Sunday, 24 March 2019

A Day to Remember!


2019 has been a good year so far. I’ve had my head down for most of the time since 1st January, writing my next book – my excuse for not posting here for a goodish while. However, yesterday was a different day and one I’d like to share with you.


At home and ready for the off

WHSmith very kindly offered to host me for a book-signing event in their Lewisham branch. As instructed, I prepared and supplied some posters which they put in the window for a week prior to my designated day. Arriving late morning as arranged and armed with copies of The Ghost of Glendale I approached a member of staff. Imagine my delight when they gave me a table right at the front, near the entrance to the store. And they provided me with a bright red cloth with which to cover it. 


Setting up took very little time and I sat down to wait, knowing that I might have to wait for a long time, if not all day. Even with four published books I am not, after all, a well-known author. Not yet anyway. There was a pretty healthy footfall and it certainly wasn’t difficult to engage with people. My first ‘customers’ were a delightful young couple who bought two books – and then, another! The first was for his mother, as a Mother’s Day gift, and the second for his partner. I’m sure you can imagine my delight when they walked away and, after only a few paces, he turned back and said he’d actually take another one because he was certain his gran would like it too. If that wasn’t a good way to start the day, I’d like to know what would be.

Starting to set up 'shop'

A smile would bring someone over for a chat, some eager to tell me about their own endeavours, some looking in wonder as I admitted that yes, I was indeed the author. As the day progressed I met a lot of people who were keen to discuss my writing with me. Well, I was in a book shop! Suffice it to say that I didn’t sit idly watching the world pass me by. There was one lady who not only bought not only a copy of my book but also the current issue of The People’s Friend Special in which I have a story (we’d been discussing how I began my writing career with short stories).

Chatting about my book
Image courtesy of fellow-author Sarah Stephenson
who dropped in to say hello

A huge ‘thank you’ is due to the manager, Rob Peters, and his staff who went out of their way to make me welcome and comfortable. A word of appreciation also to WHSmith who employ a policy of encouraging local writers. Rob also took some of my books to put on their shelves. That felt really good.

To recap, I knew there was a possibility that I would have no-one but myself to talk to all day. Never a good thing. Had I not sold a single book, the time would still have been well-invested. It was a truly positive experience which took place in very pleasant surroundings and I would encourage anyone who might be contemplating doing the same to give it a go.

Till next time.
Natalie



Tuesday, 27 November 2018

The end of the beginning OR The beginning of the end?


I began writing my latest novel on 24th July and finished the first draft yesterday. Only when I started this post did I realise that it has taken four months almost to the day to complete. Obviously, without a word count, the time frame is meaningless, but it has come in at just over 70k (it will no doubt change). This, to me, is a vindication of the old adage ‘More haste, less speed’. I made a conscious
The Beginning
decision at the start not to give myself added stress by putting a target end-date, though I hoped to be ready for editing by the end of the year. It must be said that I had the dubious luxury of neither a contract nor an agent to satisfy or a deadline to meet. My time was my own. The strange thing though is that less pressure produced quicker output, bearing in mind that though this is a first draft I do edit as I write. It always helps me to maintain continuity if I begin a day’s work by reading what I had written the previous day. We are all different, I know, but I do not have it in me not to edit as I read so, while I stand by this being the first draft, it is by no means entirely rough (I hope).


Brighton Pavilion
Enjoyment of the genre in which one is writing is, in my opinion, essential. I have tried others. I am happy with others. But writing in the Regency period gives me something I can’t even properly analyse. A joy in the use of language, this would probably be uppermost. The flair and style of Georgian England – such a romantic age in our country’s history, though I doubt social ranks below the aristocracy and privileged classes would agree - but in my books I don’t go there. A freedom that gives me access to early 19th century London, to Brighton’s Pavilion, to countless stately homes with their vast estates, to the etiquette of the times with all its nuances. Well, it seems I have managed to analyse it after all. To me the essence of this age is ‘Romance’! What could be better than to set a romance in a romantic era?
Chatsworth House

Chatsworth in the Autumn


So where does a thing begin and where does it end? I could say in all honesty that I have written a book. The story is complete and therefore I would be justified in typing ‘The End’ – something which incidentally I never do. An ending of sorts, for sure, but not the finished article. More something I would categorise as the end of the beginning. Ahead of me lies the beginning of the end. I have enjoyed writing this one more than any of its predecessors and I am looking forward to the next stage with eager anticipation.

