Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mary Balogh: A Precious Jewel

A Precious Jewel was published in June 1993 by Signet. Mary Balogh pens a heart wrenching tale of a young lady who, because of poverty, chooses a life of prostitution. Sir Gerald, a customer of hers, likes her and asks her to become his mistress, something he said he'd never have. What happens when the knight and the mistress fall in love?

Allan Kass paints a picture of our couple near a pond on an estate. She is dressed in a summery yellow afternoon dress with a little trim while our hero is complimentary in purple and gold. Note her short brown hair, which would have been unusual at that time. The park beyond just beckons for a walk and you can almost hear the frogs croaking in the pond!

Life was hard for women during this time and many would marry anyone in order to escape poverty or drudgery. Remember Pride and Prejudice where Lizzy's friend, Charlotte Lucas, marries the vicar as a way to provide for herself and her family. Churches and private charities were doing their part to end this cycle of abuse against women because many were tricked into prostitution from fake job offers and "madams" who would meet country coaches to find innocent girls to exploit.

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