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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The room had never looked so gloomy. George hated everything about it. He turned to look out the windy and saw a storm was brewing, a shadow of murky clouds loomed into view. Nothing was going to plan. He’d made a mess of everything. Mr Macmillan had all but given him notice, his work had suffered. He could think of nothing else. Nothing apart from Katy. His actions there made him furious with himself. How had he let it happen? If he’d just been honourable, just married her as she’d wanted. She was strong enough for both of them, she could have helped him.

These thoughts had consumed in for weeks. Filled with the knowledge of her strength and resilience he’d retuned to the Anchor, ready to apologise, determined to lay aside his hopeless get rich quick notions and settled down to some hard graft.

But she’d gone.

That despicable old father of hers said so, his ugly, red face covered with liver spots, leering with every word.

‘Gone off with a man of fortune, that’s my girl. Not interested in the likes of you, though your custom’s always welcome here should you fancy a drink.’

The feeling that now bubbled inside him was like an angry volcano about to erupt. Katy and a man of fortune, gone off with him. After all her fine words, after blaming him for being dishonourable, she was equally as bad. Worse.

She’d said his money didn’t matter, but it must have. That was her real game, she’d found someone with enough money to keep her in style. He wondered where she was, the mistress in a fancy boudoir. He hoped she was suffering for her sins. If they ever met again, he would make her suffer even more, the way she’d done to him.

George heard Neil entering the building, the maid was fussing over him. Evidently his umbrella had been rendered useless by the wind. George wondered how people could even care about such trivial matters, where did they find space in their minds to bother with such littleness. Didn’t they know how he was suffering? Didn’t they realise that things of a magnitude so great were going on that broken umbrellas were nothing.

He could hardly stand the sound of Neil’s voice. The cheerful tone made him want to hurl the footstool at him.

‘That really is some wind out there, its bringing a storm I warrant. Smashed my umbrella to twigs… what’s wrong?’

George had risen and was on the verge of leaving the room. He couldn’t bring himself to discuss something so pointless and irritating.

‘Nothing, I simply don’t feel the need to discuss your broken umbrella for the rest of the evening.’

‘Really George, I was simply making conversation. I’m sure it won’t carry us for the whole evening. What is the matter, you look quite terrible? Is there something you do wish to discuss? A more important matter?’

‘Anything is more important than a stupid umbrella,’ he growled, ‘but now you mention it I do. I wish to talk about the plans we had. You were supposed to be arranging a meeting between me and that young sister of Arabella. Have you done it yet?’

Neil shifted uneasily. George wanted more than ever to punch him. He knew Neil was about to have an attack of conscience once again. His own brother didn’t trust him.

‘I don’t want you to lecture me again,’ said George, ‘I know you think my motives are unscrupulous but you’re wrong. I assure you, I simply want to pay my respects to the young lady. I won’t coerce her into anything, you have my word.’

Again Neil seemed to be battling a painful inner struggle.

‘I haven’t been able to secure a meeting yet,’ he said, ‘there’s been a development in the family that has caused them a lot of discomfort.’

‘And what is that?’

‘Mr Cranston is married. Arabella wrote to say that he appeared with his wife some ten days ago. She says she’s a lady of fashion with a very sharp wit, I think the elder Mrs Cranston and Mrs Calder are struggling to cope with the situation. The new wife is apparently a great defender of Mr Cranston and she seems to making her own mark on the place… you can understand I’m sure how difficult it is for me to broach the subject of your visit under such circumstances. I’m not sure even to whom I should apply, perhaps it would be more politic to pay our respects to the bride and work from there.’

George did not like his brother’s insistence on such scruples. His patience was already sorely tested, he didn’t want anymore delays. Marrying this girl would give him the money to do as he pleased, the sooner it happened the better.

An expectant expression was etched across Neil’s face. He seemed to be holding his breath. Waiting for an answer.

‘I suppose we must do that. But let us do it quickly. No more delays. Write now to Arabella, tell her we propose to call and set a date no later than next week.’

Picking up a fountain pen and some paper, George thrust them at Neil. With little possibility of evasion, Neil had no choice but to write.

With no care about anything other than getting the letter to the post box, George left a few moments later. No servant could be entrusted to do it quick enough, the impending storm meant nothing – so what if he got wet? It had to be done quickly, no more time for delays and setbacks.

As he went to push the letter into the box he recalled the information Neil had given him. Mr Cranston married. That king of misers and swindlers had purchased himself a wife of fashion. He recalled how Katy had been the reason he had first set eyes on that man of ill name, though he hadn’t realised who he was until later. That ill-fated day when he’d taken back those stained breaches to the Inn. Henry Cranston was the swell who’d opened the door, George had wondered why such a man would frequent a place as low as that, but Katy had answered the question. Most of the people who stayed there were swindlers and crooks, so she said. It all made sense now. Henry was a swindler, how else had he made such a great fortune? His dealings with Mr Macmillan proved that. Macmillan was new to practice; he’d have no prior knowledge of Henry and would envision him a man of status rather than a criminal. Henry frequented haunts of disrepute near the harbour so he could strike underhand deals with merchants and sailors, George had no difficulty in imagining how many others he’d fiddled and blackmailed to amass his pile.

Armed with this information, George felt filled with an unseen power. He now had the means to force Henry purchase him a life of elegance and leisure. If he tried to refuse, George would expose him to the world for what he really was. The conman was about to have the table upturned in his face.

 

 

 

Chapters

28

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Sophy wrote 786 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 840 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 1008 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 1031 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 1045 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 1048 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 1056 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 1066 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 1069 days ago

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

senyah nala wrote 1070 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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