You may have noticed that I have given this novel no title. It has a working one only, entirely inappropriate now to what comes below it, and it would be meaningless to share it with you. I am hoping that, by the time I reach the end of the end, a new title will have presented itself to me. The title – so important and yet for me one of the hardest things. A book must fit its title and vice versa. It is often the last thing that comes to me, when I can truly say I have reached the end. But that’s a discussion for another day.

See you next time

Natalie


Sunday, 28 October 2018

Chatting with Elaine Everest


Never mind A Gift from Woolworths! More like a gift to her readers as Elaine Everest delights us all with yet another book in this wonderful series. Once again I am privileged to be a participant in her blog tour so let me welcome Elaine and see what she has to tell us this time.

Starting to read A Gift from Woolworths was like cosying up with an old friend. Several old friends, in fact. Your characters are always so well-developed that we might have made the mistake of thinking we knew all about them. Not so. There is much more to learn in this book. But they are numerous. How then do you manage to ensure your readers know it’s Maisie, Sarah, Freda or Betty? Or indeed any of the others who feature. Not once did I have to flick back to the page before to check.
Thank you so much for the warm welcome to your blog, Natalie. It is always a pleasure to visit.
I’m so relieved you didn’t have to flick back to check anything – breathing a big sigh of relief here! I like to think I’m aware of my lovely readers as I write my books so stepping into a new scene I need to say not only where we are but who is in the scene. In fact I have a shopping list for each scene of what happens and who appears. I recall in my early writing days of receiving first edits for a book and my editor, at that time, writing in the margin ‘where are we Elaine?’ Things like this stick in my head so the next time I start a new scene I make sure it is clear. I treat each scene in a chapter as a standalone story starting with ‘Freda walked into the kitchen,’ or ‘Maisie bellowed at her husband’ until it becomes second nature to explain to my readers what is I want to say. I’m sure I get it wrong sometimes but I have a fab team supporting me at Pan Macmillan and they will soon point out my mistake.

There are several threads running through the book. I know you are a planner but can you tell us how you manage to interweave all the stories so that in the end we are left with one of Maisie’s beautifully finished garments rather than a tangled mess?
Good question! Before I start to write a book I like to know what will happen to each of my main characters so I write down each girl’s own story on individual pages. Some of their problems start later in the book – sometimes extra ideas come to me as I write! I then look at the war timeline as well as local and Woolworths events. This means some of the girls’ stories start later than others as they weave around a situation. Occasionally there will be an on-going storyline from a previous book (Ruby’s on off marriage comes to mind) so I need to check old notes and even read the previous book before I start to write. However, I do my best to tie up every thread by that last chapter. A tick sheet is handy in these circumstances.

I can almost touch the human spirit and camaraderie that emanate from your Erith community. It’s obviously an area you know and love well. What can you tell us about your personal connection to the place that is as much a character in your book as any of the living and breathing ones?
If anyone asks me where I come from I always say Erith and nearby Slade Green even though I’ve lived in Swanley for over twenty-five years. Visiting the area now I know that my Erith no longer exists but it is in my heart. I think of it as rather like Brigadoon and hope that perhaps one day the town I know and write about with it’s Victorian buildings and many shops will return. These days the area is just an extension of Greater London but dig around and there are glimpses of the old town we love so much. Pop onto Facebook and visit the groups set up by past school friends and locals and in an instant we are talking about the past – the ‘good old days’ that we think of with so much fondness. Currently we are chatting about St Augustine’s church where so many of us have been christened, married and said sad farewell to love ones. The London Borough of Bexley, where Erith now dwells, has a wonderful archive centre and along with local libraries there is a wealth of old photographs and information for us to view and discuss. At times it is as if the town I know is there just out of reach…

You aren’t afraid to confront reality. There are some harsh features and not everyone has a happy ending. Are these aspects easier or harder to deal with when you are writing them?
I write sagas so life isn’t always pleasant, although these days saga authors no longer write the predictable ‘gritty clogs and shawls’ kind of books from Catherine Cookson’s era. Anything could happen to my girls and has. Freda was attacked by a boyfriend in one of the earlier Woolworths books which is distressing for any young girl – I apologise now for putting poor Freda through so many failed romances. Maisie’s terrible family secret – I do love a secret! My girls and their families are normal people and sadly most people do encounter sadness and harshness at times. At least I can also give them happiness – one of the perks of being a writer.

