Meet Violet Lindstrom from Sarah Sundin’s The Sky Above Us

The Sky Above UsName: Violet Lindstrom

Siblings: Alma, Karl, and Nels

Places lived: I was born and raised in Salina, Kansas, but now I’m living on a US air base in Leiston, England. Quite a change for this homebody.

Jobs: I’m the director of the Red Cross Aeroclub at Leiston Army Airfield, home of the US 357th Fighter Group. I organize refreshments and activities for the men, and make sure the club is a homey refuge from the war.

Friends: My best friend is Kitty Kelly, my fellow Red Cross worker. I love her perkiness and high spirits. I’m trying to make friends with pilot Adler Paxton—I find him so intriguing, and I think he needs a friend.

Enemies: I can’t think of any, but Rufus Tate, my Red Cross field director, is making my life rather miserable.

Dating, marriage: I haven’t dated much since Dennis Reeves broke his promise to me and I broke our engagement. I’d love to marry someday. Adler Paxton certainly appeals to me—he’s so chivalrous and mysterious—but he keeps himself at a distance.

Children: Someday! I adore children. My favorite part of my job is arranging activities for our American airmen and the local British children—parties and crafts and baseball.

What person do you most admire? Without a doubt, my great-aunt Violet, my namesake. She’s a missionary in Kenya, and I long to follow in her footsteps.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? With World War II raging, I can’t become a missionary overseas as I’ve always planned. In the meantime, I’m doing the best I can and serving overseas with the Red Cross.

How are you viewed by others? I hope others see me as compassionate and hardworking. Some see me as a goody-goody, but I don’t mind.

Physical appearance: The first thing people notice about me is my height—I’m six feet tall.

Eyes: Blue

Hair: Blonde

Voice: Awful—we Lindstroms all sing off-key.

Right- or left-handed? Right

Strongest/weakest character traits: My greatest strengths are compassion, diligence, and loyalty. My weakest traits—I’m beginning to see I can be self-righteous and judgmental. I’m praying the Lord will help me with that.

How much self-control do you have? Very good.

Fears: My greatest fear is that I’ll fail the Lord. Deep down, I also fear I won’t like being a missionary. Being away from my family here in England has made me so homesick. How will I adjust to living overseas for life?

Collections, talents: I’m very athletic—I run fast and I’m good at baseball, but I’ve never pursued sports.

What people like best about you: They like my enthusiasm and dedication.

Food, drink: I’ve never been a fussy eater, but I do miss my mother’s cooking.

Books: I don’t tell many people, but I love Western novels, especially Zane Grey. One of my favorite parts of this job is running the library in the Aeroclub.

Best way to spend a weekend: Working on an air base in the middle of a war means no weekends. The flyboys work almost every day, and so do I. But I don’t mind. I’ve come to enjoy my work.

What would a great gift for you be? Adler Paxton gave me the best gift ever—he introduced me to a movie star from my favorite Westerns.

When are you happy? When I’m with my family and friends. When I’m doing good work that benefits people and serves the Lord.

What makes you angry? When people show disdain for what is good and right, and when they hurt others.

What makes you sad? When children are lonely or suffering.

What makes you laugh? Children, my family, my friends. The airmen can be very funny, and I’m learning to enjoy their company.

Hopes and dreams: I dream of becoming a missionary overseas, although I’m beginning to wonder if that’s the best choice for me—and even if it’s what the Lord actually wants. I do know I want to serve him somehow.

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why? I’m afraid it happens in this story. I hurt the man I love and see a horrible sin festering in my soul.

Greatest success: I’m so pleased with how the Aeroclub turned out. Kitty and I were in over our heads when we arrived, but we’ve managed to create a club that’s welcoming and fun.

Biggest trauma: When Dennis Reeves broke his promise to me and I had to end our engagement. The mission board refused to send me overseas as a single woman. It’s painful to find your lifelong dream destroyed.

