Recountings: Eloping Sisters and Replacement Brides

A long time ago, I discovered something wonderous … free books! And so I dived into that marvelous place known as Project Gutenberg. Many adventures did I have, and here is one of them …

Marcia Schuyler

by Grace Livingston Hill

First, a confession: for an obscenely long time, I had no idea how to pronounce ‘Schuyler’. I ignored it, pretending it was a sort of ‘Marcia S-silentletters-ler’. I only knew that I enjoyed reading this book.

Now – let’s not dawdle, let’s plunge in and see if I can convince you that you will enjoy it too.

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Our story opens with fresh-faced and innocent Marcia leaving her home to pick berries. She will sell these and use the money to buy some fabric for a dress she wants to make. In a few days her sister is getting married to David. David is a Man. A Good Man. A Worthy Man.

Only … Kate, her sister, is a flighty thing. A selfish flighty thing. Marcia doesn’t see this – she loves her sister, after all. But the facts are there and Kate is a Piece of Work.

Things Happen. A small (not an enormous amount) of drama ensues: Kate is being a little too friendly with a Captain What’s-His-Face, David arrives home in darkness, mistakes Marcia for Kate and kisses her. Over the garden gate. ON THE LIPZ!!!

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In a gentle and pleasant way, David brushes this off like he does his teeth every morning*. Kate is still a Piece of Work and Marcia is gradually growing to wish that she had her own Good ManTM.

And then … and then the morning of the wedding dawns. But Kate isn’t there! Her bedroom is empty. Empty! Rather thoughtfully, she’s left a note. But a note doesn’t really replace a bride.

Poor David – the woman he loves has eloped with dashing Captain Thingybob. Poor Kate and Marcia’s father – he’s shamed, shamed!

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Something must be done. But what?!

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And it is here that Marcia’s life changes. Because her father speaks:

“It is terrible!” he murmured, “terrible! How could she bear to inflict such sorrow! She might have saved us the scorn of all of our friends. David, you must not go back alone. It must not be. You must not bear that. There are lovely girls in plenty elsewhere. Find another one and marry her. Take your bride home with you, and no one in your home need be the wiser. Don’t sorrow for that cruel girl of mine. Give her not the satisfaction of feeling that your life is broken. Take another. Any girl might be proud to go with you for the asking. Had I a dozen other daughters you should have your pick of them, and one should go with you, if you would condescend to choose another from the home where you have been so treacherously dealt with. But I have only this one little girl. She is but a child as yet and cannot compare with what you thought you had. I blame you not if you do not wish to wed another Schuyler, but if you will she is yours. And she is a good girl. David, though she is but a child. Speak up, child, and say if you will make amends for the wrong your sister has done!

Yup! You read that right – seventeen year old Marcia is offered to David. As a replacement bride. To stop the scorn, right a wrong and save the family name.

As you do.

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And Marcia, pitying David and feeling so very sorry for him says …

“If David wishes I will go.”

(This is just chapter five, by the way.)

So she marries him.

And the equation of:

heart-broken man + innocent young girl + marriage

goes just about as well as you could expect. And this is just the start, folks. There’s Miranda (who’s brilliant) and a Dangerous Man and Betrayal and Anguish and Moral Peril and Bonnet Buying and a satisfactory Villain Is Found Out scene and … it’s clean, dramatic perfection.

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// … and you can enjoy it too, right here //

Happy Reading!


*this metaphor may not make much sense, but I feel quite proud of it. Actually, this begs the question – would David brush his teeth every morning? Because … time period and history and hygiene. Hmmm …

The Coolest Dude to Ever Dude

If you’ve hung around my blog long enough, you may have noticed that I quite like Georgette Heyer’s books. (If you haven’t noticed, I give you the evidence of: How do you reform a rake? Deathbeds and [plenty of] Adventure, and A Dash of Heyer.)

Ah-hem. Moving on. The time has come to discuss one of her side-characters. He’s long been a favourite of mine. I have decided to share him with you.

311165It is my firm opinion that Lord Legerwood – found in Cotillion – is the best thing since sliced bread, second-hand book shops and a hundred bars of white chocolate.

book summary // to set the scene

Kitty Charing can inherit a fortune from her irascible great-uncle Matthew when she marries one of her cousins. Kitty is not wholly averse, if the right nephew proposes. Unfortunately, Kitty has set her heart on Jack Westruther, a confirmed rake.

To make him jealous and to see a little more of the world, Kitty convinces cousin Freddy Standen to pose as her fiance. In London with his family, she hopes to render the elusive Jack madly jealous.

