Book Jacket

 

rank 5077
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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Esther sat in her usual chair in the kitchen, rocking baby Bill slowly into a dreamy sleep, her own eyes grew heavy and her head nodded.

‘Esther!’ snapped Katy, ‘you’re going to drop him.’

‘Of course I’m not,’ said Esther, sitting up with a jolt.

‘Anyway, it’s only one o’clock, you can’t be tired already, you do nothing else but sleep all day.’

‘Just you wait,’ she yawned, ‘until you have children, then you’ll understand. It’s tiring.’

‘If you fall asleep there you’ll suffocate him, put him in his cot, for heaven’s sake. He’s getting too big for you to always be putting him to sleep like that, you’ll still be doing that when he’s 10 if you don’t take care.’

‘I’m too tired.’

‘Too lazy, more like,’ said Katy, going to get her coat.

‘Where are you going?’

‘To meet George,’ said Katy, ‘he said in his note he’s got something important to tell me.’

‘Oh really? So should we call you Mrs George?’

‘Don’t be stupid, and for god’s sake put that baby in his cot, you’re making a rod for your own back.’

‘Like it’s your concern,’ said Esther. She hauled herself up and made for the stairs, ‘be good with George,’ she cooed as she headed towards the bedroom.

Katy walked off, Esther was a fine one to lecture her on good behaviour after the predicament she’d landed herself in. She was to meet George near the market, it was a busy place to meet, she hoped she would spot him in the crowd that always thronged that area. A buzz of excitement mingled with anticipation and apprehension clouded her mind. The air was thick with fog and her brain seemed an extension of that solid, impenetrable state. She had a spring in her step and was eager to hear what George had to say but she couldn’t quite get the feeling of dread to go away, it was threatening to roll over the other feelings like a gigantic black thunder cloud and engulf all the happy sentiments. She couldn’t straighten out her mind or see clearly, she still didn’t know what to do. If George asked her to marry him, she must say ‘yes’, it made sense, she’d be free. She could leave the inn and start a new life with an adoring husband. That was the rosy view anyway. Her head told her that was the way to act. A sensible girl would follow her head and Katy was, by and large, a sensible girl. If she was to follow her heart, she wondered if she’d be here at all. Did she love George? Was this how love felt? It was impossible to know, maybe she’d never know if this was real love or not. She was willing to let that pass however. She could learn, he had done a lot for her and he was worthy for that reason alone. When he asked her to marry him, she would say ‘yes’ and mean it. They would grow closer as time went on, when she was freed from the drudgery at the Anchor Inn. Maybe she’d discover it to be the real thing after all.

She waited at the cross, suddenly feeling happier than she could ever remember. George was a fine fellow and she was escaping, it was almost too good to be true. When he came round the corner, she smiled at the look on his face. His brow was furrowed and even his gait looked tense.

She ran to him and flung her arms around him.

‘Oh George,’ she laughed, ‘I am so glad to see you!’

He cheered at her demonstrative greeting.

‘Come on, let’s walk.’ he said.

‘Walk? Don’t you want to spend some time here?’

‘No, let’s go up to Greyhope, it’s better there.’

‘But…’

She was going to argue, Greyhope was a long walk from here, then she realised what he was doing. It was part of the romance, he would propose at Greyhope, how fitting it would be.

Exchanging frequent happy glances, they walked towards the coast. There seemed a new formed understanding between them. Katy was additionally pleased that he was making such an effort, taking her somewhere pleasant and peaceful, a spot they shared, with meaning for both of them. Maybe he still suspected her of not wholly trusting him, but he need have no fear on that score anymore. Her mind was made up, when he asked she would accept, she tried with every smile to impart that message to him, to appease his fears. It seemed to be working, his strides grew easier and his manner more relaxed.

Eventually they reached their spot on the headland. It was a truly beautiful place despite the whips of cold wind that lashed their face. Promontories of jagged rocks lay beneath them and Katy became even more aware of the danger that lay in its beauty. But George’s closeness made her feel warm and safe. He was the most handsome man she’d ever seen, his usually perfectly placed hair somewhat dishevelled by the wind, it gave him a relaxed, gentle appearance.

‘I think at last, we understand each other fully,’ said George, ‘I’m glad Katy, I thought you would, but it’s always hard to tell, there’s such an obsession with purity and virtue in the modern world.’ Wind whipped his hair and he tried to flatten it down.

She continued to smile though somewhat unsure what he meant by this opening, it wasn’t quite what she’d expected. Assuming he was nervous, she didn’t interrupt, he would drag himself back on track soon.

‘You are aware of the unfortunate position I’m in regarding my finances, my income is so dreadful and my prospects may be good but it takes one so long to achieve anything, I fear I’ll be an old man before I have any financial independence.’

She shook her head in placatory fashion, removing wisps of hair from her mouth as the wind continued to blast them.

‘George, however little you have, it’s a vast deal more than I have or am ever likely to have, I shouldn’t quibble over that.’

His face fell, he looked somewhere between puzzled and angry.

‘But,’ he said, his voice so quiet she hardly heard the word against the roaring winds ‘but, you do understand?’

‘Of course I do,’ she said, raising her voice, ‘it’s no shame George.’

He nodded and smiled.

‘I agree, everyone does it these days, even in the best of families, so I’ve heard.’

She began to ask what he meant precisely but he continued before she had time to articulate.

‘I’ve found a good candidate,’ he said, taking a deep breath.

An odd description, Katy thought, but allowed him to go on. They were getting to the point now.

‘She has very little money herself but she has relations that will change that when we marry, the family are highly suggestible so I feel sure I’ll be able to succeed, then we’ll be free, we can see each other as often as we like. I may even have the means to set you up somewhere, eventually.’

Katy listened but didn’t hear, not clearly, what nonsense was he talking now? Maybe she’d misheard, the wind was blasting so hard it was difficult even standing up straight.

‘George, explain what you’re talking about, when who marries? What do you mean set me up?’

‘When I marry the young woman, the one I’m telling you about. I’ve heard she’s in line for a substantial dowry.’

‘And me?’

‘That’s what I’m saying, we’ll be free to be lovers, I’ll have the means to…’

‘Stop,’ said Katy, ‘don’t utter another word.’

Suddenly the wind was bitter as well as loud, the waves were crashing so wildly below that she could hardly hear a thing. Fury rose to a pitch and boiled through her whole body, she wanted to seize him and hurl him into the raging swell below.

‘How dare you,’ she said, ‘how? I can’t believe you’d even suggest it. You infamous… barbarous… rogue. I would like to murder you, what do you think I am? Be your lover? While you have a cosy little life with your wife, I slave away all day for my father then lie down to be your slave every night? I don’t think so. I knew I shouldn’t have trusted you, I knew it and after I…’

She yelled and turning, stormed back down the path. Rage like she had never known possible engulfed her. Tears filled her eyes and she was overcome with heartache she could hardly bear. The path went on forever, what seemed to have taken only seconds to climb when they were happy and smiling, now went on for miles. If he was following her, she neither knew nor cared, she did not look back. She cursed herself and him over and over. Her loose fringe blown all over her face by the ferocious gusts was now sticking to her face, held fast by the residue of her tears.

The worst of it was that he’d made her care for him. She’d been so ready, so filled with pleasure at the thought of escaping. He’d been her only hope, now she must return to lifelong incarceration. It was unbearable.

 

 

Chapters

13

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Sophy wrote 789 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 843 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 1011 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 1034 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 1048 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 1051 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 1059 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 1069 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 1072 days ago

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

senyah nala wrote 1073 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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