Skip to content Skip to navigation

Teaser Tuesday: What’s Up with Dominique and Jeanne?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - 07:00

Because Floodtide is written solely from Roz’s point of view, there are a lot of details that she (we) don’t have access to. Like why in the world Dominique would go out on a limb to try to get Roz another position in service? And how did she arrange for Margerit Sovitre, of all people, to consider her?

Fortunately, if one has read Mother of Souls, the answer to the second question is laid out there, although purely in passing.

* * *

[from Mother of Souls]

Jeanne skimmed over the contents of her own messages with a broadening smile but she waited until Antuniet sat back and looked up before sharing them.

“This is curious, Toneke. My dressmaker begs the favor of a word with me. You remember Mefro Dominique? I wonder what that could be about? It certainly isn’t a dunning letter!”

* * *

But the question of “who” Dominique approached for help doesn’t entirely answer the question of “why”. Why did Dominique think/know that Jeanne would be a soft touch to help a girl who’d gotten in trouble for a bit of same-sex hanky-panky? And what gave Dominique the impression that appealing to her would be taken kindly as opposed to being seen as a great impertinence?

It’s one thing to have a reputation that “everyone knows, but everyone pretends not to know,” though at the time of that scene in Mother of Souls, Jeanne and Antuniet were cohabiting and had visited Dominique’s shop together on several occasions. But it’s quite another thing to have your dressmaker make it clear that she’s well aware of the truth of the rumors about your personal life.

When I was writing Mother of Souls I was thinking that perhaps it was rather forward of Dominique to approach her. But while putting together this month’s Alpennia newsletter, something else clicked into place. (By the way, if you aren’t subscribed to my monthly author newsletter, you’re missing out on some fun stuff.) Dominique was featured in this month’s “Who’s Who in Alpennia” item and it forced me to pin down some details of her chronology.

In 1798, Dominique has been in Rotenek for about 4 years and is about 16 years old. She has recently become independent of the French family who brought her to Alpennia, and is struggling to set herself up as a dressmaker, handicapped by being outside the Rotenek professional organizations. (Craft guilds lingered as an economic force in Alpennia well past their era in our timelime due to the strong connection between professional guilds and secular mystery guilds as social clubs.) In 1798 it is a year after the events of “Gifts Tell Truth,” Jeanne is coming out of her multi-year funk, she is starting out on developing her reputation as a social “influencer,” and she has come to the understanding that she prefers women over men in bed (though she enjoys both).

Jumping ahead to the era of Daughter of Mystery and later, Dominique is clearly Jeanne’s favorite dressmaker, and Jeanne throws a lot of business her way (enough that she can ask for the occasional discount for a needy friend). I think it’s not unreasonable to conclude that Jeanne’s patronage and connections were a big factor in helping Dominique get established at the beginning of her career. And it might not be beyond the allowable limits of speculation to guess that they might have briefly enjoyed a somewhat closer relationship...

A past history of that type might excuse certain liberties. (And would go some way to explain Dominique’s perhaps surprising broadmindedness regarding Roz’s indiscretions.)

Now you know one of the secrets of my complex character histories: half of it isn’t planned at all! This would not be the first or tenth or twentieth time that I’ve looked at my characters from a new angle and realized I’d planted the seeds for some aspect of their lives two books earlier without noticing.

Major category: