Meet Astraea Press Author, Shirley Raye Redmond


Author Shirley Raye Redmond talks about her book, Prudence Pursued:

Despite Prudence Pentyre’s best efforts, her cousin Margaret proves
reluctant to accept Sir James Brownell’s marriage proposal, and fears
being “bovinised” if she undergoes the controversial cowpox vaccination he
recommends. And the dashing baronet seems more concerned about the plight
of headhunters in Borneo than Margaret’s refusal. Then Prudence suddenly
finds herself smitten with the man. What can she do?
Here are a few startling facts that will help readers of PRUDENCE PURSUED
and other Regency romance novels appreciate Edward Jenner’s contributions
to the era so popular with fiction readers:
(1) In its day, smallpox was referred to as “the speckled monster.
(2) It killed hundreds of millions of people—more than the Black Death and
the wars of the 20th century put together!
(3) President Thomas Jefferson, who used the Jennerian method to vaccinate
his own family, friends, and slaves, once wrote to Jenner: “Yours is the
comfortable reflection that mankind can never forget that you have lived.”
(4) A woman who was considered a “great beauty” during this time period
was usually one who had not been seriously disfigured by smallpox. It was
understood by portrait artists of the day that they were not to paint in
the disfigurements and pockmarks of their subjects.
(5) Jane Austen’s dearest friend Martha Lloyd was scarred by smallpox for
the remainder of her life. Several members of the Lloyd household died
from the disease. A character in Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey is
disfigured and crippled by the dreaded disease.

Excerpt from Chapter 1

“You   should   not   wear   that   to   the   pox   party,” Prudence
Pentyre   said, indicating   her   younger   cousin’s   dress   of
light   green   Italian   silk.   “I   recommend   something   with
short   sleeves   which   allows you to  expose your  forearm  to  the
Margaret   shuddered.   Her   plain   face, pale  and  lightly freckled,
appeared  downcast.  “Oh, Pru, I wish  I  didn’t  have  to  go.”   She
stood, slender   shoulders   drooping, in front   of   her   open
“Truly,   Meg,   there’s   nothing   to   worry   about,”   Prudence
assured   her,   slipping   a   comforting   arm   around   her
cousin’s   slim   waist.   “Papa   had   all   of   us   vaccinated
with   the   cowpox   when   we   were   still   in   the
schoolroom—and   the   servants   too.   I’m   quite surprised  my  Uncle
Giles  didn’t  do  the  same.”
A   glint   of   disapproval   flashed   in   her   soft   brown   eyes.
Silently,   she   fumed.   Uncle   Giles   had   held   too   many
outmoded   notions.   Such   an   old   stick!   He   was   dead   now,
having   suffered   an   apoplexy   two   years   ago.   Her   mother,
if   she   knew   of   Prudence’s   unspoken  condemnation,  would  have
reminded  her  not  to  speak  ill   of   the   dead.   This   dictate
had   never   made   sense   to   Prudence.   Why   were   some   of
life’s   most   unsavory   characters   deemed   to   be   saints   after
their   deaths?   Not   that   Uncle   Giles   was   unsavory,   but
he   had   been  shamefully  old-­‐‑fashioned.
“Look,   Meg,   there’s   not   even   a   scar.”   Prudence   held   out
a   white   arm   for   her   cousin’s   perusal.   “Mr.   Jenner’s
procedure   is   almost   painless   and   quite   safe,   much   safer
than   buying   the   smallpox  and  enduring  the  dreaded  disease.”
“Papa   didn’t   believe   in   it.   He   said   it   was   God’s   will
some   people   should   die   of   the   smallpox,”   Margaret   said,
turning   away   from  her  to  examine  an  array  of  dresses  hanging
in  the  wardrobe.
“God  is  not  so  cruel,”  Prudence  insisted. “Some   say   the
vaccination   will   cause   one’s   facial   features   to   resemble
those  of  a  cow,”  Margaret  ventured,  her  forehead  creasing   with
anxious  wrinkles.
Prudence   laughed.   “Neither   John   nor   Patience   have   any
cow-­‐‑like   features,   and   you   can   see   for   yourself   I   do
not.”   Slightly   unsettled  by  her  cousin’s  close  examination,
Prudence  shrugged.
“Yes,   look   at   me,   Meg!   Do   I   resemble   a   cow?   I   can
assure   you   I   don’t   have   a   cow   tail   hidden   beneath   my
skirts   either.   None   of   us   have   bovinized,   as   you   fear.
I   believe   Mr.   Jenner’s   procedure   to   have   been
God-­‐‑inspired.   Truly.   Papa   has   preached   this   same   opinion
from  the  pulpit.  Mr.  Jenner  took  notice  how  milkmaids  and   dairy
farmers   did   not   succumb   to   the   deadly   smallpox   plague
when  there  was  an  outbreak  in  their  village.  It  was  because  of
their   exposure   to   the   harmless   cowpox.   It   was   an   amazing
observation   which  will  benefit  us  all.”
Like   her   parents,   Prudence   was   an   ardent   admirer   of
Edward   Jenner.   In   fact,   her   father,   the   Reverend   Henry
Pentyre,   was   a   member   of   the   Royal   Jennerian   Society   and
helped   to   raise   money   to   give   free   vaccinations
throughout   England.   Prudence   enjoyed   accompanying   her   father
when   he   rode   out   to   the   rural   areas   to   administer   the
vaccine   himself   to   those   members   of   his   parish  willing  to
undergo  the  procedure.
“But   what   if   you   should   marry   and   have   children?”
Margaret  hinted,  unconvinced.  She  clutched  her  hands  at  her
waist.   Prudence,   noting   the   slight   tremor,   realized   her
cousin   was   trying   not  to  reveal  her  agitation.
“Both   John   and   Patience   are   married   with   children,   and
none   of   my   nieces   and   nephews   look   like   heifers,   I
assure   you!”   Prudence   insisted.   She   gave   Margaret   a
reassuring   pat   on   the   shoulder.  “You’re  making  a  great  fuss
for  nothing.”

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