When we think about how quickly changes occur in the field of medicine in today’s world, it’s hard to believe so little was known in the early 19th century. Great strides came a half a decade later, but before that the practice of medicine was a matter of experience. If the patient didn’t die, the treatment must have worked.
In Scandal’s Child, my new release out July 19, my heroine is engaged to take care of a little girl who has recently become blind. Phoebe’s mother died in a fire and the child was found in the street outside the building, her sight gone. The year is 1811 and the story takes place in London and in the Village of Longley.
Miranda is a practical young woman whose late husband was a village surgeon. In Regency terms, surgeon meant he had medical training and was the equivalent of a general practitioner. In my story, the training was at the College of Edinburgh, a place where many doctors went to school. But effective treatments were developed through experience. Bleeding a patient was still done and hand-washing to prevent infection was still relatively new.
The child is taken to Moorfields Eye Hospital, founded in 1805 as the London Dispensary for Curing Diseases of the Eye and Ear. It was one of the first hospitals to treat people with eye afflictions and is still around today. In my story, they find nothing wrong with Phoebe’s eyes. At that point in the book the child begins to lose hope.
The blind were treated like invalids. But Miranda is clever and finds ways to improve Phoebe’s mind while hoping for her recovery. She recalls a village child who suffered a blow to the head that temporarily caused blindness, but whose eyesight returned. When time passes without a hint of improvement, Phoebe’s guardian falls prey to a quack who pretends to be able to cure children with eye afflictions and Miranda, who is instantly suspicious, takes action.
This is my first foray into the world of Regency England. It is first and foremost a story about lovers who were parted by a lie, but who gradually come together through their mutual love of the blind girl. It has some steamier parts than my Love in Wine Country contemporaries, but the genre calls for it and the hero and heroine have to fight their passion while solving several mysteries from the past and present.
I had fun researching medicine in the early 19th century. While many of the same afflictions are with us today, the medical community didn’t give them a name until much later—especially those related to the mind. Phoebe has hysterical blindness, a term totally unknown until the 20th century.
If you like historical romance, be sure and check it out. This one is published by SoulMate Publishing who puts their books in Kindle Unlimited, but print books also will be available. Hope you enjoy it.