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That smile, which is not a smile

Given half a chance, I would travel back in time faster than you can say Marty McFly. I love imagining the sights, sounds, textures and—yes—the tastes and smells of days past.

Publications contemporary to the time I’m writing in—whether they’re shipping logs, periodicals, recipes or London hackney schedules—are invaluable. They’re my favorite go-to resources for understanding the speech, logic, technology, and attitudes of a time that’s forever lost to those of us without a flux capacitor and 1.21 jigowatts.

I recently came across The Lady’s Toilette by Auguste Caron (link). Printed in London in 1808, this 300+ page beauty guide includes such gems as

  • “The foot should be small, but it ought also to be well-made.” Um, ok.

  • “Of all the perceived practices, none has a more decided influence upon health as well as beauty, than the frequent use of the bath.”

  • “Sometimes, too, we meet with females whose lips are clothed with hair adapted only to the other sex: this mistake of Nature scares away the timid loves.”

The chapter on The Mouth, in which the half-smile receives an enviable amount of ink, will cause a… ahem… half-smile to peep forth on your face:

“Of all these children of tenderness, love, or mirth [smiles], the half-smile is doubtless the most lovely.… that virgin smile which shews itself with such timidity, which peeps forth with such grace, and which dares not completely expand itself—that smile, which is not a smile, and, if I may so express myself, is but the desire of a smile.”

Ahhh, for better or worse, no one writes like this anymore!

Flirty Miss Moon, the heroine of Matching Miss Moon, has mastered "that smile, which is not a smile.” She has no wish to wed, but she does enjoy a good flirt. She wields her half-smile to great effect as she teases and flirts with Gryffyn Kimbrell.

I can't wait for you to meet this pair, but, I’m ashamed to say, I haven’t devoted nearly as much of the page to Miss Moon's half-smile as Mr. Caron suggests it warrants. Matching Miss Moon releases December 29.

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