When Kate escapes from her brother, she takes with her a pearl necklace, her inheritance from her mother. With this, she hopes to be able to establish herself in some sort of business.
Now, this may sound unrealistic in this day and age. After all, you can buy a pearl necklace for less than a hundred dollars. You can, of course, spend much more, and Kate’s necklace is a particularly fine one. However, pearls don’t conjure up visions of great wealth these days.
But that’s since 1928, when the first commercial crop of cultured pearls was harvested. Before that, you had to dive for pearls, and hope that the oyster your picked up from the sea bed had been given indigestion by a grain of sand or some other irritant and had cured himself by coating it with pearl. Needless to say, thousands of oysters had to be opened before there were enough pearls of proper size and shape to create a necklace.
As a result, throughout history pearls have been the most precious jewels, more expensive than diamonds or any other gemstones. Queens are painted draped in strands of pearls.
That didn’t mean I knew how much Kate’s necklace would be worth, and that’s the sort of thing it can be difficult to find out. I asked the Victoria and Albert Museum. They said that was an interesting question, but couldn’t answer it. Records of trials at the Old Bailey turned up the occasional pearl, but no way of knowing the size or quality. Then the Library of Congress sent me photocopies of pages from books and newspapers.
An 1830 newspaper had an excerpt from Bourrienne’s Memoirs of Napoleon Buonaparte that talked about one of Empress Josephine’s purchases. She was particularly fond of pearls, and bought a pearl necklace that had belonged to Marie Antoinette for 250,000 francs. That was about £12,000 at the time. However, a queen’s necklace, complete with historic associations, was surely more expensive than one belonging to a baronet’s wife. In 1882, at a sale of diamonds and pearls, a necklace of 147 pearls in three rows went for £3,400. That’s the equivalent of more than £4,000 in 1820. But that was a particularly impressive necklace.
I settled on an estimate of £800-£1,200. Setting up a bookshop required an investment of about £500 pounds, which would leave Kate with enough money to live on for a few years while her shop got established.
About the Book
Kate Russell is furious.
She is the daughter of a viscount, a status that has been of no use to her. It was bad enough that her father had let her grow up in virtual poverty, but now her dissolute brother wants to use her as payment for his debts. She runs away, determined to make her way so that she will never again be at the mercy of powerful men.
Then she encounters the Duke of Ashleigh.
He has overcome the shame of his parents’ scandalous lives and has a well-deserved reputation for honorable behavior. Then he encounters Kate, the niece of an old friend. There is some mystery about her background. She is not the sort of well-bred lady of impeccable reputation that he plans to marry some day, but he can’t get her out of his mind.
Dare they trust each other?
About the AuthorWhen she retired after too many years in journalism, Lillian Marek felt a longing for happy endings and stories where the good guys win and the bad guys get their just deserts. Having exhausted her library’s supply of non-gory mystery stories, she started reading romance novels, especially historical romance. This was so much fun that she thought she’d like to try her hand at writing one.So she took her computer keyboard in hand, slipped back into the 19th century, and began.
She was not mistaken—writing romance novels is as much fun as reading them.
Lil lives on Long Island, in a house built in the 18th century, before the invention of closets. It is far enough away from New York City for her to be able to pretend it’s the country (if you drive carefully and avoid highways and strip malls). Her back yard is visited by numerous squirrels and rabbits, neighbors’ cats, an occasional wild turkey, and a family of deer who live nearby. They are welcome so long as they don’t attempt to take up residence in the attic.
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