At last another new novel. Daisy May is alive an well and hanging out on Amazon!
A romantic comedy perfect for a summer holiday read. Enjoy!
At last another new novel. Daisy May is alive an well and hanging out on Amazon!
A romantic comedy perfect for a summer holiday read. Enjoy!
Geoffrey Weston was still a young man, at 46, not above ten years older than George Knightley. Geoff was a native of Highbury, although he had been an infrequent visitor, once he had left school, and departed the county for Yorkshire, in the north of England, to study agriculture and land management.
While Geoff was studying he had met, and, to his bemusement, been courted by a young woman of good family, far above his own in financial and social terms. The Churchills were very wealthy landowners and, of course, the family name was renowned worldwide through a not so distant relationship with a greater statesman. Lydia Churchill, the younger sister of the present incumbent of Enscombe, threw herself in Geoff Weston’s way at every opportunity. In retrospect he had had occasion to admit to himself that his whirlwind romance with Lydia had been a little one-sided, and that perhaps he may not have chased her so relentlessly if the situation had been reversed.
However, be as it may, the outcome had been an early marriage that he may have had reason to regret, if it had not been for the fact that it did not last for very long. Not that the relationship broke down, but tragically Lydia was struck down by cancer not three years into their marriage. During these three years she had occasion to regret her haste in marrying Geoff, not because she ceased to love him in her way, but because her family disapproved. More particularly her sister-in-law threw the spanner in the works. Though truthfully from a family background no more elevated than Geoff Weston’s, her brother’s wife had assiduously cultivated the higher echelons of society since her marriage, and cared nothing for her own lower-middle class roots. Alice Churchill was a snob.
Mr. Stephen Churchill, Alice’s husband and Lydia’s brother, was in effect an easygoing character, not disinclined to like his sister’s choice. Yet he was of a weak personality, too idle to argue against his wife, of whom he remained fond despite her manifest peccadillos. The result of Alice’s officious interference resulted in a rift between Lydia and her family and, once Lydia had got her way in marrying Geoffrey, she was dissatisfied at being cut off from the wealth and prestige of the Churchill family.
Despite the imagined difficulties that beset the young couple they managed to beget a child, a boy, who, after the family tradition, was named Frank Spencer Churchill Weston. When the child was a toddler his mother became terminally ill, and the illness affected a reconciliation of sorts between the couples. Unable to have children themselves the Churchills became besotted with their nephew. Little Frank was accorded every luxury that their copious wealth could supply. Very gradually Geoffrey Weston was made to see that his in-laws could provide everything material for the child’s welfare that he, as a single father, was unable to do himself. When he was widowed at the age of only 23 he was persuaded to allow the Churchill’s to take Frank into their care, and to formally adopt him some years later.
It was in this way that Frank Spencer Churchill Weston left Highbury at the tender age of three years old, never as yet to return to his roots. Of course Frank Churchill, as he had become known, was much talked of in Highbury, certainly since his father had returned thither, and particularly since his recent marriage.
After the loss of his wife and, effectively, his young son, Geoffrey Weston had thrown himself into a new career. He had determined that one day he should return to Highbury and take up his residence there in some style. To this end he had worked unremittingly to build his business and then to sell it for a goodly profit, enabling him to fulfill his ambitions of ‘retiring’ to a comfortable existence back in his hometown.
A charming Georgian farmhouse, long devoid of its attached acres had come onto the market at just the right time. Geoffrey had made a visit to Randalls with the agent from Knight Frank Estates, and had made up his mind immediately. The house was perfectly situated on the outskirt of the, now, rather upmarket little town. Surrounded by well-kept gardens, and with a gravel sweep to the front, the place was separate enough to be private, but near enough to make for a pleasant stroll to enjoy local society. In addition a small paddock, an old coach house, and stables suitable for conversion into to garage space for Geoff collection of vintage vehicles, sealed the deal.
Geoffrey Weston had soon settled into life in Highbury, where he had been welcomed as a spiritual son, rather than with the reserve usually accorded to new folk. Mr. Woodhouse remembered Weston as a young man, and where the old man’s hospitality was extended that of the rest of Highbury was certain to follow. Within a year of his return Geoffrey Weston was considered a fine fellow. He attended church regularly, and volunteered his services to support the village hall, and he had been elected to the parish council. In short Geoff Weston had become a great favourite, welcomed wherever he went.
