Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today.
Jen Turano: Thank you so much for having me. It’s always delightful to talk about my characters, so on to Miss Gwendolyn Brinley. I find myself curious as to how she’s going to answer your questions because one never knows what will come out of her mouth.
You seem to have found yourself, Miss Brinley, employed in the unusual position of assistant matchmaker. Is that a position you have a lot of experience with?
Gwendolyn – “I must admit that I have absolutely no experience with matchmaking in general, and in all honesty, I took up a paid companion position with Mrs. Parker for the Newport Season never imagining my duties would change. However, because Mrs. Parker broke her leg during a rather robust three-legged race and is no longer mobile enough to fulfill her obligations to the two young ladies she’s sponsoring this Season, I’ve now been given a rapid tutorial in what is required within the field of matchmaking. Mrs. Parker is convinced I’ll rise magnificently to the occasion, whereas I am not as confident.”
Was it intentional on your part to disclose to society that you’re an assistant matchmaker, given that matchmaking in general was something that was never publicly spoken about until you arrived on the scene?
Gwendolyn – “I fear I was unaware that matchmaking was a hush-hush topic and merely disclosed my participation in it after I had a bit of an altercation with a young lady who was determined to see me fired. I may have interrupted a bit of skullduggery on her part that involved a deliberately tossed glass of fruit punch intended to land on a completely innocent, and need I add, adorable young lady by the name of Miss Adelaide Duveen.”
Were you surprised when Mrs. Parker didn’t terminate you on the spot after this altercation? She’s not known to be a lady who stands for her employees making scenes.
Gwendolyn – “Indeed I was. In fact, I was intending on packing my bags and heading back to Boston the very next morning, but Mrs. Parker was having none of that since I, unintentionally of course, had somehow turned into the talk of the summer, and not in an unfavorable manner. Mrs. Parker believes in seizing what she sees as opportunities, so here I am, still employed as an assistant matchmaker.”
You mentioned you were intending on returning to Boston. Is that where you’re from?
Gwendolyn – “I grew up there, but I’ve spent years as a paid companion to my cousin, Catriona. Catriona enjoys traveling, so I’ve been all around the world of late, only returning to Boston this past spring because Catriona was missing our family and wanted to spend the summer with them in the Berkshires.”
Surely you’re not talking about Catriona Zimmerman, the former opera singer, are you?
Gwendolyn – “One and the same, and she, before you ask, is as difficult as rumor has it. That’s why I accepted Mrs. Parker’s offer to become her paid companion, believing it would allow me a nice reprieve from my cousin, as well as allowing me to experience a relaxing summer for a change.”
Have you managed to find time to relax as of yet?
Gwendolyn – “Not at all, especially not since Mr. Walter Townsend decided to ask Mrs. Parker to take him on to sponsor this year. I’ve now been charged with the daunting task of finding him the perfect wife, one who can take his slightly unruly children in hand.”
Society is all aflutter about the Walter Townsend situation. From all accounts, he is a most genial gentleman as well as possessed of a great fortune. I wouldn’t think it would be daunting in the least to find him a suitable wife.
Gwendolyn – “It wouldn’t be difficult to find him a wife, but one who is suitable? That’s the problem. Even though I am a reluctant assistant matchmaker at best, I take my job seriously. I would be derelict in my duties if I don’t find Walter a wife who will be the perfect mother to his children. They deserve a lady who genuinely adores them, which means I need to ascertain that the ladies I’ve been having Walter escort around town are just as interested in his children as they are in him.”
You do realize you’ve taken to referring to Mr. Walter Townsend as simply Walter, don’t you?
Gwendolyn – “Do I? How silly of me, although know that Walter and I decided to abandon formality after he tried to save me when he thought I was drowning at Bailey’s Beach, but usually we maintain formality at a society events.”
With such chivalrous behavior toward you, may I assume there’s a part of you that doesn’t want to find Walter a wife?
Gwendolyn – “I was under the impression you wanted to question me about my role as a matchmaker, not try to pull salacious remarks from me regarding my feelings toward Walter.”