What do you care about most in the world? Children. I loved my time teaching third grade, even though I was reeling from my lost dream. I love how children are so open-hearted, and I love helping them understand a new concept.

Do you have a secret? I’m so homesick in England, away from my family. For someone who’s always wanted to live overseas, this is quite unsettling.

What do you like best about the other main characters in your book? Adler Paxton intrigues me. He’s so chivalrous and energetic and bright, and we share a love of Westerns. His Texas accent certainly helps! He’s also so mysterious—I sense deep hurt in him that draws me. If only I could help him.

What do you like least about the other main characters in your book? Adler’s mysteriousness also means he pushes me away, as if he’s protecting that wound.

Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you: I was horrified when that awful Willard Riggs grabbed me and kissed me on the pier in New York when we were boarding the Queen Elizabethto sail to England. Thank goodness Adler, my cowboy hero, saved the day!

Burdened by his past, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe as the Allies struggle for control of the air before D-day. Violet Lindstrom wants to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment and refreshments for the men of the 357thin the Aeroclub. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her programs for local children. Adler finds his defenses crumbling. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever.

Sarah Sundin is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical novels, including The Sky Above Usand The Sea Before Us. Her novels When Tides Turnand Through Waters Deepwere named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. Please visit her at www.sarahsundin.com.

Meet Lizbeth from Paullett Golden’s The Earl and the Enchantress

Thank you for doing this.  Because you lost your mother at a very young age and your father raised you to be self-sufficient you expect to be respected within any relationship. Valuing independence, there is the expectation of being treated as an equal. It appears you have basically given up on marriage. Then you met Sebastian Lancaster, the Earl of Roddam who has a lot in common with you.  Both of you are witty intellectuals who value a good conversation along with the passion. Even though the 1790s has strict courtship rules you and Sebastian seem to formulate your own guidelines.  I am intrigued by your headstrong personality and philosophies. 

Elise Cooper: How did you become such an independent woman?

Lizbeth Trethow:Am I? I wouldn’t consider myself independent, but I appreciate the sentiment and that you would view me as such a woman. Independence, to my understanding of your meaning, is a state of mind. I’ve freed myself from the chains of ignorance and the expectations of Society. While I don’t wish to be speak ill of my sex, I will say too many women readily accept their dependence. They depend on the views of others, the gossip mill, the supposed truths in the news columns, the mandates of family, the rules of tradition and propriety, and, oh, the list does go on. Whereas, I depend on no one but myself. I’ve made the choice to educate my mind, which has thus liberated my soul. I’m not so conceited as to call myself enlightened, but I do feel independence comes from being enlightened, and that is the very state of mind in which I would like to be. 

EC: People describe you as intelligent, poised, a teaser, opinionated, candid, headstrong, and a competitor.  Fair?

LT:Oh my! *laughs* Is that what they say? People do talk, don’t they? I’m not certain we can be so classified into neat and tidy little descriptors. I might consider myself an intelligent woman, but by whose standards? If I should be compared to Socrates, would I still be considered intelligent? I know nothing of farming, and yet the farmer works such miracles with his bare hands. Would he not be considered intelligent, and I ignorant in comparison? I am flattered by your depiction of me, but I’m not sure I would see myself in those same terms. 

EC: So, how would you describe yourself?

LT:I’m determined and decisive, but does that also imply I’m headstrong? I don’t care to be proven wrong. But, when I know I am right, does that imply I’m opinionated and competitive? I wonder, could someone be both candid and a tease? If this is how you see me, then I can’t argue with or alter your view because it’s your perception of me, and thus by your own standards, it’s true. I may see someone as crass while someone else sees the person as candid. Neither of us is wrong. We merely have different perceptions of the same person. I do thank you for thinking of me enough to form an opinion, and I am truly flattered. 

EC: What are your favourite books and why?