It was inevitable that Geoffrey’s path should cross that of Anne Taylor’s and, both of them, being of cordial manners, and pleasant temperament, certain that they would like one another. Emma held that this amicable relationship might have been all the pair achieved. Yet one-day Emma’s eagle eye had spotted what she thought to be certain favoritism for Anne Taylor that Geoffrey Weston did not show to others. She watched him carefully, and convinced herself forthwith that she had been correct. All she then had needed to do was to throw the two together, through invitations to dine, or to play cards with her father, or to join them in a walk back from church, and to come into the house for a glass of sherry or a G&T.
Anne Taylor, of course, soon detected what Emma was up to. She had been wondering for sometime what she should do with her life post Emma, for her charge was almost 21, and certainly no longer needed a Governess. Anne had not given much thought to the idea of marriage, and had assumed that having reached her mid-thirties would be unlikely to meet a suitable husband. Yet Geoffrey Weston was ideal. Kind and considerate, sociable and good humoured, as well as being materially comfortable, made him a very enticing prospect. That he had taken a fancy to her was very flattering.
Anne Taylor had long ago forgone an early fantasy of a romance with George Knightley. He was always charming, and a pleasure to talk to, as he could discourse intelligently on a variety of subjects, albeit chiefly on agriculture and Emma. Agriculture because Donwell Abbey was his life, and Emma because he sought to counter balance the indulgence of her father’s treatment, as well as sometimes, the supposed leniency of Emma’s governess. Anne had sighed and given up the project with good grace when Emma had been too young to guess at any attachment on her part. Anne Taylor was totally sure that George Knightley had not given her a thought, wholly mistaking her playfulness, in defence of Emma’s work ethic, as a willful and misguided attempt to allow Emma to dumb down, as he referred to her charge’s lack of application to her studies. He had expressed his exasperation on more than one occasion,
‘Emma is bright, much more so than Isabella. You allow her to rest on her laurels Anne. She could do far better than most students, yet she runs rings around you, and her father, she could easily go to University; though I suppose her father could not be persuaded to spare her from home…’
Now, all was changed, much to Mr. Woodhouse’s abiding regret. Anne had accepted Geoff Weston’s offer of marriage, and, although close by, to keep an eye on Emma, and her father, they would never share the same degree of intimacy as once they had done. Poor Emma Anne thought, she will lack the comfort of a friend under the same roof, and she will bear sole responsibility for her father’s welfare and comfort. Anne knew from vast experience that although Henry Woodhouse was a dear and amiable character, he was tiresome to the extreme at times.
Still, Anne had few regrets for the decision that she had made, as she sat in comfort, sipping a cup of tea, while her new husband read the newspaper, and glanced up at her with a smile every now and then, to share some tidbit of gossip, or to exclaim on some news item or other. She would be happy with Geoff. Anne had dreamed, now and then, of having independence, and owning her own home. Although much smaller in size and status that Hartfield, she would have the management of the sizable Georgian property of Randalls, being mistress of the house.
Now that the master of Randalls had found a wife, it was universally supposed in Highbury, that they should expect a visit from Mr. Weston’s son. Frank Churchill had gained something akin to a legendary status through his dramatic upturn in fortune, and, although he had not attended the wedding, which had been small and low-key, rumour had it that he was expected at Randalls any time soon. His father and new wife had already received a very conciliatory and well-written letter of congratulations, to which most of Highbury could attest, as Geoff had shown the letter to several of his intimates.
Emma, of course, was the first to know that they may expect a visit from Frank in the near future. It was the dearest wish of the Weston’s that their son may be friends with Emma, and possibly even more.
I said I wouldn’t but I have! That is written another modern take on one of Jane Austen’s great novels. After I wrote Pride and Prejudice – A Universal Truth I thought that I was done… However a few of you have asked for more and I couldn’t quite resist the temptation of revisiting one of my all time favourite comfort reads and musing on what would be the fate of Jane’s heroine in the 21st Century. I have to say that I loved writing Emma. I’ve always seen the good in JA’s spoiled and snobbish heroine. I think I have made her into a more sympathetic character than some would have her be…at any rate I recommend her as another of my ‘imaginary friends’ and hope that you can take to her as well!
