Friday, 3 July 2015

Guest Post from Maria Grace and a Giveaway of Mistaking His Character

Blog Tour - Mistaking Her Character by Maria Grace

Today I am welcoming author Maria Grace to the blog for a guest post. Maria has been doing a blog tour to celebrate the release of her new book, Mistaking Her Character, which is available to buy now.

One of the things you have probably seen mentioned in historical novels is laudanum. I know it was used for pain relief, but that's about the limit of my knowledge on this subject! Luckily, Maria knows more than me, and has written us a post about the drug, which I found very interesting and informative. Read on for more info, and a chance to win an e-book of Mistaking Her Character.

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Laudanum, the Regency era cure-all
  
Although we commonly consider drug addiction and abuse a modern world problem, the Regency era saw its fair share of it, and the drug of choice was the opioid laudanum. The use and abuse of laudanum plays a significant role in my latest novel, Mistaking Her Character.

 Laudanum was said to promote sleep, reduce anxiety, check secretions as well as treat colds, meningitis, cardiac disease, yellow fever and relieve the discomfort of menstrual cramps. Nursery maids even gave it to colicky infants. While it was only truly effective in relieving pain, cough and diarrhea, it was still one of the few effective medicinal preparations available in the era, making it easy to understand why it was so widely used.

Laudanum was easy to come by, sold by the neighborhood apothecary for pennies—less than the price of gin. If even this was too expensive, or a person was particular about the preparation, laudanum could be made at home from poppies raised in home gardens. Homemaking books, like the Receipt Book (1846) of The Honourable Ellen Jane Prideaux-Brune listed a recipes for laudanum and home remedies based upon it:

For rheumatism
One spoonful of gum-guacum mixed with two teaspoonfuls of milk,
add six drops of laudanum, and take it three times a Day.
This is the quantity for one taking.

For a cough
Two tablespoonfuls of vinegar,
Two tablespoonfuls of Treacle
60 drops of Laudanum.
take a teaspoonful of this mixture night and morning.

Laudanum inevitably found its way into many patent medicines where it was combined with everything from spices to marijuana to chloroform. These medicines were marketed as cures for migraines, diarrhea,   insomnia, and neuralgia, consumption, dysentery, “women’s troubles,” and nervous afflictions.

Perhaps more troubling were the preparations made specifically for children. Steedman’s Powder quieted teething babies. Infants’ Quietness, Soothing Syrup, and Godfrey’s Cordial, calmed colic and fretfulness even in newborns. Some of these potions enjoyed such wide spread popularity that nearly all the families of a county might use them, despite the inherent danger of death by overdose. In very small children even a few extra drops could kill.

As early as 1700, the medical community knew of opium’s addictive nature. Dr. John Jones’s medical treatise, Mysteries of Opium Reveal’d, described the “dull, mopish and heavy disposition,” as well as memory loss and agonizing withdrawal symptoms common to opium users.  Dr. Jones explained that once the honeymoon period during which opium use brought “over-achievement, self-assurance, courage, contempt of danger, and satisfaction”  ended “intolerable distresses” would set in. Over time, the addict would require more and more laudanum to achieve the same desirable euphoric effects. Moreover, withdrawal from laudanum caused symptoms even worse than the side effects from use. Withdrawal effects include cold like symptoms, insomnia, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, seizure, stroke and even suicide attempts, making recovery from addiction very difficult.

In the Victorian era as laudanum use spread to Britain’s upper and urban working classes, wide public debate raged. These concerns resulted in the 1868 Pharmacy Act. The act required that only registered chemists and pharmacists could sell opium derivatives. Although the amount and frequency of sales were unrestricted, each bottle had to be clearly labeled as poison. Later legislation required pharmacists to know customers personally, and to meticulously record each narcotic sale. However, it was not until well into the 20th century that opiate use in Britain and abroad drastically declined.

