Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Let's Get Scientifical #18: From Widow to Wife

Welcome to Unwritten's February blog event! Of course, this is the month of love, so I wanted to celebrate that theme as I've done in year's past. But this year, I've decided to add a scientific spin to it. All month long, talented authors from several genres will write about some aspect of love from their books as it relates to science. It could be social, psychological, biological, or anything in between. Our blog event is sponsored by "HMC by Kate", a fabulous independent jewelry crafter. Kate's giving away one of her very beautiful necklaces that I think fits our theme perfectly. She's also offering everyone who stops in a 10% discount on any item from her Etsy store. Be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post and check out her lovely offerings! Without further ado, please welcome our guest author:

From Widow to Wife
Mysti Parker

In my upcoming historical romance, A Time for Everything, Portia McAllister has to make a difficult choice. With her husband killed in battle, her only child taken by sickness and with taxes a poor Confederate widow cannot pay, she decides to leave home to work as a tutor for a Union veteran’s son in Lebanon, Tennessee. Only after a great deal of resentment do she and her employer, Beau Stanford, find common ground and eventually love.

Had it not been for the war, her progress from widow to wife would have been much different. If Portia’s husband Jake had died of natural causes at home instead of on a battlefield, she may have had the chance to sit beside him in his last hours. She would have worn black mourning clothes for a period of up to two years. Should her daughter have died—and this was still quite likely, as child mortality rates were much higher before the rise of vaccines and antibiotics—Portia would have worn black for at least a year.

Having had no other close relations, her husband’s brother Frank and his wife Ellen would have taken her in. Portia would have helped take care of their children and home, while Frank would have made the decision whether to sell his dead brother’s property or claim it as his own.

Soon as the mourning period passed, Portia would have been eligible to marry again. Her husband would most likely have resided nearby in Brentwood or the area surrounding it. He would have to have Frank’s blessing to marry her, as her brother-in-law was her closest male relative and would be responsible for her well-being. Once married, she would move into her new husband’s home and be fully integrated into his family. 

A Time for Everything coming this fall
 from EsKape Press
But the war changed everything, especially for the former Confederates. Many widows who were poor already like Portia were left practically destitute. Even if they were lucky enough to have family who could take them in, that family might be just as destitute. In Frank and Ellen’s case, it was all they could do to keep themselves and their children fed, so they couldn't take on the burden of a dead relative’s property or a widow. Though they begged Portia to stay, she didn't want to add to their hardship.

So she did another thing most women would have never done pre-war. She left home to live and work in a stranger’s household. A Union household at that. She didn’t arrive wearing mourning clothes, either. Not because she didn’t want to, but because she couldn’t afford to purchase or even dye those garments herself.

Before the war, Beau would have never entrusted his son to a Confederate’s widow, nor would he have allowed himself to fall in love with her. Yet, the war obliterated more than men and bricks and mortar. It forced new social rules upon everyone. Former slaves were now free, but struggling under the weight of what freedom brought with it. Veterans were left handicapped, with missing limbs or internal scars that would never heal. And widows were left to fend for themselves, taking on the provider role of their late husbands.

When widows finally did become wives again, they often had to marry men who were much older or younger, or those who had once been considered enemies. Like Beau and Portia—two people who understand the pain of loss, let go of dead social conventions, and find comfort in each other's arms. 


Bio: Mysti Parker is a wife, mom, author, and shameless chocoholic. She is the author of the Tallenmere standalone fantasy romance series and The Roche Hotel romantic comedy series. Her short writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, Christmas Lites II, Christmas Lites IV, The Darwin Murders, Tasteful Murders and EveryDayFiction. Her award-winning historical romance, A Time for Everything, will be published this summer by EsKape Press.

Other writing pursuits include serving as a class mentor in Writers Village University's seven week online course, F2K. She has published one children’s book, Quentin’s Problem (as Misty Baker), with another (Fuzzy Buzzy’s Treasure) coming this spring.

When she's not writing fiction, Mysti works as a freelance editor and copywriter. She also reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder's Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.

Author links
Visit Mysti’s website: www.mystiparker.com


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