Today is my stop on the Seven For a Secret blog tour. Seven For a Secret is the second novel to feature police officer Timothy Wilde, the first being The Gods of Gotham. Here author Lyndsay Faye discusses Timothy Wilde and the Myth of Modern Virtue.
Timothy Wilde and the Myth of Modern Virtue
I have a thought exercise to propose regarding whether the modern era is more moral, more upstanding, more forthright, and more liberal than any other historical time period. Here are three quotes from females, and I’d like the reader to take a snap judgment on when each was written:
1) I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.
2) It is not enough to be abstinent with other people, you also have to be abstinent alone. The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery.
3) Women are systematically degraded by receiving the trivial attentions which men think it manly to pay to the sex, when, in fact, men are insultingly supporting their own inferiority.
The first quote occurs in Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion, completed in August of 1816. The second quote was stated by recent political Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell in 1996 during an MTV interview. The third quote was written by Mary Wollstonecraft in the late 1700’s, believe it or not—and this data, rather than discouraging me, makes me wholly delighted by the legacy of iconoclasts through the ages.
Despite the discernible theme of the preceding excerpts, feminism isn’t my point here. My point is that shockingly “modern” opinions are often expressed by free spirits living in what we think of as backward historical time periods, while shockingly backward opinions (in my humble view) take place and are then lionized by the media every single day in the present United States.
Scrolling through my Facebook feed earlier this afternoon, I came across a screen capture of a FOX news piece titled “FEMALE DO’S & DON’TS” that suggested you should make your husband happy by wearing “simple, statement clothes—well-cut jeans with a colorful top,” and not “rais[ing] your voice under pressure.” After wandering over to my computer and then afterward to my phone to double-check what year it was, learning that the year I’d suspected it to be was in fact correct, and choking down a nasty bit of stomach flux, I proceeded to gently tap my head against my desk. Repeatedly.
And with cause.
Seven for a Secret, the second installment in the Timothy Wilde series, is a book about two sisters who rise above their harrowing antebellum circumstances. It’s also about a man who refuses to fall in with the opinion that African Americans should be universally despised, and refuses to fall out with his brother after learning his sibling is bisexual. Every so often, someone comments that the novel possesses “modern values,” and every time that happens, I grow more fascinated by the subject. Do we really suppose that we’re morally superior to generations that preceded us, and do we think expressing that opinion is somehow complimentary to ourselves?
In the course of my research, I read a great many autobiographies written by people like Frederick Douglass and Lydia Maria Child, both of whom lived during the mid-19th century and espoused values some apparently regard as anachronistic; I speak of a black man and a white woman who were both pro-female rights and anti-slavery, at a time when being of either opinion essentially excluded one from polite circles. No, strike that, both of those opinions could get you swiftly killed.
Altruism isn’t common, but is altruism truly so time-specific, and so confined to modern charitable institutions or volunteerism? We shrug off murders on the news, walk past beggars in the streets, just as generations before us have done. This patting each other on the back for being up-to-date and politically correct baffles me, particularly in an America where we can’t talk about gun violence without being labeled unpatriotic, and a health care society that thinks female reproductive rights aren’t all that important in the long run. I know that I’m not the only person who has ever heard of Walt Whitman, and thus I wonder: do people truly think that homosexuals didn’t exist before the Civil War? And if they suppose gays did exist, do they think that every acquaintance who ever encountered Walt Whitman chose to sock him in the jaw?
Free people of color in Seven for a Secret are trampled upon systematically, fight back again the system that allowed slave catchers to snatch them from their homes unawares, and they’re aided by a sort-of-hapless but determined white male cop named Timothy Wilde, whose best qualities include his attention to detail and his good intentions. I didn’t invent good intentions, so I don’t find it odd that Tim owns them. But I will quote Lydia Maria Child again, and blithely, for her early and unflinching statements about female opinions and the proper spheres in which they should be expressed:
I was gravely warned by some of my female acquaintances that no woman could expect to be regarded as a lady after she had written a book.
About the book:
“Timothy and Valentine Wilde must once again delve into the darkest underbelly of old New York.
When the beautiful and terrified Mrs Lucy Adams stumbles into the Tombs, headquarters of New York’s newly formed police force, it’s the beginning of a dense, thorny maze of crime for copper star Timothy Wilde. He’s hardened to the injustices of life in the unforgiving city he’s grown up in, but that doesn’t mean he accepts them. With immigrants flooding into the docks every day, each community is both adapting and fighting for its place in the new world, and there are many who fall victim to the clash. But the worst menace growing on the streets are the blackbirders; slave catchers who make a tidy sum from their human trade. And Timothy is about to be taken right to heart of them…”
Seven For a Secret is published by Headline Review and is out in paperback now.
About the Author:
Lyndsay was born in 1980. She worked as an actor doing professional theatre for ten years before turning to writing. In the course of her acting career, she went to college in the Bay area, learned how to sing, moved to NYC with her husband, and had a ferociously, indecently great time. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Dust and Shadow: an Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H Watson and The Gods of Gotham and is a member of The Baker Street Babes, Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes and The Baker Street Irregulars. For more information on Lyndsay go to http://www.lyndsayfaye.com
Don’t miss any of the stops on the blog tour: