Thursday, May 05, 2011

Time Travel

I am reading an interesting historical novel, Trades of the Flesh by Faye L. Booth. It is about a girl forced into prostitution in 18th century London. The main character mentioned "matchgirls whose faces had been made monstrous by phossy jaw". It peaked my curiosity so I had to find out what phossy jaw was. It turns out that exposure to the yellow phosphorous that made matches light caused a painful deterioration of the jaw bone,including swelling, loss of teeth, exposed bone, abscesses, which resulted in disfigurement and sometimes death. White phosphorus was cheaper than the red phosphorus so manufacturers of matches didn't want to switch to the less dangerous chemical. Laws had to be enacted to save countless lives from phosphorous poisoning.

I also just finished Made in Dagenham, a film about the struggle by women machinists in England to force Ford to pay them the same as the male machinists for doing the same job.  I loved seeing the colorful clothes and hair of the the 1960s, as well as hearing the music, even the architecture was very reflective of the time. The film has the same director as The Calendar Girls; both share a feel good sensibility with strong, likable female characters who work together for a common cause.

Both of these offer intriguing looks at another time period. Take your pick and time travel to 1968 or to 1888.

1 comment:

  1. I always love to read historical novels about 18th century London. Looks like Trades of the Flesh will be another book that will give me some sleepless nights again.


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