Thursday, September 26, 2013

Shopping: Not Just a Modern Vice

by Michelle Griep

There are women who don’t like to shop. I’m not one of them. In fact, I’m one of those lucky gals who lives a mere five minutes from the mother of all shopping meccas…Mall of America. I’m there so often, the maintenance men know me by name and there’s a gold star on my well-worn parking spot in the ramp. But while MOA or even QVC are contemporary inventions, shopping is not a modern vice.

In the Regency era, women felt the same rush of excitement at scoring a big bargain. Granted, the stores weren’t housed in a building the size of 88 football fields, but there were indeed malls.

The Royal Exchange was the first British shopping mall, opening in 1568. It was a four-sided structure that surrounded a courtyard where merchants plied their wares. You can still visit the Royal Exchange today, but the building isn’t the original. Thanks to several fires, it had to be rebuilt two more times.

One of the best Regency London shopping havens was the Western Exchange, also known as the Bond Street Bazaar. What made this destination unique was its private art exhibitions on the walls, skylights, and gilt ornamentation—definitely a beautiful place to shop till you drop! Unfortunately, the building was destroyed in 1836 by the same nemesis that haunted The Royal Exchange—fire.

One of the oldest shopping centers still in operation is the Burlington Arcade. Built for the sale of jewelry and fashionable accessories way back when, you can still purchase some trendy earrings today. But don’t even think of shoplifting. The place is patrolled by Burlington Arcade Beadles in traditional uniforms, including frockcoats and top hats.

London ladies of the Regency era weren’t the only fortunate shoppers. Rural women of the day travelled to market towns to nab some deals. Many towns had a market cross at the town center. The historical meaning of the crosses is varied and controversial, nevertheless, one thing is for sure—a cross meant that’s where farmers and craftsmen would set up shop, typically on a Saturday.


In my latest release, A Heart Deceived, heroine Miri Brayden lives near a village that sports several shops, her favorite being the milliner’s. Though her life is in chaos, she can’t help but slow down in front of a window displaying some gorgeous hats. And who can blame her for wanting to shop…

Miri Brayden teeters on a razor's edge between placating and enraging her brother, upon whom she depends for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he'll be committed to an asylum—and she'll be sent to the poorhouse.

Ethan Goodwin has been on the run all of his life—from family, from the law ... from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity—an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder.

When Ethan shows up on Miri's doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces. Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit—fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free.

Author Michelle Griep lives, shops and writes in the frozen tundra of Minnesota. To keep up with her escapades, visit or Feel free to do your own shopping and pick up a copy of A Heart Deceived, available by David C. Cook and on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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