Aug 2018


Letters from Elsewhere

Please welcome today’s visitor, who is Rosa Fancourt. She has brought her letter to Mrs Ellicott, written ten years before the beginning of A Suggestion of Scandal, a new novel by Catherine Kullmann. Seventeen-year-old Rosa has just arrived at Loring Place to take up her first position as governess. She writes to her former Headmistress at her Bath Academy.

Loring Place,
Suffolk
1st April, 1804 

Mrs Ellicott
Mrs Ellicott’s Academy for Young Ladies
New King Street,
Bath

My dear Madam,

I take up my pen to apprise you as requested of my safe arrival at Loring Place. I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude to you for arranging for me to travel as far as London in Mrs Fortescue’s company and also to Mrs Fortescue for her kind care of me. Indeed, I think I would have been utterly lost had I been compelled to make the journey alone, for I had no notion how to manage at the posting inns—where to find refreshments or, indeed, how to make myself comfortable before continuing on my journey. I saw for myself how girls travelling on their own were likely to be accosted not only by those claiming to be gentlemen but also by seemingly benevolent women who, Mrs Fortescue explained after she had intervened in one case, prey on innocent country girls seeking honest employment in the Capital, luring them to houses of ill-repute.

We broke our journey at Maidenhead, staying at the Fleece where Mrs Fortescue took a room but I fear I did not sleep well, for the mattress was lumpy, the bed seemed to rock and sway like a coach and the sounds of horses and carriages intermingled with the cries of the ostlers and postilions all through the night. At four in the morning we were jolted awake by the blare of the horn announcing the departure of the London mail and by five were on our way again, reaching London shortly after eight o’clock. We broke our fast quickly before taking a hackney to The Bull Inn in Bishopsgate where Mrs Fortescue waited until she could confide me to the care of a respectable mother and daughter, a Mrs and Miss Starling, who were also travelling to Bury. They were most impressed when they heard I was Miss Loring’s new governess and, on our arrival at The Angel in Bury, insisted on remaining with me until we had found the servant from Loring Place who had come to meet the coach.

I am sure I don’t know what sort of an impression I made on him, or indeed on my new employer, for it was after nine o’clock at night by the time we reached the Place and, as you know, I had been travelling since eight o’clock the previous morning.

I was shown into the drawing-room where Lady Loring sat alone and after I had made my curtsey, she ordered supper to be brought up for me, but I said that all I wanted was a cup of tea if that were possible—for the tea equipage still stood on a table near her and my mouth was parched. Fortunately there was still water in the urn and I received my tea, after which I was more than grateful to be permitted to retire.

Loring Place is a handsome residence built by Sir Edward Loring’s ancestor in the reign of Queen Anne. The night nursery and school room are on the second floor, to reach which one climbs two double flights of stairs—at least fifty steps. The school-room is bright and airy, and I am allowed to use it as a sitting-room when my charge is asleep or elsewhere with her mother. The night–nursery opens off it on one side and my small bedroom on the other. I am to leave both doors to the schoolroom open during the night in case Chloe should call out. Until now, her nurse also slept in the night-nursery but she is to be married tomorrow and so will no longer be at the Place.

Chloe is almost six. She is a sweet-tempered, merry child who has just begun to learn her letters. She has some difficulties pronouncing the letter J, preferring D which might not be so noticeable if her elder brother, Sir Edward’s son and heir from his first marriage, were not called Sir Julian. He does not live here, dividing his time between Swanmere Castle, the home of his maternal grandfather, in Huntingdonshire and Swanmere House in London, but visits regularly enough for his sister to speak frequently of him. I have resolved to teach her Peter Piper and, once she is used to the idea of such alliterative phrases, shall compose some using the letter J.

Chloe’s mother, Lady Loring, cannot be much more than thirty. I would not describe her as doting, but she tells me she will come to the schoolroom each midday and expects to see her daughter in the drawing room for half an hour before dinner. When the weather permits, Chloe and I are to take two walks every day and on wet days she is to be permitted exercise in the ballroom. Otherwise her ladyship had no instructions for me, except that she completely forbade any form of corporal chastisement, saying that she did not approve of it for girls. I am very glad of it, for the idea of taking a rod to that innocent child makes my blood run cold.