References
Laudanum http://amselbird.com/laudanum/ Accessed Sept 10, 2013
Victorian Medicine: Use of Laudanum and Treatment of the Sick
Laudanum The Heroin of the 19th Century http://redroom.com/member/frank-sanello/writing/laudanum-the-heroin-of-the-19th-century> Accessed Sept 13, 2013
Alexander Marcet. An Account of the Effects produced by a large quantity of Laudanum taken internally, and of the means used to counteract those effects. Medico-Chirurgical Transactions. 1809; 1: 77–82. PMCID: PMC2128802 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2128802/ Accessed Sept 3, 2013
Laudanum Detox and Withdrawal http://www.projectknow.com/research/laudanum-detox-and-withdrawal/> Accessed Sept 23, 2013
Withdrawal from Laduanum http://www.withdrawal.net/learn/laudanum/ Accessed Sept 23, 2013


Side effects of laudanum http://www.livestrong.com/article/95368-side-effects-laudanum/ Accessed Sept 23, 2013


Book cover: Mistaking Her Character by Maria Grace
Book Blurb
Lady Catherine de Bourgh is prepared to be very generous when it comes to medical care for her sickly daughter, Anne – generous enough to lure noted physician Dr. Thomas Bennet to give up his London practice and move his family to Rosings Park. But his good income comes with a price: complete dependence on his demanding patroness’s every whim.

Now the Bennet family is trapped, reliant on Lady Catherine for their survival. Their patroness controls every aspect of the Bennet household, from the shelves in the closet to the selection of suitors for the five Bennet daughters. Now she has chosen a husband for headstrong Elizabeth Bennet– Mr. George Wickham.

But Lady Catherine’s nephew, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is not so sure about his aunt’s choice. He is fascinated by the compassionate Elizabeth who seems to effortlessly understand everyone around her, including him. Lady Catherine has other plans for Darcy, though, and she forbids Elizabeth to even speak to him.

As Anne’s health takes a turn for the worse, Darcy and Elizabeth are thrown together as Dr. Bennet struggles to save Anne’s life. Darcy can no longer deny the truth – he is in love with Elizabeth Bennet. But Lady Catherine will do anything to stop Darcy from marrying her – even if it means Elizabeth will lose everything she loves.


Buy links

Author Bio
Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six more novels in draft form, waiting for editing, seven published novels, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and tries to run at least ten miles a week.

She can be contacted at:
Random Bits of Fascination (http://RandomBitsofFascination.com)
Austen Variations (http://AustenVariations.com)
English Historical Fiction Authors  (http://EnglshHistoryAuthors.blogspot.com)
On Twitter @WriteMariaGrace

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Giveaway!

Maria Grace has very kindly offered an international giveaway of an ebook of Mistaking Her Character. To enter, just leave a comment on this post before the end of the day on 10 July 2015. Please leave a way for me to contact you in case you are the lucky winner. Please note that this giveaway is now closed for entries.

36 comments:

  1. Very interesting piece about laudanum which appears so often in Regency fiction and JAFF, too. My email is rcmsilvia@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Regina. I've seen it mentioned in quite a few books, and I thought it was just used for pain relief. I was surprised how widespread the use of laudanum was.

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  2. This is a very interesting turn on Pride and Prejudice. Would love to read this book. You can contact me at adniamara@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Adni, it's quite a change isn't it. Although Mr Bennet wasn't the best father in canon, he was independent and he allowed his daughters to be independent too. If he was reliant on a patron for his family's income it could have made quite a difference to his outlook. Thanks for your comment.

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  3. Certainly a change from the original - Mr. Bennet must have a change of character to be a successful doctor

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    1. Yes, he must have had a stronger work ethic to be successful!

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  4. and again I forgot my email - meikleblog at gmail dot com

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  5. Yes, I have come to realize how widespread the usage was and so sad that people were killing their offspring this way. odara7rox(at)rcn(dot)com

    I read this story while it was a WIP but would love my own copy. I will buy it if I don't win a copy. Thanks for the chance. Happy 4th.

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    1. Hi Sheila. I can't imagine what it must have been like for parents then, I worry about giving my children medicine, but the things I give them are all checked and tested really well and it's easy to avoid an overdose.