Hello and apologies for neglecting my blog in favour of Hattie’s fashionista ramblings for Palmerstone!
I have recently republished the four volumes of the Friendship Diaries in the new form of Palmerstone & Friends. If you haven’t read it yet the whole stand-alone 600+ page saga is NOW available for download exclusively at Amazon for the unmissable price of $2.99 or £1.99. Enjoy!
Likewise the four volumes of Beyond Friendship plus an extra 150 pages is now available in the new format of Palmerstone and Company. Exclusive to Amazon for the optimal price of $3.99 or £2.99. Enjoy :))
Harriett was rattling around in her mother’s Belgravia town house. She had loved the place as a child and had many happy memories associated with the place. However, much as Hattie liked to party she didn’t feel comfortable inviting folks back here. She would be more than pleased to receive a visit from either her sister or her mother to liven the place up a little she thought one (rare) evening when she had determined to stay in, wash her hair and paint her nails. She was busy with the remote control and the nail varnish when the house phone rang shrilly from the hall.
Hattie hopped up pleased to have a distraction from the less than riveting TV programmes she had been relentlessly cruising,
‘Hello, Harriett Alexander’s residence’ she answered with a feigned foreign accent of dubious derivation,
‘Hi Hattie’ Charlie responded without a shadow of hesitation, ‘amazed to catch you in I’ve been trying for days. I only have your old cell number, d’you have a new one now for the UK?’
‘Oops, sorry Charlie; I forgot to send it to you. Well I didn’t forget really I didn’t get round to it yet. You have so many cell phones, I never know what number to call.’ Hattie complained.
‘It doesn’t matter they all message to each other. Give me your UK number now and I’ll put it in my phone and send you a message so you can store my number.’
‘OK’ Hattie read out her number and glanced back at the phone as it beeped, ‘Got it thanks Charlie. Where are you?’
‘I’m in Paris until tomorrow night and then London next week. I wondered if I could crash at Mama’s with you. We could do something together over the weekend?’
‘Ooh lovely’ Hattie was unequivocally delighted by the thought of seeing her big sister, ‘we could go shopping. I know, I can take you in to Palmerstone and help you to chose some stuff then we can get dressed up and go out on the town. I know some great clubs.’
‘You’re enjoying Palmerstone then?’ Charlotte asked unnecessarily, Hattie’s voice was brimming with enthusiasm.
‘Yea it’s really cool. We get masses of famous people coming in but we have to pretend that they’re just normal customers…Well you’re famous now too Charlie after that feature in Elle Interiors.’
‘Not exactly pop star material I’m afraid’ Charlie deflected modestly, ‘did you hear from Mama? I spoke to her a couple of days ago and she said she’s planning to come over to London for a few weeks. She wants to keep an eye on her baby I think.’ Charlotte furnished with a laugh.
‘Honestly!’ Hattie rolled her eyes to herself, ‘I’m a grown up workingwoman now. I actually get paid, real money.’ Harriett added, self importantly, almost causing Charlie to laugh out loud.
‘Great stuff, well drinks are on you then’ Charlie teased.
‘OK we’ll have champagne if you like?’ Hattie responded seriously pleased to be entertaining her big sister.
‘Well I’ll see you tomorrow evening then. I should be at Eaton Square by 7.30 if the flight’s on schedule. Look forward to seeing you mia bella’ Charlie slipped into her father’s habitual endearment, ‘love you.’
‘Love you too. See you tomorrow Charlie.’ Hattie bounced back to the TV room to finish her nails with a grin on her face and great expectations for the weekend.
Charlotte arrived at her mother’s house to an effulgent reception from her sister. Harriett looking gorgeous and rather sophisticated in one of her new outfits rushed to the door to greet her sister,
‘Charlie!’ Hattie threw her arms around Charlotte’s neck and kissed her affectionately, ‘come in, I have drinks and deli stuff ready.’ Hattie bustled about hanging Charlotte’s coat and scarf as she chatted non-stop, dragging her sister through to the kitchen cum living room, a large though cosy space replete with a big squashy sofa. The sisters sat facing each other with their backs leaned against opposite arms of the sofa.
