Book Jacket


rank 5074
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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‘Look at this,’ said Arabella, she drew hold of Miranda’s arm and led her sister away from the two younger girls, ‘I want to show you it without mother seeing, I don’t know what to do about it.’

The four girls walked in the spring sunlight, under the trees that had survived the storm of the previous week. The two younger girls giggled and tried to overhear what their elder sisters were saying.

‘Run along,’ said Arabella, ‘go on, go and annoy Katy and Uncle Henry, I see them over there, go on. Off you go.’

They skipped off still giggling.

Arabella handed a letter to Miranda who read it, muttering the words aloud.

My Dear Arabella

I hope this letter finds you well. I am most intrigued by all your information regarding your uncle’s new wife. I am desirous of paying my respects to her at your earliest convenience, if it can be contrived before the end of next week I should entreat you to let it be so. Perhaps you can prevail upon the good lady to meet my brother also. He confesses to be much taken with your younger sister, Miranda and intends to pay her a good deal of attention. I hope this will be to her liking and to your family. Please write as soon as you can regarding the arrangements.

I eagerly await your response.

Yours ever


‘Me?’ said Miranda, ‘he wants to pay me a great deal of attention.’

‘You don’t like that idea? He seemed a very handsome man the last time we saw him.’

‘Maybe so,’ said Miranda, ‘his face was certainly pleasing to look at but he was very dour as I recall, he seemed quick to anger, I heard him talking quiet violently to Neil when they left, as though he thought his whole visit a waste of time. Why should he suddenly decide to have an interest in me? I don’t think he spoke two syllables to me before.’

‘I don’t know, maybe he was biding his time.’

‘Oh really nice,’ said Miranda, ‘you meaning hoping for someone better and now he’s obviously had no luck, I will do.’

‘I should certainly hope not. No it does seem odd. But there’s something else that’s bothering me. He goes on about meeting uncle’s wife. Mother won’t like that and I can’t very well ask Katy’s permission for the visit without consulting mother.’

‘Lord no, you mustn’t. Mother will have a fit. I suggest you only ask mother, don’t mention this to Katy. You don’t want to run the risk of her scaring Neil away or persuading Uncle Henry to stop your dowry.’

‘I don’t think she would, I don’t think she’s really as bad as all that. She always talks to us pleasantly, it’s only mother she tries to irritate.’

‘I don’t know,’ said Miranda, ‘you heard what the maid said, the way they… you know. She’s seen them completely undressed, mother says its quite sinful even though they’re married, she says Uncle Henry should keep to his own room and that Katy is nothing but a …’

Arabella held up her hand to stem the flow, ‘really, we shouldn’t be discussing such things. I don’t wish to think about it, their private business should be their own, we have no right to pry.’

Miranda shrugged, ‘well, I rather believe that she’s not virtuous, I think all her fancy clothes are just a cover up. I think she seduced Uncle Henry to get her hands on his money.’

‘You read too many lewd novels, I don’t think seduction is real, it only happens in stories.’

They walked on, immersed in their own thoughts. Unintentionally they caught up with their uncle.

Unable to check her own imagination, Arabella tried to imagine how Katy could’ve managed to seduce her uncle. It seemed to make the thing seem even more unbelievable. He looked upright and stern. The thought of breaking down those defences to find something warmer underneath must be impossible, he’d never been warm. Even when they were young, he hadn’t been the kind of uncle you could jump on or tease. He never took them on outings or spoiled them, no he was an unflappable man. She decided she’d been right, seduction was only for stories, not for men like her uncle.

‘You ladies can do without me,’ he said, ‘I have business to attend to in the house.’

He kissed Katy’s hand and she smiled at him. Arabella thought there was something wicked behind the smile. Maybe Miranda was right after all. She fought the visions that were trying to enter her mind, her uncle and Katy alone together, completely undressed. She wondered what it must be like, to remove ones clothes entirely in front of a man, would that duty be expected of her after her marriage. Neil was a man of integrity and good manners but this did little to appease the angst she felt about their intimate affairs once they were married. She wished that she was allowed to ask Katy these things, it would seem less frightening than talking to her mother about them. But it wasn’t allowed, she had her orders, she was not to befriend Katy in any way.

‘What were reading in secret over by the woods?’ asked Katy, ‘Frances and Susan told me your secret.’

Arabella scowled at her younger sisters.

‘What is it that you wish to hide from your mother? Be assured if you tell me, I won’t let on. I quite understand why you’d want to keep certain things from her, she does have some archaic opinions, quite unshared by women of fashion.’

‘It was nothing, simply a letter from my fiancé. I don’t wish to share its contents with anyone other than Miranda. I’m sure, as a lady, you’ll understand that.’

‘Of course I do,’ said Katy, ‘I think you’re very lucky to have a sister that you can confide in, I only hope its not bad news concerning your fiancé.’

‘No, not at all. He merely related some information to me, that’s all.’

‘Good,’ said Katy, ‘I look forward to meeting him, I should like to see him for myself, the man your uncle has been so generous towards. I shall judge him myself, I hope he makes a favourable impression.’

Arabella glanced at Miranda. What did that mean? Surely Katy wouldn’t change her uncle’s mind about the marital provisions he’d made for them.


Prudence seized the letter from Arabella and read it through.

‘Well, I don’t blame him for wanting to meet her,’ she said, ‘I expect half the city would like to see her, news of this infamous marriage will undoubtedly attract attention, mostly of the worst sort. I think this will be an interesting occasion. Let me arrange the whole thing dear. Unfortunately it cannot possibly be managed before the end of the week, write to him and inform him that he may prevail upon us Saturday next.’

As her daughter’s left the room, Prudence smiled. Any opportunity to bring down Mrs Cranston should be utilised to the full.





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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

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

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


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.