Book Jacket


rank 5078
word count 64289
date submitted 15.05.2011
date updated 20.07.2011
genres: Fiction, Romance, Historical Fictio...
classification: moderate

Becoming a Lady

Margaret Fleming

It's not easy becoming a lady. Especially when starting from rock bottom, as Katy is discovering. She needs assistance, but who can she trust?


Aberdeenshire, Autumn 1878.

Katy dreams of leaving the inn near the harbour. The expensive lessons learning how to walk and talk are wasted, as she waits tables fending off abusive and rowdy punters.

George admires Katy from afar. If she only had money not just looks. His paltry bank balance is a source of constant irritation. Marrying well seems his only hope. But is there an easy way to get rich and win Katy? Will she go along with the plan?

Henry has all the money he needs but a demanding family who would have it all for themselves. Despising the curse of being wanted only for his financial assets, he must always pay for others to realise their ambitions. But what about his own? He dreams of exacting revenge on those who love only his money, but is that really enough?

For Katy to realise her ambition and escape the drudgery of her life, she must find an escape route. With the family-run Inn sinking lower and lower, the possibility of getting out is evermore distant. How can she break away? And if she does, what unknown complications lie ahead?

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19th century, aberdeen, adversity, atmospheric, attraction, betrayal, character driven, classes, easy read, family relationships, happy ending, head o...

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A bell rang in the hallway of number _Golden Square. Mr George Darroch had just settled down to dinner. Glancing up at the sideboard, he read the time on the face of the golden carriage clock, quarter past six.

‘Ah,’ he said, with a nod towards his older brother, ‘there you go, Neil. I think we’re about to be pleasantly surprised.’

Neil grinned, ‘I doubt it, if that’s your trousers, I’ll eat my hat, in fact not just my hat, I’ll eat my cane and my boots as well. That girl probably cut them to shreds, I can’t believe you even went back there with them, what were you thinking?’

‘That girl was an insufferably rude little witch, I wanted to make her squirm.’

Neil raised his eyebrows.

‘Really? You seemed rather taken with her, before she upended half a barrel over you. Maybe it’s not just squirming you’d like to make her do.’

‘Don’t be disgusting, she was foul. That place was foul, I don’t know why we bothered stopping, I assure you I won’t be going back.’

Neil didn’t reply but smiled as he took a spoonful of soup.

‘It wasn’t even her who answered the door,’ said George, ‘so you needn’t grin, it was some swell. I thought he was the manager, he gave me an earful for suggesting it, but if he was such a gentleman why was he staying in a sordid place like that?’

‘The same reason as us probably, maybe it was the only place he could find. It wasn’t exactly a good night for travelling, we were lucky to get back between downpours. We might’ve ended up there ourselves, then you could’ve had your wicked way with the serving wench.’

‘I told you not to be so…’

The door opened and a maidservant entered. She was carrying a small plate with a letter on it. George glared at her. On so many points he found her offensive. The fact that they couldn’t afford a footman, made her very presence more than disagreeable. Her pathetic attempt at bringing the letter on a plate was laughable; she’d have done better just to hand it to them. Worst of all, the letter was clearly not the package he’d been expecting. As the letter was handed to his older brother, George’s heart sank.

George watched him open the letter, his eyes moved rapidly over the paper.

‘It’s a note from Mr Cranston,’ said Neil, ‘he says he’s sorry to have missed us yesterday, but he was detained on business.’

‘Whatever that man says, I don’t believe it,’ said George, irritation gnawing at him.

‘That’s a bit unfair,’ said Neil, folding the note and returning it to the envelope, ‘you’ve never even met him.’

‘That’s the point,’ snapped George, ‘neither have you. If he knew he was going to be in town, why did we bother riding all the way out to that overgrown estate to see him, we could’ve met him here.’

‘Didn’t you like the estate? I thought it was perfectly charming, such beautiful colours on the trees.’

‘That’s not the point, he could’ve dined with us here, what could be simpler? I don’t trust him. I think you should just go ahead without him, he’s not necessary and he quite obviously doesn’t want to see you.’

