Highlighting Historical Romance with Jeanine Englert and Victorian funeral practices
Layer-out of the Dead: Once a Matriarchal Profession
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?
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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.
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