New friends embroil her in their romantic troubles, sprinkling witty banter with Parisian phrases. Her French cousin, Camille, a professional gambler, has won the heart of Olivia, in turn the object of Jack’s dishonorable intentions. Doltish cousin Lord Dolphinton has fallen for a merchant’s daughter in conflict with his mother. Kitty herself wonders who is really right for her.

Freddy is not known for his initiative, nor for his intelligence. His father – Lord Legerwood – is aware of this. His father is awesome. What follows is a beautiful journey in a blossoming father-son relationship.

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bear with me and lemme show you

‘I shall have to hatch a scheme or other,’ [Freddy] decided.

‘Do you think you will?’ enquired Lord Legerwood, regarding him with a fascinated eye.

Slowly, over the course of the book (and with far too few scenes for my liking) Lord Legerwood’s attitude towards his son changes.

‘Offended you, sir?’ asked Freddy intelligently.

‘Not at all. How came such an idea as that into your head?’

‘Notice more than you think,’ said Freddy, with simple pride. ‘Never call me Frederick except when I’ve vexed you.’

‘Almost you encourage me to look forward to a brilliant career for you!’ said his lordship, impressed.

He realises that his son has:georgetteheyerbooks

‘… depths hitherto unsuspected by me, my dear boy.’

Freddy has a sister, Meg by name, who is quite flighty.

‘Oblige me, Freddy, by telling me if Jack Westruther is often to be found in Berkeley Square?’

Freddy’s brow darkened. ‘Too dashed often, for my taste. No need for you to trouble yourself though. Keeping my eye on Meg!’

Lord Legerwood, sustaining yet another shock, said faintly: ‘You are?’

‘To be sure I am. What’s more, got my own notion of what’s in the wind.’ He nodded portentously, but added: ‘Don’t mean to say anything about that: not my affair! Trouble is – beginning to think he’s too damned loose in the haft!’

‘I have thought that any time these past seven years,’ said Lord Legerwood.

‘You have?’ said Freddy, regarding him with affectionate pride. ‘Always say you’re the downiest man I know, sir! Up to every rig and row in town!’

‘Freddy, you unman me!’ said his father, profoundly moved.

I could harp on about Freddy or the Twist of Pure Wonderousness that can be found in this novel. But I won’t. I will restrain myself. Because this post is dedicated to Lord Legerwood. An epic father. The Coolest Dude to Ever Dude.

I wish to commission someone to:

  1. create a time machine
  2. beseech Georgette Heyer to write a book for Lord Legerwood. (Scenes of him getting pleasantly surprised by his children, his wife or even a multitude of wildlife would be brilliant.)

Thank you and good night.

// if the quotations haven’t convinced you that Lord Legerwood IS the Coolest Dude to Ever Dude, I would suggest checking the book out right here //

death of a bookworm

paintroom.JPGIt’s late and I’m tired. I’ve spent most of the day painting. It’s going … all right. I can’t say I’m wonderful at it, but I manage. My jeans are covered in white finger prints. My bedroom is jammed like a bad game of Tetris.

Two bookshelves have been emptied, their contents piled in corners and stacked along the radiator. Apparently, I own quite a few books. A third of which I haven’t read. (I’m pulling that figure out of thin air. It could be half. I’m not sayin’.)

What on earth is she rambling on about? you wonder. (Yes. I can hear you.) Get to the point already.

I have a book buying habit. It doesn’t matter if it’s an ebook, a second-hand book or a brand new book … all come into my possession with a quiet frequency. And so my shelves grow more packed and my to-read pile grows up and up until they’ll be using it in basic astronomy:

Question: How far is to the moon? Answer: Ness’s to-read pile.

But … that isn’t the reason of this post. (Ha. I haz mizlead you. Maniacal Laugh.) I don’t feel guilty about my to-read pile. In fact, I’m comforted by it – the books are there for me when I need them. I can pick them up right now, next week or next year. They aren’t – to my knowledge – going anywhere.

I love owning books. Love having a personal library that I can gloat over occasionally. I love being rich in words and stories.

And yet, I’ve come to a decision. It doesn’t really have much of a reason behind it. (Other than self-induced torture. Obviously.) As with most of my decisions, it is impulsive and will not be immediately regretted.

*cough*

I feel as if I need a drumroll.

I – Ness Kingsley – have decided …

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… that I am not going to buy a single book in the month of September.

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Wish me well, my friends – already do I hear the siren’s call of kindle offers, charity shops and the marvel of Amazon’s one penny books.

he just had to go and smirk, didn’t he?

All bookworms have pet peeves. Here are a few of mine:

smirking

“So you love me, do you?” said Tom with a smirk.

