where you can find me:

4 comments:

  1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. This sounds fantastic! Thanks for sharing :)

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  3. Erin, Thank you for stopping in to read my blog, and congrats on being the winner of my e-book! Hope you enjoy it! Happy reading! -Jeanine

    ReplyDelete

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