Neil didn’t reply. He finished his soup then sat back in his chair with a sigh. The maid bustled in to clear away their plates. Neil found himself gritting his teeth as he watched her inefficient manner of loading up the plates, it was simpler to look away but the clinking of spoons drooping on the best china rang in his ears. He focused his attention on the large painting over the mantelpiece. The autumn golds and romantic waterfalls reminded him of the estate they’d ridden to the previous day, that was where he saw himself someday. A place like that, with impressive grounds, a butler, liveried footmen and an army of well-trained staff, not pathetic girls off the street like they had to contend with here. He would only spend the summer there, in the winter he would go to town, perhaps not here, maybe Edinburgh or even London. When he was a man of means all these roads would be open to him.

When the maid had finally made her noisy exit, Neil spoke again.

‘The thing is, if I’m going to be blunt, its Mr Cranston who’s the one with the money. I don’t want to offend him. If I marry Arabella straight away, we’ll have no more than we have just now. If we can sweeten him up though, he might give her a dowry or an allowance, we could do with it.’

Their main course arrived as the gold clock chimed a melancholy half past six. The small but pleasantly furnished room became dimmer as the light outside the large window faded and the lamps took over. George played with his potatoes, pushing them around aimless with his large gilded fork. The pork he was chewing was tough.

‘I’m really not sure,’ he said, after a long silence, filled only by the noise of their jaws working hard to masticate the overcooked meat.

‘What about?’

‘About the whole setup. If the money’s all you want, then why bother with them at all. Find someone else, the city is full of rich girls, I expect.’

‘I didn’t say that,’ said Neil, his gentle face reddening, ‘I’d marry her without the money, I just think it would help if we could get it. And you’d be surprised, I don’t think there are as many rich girls as you’d think, most of them are already spoken for from an early age.’

George fell back to prodding his potato.

‘But look at the situation, she’s only his niece, and there’s how many of them? About four or five, why would he bother giving her anything?’

‘Well, he has no children, he keeps them all in that house, he must care about them. I’ve heard he’s worth a fortune,’ said Neil, his voice almost a whisper despite the lack of necessity for it, ‘he could easily give dowries to all his nieces and still have plenty for whatever else he needs it for and...’

Neil paused. George looked up and saw his brother was watching him closely.

‘That being the case, I don’t see why you shouldn’t court one of them too.’

George raised his eyes to his brother, ‘no chance, the only one old enough is only about 16 and she was hideous. I wouldn’t marry her for any amount of money, she’d have to have a complete head change before I even considered it.’

‘Hmm,’ grumbled Neil, ‘changed to resemble that barmaid. No doubt that’d do the trick.’

George ignored him. But he didn’t deny it. He did consider himself prone to infatuations but the thought of her remained in his head all evening. He almost laughed out loud at one point as he remembered how ridiculous she’d looked tripping over. He wished he’d behaved better. Moreover he wished Neil’s assumption was true, if she was a woman of fortune he’d be at her door grovelling that very second. As it was, he sipped a lonely whisky, thinking.





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Sophy wrote 791 days ago

Hi Margaret,
I've read the first 3 chapters, and like it so far. You have great introductions to the chapters - makes the reader 'there' with the character without endless descriptions of scenery. It is easy to see it through the action. If you're after constructive feedback, here's my thoughts:
Generally - some of your sentences are very long, perhaps putting in a full stop where there is a comma might help - eg 2nd last sentence of chapter 1.

chapter 2 - referring to his breakfast as the 'fair' - should spell 'fare' - occurs twice in this chapter.
'half and hour ago' ought to be 'half an hour ago.
Esther's language is not always consistent - she mixes educated speech with colloquial terms - but this might be intentional, and maybe it's just me, so don't worry too much!

chapter 3 - 'spoons drooping on the best china' - perhaps 'dropping' as it is referring to the clinking noise they make. Some sentences need tightening up again, or cutting in half.