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  6. Having read as a WIP, I love this story and look forward to reading the final version. Am enjoying your blog tour. Thank you for another chance to win.
    Cherringtonmb at sbcglobal dot net

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    1. HI Becky, glad you enjoyed the story as a WIP. Good luck in the giveaway :)

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  7. I've enjoyed Maria Grace's books in the past so I'm looking forward to this one too! I'll be picking it up even if I don't win. (keepcalmwithbooksandcoffee@gmail.com)

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    1. Hi Julie, thanks for your comment. Hope you enjoy the book when you read it.

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  8. The history of medicine is such a fascinating and terrifying thing! Hundreds of years from now they'll probably look back and think the same about our times, I suppose.

    monicaperry00 at gmail dot com

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    1. That is so true, Monica, each generation is amazed at dangerous things that used to be commonplace in the past!

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  9. A very interesting read regarding the laudanum. As much as I love reading about the Regency time period I am quite happy to live in the 21st century :) Intriguing P&P variation as well. I have enjoyed the author's previous books so I will be adding this to my list! Thanks for the giveaway!!! Lumee23 at gmail dot com

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    1. Me too, Shannon. I love reading historicals and learning about the past, but I am glad to live now, particularly as somebody who has had two children via c-section, I dread to think what would have happened to me if I'd lived hundreds of years ago!

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  10. Interesting information about laudanum. I thought it was only used to relieve pain. Scary to think people used it on children.

    Thanks for the giveaway! I'd love to win a copy!

    Pam
    Pamh5230 at yahoo dot com

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    1. I thought that was the most frightening thing too Pamela, the fact that children used to be given it! Good luck in the giveaway.

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  11. Interesting info about thge laudanum and his use. I do not think was so widely used in that era. Thanks for the giveaway adavittoria (at) email (dot) it

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post Euridice, I didn't know it was so widely used either!

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  12. Quite an interesting read about laudanum. I really would love to read this story, I just have to work harder or win a giveaway. Thanks for the chance!

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    1. Thanks for your comment Tgruy, and good luck :)

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  13. Oh this is indeed a very interesting book !
    i'd love to read it ! really

    o.selfportrait.o@gmail.com

    or

    twitter : @DeAutumnOo

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    1. I agree, it looks like an interesting change to the Bennet family circumstances. Good luck in the giveaway!

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  14. That's fascinating, Maria Grace! I always like your historical blogs. The novel sounds intriguing. Angst, like I like! Thanks! (myfullauthorname) at gmail dot com

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    1. Thanks for commenting Suzan :)

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  15. Thanks for sharing this informative piece, Maria Grace. I would love the chance to read the edited version.

    evangelineace2020(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  16. Such an information post. It's interesting what laudanum was used for. It's almost like Windex in My Big Fat Greek Wedding... Thank you for the giveaway. My email is tdungnvu (at) yahoo (dot) com

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    1. That is so funny Dung Vu, you really made me giggle with this! My husband has a huge Mediterranean family, and that film is a favourite with us, so much of it rings true! I hope I won't think of people spraying laudanum at the dinner table from now on ;)

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  17. I have two of Maria's books. The talk about opiates and laudanum reminds me of a mystery I read written by Anne Perry, A Sunless Sea. There was talk at the end about passing a law regarding opium and regulating it because you could just walk into a shop and buy some.

    catbooks72(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. It's mad to think of the dangerous things you could buy freely years ago!

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  18. I have always been fascinated by the references to laudanum from writers like Arnold Bennett who often had characters addicted to it, and then there's Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp's friend who was an addict as well he had TB. In fact, I think much of the old west was reeling from the effects of opiates and pot....dentists used it all the time for those tooth pulls! My great grandfather was a dentist and he used it... There were all kinds of old medical bottles in my grandfathers office... He too was a dentist through the war ll and used powerful drugs with patients for pain management. Pretty amazing that the human race survived at all what with Lead in makeup and wigs and opiates for medicine, Mercury and lead in paint and utensils. Writers getting very ill from the ink... Glad they don't nowadays as we wouldn't have the opportunity to read such lovely books and read this very fun blog! Great stuff!

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    1. Thanks for your comment! Interesting stuff about your great grandfather too!

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  19. Winner posted: http://babblingsofabookworm.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/winner-mistaking-her-character-by-maria.html

    Thanks everybody, for your comments

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