Her Lady’s Fortune

Together they could help thousands of people, if only they can trust each other.

Philanthropist PRIYA HOWICK isn’t the same person she was before WWI. Only one thing remains true—she has always been defined by her relationship with her brother. Ashwin is the heir to both Lord Dalhinge, and the Carlingford shipbuilding fortune, and that makes her a natural target for those who wish to have the family wealth for themselves. She’s been taught to be wary of outsiders and their motives, which means all her friends are from her family’s close circle. Once, before the war, she stepped outside those boundaries, and met Rosalie, a beautiful older woman. But what happened next only proved her family correct. Now the war is over and Priya has created a charity to build houses for war widows, but her brother sets it up as a joint venture with the bank, Sanderson and Sons. She has to work with Rosalie, and the same sparks fly. Priya must decide if she is brave enough to risk everything. Not just her money and therefore her independence, but also her heart.

Assertive bank manager ROSALIE SANDERSON is the only damned serious person in her family. She’s forty-two, the manager of Sanderson and Sons bank, and tired of having to continually prove that she is capable of making a profit and running the family business successfully. Very few people accept her as she is, and it stings that young Priya Howick is one of them. They had one incredible evening together before the war, and then it went sour for no apparent reason, and Priya has been distant in their few business meetings. The rejection shouldn’t nag at her like this, like rubbing salt in a papercut. All the old wounds and passions need to be confronted when Priya arrives at the bank with an incredible work proposal. Rosalie must decide if the opportunity to help thousands of people is worth the heart ache of being close to Priya again.

Content Warnings

WWI injuries, Spanish flu references.

Historical Notes

In November 1918, the British Prime Minister Lloyd George gave a speech, nicknamed ‘homes for heroes’ and this led to The Housing and Town Planning Act of 1919 (aka The Addison Act). The costs of his new housing was shared between tenants, local rate payers, and the Government’s Treasury. Most work didn’t start until 1920, with any housing built prior to that relying on private charities, such as the fictional one run by Priya.

Approximately one third of the 9.7million men killed in WWI left behind a widow, and in Great Britain, this amounted to some 240,000 war widows. Data from Wall, Richard / Winter, Jay (eds.): The upheaval of war. Family, work, and welfare in Europe, 1914-1918, Cambridge; New York 1988: Cambridge University Press.

War Widows were entitled to a weekly pension, depending on the rank of their deceased husband, ranging from 10 shillings a week up to 20 shillings a week. They also gained an extra amount per child, ranging from 6 to 10 shillings per week. This pension had to be applied for within 7 years of the husband’s death, and could be removed if the widow engaged in inappropriate behaviour, or got remarried. By comparison, the average working women’s income was 11 shillings per week, and men’s average was 26 shillings per week. By comparison, it cost the British government £100,000 to build a destroyer, and over £2million to build an armoured battleship.

The Bloomsbury Group, or Circle, was an informal gathering of friends that began in Bloomsbury around 1908 or 1910, and steadily expanded to include more friends. Many influential artists, art critics, and writers, were part of the group, and many became conscientious objectors during WWI, moving to a farm purchased by Phillip and Ottoline Morrell.

Among the more famous Gaiety Girls are Mabel Russel who, as Mrs Philipson, became the third women elected to the House of Commons in England in 1923 (women were allowed from 1918); many became actresses, and so many of the Gaiety Girls married into the aristocracy that it became a running joke in PG Wodehouse books. With regards to Ashwin’s fiancé, Eliza Hayley, there were many black women performing on stage in America and across Europe, with Josephine Baker being the most famous. African Americans were part of the American musical theatre scene from the very beginning with Bob Cole opening his New York based theatre company for African Americans in 1897. Many famous singers and performers came from here, and one of the early successes, In Dahomey, travelled to England where it ran for seven months in 1903 to great acclaim in London. Read more in: Musical Theatre, An Appreciation by Alyson McLamore.

Priya's car, the 1914 Rover Clegg Twelve can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hfExaUuXl0 