Keen to read more - let me know if you would prefer not to have feedback like this, it is all little stuff. I do like your story and the setting is great.

good luck with it,
regards, Sophy

Bucephalus wrote 844 days ago

Hi Margaret
I liked the construct of this story, and the sheer energy of your writing style. As a personal observation I would suggest tightening the final paragraph a little.
best regards

Carol Ritten Smith wrote 1013 days ago

Hi Margaret. I'm enjoying your book and I've decided to rate it high and pop it on to my bookshelf. I'm curious as to how you got to number eight hundred-something when you have so few backings. What number did you start with? I'm still trying to figure out Authonomy's ranking system. Best wishes with "Becoming a Lady." Carol

auntie_hen wrote 1036 days ago

I love historical fiction. I like this as it is set in a different location. too many are set in London, this is interesting. I like the characters and find them enagaging and interesting. I will read more soon.

Carol Ritten Smith wrote 1050 days ago

Hi Margaret. Becoming a Lady is definitely my kind of story. I love historical novels of this era. You described the atmosphere of the inn so well, I was right there. You certainly utilized the senses: noisy banter... tankards clanged... thick air... pinching fingers. Your dialogue is strong and the rude remarks made by the boors in the inn really add to the atmosphere. I often critique as I read each chapter, so here goes Chapter one. In Canada we spell lightening, lightning. My old dictionary, printed in Great Britain, spells it that way, too, so maybe you'd better spell check that word. Also, I'm a stickler for grammar. The second paragraph has run on sentences. My published friend told me that his editor wanted more short and to-the-point sentences for ease of reading and comprehension. When I write, my sentences are never longer than what I could read aloud in one breath. I felt light-headed reading your forty-nine word sentence/paragraph. This is how I might rewrite it. 'Kate cursed as her hands slammed the tabletop and the tray of drinks slipped from her fingers. Its contents flowed freely across the table and dripped over the edge. The man leapt to his feet, snarling . . .' I've separated your one-sentence paragraph into three sentences, but you could make it into two if you kept the comma between 'fingers' and 'its'. But you definitely need to break it into two. Please realize I am only offering suggestions and you can disregard any or all of what I say. My intentions are to bring out the best in fellow writers. Believe me, I've had plenty of advice and hard critiques over the many years I've written. I wish you the best and will continue reading about Kate and the mysterious gentleman. Carol

sweet honey wrote 1053 days ago

Vivid description of an inn in the first chapter. We meet Katy, a girl who wants better for herself, and is neither timid nor shy. Me thinks she'll do well for herself. Might the wet stranger seeking board in her father's inn be the one to make her dreams come true? Perhaps not. We can only find out one way.

AnneEvans wrote 1061 days ago

only read the first chapter so far, but you do a good job of getting the reader interested up front. I'm interested in reading the rest.

Jacoba wrote 1071 days ago

I read all your chapters and this is really good. Well written with a nice easy flow making the reader immersed in your story. I liked all the characters they are all complex in their own way and I like the way you have tied them together. I feel a clever plot unfolding already at this early stage. I have a feeling Katy's casual feisty attitude is going to turn a few heads and attract attention. Possibly from both bachelor patrons??? I think I'm gunning for the poor rich lord who has to contend with a house full of women. I'd like to see his demeanour change and perhaps be happy.
If you post anymore let me know, I'd like to read on.
Well done,
Star rated and watchlisted for now,
Cheers Jacoba

Su Dan wrote 1074 days ago

a well written piece; great flow, easy to read, and enjoyable...l shall back...
read SEASONS...

senyah nala wrote 1075 days ago


This is not my normal sort of read, but browsing the site your pitch for the book sounded interesting and I read three chapters.
It is a pleasant story and well written. Your writing is very descriptive and you make it easy for the reader to imagine being there. I also like the way you have of getting right into the feelings of your characters.
I trust Katy will eventually achieve what she wants.
I'm sure your book will appeal to many. It's going on my shelf. All the best.