Sir Edward Loring is considerable older than his wife. I was not presented to him until yesterday, for he is frequently away from home. He is quite gruff but smiled and said ‘How d’ye do, Miss Fancourt?’ in a perfectly amiable fashion, continuing with, ‘And so you are to look after my little pet? Make sure she minds you, now’. As he followed this remark by presenting his daughter with a little box of sugar plums, I do not think it was meant too seriously. I managed to convince Miss Chloe that it would be better to wait to sample these sweets until we had removed her drawing-room finery.

Sir Edward’s mother, the dowager Lady Loring also lives at the Place but she is at present visiting one of her daughters. I dine with the family—the nursery-maid sits in the schoolroom doing some sewing until I return upstairs—and it was quite strange dining à deux with Lady Loring for the first couple of days, the two of us waited on by a butler and footman.

I must close now as it is time to go to church. Dear Mrs Ellicott, pray permit me to thank you again for your care of me, especially after the demise of my poor mother left me orphaned and without a home. I shall be eternally grateful to you for retaining me as a pupil-teacher and later securing me this position where I hope I may remain for many years to come. I shall endeavour to do you and the Academy credit, ma’am. Pray believe you will always be remembered in the prayers of

Your affectionate pupil and servant,

Rosa Fancourt.

Postscriptum. This afternoon, as Chloe and I returned from our walk, we were overtaken by a gentleman driving a fine equipage drawn by the most beautiful pair of matched bays. Chloe at once began to call, ‘Dulian, Dulian!’ Sir Julian Loring, for it was he, drew up and insisted on taking us up to the house in his curricle. He is most truly the gentleman, according me a polite bow and offering his hand to assist me to ascend into the carriage.

“Pray go first, Miss Fancourt,” he said, “and I shall hand this imp up to you. If we put her between us, she cannot get up to mischief.”

At the house, he handed me down as if I were a duke’s daughter. But enough about Sir Julian. I have not forgotten your wise advice and have no intention of filling my head with foolish notions. I must finish as Chloe is dancing with impatience to go down to the drawing-room. RF.

About A Suggestion of Scandal

A Suggestion of Scandal[The novel opens ten years after this letter.]

If only he could find a lady who was tall enough to meet his eyes, intelligent enough not to bore him and who had that certain something that meant he could imagine spending the rest of his life with her.

 As Sir Julian Loring returns to his father’s home, he never dreams that that lady could be Rosa Fancourt, his half-sister Chloe’s governess. Rosa is no longer the gawky girl fresh from a Bath academy whom he first met ten years ago. Today, she intrigues him. But just as they begin to draw closer, she disappears—in very dubious circumstances. Julian cannot bring himself to believe the worst of Rosa, but if she is blameless the truth could be even more shocking, with far-reaching repercussions for his own family, especially Chloe.

Later, driven by her concern for Chloe, Rosa accepts an invitation to spend some weeks at Castle Swanmere, home of Julian’s maternal grandfather. The widowed Meg Overton has also been invited and she is determined not to let the extremely eligible Julian slip through her fingers again.

When a ghost from Rosa’s past returns to haunt her, and Meg discredits Rosa publicly, Julian must decide where his loyalties lie.

A Suggestion of Scandal is available worldwide from Amazon as eBook and Paperback.

About Catherin Kullmann

Catherine KullmannCatherine Kullmann was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-six years before returning to Ireland. She and her husband of over forty years have three adult sons and two grandchildren. Catherine has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector.

After taking early retirement Catherine was finally able to fulfil her life-long ambition to write fiction. Her debut novel, The Murmur of Masks, published in 2016, is a warm and engaging story of a young woman’s struggle to survive and find love in an era of violence and uncertainty. It takes us from the ballrooms of the Regency to the battlefield of Waterloo. It received a Chill with a Book Readers Award and, in 2017, was short-listed for Best Novel in the CAP (Carousel Aware Prize) Awards.

In Perception & Illusion, published in March 2017, Lallie Grey, cast out by her father for refusing the suitor of his choice, accepts Hugo Tamrisk’s proposal, confident that he loves her as she loves him. But Hugo’s past throws long shadows as does his recent liaison with Sabina Albright. All too soon, Lallie must question Hugo’s reasons for marriage and wonder what he really wants of his bride. Perception & Illusion received a Chill with a Book Readers Award and a Discovered Diamonds Award.

You can find out more about Catherine and her books at her website and her Facebook author page or follow her on Twitter.