Do you have feelings for Walter?
Gwendolyn – “He’s a complicated man who is struggling with his relationships with his children, of which, to remind you, he has three. Of course I can empathize with the gentleman, which I suppose is a type of a feeling, but I’m going to leave it at that.”
What do you feel for his children?
Gwendolyn – “They are simply too precious for words and are somewhat misunderstood because, while they have been known to cause more than their fair share of mischief over the past few years, I believe they’ve only done so because they’re desperately trying to attract their father’s attention. He, as so many gentlemen of society, has approached fatherhood in a somewhat distant manner, something I’m determined to correct.”
By finding him the perfect wife?
Gwendolyn – “Perhaps, or perhaps simply by helping him see that what his children might actually need isn’t a mother to take them in hand, but a father who will see them for the wonderful gifts they are and will begin to build a relationship with them that will benefit all of their lives.”
A lofty goal to be sure, but tell me this – are you intending on continuing on as Mrs. Parker’s assistant matchmaker after the Newport Season ends?
Gwendolyn – “I’m afraid one Season as an assistant matchmaker is all I’m willing to take on. I was hoping to have some leisure time over the summer to decide where I want to go in life next. Clearly, leisure is not on my agenda at the moment, so after the Season winds down, I’ll repair to Boston and do a lot of contemplation.”
- You won’t be returning to your position as paid companion to your cousin?”
Gwendolyn – “My cousin was suffering dreadfully after the unexpected death of her husband, which is why I agreed to travel the world with her as her paid companion. She’s much better now but needs to stop fleeing from her past with one trip after another. She needs to confront her own future, which she won’t do if I’m around, so it’s time to set her free and hope she’ll be able to rediscover her wings.”
You seem to have a rather managing way about you. Would you say that’s a strength or a weakness of yours?
Gwendolyn – “I suppose that depends on the situation. With my cousin, getting her to put her grief behind her by managing her life over the past few years, would be a strength. Convincing Walter, on the other hand, that he won’t find his perfect spouse unless he spends time with numerous young ladies—something he’s balked at doing because of his work schedule—may be a flaw of mine because I’ve had to resort to nagging, which is not an attribute anyone appreciates. Frankly, I know Walter is finding the punishing schedule I’ve set for him overly ambitious on my part. Nonetheless, the Newport Season is only eight weeks long, so I really have no choice in the matter, not if I want to find success with matching him up by the end of summer.”
Would you be overly distraught if you’re unable to find him that perfect wife?
Gwendolyn – “I’m competitive by nature and have a wager with Walter about finding him that beacon of perfection. He doesn’t believe I’ll be successful, whereas I, well, I don’t care to lose our wager. Because of that, I can say I would be distraught if I don’t find him a wife, but not, before you ask this next, because I have an eye on Walter for myself.”
You seem to want to reiterate that a lot, which begs more questions. However, since you clearly don’t seem keen to divulge more about your feelings, or lack thereof about the oh-so-eligible Mr. Walter Townsend, is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?
Gwendolyn – “Nothing is springing to mind, but since I know you want to swing the conversation back to Walter and my feelings for the man, allow me to thank you for your time in interviewing me today. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve promised Walter’s children a special trip to the beach, and I really wouldn’t care to disappoint them.”
Which speaks volumes about your affection for the children, even if you’re rather cagey about holding Mr. Townsend in any great esteem. Nevertheless, since I certainly don’t want to have you believe I make a habit out of badgering the people I interview, allow me to thank you for answering my questions, as well as bid you a good afternoon. I wish you all the best in Newport this summer, and hope that you’ll eventually find time to figure out where to take your life from here, although . . . if I were a betting person, I’d bet your future life will most assuredly have Mr. Walter Townsend and his children involved in it in some manner or other.
Named one of the funniest voices in inspirational romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today bestselling author known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publishers Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from RT Book Reviews, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. She and her family live outside of Denver, Colorado. Readers can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and at jenturano.com.