Patience is a kindhearted country girl, eking out a living in Edwardian England as tremors of social change rock the world around her. When she starts her employment in formal service on the grounds of an opulent country manor, she has no idea that her own personal revolution is about to begin.
Selfless, dutiful, and just a touch naive, she takes to both her place as a parlor maid and to her new roommate, the bookish and progressive lady’s maid, Esther. In another time, the two women would have kept one another’s company forever in their little attic bedroom, living out their days in the employ of a Lord. But it’s now the dawn of a new age. The expanding empire has brought with it not only plundered wealth, but worldliness and new ideas. Suffragists agitate in the street, idle-rich bohemians challenge sexual mores, and Patience and Esther slowly come to realize the world is wider and full of more adventure and opportunity than they ever imagined . . . so long as they find the will to seize it.
Sensual, sweet, and beautifully illustrated, PATIENCE & ESTHER is a steamy period romance and an inspirational erotic journey across the epic sweep of history, from the end of a gilded age to the start of an uncharted future.
I decided to read Patience and Esther because it was such an outlier in terms of characterization. A BIPOC, size-positive, LGBTQIA+, below-stairs love story set in historical England.
Patience has a sweet, innocent, country-girl personality when she arrives at the big estate with her fresh Scottish accent. We quickly learn that her nervousness isn’t fleeting, it’s just part of who she is as a people pleaser. She has some body confidence issues, but they aren’t extreme or constant, while her meekness in general and overall confidence is more of an issue that interferes with her ability to get her work done.
Esther is a more experienced employee at the estate, who is part Indian and currently working for the lady of the house. She is a hard-worker and outwardly confident, but often finds herself in need of some very introvert-like time to recharge in silence. She also experiences some discomfort from the underlying way she’s treated socially by her employers as a token Indian, almost like a decoration.
It did also call itself ‘erotic’ but I didn’t think much was going to come from the ‘erotic’ word because the cover looks so cutesy. While I still wouldn’t call it ‘erotic’ – I would say it contains visually explicit scenes. And plenty of them – a first for me, I’ve never read a graphic novel with them. Honestly, I’ve read some seriously descriptive, smutty books – and this somehow felt more explicit because of the illustrative nature of it.
I was describing the experience of seeing sex scenes in this book to someone and I said that it was odd, how much more graphic the sex scenes seemed in graphic novel form. To which they laughed and teased me for being shocked that things in graphic form could be more graphic. Is it a bit silly that it was surprising? Probably entirely silly, but it’s also what my honest reaction was. And I felt like a lot of them were unnecessary – and without them this book could’ve been easily expandable to audiences that read YA or even middle-grade. Still, I’m certainly not going to ding the book a star on that, because I’ve read FAR more explicit books in the regular historical romance section.
Moving on to the period setting. I somehow made a mistake here. I don’t know why, but in my head I kept reading the title that said Edwardian, but thinking much further in the past. Took me a while to get my head on straight about the fact that we were only about a hundred years from modern day – the characters start in 1910.
Going into the story, I felt the flow was good and the characterization stayed consistent. The characters are likable, but I did feel that the medium may have affected how I processed the time jumps. I know at one point they were saying that Patience had been there for months, and I was like… really? It still felt like maybe only a week had passed.
On that note, I don’t think it’s a spoiler of any kind to mention that there’s a modern-day storyline that appears at the end of the book. It contains the same two love interests in a modern-day relationship. I had the feeling the author was trying to say that the whole historical love story was connected to a show they were watching on television, but it also seemed unclear enough to state that for certain.
I could have really done without the modern bit, which felt like an afterthought. I also didn’t like them as a modern couple nearly as much as I liked them together in the past.
Overall, I enjoyed the story, and I appreciated the representation in it. Most of the ‘issues’ I had with period accuracy went away when I realized I was expecting the wrong time period.
Title: Patience & Esther: An Edwardian Romance
Author: Sarah Winifred Searle
Illustrator: Sarah Winifred Searle
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Published: January 26th, 2021 by Iron Circus Comics
Where: If you’d like to find out where the book is sold, please check Goodreads.