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Several years ago, we set out on a hike in Switzerland with our three children. It began to pour with rain, but we’re hardy people; rain doesn’t deter us. We knew we’d have to traverse a narrow ledge ahead, but hey, we could do it. Then we passed a couple going the other way. “You’re brave,” they said. That’s when we turned back.

Hiking in Switzerland

When you hear those two words, “You’re brave,” you suddenly think, “Am I brave? Do I want to be brave? Have I made a big mistake?”

When we heard those words on that hike, we realised we didn’t want to be so brave and didn’t go to that ledge. There was no problem doing that. This memoir author, who also worried about those words, would have had more difficulty pulling out if she’d wanted to. Fortunately, she decided she didn’t.

My MemoirI’m still planning to write a memoir one day. I’ve even thought of a format and written the first chapter. The revelations in it won’t be as hard as the ones Susan Burrowes owned up to. And many of the people in it are no longer alive and able to be hurt by it. Someone wants me to leave something out. It’s a very small part of the whole and can easily be omitted. It shows something important, but there are other examples.

That's me

 

 

I’ll have to be ready for people to tell me I’m brave. I think I will be.

Have you been told you’re brave? How did you react?

Social Anxiety Revealed: the Launch PartyAugust 22 marked a year since my non-fiction book, Social Anxiety Revealed was published by Crooked Cat Books.

This was the book I wrote first, before I even thought of writing fiction, before I had any notion that I could be creative. I did what I knew, after years working as a technical writer. I collected quotes from people I met (mostly online) who agreed to having them published as long as they remained anonymous, and organised the material into chapters and sub-chapters, adding text of my own. I also added humorous asides and, since I was quite an expert in using Word, I created different styles for each type of text (quotes, humour, etc.) to make the each one stand out. I had no idea what a nightmare this would cause for a publisher.

Then I tried to get my book published, and started to realise how difficult that is.

Fast forward about twelve years. (I hope my husband doesn’t read this. He’d be shocked at my use of that expression.) After Crooked Cat had published two of my fiction books, they agreed to publish Social Anxiety Revealed. I revised it, adding further information. I then worked with my wonderful editor, Sue Barnard, who made the book shine.

Then Crooked Cat went through the nightmare of turning it into a publishable format and somehow came out the other side.

Cover: Social Anxiety RevealedWhat has happened in the year since publication?

A lot of people have expressed interest, at the launch party and since. There have been some fabulous reviews, from people on two sides of the divide: “sufferers” and therapists. (Actually, it’s not so much of a divide. It’s often the ones who have gone through something like this who decide to become therapists.) I’m thrilled every time I hear that the book has helped someone. I have presented a talk on the topic and led a workshop, which also gathered a lot of interest. I hope to do more of that in the future.

I do hope my book and social anxiety in general will become better known. I believe many people would be much better off if that happened.

We Need to Talk about Social Anxiety

Hello and welcome to a bit of calm in a turbulent part of the world. Compared to what’s happening to a million people a bit further south, what I have to tell you seems insignificant.

But I wanted to tell you about a book I enyoyed very much.

The Brotherhood

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.The Brotherhood by Jo Fenton is a psychological thriller that had me hooked from the beginning and never let me go.

My review doesn’t do justice to it, but I tried. Basically, I think you should read it.

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This blog will be back with another in the series Letters from Elsewhere on 31st August. See you then!

Miriam Drori

 

Have You Heard the Word?

Say the word and you’ll be free
Say the word and be like me
Say the word I’m thinking of
Have you heard the word is…

INCREDIBLY

Yes. If you live in the UK, listen to yourselves, listen to others, listen especially to Radio 4. This is the word you’ll hear more than all others. Nothing is very or really or amazingly any longer. Oh no! INCREDIBLY is the all-encompassing word.

It’s so fine, it’s sunshine
It’s the word…

Back in 1965 the word was love, but now the word is INCREDIBLY.

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I had slots in three book launch parties recently and popped into others. Congratulations to:

I’ve read Heathcliff, which is excellent (or should I say: incredibly good?). I’m reading The Brotherhood, which promises to be excellent, too. I have yet to read the others, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy them. After all, they’re all published by Crooked Cat, which has published some incredibly good books. And mine.

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This week, I read a blog post by Social Anx that resonated with me. In fact, I thought it incredibly powerful, even though not everything in it applies to me. It inspired a post of my own on the other blog.

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See you next Friday. I hope the week works out incredibly well for you!