When a character smirks, I assume that a) they are probably telling an off colour joke or b) they are a villain. You’ll forgive me for getting a little annoyed at a hero who has the downright gall to smirk his line. It is my firm belief that there is nothing attractive about smirking.

There is, however, a great deal of satisfaction to be had imagining a hearty slap to a smirking face.

love triangles

It was hard on the poor girl. She loved Harry with all of her heart. This was odd, for only last Saturday she had told Jonny the same thing. We were forced to conclude that she was a Time  Lord.*

A human being can love more than one person. This is a simple truth. I understand it. What I don’t understand is: a) how a heroine can be selfish enough to keep dithering between who she really, really loves (keeping both unfortunates hanging there, hoping that they will be picked. Gosh, it’s as if this is some literary form of The Bachelorette) and b) the two love interests actually put up with it.

Love conquers all, it seems – including self-respect.

sweet children who are surely born for plot devices

Toni ran up to the tortured stranger. She flung her arms about his knees and declared in a beautiful, innocent voice: “Wuv heals all dos nasty wounds. Wanna marry my mummy?”

You know what I’m talking about. The children who are unnatural in their sweetness, who are always good-tempered, who react to complete strangers (most always the hero/heroine) as if they’ve known them for yonks.

When this happens, I find myself quite puzzled and doubt my experience with all small children. I mean, this isn’t natural behaviour. Is it?


*For those not enamoured with Doctor Who: a Time Lord has two hearts. Personally, I thought the reference was brilliant. *cough* I am, of course, magnificently humble.

an afternoon writing

Last week-end, I indulged myself by keeping a written log of an afternoon of writing. I aimed to reach the lofty heights of 5,000 words. Did I? you ask.

Ha. Haha. Hahahaha.


3:21pm Today is beautiful; the sun is shining, it’s not too hot nor too cold. I’ve been out on my walk to the shops, have spent some time outside and have now sat myself down with apple juice and water. I’ve selected music but I’m listening to ‘Still Alive’ on YouTube (Portal, anyone? I’ve never played it nor realised it had music like this).

3:43pm I got trapped on YouTube. Have now extracted myself. Peter Hollins … I blame you.

4:16pm (Word count: 723) Short break. K is yelling at S and he’s like ‘wow, what’s this, woman?’ It’s all very dramatic AND I DIDN’T PLAN THIS AT ALL. As a side-note, I’m really enjoying listening to the Legend of Tarzan music.

4:20pm There is a chair over there. When I hit … something on my word count, I’m going over there. Right. Back to the writing. Listening to: Tarzan and RainyMood.

4:36pm (Word count: 1,071) Moving to the chair. One fifth of the way towards my goal. K and S are staring murder at each other. Not sure if the Tarzan music is distracting or helping.

5:27pm (Word count: 2,263) Right, I’m going for a break. My right eye is protesting, RainyMood is confusing me because it’s beautifully sunny outside and yet I hear rain in my ears. My wrists are aching.

5:55pm (Came back from break) I’m outside. My eye is threatening to make my brain ache BUT WE WILL FORGE ONWARDS! Music? Play. Fingers? Type. Brain? Please, please, please work.

6:40pm (Word count: 3,263) I’m moving back indoors; my laptop battery needs charging and I think small beasties might be climbing into my shorts. NOOOOOO! Where’s a knight in battered armour and a fly swatter when you need one?

OWWWW! Tried to get up. Tried to take my earbuds out. Yanked at my earring instead of my earbud. IT HURT! IT REALLLY HURT!

7:00pm (Break is over.)

7:36pm (Word count: 3654) Oh, it’s getting a wee bit harder. I typed something to the effect of ‘green moss covered moss of the stones’. What? Whyyy! Having a small break because my brain no functioning. I think I’m going to stick K in a landslide. Not sure if I’m going to have her followed by Psycho Man BECAUSE I HAVEN’T INTRODUCED EVEN THE THOUGHT OF HIM.

I need tea.

11:25pm Oops. I fell into the massive trap of ‘Soldiers Coming Home’ videos and had to use some facial wipes as tissues because I was blubbering like a baby.

I think, as it’s so late, that I may as well call it a night. Sleep and books are calling.

final word count: 3,654

tenses: a conversation with myself

I sit at my desk, frowning at my laptop screen. (Contrary to my imagination’s offering, my laptop does not glare back at me.)

“Which tense,” I ask the room, “is best for this tale?”

No one replies. I am alone. (‘Forever and ever and ever,’ chants my Muse.) My sorrows are drowned in a gulp of cold tea.