‘This is nice, thanks Hattie’ Charlotte remarked, with a smile as she sampled from the tray of canapés and sipped a little nicely chilled Prosecco.
‘There’s this fab little deli right next to the shop’ Hattie declared happily, ‘too tempting sometimes…’ and added, biting the bullet figuratively, ‘I have to be careful what I eat or I’ll get way too fat to fit into ‘Aunt’ Becca’s amazing selection of clothes which would be a mortal shame. Not like you. You’re so skinny Charlie.’ Hattie was proud of herself that she had been able to go near the subject that had haunted her childhood and threatened occasionally to jeopardise her relationship with her older sister. Charlotte recognised the watershed moment for what it was.
‘I often wished that I was more like you. That is y’know it’s not that great being skinny. Men love women with figures like yours, I’d hardly get a glance next to you.’ Harriett took this information in with a slight feeling of disbelief, although she knew that Charlotte’s wasn’t lying to placate her. It was true then what the girls at work had said.
‘Really! You would like to be more like me?’ Hattie tested the theory in disbelief,
‘Yes baby’ Charlie grinned and reached over to hug her little sister, ‘everyone loves you and spoils you no matter what you do. And do you know why that is; because you’re so full of life and because you radiate joie de vie and because you’re so nice and open and fun and because you’re beautiful. You should never ever think yourself as anything less than super special.’ Hattie met her sister’s eyes. Charlotte’s were soft with affection for her; Hattie’s brimmed over with emotion,
‘Thank you Charlie’ Hattie breathed, hoping that she would be able to hang on to this moment forever, a moment where she loved her sister unambiguously without envy.
The feeling of complete harmony between the two of them was too good for Hattie not to use the opportunity. She had long wanted to know more about her father; the moment had never seemed right to tackle either her mother or her sister. Hattie suspected that Charlotte might know more than she had ever let on, she was after all seven years her senior.
‘We are so different, you and I’ Hattie embarked tentatively, ‘and I obviously know that Papa isn’t my real father. I’ve known that for ages of course’ Harriett’s voice suggested that only a simpleton wouldn’t have known, ‘and that he’s gay’ she added proving her woman of the world credentials. ‘Charlie, do you remember my father? Was he mama’s boyfriend? What happened?’ Charlotte could feel her heart being torn apart. She didn’t want to lie to Hattie or to be disloyal to her mother and all at the same time the terror and dislike she had felt as a small child surfaced making her feel like she was suffocating.
‘It was a long time ago’ Charlotte spoke carefully, ‘I know that mama always wanted you and adored you from the minute you were born; well we all did.’ Harriett knew that Charlotte had sidestepped her question but she could put herself in Charlotte’s position; wouldn’t she have done the same? ‘If you must know’ Charlotte’s voice was hesitant, ‘you have to ask Mama.’
‘I did’ Hattie furnished with a sigh, ‘she said the same as you.’ Charlotte almost advised Hattie to ask again now she was older, her mother would tell her the truth. No, that would be opening a real can of worms; what good could it possibly do? Charlotte gathered her inner resources and changed the subject,
‘I thought that you were planning to take me out on the town? I haven’t hung out in a bar or been to a nightclub in eons.’ It was not a prompt to be taken lightly. In a moment Hattie was distracted into revealing her plans for the evening,
‘You must get changed though Charlie. Wear something eye-catching, you always look so chic but much too sober’ Hattie advised with newfound authority from her experience at Palmerstone.
For those of you have asked about the sequel 🙂 to my P&P tribute novel – it is underway and I hope to complete, including the proof reading stage, by mid March!!! (Phew! No pressure then…)
In response to a very valid criticism from one reader VERY disappointed to find that Emerald is part one of a two parter 😦 Sorry – I did identify the book as part of a series on my publishing dashboard but this information didn’t appear on the customer facing page. I really do apologise.
Many apologies for neglecting my blog 😦
My excuse is the best one – I’ve been writing, rewriting and editing like a crazy woman…Hm!
Part one is now released in a rather different form than the NaNoWriMo format and a considerably longer than the 50,000 words that I thought I would never complete…:-)
Please give it a try…
The follow up which is set 5 years later ties up all the lose ends and solves the mysteries that haunt the first part.
Many thanks to all of you who have followed my scribblings and given me such positive feedback
Back soon! xoxo