LT:Choosing a favourite book is not unlike choosing a favourite child. They’re each so different but equally loved. I do enjoy social commentary with a creative flair. A book that pulls me in with a clever story while also reflecting on the world at large is what I would prefer to read over something strictly academic or purely fictionalized for the sake of entertainment. For example, Gulliver’s Travelsperfectly marries both academic observation and speculation with entertainment. Swift is a keen observer and sceptic. I certainly don’t agree with all his observations, but he does make me think while tickling my humour. Have you heard of Blake? His poems embody that very marriage I mentioned. His words are akin to music, yet he verses about harsh realities. I do hope he gains notoriety soon for people need to hear what he has to say. As a final note, should you have the time and wish to understand me, you should, perhaps, consider reading Condorcet. I’ll nudge you in his direction and allow you to make your own judgments. 

EC:  Thanks, when I get the time I will look into it.  Let’s go off in another direction. Do you think it is wishful thinking to want a marriage based on love, respect, and admiration?  

LT:Some may believe it is highly improbable, not to mention unrealistic, but I’ll settle for nothing less. I’ve seen how a marriage based on love, respect, and admiration can be, and should others see that, as well, they would change their perspective. It is difficult for people to understand what they’ve not experienced. So many children are raised by wet nurses, nannies, and then governesses, seeing their sires on the rare occasion. They grow up knowing nothing but hierarchy and isolation. Why should they, then, expect or even want love, respect, and admiration? 

EC:  It sounds like you have someone in mind?

LT:My parents were outliers in this world. They married for love, they respected each other as equals, and they admired each other’s individuality. I’ve seen how harmonious this is. I’ve also seen how such love can destroy, for the loss of my mother nearly destroyed my father. Does that suggest he shouldn’t have loved so deeply? If he had married for duty alone, someone of his own class rather than a tin mine owner’s daughter, he wouldn’t have suffered such depths of despair at my mother’s death, but would he be better for it? I believe the time they had together was worth every minute, and that is a love worth living for, despite the consequences. I don’t think it realistic we all find our soul’s counterpart, so we must be prepared to hold strong and not settle or sacrifice our self-worth in the absence of that counterpart.  

EC:  So, you are willing to be a spinster?

LT:The word has such negative connotations. One looks at a spinster like an old shoe with a broken heel. I prefer to think of myself as a free agent. I answer to no one. How freeing is that? There is nothing wrong or damning about being free. Is it the unmarried who consider themselves spinsters or those who are married? Yes, you have it, the ones who are already married look to the unmarried and point a finger—you there, you’re an aging spinster. They take the position of superiority as though having a spouse lifts them to some grand throne. Does it? What have they gained? They are, more of them than not, unhappy. Perhaps they point to the unmarried with disparaging remarks because they are envious of the freedom but don’t want anyone to catch on. I’m proud to be a free agent! This is not a position of shame. 

EC:  You were overheard saying that you will never be married if it means you will be controlled by a husband?

LT:I did say that, yes, though you’re naughty for eavesdropping. There is no denying women are the property of their husbands. It is the written law, after all. A husband who now has control over her person, her mind, and all legal rights. Should he wish to punish her with his hand, he may do so, by law. Should he wish to lock her in a room and starve her of food, he may do so, by law. Should he wish to starve her of affection, he may do so, by law. How is this not control? Women are no different than slaves. They are purchased for the purpose of breeding. I generalize, for not all marriages are such as this, but the tone of the marriage is determined by the husband. Suppose he loves the wife at the beginning but then bores of her? He also controls the tone of the relationship. Marriage is nothing more than a binding contract unless there is passion, respect, love, and equality. 

EC: How would you describe Sebastian? Do you know him better than himself?

LT:I wouldn’t flatter myself to know him better than he knows himself, but often it takes someone else looking in to see the larger context. We can’t always see our own faults or our strengths so well as someone else can see them. Sebastian struggles with understanding himself. He’s been told for so long that he’s unlovable and monstrous that he’s accepted that identity. It is no different than a girl being told her entire life that she’s too plain. Why should she ever suspect herself to be anything but plain, much less beautiful? I see Sebastian as a compassionate, driven, and clever man. There is no problem he can’t solve. There is no trench he can’t dig. If he sets his mind to it, nothing will stop him. He has a fathoms deep capacity for love. If only he could love himself. 

