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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Letters from Elsewhere

Today’s visitor, Ursula Grey, has a special reason for trying to mend matters with her stepdaughter, Lallie. Her husband is angry with his daughter because she foiled his plans of getting a share of her inheritance (which Lallie doesn’t even know about) by marrying her off to a crony of his. But Ursula sees advantages to Lallie’s secret marriage to the Hon. Hugo Tamrisk M.P. Through her new family, Lallie may be able to advance the prospects of their children: Eleanor, Beatrix and James.

Ursula comes from the pages of Perception & Illusion by Catherine Kullmann.

                                                                                                            Alwood Hall
                                                                                                           Sussex
                                                                                                           12 December 1813

The Honble. Mrs Tamrisk,
Tamm Manor,
Devonshire

My dear Mrs Tamrisk,

I was indeed relieved to learn of your recent marriage and to know that you are safe and well. While I continue to deplore the misunderstandings that caused you to leave the protection of your family, we can justly say all’s well that ends well. In Mr Tamrisk you have made an excellent match and I extend to you and him my heartfelt congratulations and good wishes for your future happiness.

I imagine that by now you are settled at Tamm. I did not have the privilege of advising you before your marriage as a mother should. I will say nothing about your marital duties—the time for that is past—but I hope you will permit me to offer some general counsel and you should know that in the future you may always turn to me if you are in need of advice.

Mr Tamrisk struck me as a fair-minded gentleman when we met in September and I hope that he proved generous when drawing up the marriage settlements. If so, you now have more funds at your disposal than you have ever dreamt of having. I need not urge you to be circumspect in your expenditure, I know, but strongly recommend that you acquire the habit of setting aside, say, one tenth of your pin money each quarter. You will soon have accumulated a private little nest egg for which you need account to no one and will always have in reserve in case of emergencies.

And, while we speak of financial matters, never let yourself be lured into playing for high stakes or into any other sort of wagers. It is a sure road to ruin. You have led a very sheltered life, first with your grandparents and then here at Alwood with me but now you will be moving in different circles and must be alert to such risks.

But enough of that. As you can imagine, your marriage caused no little chatter in Alwood. I am charged to express the good wishes of everyone you can imagine, even the squire’s lady. She first remarked how unexpected it was but I just shook my head and said, ’Not at all. We have known Mr Tamrisk and his sister Lady Malvin for some time. Of course, their father, Lord Tamm, is of an advanced age and not in the best of health’. Mrs Neville swallowed her chagrin and said everything that was proper but you could see the words tasted sour to her. Neither of her daughters made as good a match, after all and neither her son nor his heiress can compare with the heir to the oldest Barony in the land.

Your sisters miss you sadly, as you will imagine. I have not yet found a new governess and they say I am to assure you that they are doing their best to keep up their lessons with my assistance. They each send you a little gift; Beatrice embroidered the sampler herself according to Eleanor’s design. Eleanor also painted a watercolour of Alwood village so that you will not forget us. I hope that you will accept the enclosed fan as a token of my affection and esteem.

With the exception of some old gowns which are not suitable for your new station in life, you will find in this trunk all the personal belongings you left at Alwood— your books, music and sketch-books as well as the few trinkets and ornaments you brought from your Grandmother’s to Alwood.

The ladies of the literary circle send their felicitations and beg you will accept the volumes of Pride and Prejudice as a memento of the happy hours you spent together. When she gave them to me, Mrs Hersey remarked that you appeared to have found your Mr Darcy—is he a character in the story? Judging by her smile, he must be an eligible parti indeed. She has invited me to join the literary society, and I propose to do so after Christmas.

Mr Grey joins me in sending you the compliments of the season. It is our earnest wish that the confusion of last September will not result in a permanent breach within our family. Eleanor and Beatrix send their fondest love, as would James if he knew I was writing to you.

I remain, my dear Lallie—I trust I may still so address you,

                  Your affectionate stepmother and friend,

                               Ursula Grey

About Perception & Illusion

Does a fairy-tale ending always guarantee Happy Ever After?

Perception and Illusion

England 1814: Brought up by her late grandparents after the death of her mother, Lallie Grey is unaware that she is their heiress. When her father realises that he will soon lose control of his daughter’s income, he conspires to marry her off to his crony, Frederick Malvin in ex& Illusionchange for a share of her capital. But Lallie has fallen in love with Hugo Tamrisk, heir to one of the oldest titles in England. When Hugo not only comes to her aid as she flees the arranged marriage, but later proposes to her, all Lallie’s dreams have come true. She readily agrees to marry him at once.

But past events cast long shadows. Hugo resents the interest his three elder sisters take in his new wife and thinks they have turned her against him. And then there is his former mistress, Sabina, Lady Albright. As Lallie finds her feet in the ton, the newly-weds are caught up in a comedy of errors that threatens their future happiness. She begins to wonder if he has regrets and he cannot understand her new reserve. A perfect storm of confusion and misunderstanding leads to a final rupture when Lallie feels she has no choice but to leave. Can Hugo win her back? Will there be a second, real happy end for them?

“Deliciously romantic with wonderful characters, elegant writing and perfect period detail. Hugely enjoyable!” Nicola Cornick. Winner of Chill with a Book and Discovered Diamond awards.

About Catherine 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.

In her new book, A Suggestion of Scandal, due in August 2018, governess Rosa Fancourt finds her life and future suddenly at risk when she surprises two lovers in flagrante delicto. Even if she escapes captivity, the mere suggestion of scandal is enough to ruin a lady in her situation. In Sir Julian Loring she finds an unexpected champion but will he stand by her to the end?

You can find out more about Catherine at her website where, in her Scrap Album, she blogs about historical facts and trivia relating to the Regency, or on her Facebook page.

Catherine’s books are available worldwide from Amazon as e-books and paperback.

 

CoverMany thanks to all those who offered suggestions for a slogan to accompany the launch of my new book: Social Anxiety Revealed.

I decided I wasn’t the best person to judge this contest. I think when you don’t live in a country where English is spoken, sometimes words don’t ring in quite the same way, and slogans are all about that tinkling in the ears.

So I chose a judge – Jean Davison. Jean probably caught social anxiety herself as a teenager, although she wasn’t diagnosed with it (unsurprisingly, as social anxiety wasn’t known in those days). Instead, she was diagnosed with something she didn’t have, as told in her memoir, The Dark Threads. Thank you, Jean.

The winner of the competition is Catherine Kullmann with the slogan:

We need to talk about Social Anxiety

Jean felt (and I agree) that this slogan gets the message across most clearly.

Congratulations, Catherine! I’ll be catapulting a signed copy of Neither Here Nor There over to you as soon as I know where to direct it.