Do you ever make yourself cry?
I was going to say no as I hate it when writers put something on social media to say they sobbed over their own words. However… In one of my earlier books my three girls all faced the death of a parent. A friend asked at the time if this was because I lost my own mum when she was only forty. I put more than a little of my own grief into my girls’ stories in that book – yes I shed a few tears.
Also, as I wrote the last chapter of A Gift from Woolworths and we reached the end of 1945 I felt as though my girls had grown up so much since we met them in 1938 and I was saying goodbye to them. At that time I wondered if there would be another Woolies book so I took an age to write that one chapter fearing the worse. Tears were in evidence then.

It’s no secret that the war comes to an end in this book, but our connection with your characters does not. Can we expect another Woolworths saga from you?
I’ve been promised by my publisher that we will return to Woolworths. I have such plans for the girls for the late 1940s onwards. My publisher is holding two outlines for more books and I’m looking forward to seeing what can happen, not only to the girls but also their children – after all Woolies didn’t close until 2008. However, before then there will be new girls and a new series, which I hope my readers will take to their hearts as they have with Sarah, Maisie and Freda. 
I have a short story in the My Weekly magazine at the end of November following a Saturday girl as Woolworths closes and if you listen carefully you can hear my girls…


Finally, A Gift from Woolworths will make a wonderful present, not just at this festive season but at any time of the year. Are you in a position to tell us what your next gift to your readers will be? And when?
My next gift will be a trip to the seaside in May 2019 with The Teashop Girls. We are visiting Margate and Ramsgate on the Kent coast in 1940 and taking tea in the famous Lyons Teashops. We meet Rose, Katie and Lily and their friends from the Sea View guesthouse. I can’t wait to introduce you!

Elaine xx

And I can’t wait to meet them! Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Elaine.

About A Gift From Woolworths:
Will the war be over by Christmas?
As the war moves into 1945 the lives of the women of Woolworths continue. When store manager, Betty Billington, announces she is expecting Douglas’s baby her future life is about to change more than she expects.
Freda has fallen in love with the handsome Scottish engineer but will it end happily?
Maisie loves being a mother and also caring for her two nieces although she still has her own dreams. When her brother appears on the scene he brings unexpected danger to the family.
Meanwhile Sarah dreams of her husband’s return and a cottage with roses around the door but Woolworths beckons.
Will our girls sail into times of peace, or will they experience more heartache and sorrow? With a wedding on the horizon, surely only happiness lies ahead – or does it?
Links:
Twitter: @elaineeverest

Author Information:
Elaine Everest, author of Bestselling novels The Woolworths Girls, The Butlins Girls, Christmas at Woolworths, and Wartime at Woolworths was born and brought up in North West Kent, where many of her books are set. She has been a freelance writer for twenty years and has written widely for women's magazines and national newspapers, with both short stories and features. Her non-fiction books for dog owners have been very popular and led to broadcasting on radio about our four legged friends. Elaine has been heard discussing many topics on radio from canine subjects to living with a husband under her feet when redundancy looms.
When she isn't writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school at The Howard Venue in Hextable, Kent and has a long list of published students.
Elaine lives with her husband, Michael, and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry, in Swanley, Kent and is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, The Crime Writers Association, The Society of Women Writers & Journalists and The Society of Authors.
If you'd like to make some more stops on the blog tour you can find them on the banner below






Saturday, 18 August 2018

A Journey Through Time


My recent holiday on the Isle of Wight turned out to be other than I was expecting. Instead of the rather relaxed break we had intended combined with the occasional cultural excursion, it turned out to be crammed full of history.

Our first visit was to the Isle of Wight Zoo. Pretty innocuous, you’d think but, as well as being privileged to see some of the wonderful animals who are cared for by The Wildheart Trust Charity…








 Little and Large


…we were taken back to the Second World War. I learned from a friend only the day before that the zoo is housed on the site of an old fort, remnants of which remain. The fort played a critical role in Operation PLUTO and within it is a small exhibition which contains one of the original pumps and some fascinating details of the PipeLineUnderTheOcean.



In addition to the natural history we were anticipating, we had an unexpected history lesson and another reminder of how much we owe to those who went before us. A fabulous day. 




A new day, a new outing, this time to Carisbrooke Castle and the thirteenth century when Isabella de Fortibus reigned supreme on the Isle of Wight, ruling it independently from the Crown. 