The Women’s Hospital Corps (WHC) was founded by Dr Flora Murray and Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson. Both were members of the suffragette organisation, Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) founded by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst. When war seemed inevitable, their experience as suffrage campaigners taught them that women doctors would likely be rejected by the Army. So when this did happen, they were prepared to respond. Only eight days after war was declared, Murray and Garrett Anderson headed to Paris and the French Embassy. The combination of their rusty French and France’s desire to ‘urgently acquire’ medical supplies and equipment paved the way for them to establish a military hospital in France. Murray believed that the French simply didn’t understand that they intended women to staff the hospital. Back in England, the pair raised funds, designed uniforms for doctors and orderlies, recruited staff, and bought supplies. Within four weeks, they were in Paris, and opened their first military hospital in the Hotel Claridge on 22 September 1914. By the 6th of November, they opened a second hospital at Chateau Mauricien at Wimereux near Boulogne, and had 165 beds in both hospitals. Five months later, they had demonstrated effective management and medical abilities, and the British Army Medical Services donated them a building, the St Giles Workhouse in Covent Garden, to establish a military hospital in London. The army slowed down their progress, and it didn’t open for another three months, however, the Endell Street Military Hospital was the only military hospital run by women within the British Army during WWI. This allowed women doctors to work in all of the British Army hospitals across the war zones. For more: Women to the Front, by Heather Sheard and Ruth Lee.

The Goring Hotel opened in 1910 and was the first hotel in London to have ensuite bathrooms in every room. It is still open and owned by the same family. I couldn’t find a menu from 1919 for The Goring, but I did find one for the Grosvenor Hotel and have based the meal on that one. Claridge’s Hotel claims to have the oldest lift in London, a manned OTIS lift dating back to 1896. By 1906, when The Ritz was constructed, lift technology had improved to the point where a person could ride and operate the lift without an assistant.

The Philadelphia Tribune is the oldest Black owned and operated newspaper in America. Started by Christopher Perry Sr in 1884 as a one page weekly, it continues to operate as a news source “to provide timely and compelling news that is informative and relevant to the African-American experience.”

The Boar’s Head theatre in London built in 1598 was the first to have an indoor toilet for guests. With the Victorian obsession with cleanliness and the Bazalgette sewage system, it is safe to assume theatres in 1919 had indoor toilet facilities for the audience. The s-bend was invented in 1775, and the first public toilets opened in 1851 at The Crystal Palace. Over 800,000 people paid a penny each to use them in the first six months of opening. By the time Sir Thomas Crapper entered the toilet industry, the flush toilet had gone through many designs and was already in use in many wealthy households. Crapper did hold nine patents for toilet designs, most famously an improved s-bend from 1880. He was one of the Victorian era’s largest toilet manufacturers.

To eat humble pie - 1830
Status quo – 1833
Gold digger – 1816 for man who seeks gold, 1915 for woman who pursues man for money

Recipes

Poulet en Casserole Forestiere - Forest Chicken Casserole

(Based on: https://www.recettesquebecoises.com/recette/11462-casserole-de-poulet-forestiere)

Ingredients (per person)

1 chicken breast

4 baby potatoes

A handful of mushrooms (mixture of types if you like)

4 shallots (or small onions)

1/8 cup of wine

¼ cup of cream

Olive oil

Tarragon, thinly sliced garlic, salt and pepper (the traditional French recipe only has tarragon, but I rather like garlic, salt and pepper, and would probably add a little chilli too).

Method:

Boil potatoes, drain and add to a roasting dish. In a frying pan, add olive oil and brown the chicken on both sides. Put the browned chicken into the roasting dish. In the frying pan, saute the sliced mushrooms and whole onions. Add them to the roasting dish, then add the wine to the frying pan and reduce to half the volume. Add the cream and tarragon and other flavourings until warm, then pour the sauce over the chicken, potatoes, etc in the roasting dish. Cover the roasting dish with either a lid or aluminium foil, and place in a 180C oven for approximately 40 minutes until the chicken is cooked.

 

Saumon froid Sauce Tartare - Cold salmon with a tartare sauce

I couldn’t find a modern recipe for this particular combination as noted on a 1919 menu, although it was mentioned in a few other books but again with no details as to what it might have looked like. If a food historian reads this and wants to enlighten me, I’d be delighted.

A French Recipe for Sauce Tartare can be found at: http://www.lesplaisirsdelabouche.com/2016/09/sauce-tartare.html

It uses peanut oil, but I’m sure other oils could be substituted if you have an allergy.

For cooks who are lazy, like myself, you could make this version:

½ a cup of store bought mayonnaise

1 spoon of strong mustard

Tarragon

Parsley

Capers

2 pickled cucumbers

Salt and pepper

Blend it all together and serve with cold smoked salmon.

 

Salade de Laitue 

This translates to ‘lettuce salad’ and there are a lot of variations online. I like this one:

Lettuce, rip the leaves into nice sized pieces

2 shallots, finely chopped

Handful of chives, finely chopped

¼ cup of parsley

¼ cup of Chervil

¼ cup of tarragon

Mix together and dress with a vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette:

1/3 cup vinegar (whatever type is your preference)

2/3 cup olive oil

Add mustard, salt, pepper to suit your taste