I look at my nails (the paint is chipping yet I have vast hopes that it makes me look professional and efficient. I am delusional. It does neither.) “First-person, present tense is more intimate. You really get into the character’s head. However, it’s very constrictive. At least, it is when I do it.”

(A moment is spent in resenting writers who breeze through life with marvelous ease and appalling grace.)

“What about the third-person, past tense?” Ness lent back in her chair and sent a questioning look at her soft toys. They did not answer. Ness knew crushing disappointment.

She tapped her fingers on her desk. “It’s more freeing but it can seem … dry?”

“And yet, I like using first-person point of view,” I admitted, feeling a strange mixture of guilt and pride. “But it can occasionally seem immature and childish. And yet I’ve got to choose something or this Writing Stalemate will last forever and ever and then flop horribly and die.”

(‘Like your dreams,’ said my Muse in my head.)

“All right,” Ness says, brightening. “What about a compromise? What about third-person, present tense? The best of both worlds!”

She thinks about it for a moment, but soon enough, the glorious vision collapses in on itself and she sees a stark future, trapped in a tense she doesn’t want, with a story that tramps along like a lame dog with halitosis.

“That’s it,” you say with malice and a terrible look at all your books with all their smug, perfectly written tenses. “I’m doing second-person, present tense.”

You make a cup of tea. The tea brings clarity. You frown. You flounder. “Bother!” you exclaim. “But third-person is so … and first-person could be … and … and …”

“I should just write poems,” you say, staring at the gloomy wasteland of your decaying future.

“Please don’t,” your Muse pleads.

You don’t listen. “Or to-do lists. Or telephone books. Or obituaries – it would be impossible to choose the wrong tense with those.”

Your Muse snorts. “Actually, knowing you …”

Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.
– William Faulkner

// home again

I brought forty-six books home with me. And a pair of glorious heels and five packs of sweets, but … forty-six books … I feel like a proper bookworm.

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a properly penniless bookworm, that is

The check-in luggage weight limit was 23kg. I made it 22.8kg. I high-fived the check-in bloke and did not gush about Travel Panic, The Lift My Friends Gave Me and how so very thankful and relieved I was that the bag and my carry-on case had scraped by their weight limits.

I would never do something that undignified.

So incredibly tired and rambling a mile a minute, I arrived home at the obscene hour of eight in the morning without a wink of sleep from the night before. (I don’t sleep on planes. I do, however, talk to Grandfatherly Russians and accidently slap seatmates in the face with my jacket.)

It was an amazing six weeks across the pond, but don’t worry – I shan’t bore you with stories, though I am rather proud of fist-bumping Mickey Mouse and singing (magnificently off key, of course) ‘Country Roads’ as we went through the Blue Ridge Mountains and West Virginia.

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Also – Cup Cake Wars. ’nuff said

Oh! And I visited my happiest place on earth, and no – that’s not Disneyworld (which was fun but my word did the queues never end, did the heat never cease, and was Tinker Bell always so. astoundingly. perky?). It masquerades as ‘The Book Barn’. It is both a graveyard of trees and a magical world of endless stories. Also, it has free donuts.

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do not trust the donuts.

It’s been an epic second trip across the pond; apart from mammal riding (donkey, camel, horse, whale) I think I’ve used every form of transport there is. Oh, and guess what? My cab driver wasn’t a killer robot. And yes, I caught that first train. But the second one? To go the airport? To come home?

Ah. Yes. That one.

They had to replace the engine.

how have you been?

// adieu and farewell

One of the advantages of having a vivid imagination is that writing can be such fun; you’re never quite sure what will happen next in a story. But the disadvantages?

Ah. Yes. Those.

By the time this post will be live, I will probably be on my way to America. Probably. Remember that ‘vivid imagination’ I was just telling you about? It can be a bit of a pain.

For instance, I have a suitcase. It’s pink. It just fits the airline’s regulations for a carry on case. In my mind, that suitcase is taken away from me. It doesn’t fit. A stern member of the cabin crew is unforgiving and stoic. They charge me my first-born child, a fortune and my soul to put it in the hold.

Or, I get to America. And miss my train. An American train. I have enough trouble with English public transport, but American?! Everything is bigger there, is it not? INCLUDING MY MISHAPS! I’ll miss my train and the next train (yes, I’ve booked two trains just in case) and then I am stranded in America. In a big city. On my own.

I’ll get hopelessly lost and it will be dark and my life will end in one big hodgepodge of embarrassment and regret.

Or, I’ll climb into a cab only to find that *plot twist!* it isn’t a cab.