Over the years it has been a romantic castle, an Elizabethan artillery fortress, a king’s prison (Charles I – held for fourteen months before his execution) and a royal summer residence. I visited the small but fascinatingly comprehensive museum housed within the castle walls.


Castle Museum
Queuing to get in to the Castle
Castle Bats

Falconry Display












Through the Centuries
View from the Castle


  
Our final major visit was to Osborne House, described by Queen Victoria in 1845 as ‘Our dear Osborne, which is like a little Paradise for us’. It had been a long-held ambition of mine to see this royal residence, so renowned for being the queen’s favourite home, and boy was it worth the wait. There is far too much history for me to be able to share with you here so I have attached some images to give you a taste of its splendour.

Osborne House
Just your average ceiling
The Billiard Room

Fine Dining



With my housewifely hat on I wondered at the task of cleaning the amazing coloured glass and ormolu chandelier depicting convolvulus, Prince Albert’s favourite flower, and arum lilies.



I had an amazing sense of history when I entered Queen Victoria’s bedroom. It was in this room on 22nd January 1901 that she died, on a small couch bed, surrounded by her children. More than a hundred years later and it felt as though I could reach out and touch the past.


Queen Victoria's Bed




See you next time
Natalie



Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Ante-#RNAConf18


Ante-#RNAConf18

That would be ante as in before not anti as in against. Or even ante as in bet, though I’m willing to bet there will be many blog posts post-Conference. Sorry – ante, anti and ante. Posts and post. Isn’t English a wonderful language?

I sat down to work this morning but found instead that, with the excitement mounting, there was no way I could concentrate. There were several things on my mind so I thought I’d jot a few of them down here.

Messy but I'm hoping it's all there
Have I packed enough/the right clothes? Not actually packed but on the bed waiting.


Will the travel plans work out now that arrangements have been made to avoid the London Tube strike? With pre-booked tickets from Kings Cross it would be a disaster to miss the designated train.

How much I’m looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones.

The wonderful Jan Jones
Will I be able to attend all the sessions that have been arranged for us without collapsing in an exhausted heap? The answer of course is no. I’ll definitely collapse in an exhausted heap, but with so much skill and knowledge made available to us I shall try very hard keep up.

Thanks as ever to Jan Jones for her behind the scenes work. This morning Jan has posted that there is an excellent range of gins. So good of her to do the research for us.

There are others of course who also worked so diligently to make the Conference seem like a well-oiled machine. Sheila Crighton who was instrumental in arranging the attendance of the Industry Professionals. Session organisers. I don't have names but I thank them sincerely.

Sterling work again this year from Elaine Everest acting as liaison between conference delegates and Industry Professionals. I never fail to get worked up over the one2ones but hey, a little dose of adrenalin is a good thing, isn’t it? I have always found the feedback we get absolutely invaluable. How lucky are we to have the opportunity to discuss our work with the professionals in such an informal and relaxed manner. Did I say relaxed?

It would be remiss of me not to mention the parties. RNA members certainly know how to party. We get a lot of practice. There’s also the Gala Dinner on Saturday evening. An excuse to dress up and have another party. Who needs an excuse?
 
Not a conference photo but, with the much loved and
missed Roger Sanderson, synonymous with the
Annual Conference, I just had to include this one

What more can I say? This has been by way of a stream of consciousness. Throughout the year I attend as many writing events as I can and as my purse will allow but the RNA Annual Conference is the one that takes precedence over all the rest. I know I will enjoy it. I always do. But above all I will come away with considerably more knowledge than when I arrived, I will have met new people, and I will carry a huge amount of enthusiasm and an eagerness to get back to work. Oh, and probably a few extra pounds in weight as well. See you there.

Natalie







Friday, 1 June 2018

It's Publication Day for Elaine Roberts and The Foyles Bookshop Girls


I’m delighted to welcome friend, Elaine Roberts, to the blog to celebrate the publication today of her debut novel, The Foyles Bookshop Girls. Congratulations, Elaine, and thank you for answering my questions:

Every unpublished writer dreams of that offer of a contract. But for you it was like the proverbial bus. You wait an age for one and then three come along at the same time! Fantastic – but what did it feel like?
The day I received the email, I was in a bit of an emotional state and I was talking to my husband, Dave, about giving up writing. He went to answer a knock at the front door and by the time he got back, an email had arrived from Aria saying how they loved my book and wanted to publish it. To be honest it didn’t really register at first. I showed it to Dave and he was thrilled. I believe I said something along the lines of “I don’t know if I want it now”, to which he replied rather incredulously, “You’re having a laugh, aren’t you. You’ve worked so hard for this.” As I’m sure you can guess, it was a strange feeling. I think, within half an hour, I’d had two emails, a phone call and a contract to sign, so after years of waiting for this moment to arrive, it all seemed to happen very quickly. I’m obviously thrilled to have a three-book contract, but it still feels rather surreal and of course I am now on a steep learning curve on marketing and promotion.



