Book Jacket


rank 5076
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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‘I don’t understand,’ said Rose, the cook, ‘the orders Mrs Calder’s given me, they’re a bit odd.’

‘How so?’ said Fred, the butler.

‘She’s given me a list of things to make for the weekend but it doesn’t seem to tally with the number of guests.’

‘Why not check with the new Mrs Cranston, she’s supposed to be in charge now, Mr Cranston made that quite clear.’

‘Mrs Calder said not to bother her with details, said it was something she didn’t want to be bothered with.’

‘Oh god,’ sighed Fred, ‘they’re worse than kids those women, I bet she’s playing some silly trick on Mrs Cranston.’

‘She wouldn’t.’

‘Are you having me on? That woman’s caused nothing but trouble since the poor girl arrived. Make the stuff she’s told you to make but make sure there’s enough to go round should the necessity arrive, we should at least cover our own backs. If we do it wrong it’ll no be Mrs Cranston getting the trouble it’ll be us. Mr Cranston’ll have us out of here before we have time to pack if he thinks we’ve been part of a plan to sink her.’

‘Ay, I’ve heard he’s quite devoted to her.’

‘That’s hardly our business but isn’t that as it should be?’

‘It is but there’s still the question of who the young lady is, little Jess reckons she’s a woman of very loose virtue, she’s seen her all sorts of ways not becoming a lady when she goes in to light the fires,’ insisted Rose.

‘Like I said, none of our business, they’re married they can do as they like. We shouldn’t speak about it even. If Mr Cranston saw fit to marry her we’re in no position to question it.’

‘Ay, ay,’ said Tony, the footman arriving behind them, ‘she’s as bonny a lass as I’ve ever seen, I wouldn’t mind being in the master’s position, I’d take her any day, or night.’

‘Don’t be vulgar Tony, it doesn’t suit,’ said Fred.

‘Suits me, especially if none of them are listening, oh come on Fred, its one of the perks of being a footman. I’m allowed to ogle the ladies, god knows they do it enough to me.’

‘Keep your talk for somewhere else,’ said Rose, kneading dough on the scrubbed wooden table in the bright airy kitchen, ‘I have no desire to listen to the two of you going on like that.’

‘Sorry,’ said Fred.

Tony laughed, ‘you fancy some action yourself?’

‘I wonder why Mrs Calder hates the poor girl so much though,’ she continued, completely ignoring Tony, ‘she seems pleasant enough.’

‘Yeah, that’s the point,’ said Tony, ‘Mrs Calder is a frigid old witch, she hates Mrs Cranston because she’s young, fresh and beautiful.’

‘You better not let the master hear you talk like that,’ said Fred.

‘I’m not that stupid, you think I’d say anything like that to him. He knows we all think it, he likes it I expect! Thinks it makes him a big man. But he’s an idiot, if I had his money I know which man she’d have gone for. She loves his money all right and she probably reckons we’re all the same in the dark,’ said Tony.

‘Enough of that vulgar talk,’ said Fred, ‘keep those opinions to yourself if you want to keep your job.’

‘Speaking of losing your job, did you hear Rob saying that Mrs Calder had interrogated him about the master’s wedding. The idiot was trembling so much it wouldn’t surprise me if he dumped the master right in it. He’ll be packing his bags later I expect.’

‘Why, what did he tell you,’ said Rose, ‘he wouldn’t say a word to us about where he’d been, just said it was somewhere in town.’

‘Never told me anything different,’ said Tony, ‘but I bet he told her. What an idiot. If the master finds out he’ll string him from the roof top.’


Feeling sorry for Rob, Rose went out to find him later, taking with her some offerings from the kitchen.

‘I hear the mistress... I mean Mrs Calder has been questioning you,’ she said, ‘I hope you never said anything you shouldn’t.’

‘Of course I didn’t,’ said Rob, ‘what’s Tony been saying, he just wishes I’d squeal. He wants me to betray the master ‘cause he wants me sacked.’

‘I wouldn’t pay heed to Tony, he’s a bit too keen on himself. So what did you tell Mrs Calder?’

‘Nothing, just that I took the master to church from his lodgings, then brought the two of them back here.’

‘And is that what happened?’

‘More or less, but you know I can’t tell you either. Mrs Calder was quick to pick up every detail though. She asked me what Mrs Katy was wearing, if she changed her dress and where. But the master was way ahead, he told me what to say and I said it. I only hope she believed me, I’m not really sure she did.’

‘Well,’ said Rose, ‘better stay true to the master, he’s the one you have to keep sweet. I guess I’ll have to keep remembering that myself. I’m about to go and prepare the food for the guests, I just hope Mrs Calder doesn’t mind too much. I hate playing their silly games for them. don’t they realise what a difficult position it puts us in?’

‘Of course they don’t,’ said Rob, ‘they don’t even know we exist, we’re just pawns in their little game.’





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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

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

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


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.