Surviving the Deadly Killer Hoop Skirts of the 1800s
But women soon found that fashion came at a price and many paid with their lives to be au courant. The New York Times reported that 40,000 deaths were attributed to crinoline fires during the height of the hoop skirt’s popularity. Even the little dog here is on fire!
Other hoop skirt deaths were caused by hoops becoming entangled in the wheels of a passing wagon or swept into the sea by a gust and then pulled under by the steel cage or caught in machinery while working.
In my all-time favorite movie The Piano Holly Hunter’s character Ida gets pulled down into the ocean by her piano, her heavy dress and hoop not helping her rescue.
Quite a price to pay for accentuating a tiny waist.
Woohoo Going on the Road Again, This Time With the LOST ROSES Paperback.
Just can’t wait to get on the road again, this time for LOST ROSES, the prequel to LILAC GIRLS that tells the story of Caroline Ferriday’s mother Eliza Mitchell Ferriday and her fight to help Russian women who’d lost everything in the Bolshevik Revolution. It’s out in paperback March 3rd and can’t wait to criss-cross the country once again, sharing the true story behind the book AND disclosing what’s to come in the third book in the series. Hope I’m coming to your hometown–I will post links to the events on my website marthahallkelly.com under events.
The Arrival of Seventeen Pounds of LOST ROSES Paperbacks Brightened Up This Snowy Connecticut Day.
This was a fun box to open, LOST ROSES paperbacks hot off the presses. Love seeing the photos they chose for the paperback author’s note! Can’t wait to get out on the paperback tour in March to spread the word.
How Visting Rue Chabonais in Paris Helped the Brothel in Lost Roses Come Alive
When I was researching Lost Roses, spending time in Paris was a wonderful necessity and I visited Rue Chabanais, former site of the infamous brothel, since it features prominently in the book. Once, the five-story townhouse was decorated as a grotto, with toadstool tables, faux rocks and a noisy waterfall, the most sumptuous house of pleasure in Europe at the time. Opened and operated by Madame Kelly starting in 1846 close to the the Louvre, Le Chabanais entertained high-society visitors who spent time in the arms of thirty black-stockinged courtesans in residence.
Every room at the brothel had a theme. The Louis XVI room provided decadent royal nostalgia, and the Moorish room was a favorite of poet Guy de Maupassant, who made his own replica of the room in his home. A frequent guest of Le Chabanais, King Edward VII had a sphinx copper bathtub made for his favorite suite to provide champagne skinny dips, while Toulouse-Lautrec, another famous visitor, donated sixteen oil paintings featuring centaurs in the throes of passion.
Today there is little trace of the brothel, which shuttered in 1946. It exists as an exotic footnote in French history and in the pages of Lost Roses, where Sofya is forced to live for a while, along with former aristocratic Russians forced to work as courtesans, and where she ends up working as an accounts collector.
As We Ring Out the Holidays I Wanted to Share my Civil War Tree
Just before the holidays I finished my third book, a Civil War novel about Caroline Ferriday’s great grandmother Jane Eliza Woolsey and her eight children, three of which were nurses during the war. While I was finishing the book I collected ornaments to decorate my Civil War-era tree, one of the many things I did to get in the mood for the period and help it come alive. Christmas trees were a new thing during that time and blown glass ornaments had not yet caught on widely in this country, so people decorated their tabletop trees with handmade objects and garlands, small gifts and even political badges and flags.
Each year we do a holiday celebration at Caroline’s house, the Bellamy-Ferriday House and Garden, in Bethlehem, Connecticut and we’re talking about a Civil War Christmas next year, in advance of this book. Can’t wait. By then I’ll have collected a whole tree full of ornaments.