Alice, Victoria and Molly are very different characters. What is it that binds them together?
They have a history together that goes back to their childhood, before they were aware of life’s protocols. Originally, circumstances brought Molly and Alice together, but more of that is revealed in The Foyles Girls at War. They also have their love of books, which is what brings them to Foyles Bookshop. The trials that the Great War forces on them binds them together, creating a bond that can’t be broken.

Many people find unknown depths in times of adversity. What does Alice learn about herself in these terrible times?
Alice was always the peacemaker, never wanting to rock the boat. She believed in the suffragette movement, but she never wanted to upset her father and be forced into a marriage she didn’t want. She felt she could pave the way for her younger sister, Lily, to have more freedom, by doing things slowly and quietly. During this first novel, she realises she’s stronger and more capable than she ever realised. She faces difficult situations, some of which she totally mishandles. She doesn’t understand why her actions are misunderstood, but she comes to realise that being the eldest didn’t necessarily mean she knew best. 

As a writer I know how one’s characters become real. Which is your favourite, and why?
You are right, they do become very real and part of your life. You ride the wave of emotions they are on. I love them all for very different reasons, but if I had to choose one, it would have to be Lily, Alice’s sister. She’s not afraid to take on the world and she’s all about justice and not afraid to speak out, even if it’s not the right time to do so. Haha, she sounds a bit like me - now that’s rather worrying!



What is it about saga writing that made it your chosen genre?
As you know, I started writing contemporary women’s fiction. I believe it was a conversation we had when we were going to a Romantic Novelists Association London Chapter meeting. We were sitting in a cafe when I spoke about maybe trying to write something in the Victorian era and you told me I should give it a go. I was full of insecurities of whether I could do all the research, as well as plan and write 100,000 words, but I gave it a go. Once I put my fear behind me and realised I had nothing to lose, I thoroughly enjoyed creating the fictional story to weave around the historical facts. After the Historical Novelist Society conference, I was then encouraged to write a World War One novel and that turned out to be The Foyles Bookshop Girls.

Setting your novel in what is perhaps the most famous bookshop in the world seems inspired to me but what, in today’s context, does Foyles mean to you?
Ask any writer and they will say they love a bookshop, whether a big named store like Foyles or a small second hand one. I wanted one of my characters to work or own a bookshop and originally that was my male lead character, but as always it evolved in the planning.

Foyles in Charing Cross Road held Discovery Days where authors could have a one to one with an agent. I remember rehearsing my thirty-second pitch over and over again and memorising the premise of my story, which was a modern one the first time I attended, and then the Victorian one, the second time. I remember everyone was so nervous, and yet there was a real camaraderie as we waited in line for our moment. Foyles is books, books are authors and the Discovery Days they held were all about encouraging talent to rise to the surface. I came away with their motivational words ringing in my ears. Those days gave me the belief that I could actually write a book and be published.

Could we have a little background information please? Have you always been a writer, or an aspiring one? Tell us about your journey?
I have always kept diaries and, as I got older, journals. When I was in my twenties, I wrote a modern love story and sent it to Mills and Boon. They sent me a very nice rejection, which said they would have taken it, but they were in the process of changing their image, and it wouldn’t fit in with them going forward. This gave me encouragement, but life got in the way and I didn’t write anything else for several years. I think it wasn’t my time then, but I took it up again about eight years ago. Thanks to my son, I joined The Write Place Creative Writing School and was encouraged to join organisations like The Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme, which I would definitely recommend. I wrote and submitted short stories, which is a real lesson on word choice and writing to a word count. I was thrilled when I sold my first short story and couldn’t believe someone wanted to buy a story I had written. All the time I was doing that, I was still working on my novel. Joining a class and an organisation tells you you’re not alone and everything that is happening to you has happened to others. That is very encouraging to know.

With the publication today of The Foyles Bookshop Girls, promotion is already in place for this three book series. How far are you into the writing process for the next two?
My second book, The Foyles Girls at War is finished and waiting for a final edit, before being printed off for a final read through, in case there are any glaring errors.

