Book Jacket

 

rank 5074
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 beautiful garden was blighted. Branches and twigs littered the previously immaculate lawn, the early leaves stripped from the boughs and a large entirely uprooted tree lay still amongst its remaining fellows. Camilla and Prudence watched the scene from the drawing room.

‘There are no forces more destructive than that of nature,’ said Camilla, ‘that tree has been there longer than me and yet there it is flattened by a few gusts of wind.’

‘That was considerably more than a few gusts of wind, mother,’ said Prudence, ‘I thought the house was going to come down around our ears.’

‘Yes, it was ferocious.  I wonder, perhaps it’s a warning.’

‘Of what?’

Prudence was surprised at such a fantastical whim in her mother.

‘To remind me that no matter how strong we think we are, we are all fallible.’

Prudence rolled her eyes, it wasn’t fantasy just her mother’s morbid sense of her own mortality. She looked beyond once more, the sun was now shining robustly making a mockery of the upturned grounds. The figures of Henry and Katy strolled into view. Henry appeared to be showing her features of the fallen beauty, perhaps explaining how he would manage the clearance operation but Prudence suspected a ruse. Henry would know they were watching, she suspected their every move. Their all too frequent tête-à-têtes seemed to indicate something worse, a plot of some sort though she couldn’t determine what. The most likely seemed the removal of herself and her daughters, perhaps even now they were actually deciding on how to do it or what method would be most painful to her and most satisfactory for them. The very idea made Prudence narrow her eyes in anger, she felt deep-rooted loathing for both of them though especially her brother.

Even as a boy he’d been insufferable, always such a know it all, so intellectual, so correct in his manners. He need only to breath and their father would expound how perfectly he was managing it. His demise had been timely. The father removed meant the son lost his advantage. The mother was easy to manipulate, especially with the son so frequently gone, he was unable to defend himself.

‘I wonder,’ said Camilla, her eyes trained also on the pair in the garden, ‘perhaps Henry has a good reason for his behaviour.’

‘What do you mean,’ said Prudence, she felt a little betrayed, was her mother seriously going to defend him?

‘His obstinacy at not telling us about the young lady’s background, the surprising way she was announced to us, perhaps there is a reason for it that we can’t yet understand.’

‘Indeed there is,’ said Prudence, ‘it’s obvious, she’s a girl of low breeding that he’s been having his way with, I thought we’d decided on the matter.’

‘I don’t doubt that she’s of poor breeding, though she is very presentable on the whole, but if he’d had his way with her as you say, I should’ve expected to see some evidence by now. There seems little point in marrying such a girl, unless she’s in a certain condition. Even then it seems unlikely, Henry never seemed to me to be a man to take on someone so lightly, after all, what proof could there be? Why not simply avoid any humiliation by denying all knowledge of the girl, I daresay men do it all the time.’

‘I daresay they do, but what are you implying?’

‘Well, it seems to me more likely that she’s a girl of low origin that Henry has taken a fancy to. There seems indeed to be a good deal of understanding between the two. I don’t recall seeing Henry ever so considerate towards a woman and the young lady is a more than devoted companion. Perhaps we have been overtly unkind, we may have failed to understand that this is a case of true affection.’

Prudence sighed, ‘you may think that if you wish mother, but you will not change my opinion. Indeed, I am saddened that you have come to that conclusion because I think you’ve fallen directly into their trap. I’m sure they wish us to believe they are deeply attached to one and other, but I fear it is not true.’

‘But why? Why would they plan such an elaborate deception? What motive could they possibly have for deceiving us?’

‘That is what I intend to find out,’ said Prudence, ‘I am already making investigations of my own about the origins of the young lady. I’m sure her coming here is part of a plot, something is going on here and I fully intend to get the bottom of what it is.’

 

Writing letters to all her acquaintances in town and beyond was her first scheme. Since discovering the particulars of the wedding from her eldest daughter, she was at least in possession of the young lady’s full name, they had also gleaned the information that she had at one time attended a girls’ school in Edinburgh. Prudence flicked through the hand embellished book at her writing table, the one that contained the addresses and cards of her acquaintances far and wide. Each time she saw anyone connected with Edinburgh, she began scribing.

Someone must surely know something and knowledge was very definitely power in the hands of Prudence Calder.

Her mother’s change of allegiance was not only unexpected but irritating. The thought of Henry becoming someone important in her eyes niggled away at Prudence. Seeing him smug in the knowledge that she could no longer get to him without offending their mother played on her mind. Worse though, was the idea of that pretentious young woman usurping her, that impostor taking over and gaining favour when she had no right. There was no doubt in Prudence’s mind, that girl was playing a game and no matter how well she acted the part she would be discovered. She was doing a fine job at pretending to be the devoted wife, she was very convincing and she had now succeeded in convincing Mrs Cranston but Prudence understood her. She was being paid for her services, that was evident. Her fine clothes and the gifts Henry lavished her with were all part of the scheme, payment for services rendered. They couldn’t fool her though, that was how it was and without a doubt, how it had always been and it would not be borne under this roof. She would not suffer some base born upstart taking over as mistress of the home she’d lived in since she was a child. She’d lived in a new home with her husband but since his early demise it seemed sensible to return here. She couldn’t imagine anywhere else suiting her better.

 

 

Chapters

29

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Sophy wrote 783 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 836 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 1005 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 1028 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 1042 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 1045 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 1053 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 1063 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 1066 days ago

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

senyah nala wrote 1067 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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