Alcohol abuse in the Regency era
The heroine of my book A Lady’s Addiction has a problem with alcohol. Anna used it to self-medicate, to deal with the disgusting attentions from her husband. Now a widow, Anna struggles to rid herself of her nightly ritual of drinking a bottle of wine to dull her senses.
The term alcoholism wasn’t around in the Regency era and wasn’t coined until 1852. Reformers labeled those who often drank in excess as habitual drunkards. At the time habitual drunkenness wasn’t seen as a disease. I portrayed Anna as an alcohol abuser not an alcoholic. She uses alcohol to de-stress. If she continues on this path she would most likely become an alcoholic.
Anna’s drink of choice was wine. Wine was plentiful in upper class Regency households. Wine was a gentlemanly drink. It was imported and expensive, perfect as a posh drink for the upper classes. During the years of war between France and England it was harder to get French wine. The English turned to new favorite wines from Spain, and Portugal. These wines were Madeira, Malaga, port, or sherry. The hero in my book refers to Portuguese wine in the first chapter.
During the Gin Craze in 18th century London binge drinking became a huge social problem. Gin was cheap and readily available to the lower classes. The heavy consumption of alcohol continued during the Regency. In the Reminisces of Captain Gronow, the author stated: “Drinking was the fashion of the day.”
It is well known that George IV drank heavily. Did George’s excessive drinking reflect current fashion or set it? I think both. Drinking played an extremely important social role in eighteenth century England. Anyone who reads Regency historical novels has heard of gout. The high consumption of port and fortified wines led to the upper class disease of gout.
What about women drinking in the Regency era? While there are many cartoons and articles from the Regency showing excess drinking by men, it was much harder to find information about those Regency women who may have abused alcohol. Lady Caroline Lamb was known to be addicted to alcohol and laudanum near the end of her life. It is taken for granted that women of society drank to relieve the boredom and monotony of their lives. Women drank wine with their meals and drank sherry in the drawing room after dinner. It is not hard to imagine women overindulging with all the alcohol surrounding them.
What do you think of a romance heroine dealing with alcohol abuse? Would you prefer the hero to be the one dealing with such a struggle? One reader who leaves a comment on this blog post will receive a $10 Amazon gift card.
About A Lady’s Addiction
Anna, a widow battling alcohol addiction is convinced she is worthless unless she bears a child. She hires a lover to prove she is not frigid and may marry again and have children.
Devlyn, sterile from an accident, has returned from an assignment for the Foreign Office and inadvertently becomes Anna’s lover.
Anna and Devlyn join forces to protect an innocent child from a blackmailer. Can they come to terms not only with their feelings for each other but whether they will allow society to dictate the true significance of life?
She couldn’t remember the question she’d asked. His nearness unsettled her. Her entire body had flared into wakefulness the moment he entered her room. Cecily could be right; this man might be able to help with her problem.
Tonight she would play a part. She would emulate the sophisticated façade her friend Cecily Pickerel displayed. The scandalous nightgown underneath her thin robe was in fact a gift from Cecily. She would never have had enough courage to buy such a shocking garment for herself.
“You are discreet?”
“What is your name?” Franco asked, ignoring her question.
Somewhere in the back of her mind she remembered Cecily telling her she needn’t share personal information. She would never see this man again. He didn’t move in her circles. With the slightest of shrugs, she answered truthfully, “Anna.”
“Anna,” he said in a husky rasp. The way her name rolled off his tongue sent the lightest frisson along her skin. “It is a graceful, pretty name. It suits you.”
“There is no need to flatter me.” She felt heat on her cheeks. “It is a common enough name.”
“Despite our current situation, my dear, I do not believe you are at all common.”
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About the Author
I joined the US Air Force to see the world. My dreams of visiting the United Kingdom were fulfilled when I was stationed at RAF Lakenheath in the beautiful countryside of Suffolk, England. Five years later I returned to the states having acquired a wonderful husband and a love of all things British. I began writing as a hobby when my husband was remote to Honduras for a year. I found RWA and a local New Mexico chapter, LERA, and my hobby developed into a dream of sharing my stories with others. I currently live in the great state of Alaska with my wonderful husband and our two teenage boys.