The third one, Christmas at the Foyles Bookshop, is planned and the historical timeline is written. I’ve written one chapter at the moment so that is definitely a moving storyline.

I have also written an idea down for the book after that, but I’m not saying anymore than that at the moment.

It’s obvious from your previous answer what is next for Elaine Roberts on the writing front. When you’re not creating other worlds, what do you do for your own pleasure?
My life outside of writing is about my family; I’m at my happiest when I’m spending time with them. When Dave and I aren’t on babysitting duties, we will book a few days away, but my laptop always goes with me, as you never know when an idea will come and the urge to write will take over. I obviously love to read and still write short stories, although not as many as I used to. I enjoy playing Sudoko and doing crosswords, if they aren’t too difficult. I love spending time with my friends and going to the theatre, which is something I do more and more.

Thank you for inviting me onto your blog, Natalie.

It's been a pleasure.

The Blurb:

London, 1914: one ordinary day, three girls arrive for work at London's renowned Foyles bookshop. But when war with Germany is declared their lives will never be the same again... 
Alice has always been the 'sensible' one in her family – especially in comparison with her suffrage-supporting sister! But decidedly against her father's wishes, she accepts a job at Foyles Bookshop; and for bookworm Alice it's a dream come true. 
But with the country at war, Alice's happy world is shattered in an instant. Determined to do what she can, Alice works in the bookshop by day, and risks her own life driving an ambulance around bomb-ravaged London by night. But however busy she keeps herself, she can't help but think of the constant danger those she loves are facing on the frontline... 
Alice, Victoria and Molly couldn't be more different and yet they share a friendship that stems back to their childhood – a friendship that provides everyday solace from the tribulations and heartbreak of war. 
Amazon Link:                The Foyles Bookshop Girls
Kobo Link:                     The Foyles Bookshop Girls
Facebook Author Page:   Elaine Roberts Facebook Author Page
Twitter:                         @RobertsElaine11



Wednesday, 16 May 2018

A Question of Balance



It’s been a while since you’ve seen me here and with good reason. Someone else, lots of someone elses, have been doing my blogging for me and I didn’t want my personal efforts to be lost in the crowd.


Three weeks ago today The Ghost of Glendale was published as an eBook, the paperback having preceded it by three weeks. It was my first foray into the realms of self-publishing and in a way I cheated in as much as I had others far more experienced to do the work for me. I reaped the benefits of the professionalism of Rebecca Emin (Gingersnap Books) and Cathy Helms (Avalon Graphics) who formatted the book and produced the, in my opinion, spectacular cover.


Following all that, Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources took me on a whirlwind blog tour, hence the reason I haven’t posted myself. Rachel managed to assemble a group of people for whom I have a newfound awe and admiration to read, review and promote my book. Yes, folks, I’m talking about

THE BLOGGERS

that amazing fraternity who give up their time for no reward other than their love of reading. I have received some wonderful reviews for which I’m truly grateful but the thing that struck me most has been the consistency of the comments. I’d never written a mixed genre book before but it seems that romance and paranormal can go together. For those with a love of the Regency, I am happy to have portrayed the era effectively. To combine it with a ghost story was something else. Fortunately it seems I got the balance right. I had so much fun writing this book and when more than one compared it favourably with Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen, well, I could ask for no greater praise. I hope you enjoy reading it. Here’s an excerpt.

“It was fortunate indeed that you weren’t present for I should certainly have given myself away, but I so wished you’d been there to enjoy the joke.”
            Phoebe and Duncan were sitting again on the fallen tree where they had first met, the horses standing contentedly by in the small clearing. He had thought she’d looked a little overwrought when they’d met earlier in the stable yard but after a good canter she was relaxed as ever in his company and smiling now as she related what had happened at the table the previous evening.
          "Does she always rub you up the wrong way?”
        "Almost invariably, but when I stayed with her in London I was able to hold my tongue. I was her guest and it would have been unforgivably rude of me not to.” Duncan could appreciate her logic. “Here at Glendale I will not have her cutting up my father’s peace. It seems to me that if I can inject some humour into the situation, be she never so aware, I am able to restrain myself.”
           "Is her understanding so inferior then?”
          "By no means. She is intelligent enough. Just that she has no sense of the ridiculous. I cannot believe how unalike she is to my mother who could make anyone laugh by merely a word or even only a gesture.”
            “I wish I could have met her."

I hope you can join me again next time