Do you see the pitfalls of a vivid imagination? Do you? Do you?!! It’s agony and despair and annoyingly, quite hilarious when you really think about it.

All the best adventures are the ones that are surprising. In the meantime, I’ve chosen the book to take with me (Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier) and need a good night’s sleep to prepare for the ridiculous time I have to leave in the morning.

Vivid Imagination, I defy you. Whatever does happen – be the journey bad or good, full of worry or realising that my phone doesn’t call American numbers and I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THE THING YOU ADD TO THE THING IS … I’m going to relish it as an adventure and pray with the desperation of an Englishwoman who has just realised she’s not going to taste True Tea for a while.

So there.

if she hasn’t accidentally caught the wrong flight and found herself stranded in the jungles of Darkest Peru, Ness will be back in six weeks

interview: blue cats and paper crowns

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that cover art tho’

This post is a little late because, like Ginger in Paper Crowns, I’m off on an adventure I hadn’t quite expected. All right. I don’t suppose that America is quite like the world of fae, but … an adventure is an adventure, yes? Though, alas … mine lacks one very hilarious blue cat.

Today (or this evening, whatever the case maybe) I am very happy to present Mirriam Neal, who’s stopped by for a quick chat …

As always, the crucial question must be asked first: do you prefer tea or coffee? [or neither?!] Coffee. Always coffee. Black coffee in a large, irregular mug. I will never turn that down.

What has your writing journey been like? It’s been like most journeys – full of ups and downs and unexpected turns. When I started writing short stories about unicorns as a twelve-year-old, I never imagined I would end up as a published author. It’s been rocky, but always amazing.

How was the experience of writing Paper Crowns different to that of writing your first book, Monster? It was hugely different. Day and night different. Black and white different. Monster was blood, sweat and tears over several years; Paper Crowns was like eating dessert and took all of a month to finish (although all the editing added several months onto that). 18076372Monster hurt to write, but Paper Crowns never did. I guess that’s the difference between writing a novel on bioethics, and a faerie-tale for all ages.

Do you have a favourite scene in Paper Crowns? What is it? [NO SPOILERS! :D] I don’t have a favorite scene, actually. I really enjoyed any scene with Azrael, and any scene with Salazar, and any scene with Ginny and Hal together. They’re my favorites.

What’s a book that you’ve recently enjoyed reading? I recently read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and it falls right into the ‘life-changing’ category.

Would you rather share a meal with someone from a musical who would sing. about. everything. you. did (‘she’s frowning at the salad / oh yes, look / there’s a slug in the saaaaalad!’) OR a supervillain with one facial expression (a death glare) who may, or may not have slipped arsenic in your beverage? Assuming I have to actually finish this meal, I choose the supervillain. At the very least, a supervillain would be an interesting dinner partner. (And I may or may not have spent years building an immunity to arsenic.)

If you could have any fictional creature as a pet – what would it be? (Personally, I’d have a dragon. If it was tame.) A dragon with the ability to shapeshift into any form it likes. Is that cheating? (I don’t care if it is cheating, actually.)

mirriamneal

future shapeshifting dragon owner

you may find thingy things here:

// Paper Crowns // My Review of Paper Crowns // The Author //

mini recountings from a boat

I am currently aboard a boat. Naturally, I lugged books along with me. Unnaturally, there is wifi. Let the recountings commence!

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Uprooted by Naomi Novik

For a single book this had a lot packed in; there were three distinctive acts which could have easily been turned into a trilogy, but I was rather satisfied that it was a standalone.

There was a moment when I had to close the book because I was certain that it was going to suffer from Sagging In The Middle, but it didn’t. IT DIDN’T, I TELL YOU!

I loved the heroine, who was quite down to earth, there was one scene that I could have done without, and the Dragon WASN’T a dragon (I’ll forgive him) but other than that – yes, a most satisfying read.

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The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokski

I was so looking forward to this book, it arrived in time to be dragged along with me and I read it on the first day. But get this – I didn’t like it. My suspension of disbelief didn’t suspend very well. My favourite character was a cannibalistic horse who only appears in the last half. (Seriously though – she has all the best lines.)

YA and I have a very temperamental relationship, and this book – which I was so intrigued by – just wasn’t for me.

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The Partner by John Grisham

Found in the Post Office of a village that had bunting and so. many. ducks. This book actually made me hold my breath AND WHAT A TWIST AT THE END! (Well, there were actually two twists and the very last one left me a little down and put out with the author who hasn’t written a sequel. WHY?!)

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///

Well, I’d better dash as a) a kingfisher has been spotted and b) the wifi might forsake me.

have a grand weekend!