Book Jacket

 

rank 5076
word count 64289
date submitted 15.05.2011
date updated 20.07.2011
genres: Fiction, Romance, Historical Fictio...
classification: moderate
complete

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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11

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The door to the study burst open. Henry nearly cricked his neck turning round to see who was entering in such a storm. He needed to get a secure lock fitted to that door, these interruptions were exceedingly wearing on his patience.

His sister’s angry voice snapped, ‘what is the meaning of this?’

Prudence swished through the doorway and across the room, brandishing a letter and waving it at him. She marched passed his bookcases and up to his desk. Leaning across she stared into his face.

‘Do you mind? I am working, I don’t want to be interrupted. Please leave.’

‘I most certainly will not,’ said Prudence, ‘I have just received this letter, it’s from Mr Darroch, informing us of the wedding plans. He mentions his thanks for the sum of money you’re giving to Arabella for the event, but he needn’t have bothered. If I’d known that was all you had given him, I should’ve been in here weeks ago. You told me you’d settled it between you.’

‘Which we have.’

‘Nonsense, it’s pathetic! You’ve hardly given them anything. What can they do with such a pitiable amount. You are earning yourself nothing but the reputation as the biggest miser who has ever lived on this earth.’

‘How dare you,’ said Henry, he stood up, throwing back his chair, ‘I gave the man exactly what he asked for, if it’s good enough for him it should be good enough for you.’

‘Nonsense, you never gave him a chance did you!’

‘Enough,’ he said, collecting his chair and thrusting it beneath the desk, ‘not another word on the subject. I am sick beyond belief of discussing this over and over again. If I never hear that man’s name mentioned ever again it’ll be soon enough. Do what you want with your daughters, marry them to whomsoever you please but leave me out of it.’

Prudence took a deep breath and walked to the window. He glared after her. A few stubborn patches of icy snow remained on the ground beyond. The garden in its sad winter state did nothing to cheer, it was grey and dead.

‘I don’t understand you, Henry,’ she said turning from the dismal view and walking towards him, ‘your coldness. Why do you hate everyone so much, your own family? Haven’t you the slightest spark of feeling? Don’t you understand what its like for your nieces? Imagine how she feels about all this, and Mr Darroch. All they want is to be happy, to be together, they’re not asking you for anything you can’t give, only the means to let them continue being happy.’

Henry raised an eyebrow, ‘ironic really, that you have the nerve to call me cold. If they are so violently in love, then they can keep on being in love money or not.’

‘Oh, you’re impossible,’ said Prudence.

Henry returned to his desk, picked up his pen and continued to write, deliberately ignoring her presence. The constant swish of her gown told him she was moving impatiently on the other side of the desk.

‘Why are you wearing that pin again?’ asked Prudence narrowing her eyes.

‘What?’ said Henry, his fingers straying to the pin at his neck.

‘That’s not the one you usually wear, where is that old pin father gave you? I haven’t seen you wearing it for an age.’

‘I lost it, a while back, I must’ve dropped it, I don’t know.’

‘That is so typical of you,’ she snapped, ‘you don’t care about anything. That old pin was very valuable but what does it matter to you, you can just buy a new one and be done with. You don’t care that it’s something important to this family, no, to you it’s just another object you can pick up and discard as you like.’

She swished to the door and before he could say a word in his defence, the door slammed. She was gone. He rose slowly, walked to the fireplace and stoked its feeble embers. Returning to his desk he leant upon it, stooped and weary. Iron bars were pushing him back and pinning him to the wall, crushing and suffocating him. He needed to get away, away from them all, it was almost beyond endurance. He fingered the pin at his neck once more, it was a poor substitute. He knew the value of the one he’d lost, not the pounds, shillings and pence it was worth but the value to him. A reminder. He was foolish to ever have worn it all, he should have kept it safely locked away in a treasure box, but it was a reminder of happier days. Happy days when he and his father talked of his boyhood dreams, formed them into astonishing plans for greatness and laughed at the whims and caprices of his mother and sister. Now he was alone and trapped in their world, according to the law it all belonged to him but it didn’t really. He was just the nominal keeper of the cash, they were ones eternally in control. His resolution not to be bullied this time almost crashed, he saw his hand reaching for his cheque book and making over a large sum to Mr Darroch, he had the means indeed but his principles forbade it. He wondered how long he could survive before his principles were crushed to a pulp and he along with them.

If he thought Prudence would have abandoned the subject after their argument, he was wrong. He spent dinner trying to remain impassive while he was pelted, stabbed and jibbed by her and their mother. He kept his eyes squarely on his dinner, allowing them to talk themselves into oblivion. He could hardly chew, he just wanted out. He began to form a plan, it helped to take his mind elsewhere. He considered. If he bought himself a house in town he could come and go as he pleased, it would be more pleasant than staying at inns and he would never have to return to this house if he didn’t want to. Sadly, there were flaws in this plan. If they found out about it, it would no longer be his house. They would take it over as they’d already done here, it would need to be managed discreetly, perhaps without their knowledge at all.

‘Are you listening Henry? To a word we’re saying.’

Henry looked up from his half eaten dinner to see everyone at the table looking at him.

‘No mother, in all honesty, I’m not.’

 

 

Chapters

11

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Sophy wrote 785 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 839 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
Steve

Carol Ritten Smith wrote 1007 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 1030 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 1044 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 1047 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 1055 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 1065 days ago

Hi,
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 1068 days ago

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

senyah nala wrote 1069 days ago

Margaret (BECOMING A LADY)

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.

Al

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