EC: Do you think Sebastian is overly influenced by King Arthur?

LT:Nonsense. Sebastian has a great many interests and influencing figures. He studies legends, myths, and histories to gain a sense of how to become a better person. His interest in Greek and Roman mythology is nearly as strong in his interest of England’s former kings. Most young boys have an older brother they can idolize or a father they can learn from, but Sebastian had neither. He saw King Arthur not only as a father-figure, but also as a person to emulate. When he needed direction in life, he turned to someone he could respect, and who better than a king? Let us be happy he chose King Arthur instead of Gaius Caligula. 

EC: What do you see as the important qualities in a relationship?

LT:The important qualities would vary from person to person. My sister, for instance, wouldn’t value the same qualities as I would. She would never suit with an intellectual, much less a recluse. I, however, neither enjoy the company of Society nor the company of a dull wit. I value those from whom I can learn. It would never be any fun if we agreed with each other all the time, but it would be arduous if we were too contentious. I want to learn from someone as much as I’d hope they could learn from me. If we both bring something to the relationship, we meet as equals. The qualities important to me for any kind of relationship, be it friendship or beyond, are communication, respect, conversation, intellect, and equality. 

EC:  Are you looking for a kindred spirit?

LT:I wouldn’t admit to looking for anyone, but I would expect, for there to be a successful and happy marriage with someone, the person would need to understand me on a far deeper level than anyone else could. This understanding is more than recognizing what my interests are. It’s the realization of why those interests are important to me. Should the person intuitively know what I would like or dislike, enjoy or not enjoy, value or not value, that is a true and deep understanding, and that is the only relationship that would work for me. Nothing surface level will work. 

EC: Do you think you are alike or different from your younger sister Charlotte?

LT:Oh, vastly different! It is a wonder we’re related at all when one examines our personalities. Charlotte is orderly, while I’m quite messy. Charlotte enjoys socials and tea parties, while I enjoy solitude and reading. Charlotte would prefer to dance, while I would rather run. Charlotte cares far too much about Society’s opinion and wants to be seen as the perfect lady, while I couldn’t give a fig for what anyone thinks of me. That isn’t to say we don’t have common traits, as well, and we do share a sisterly affection stronger than I believe most do, but we’ve never shared opinions or interests. She is far too much like our aunt, and I am far too much like our mother. We would, as sisters should, do anything for each other. I would lay down my life for her, as she would do for me, for we share a familial bond nothing can sever. That doesn’t stop us from bickering daily as we’re wont to do!

EC: How did the death of your mother affect you?

LT:To be honest, it took years to sink it. I felt the loss at once, but I had no time in which to examine it. She was my best friend. Yet, before I could understand the impact, my family fell apart. Papa couldn’t handle the loss, and my sister hadn’t a mother. I knew if I didn’t swallow my heartbreak and do something, I would lose more than my mother. I look back and think how silly it was for me to think I had any impact at all, for I was only a little girl, but at the time, I didn’t feel so little, no one treated me as though I were little, and I shouldered weights far heftier than a little girl could or should carry. I was a little woman in the body of a young girl, and I was so focused on caring for my family I had no time in which to mourn. By the time I could mourn, it was as though looking back from the eyes of a different person. I believe it was for the best. However much I didn’t understand the concept of death at that age, I do know if I’d stopped to think for too long how hurt I was not to see Mama ever again, I might have been as lost as Papa. She was a vibrant woman whose smile lit an entire room. How does a child cope with that loss? I didn’t. I pushed it down until I could look on it objectively. 

EC: Were you attracted to Sebastian because you have that in common with him?

LT:I hadn’t thought of that. Hmm. I wouldn’t say his losing his mother was something that made him attractive. Our commonalities are numerous, and it is something we share, but I believe it only helps us to understand each other. It is the understanding of each other that is attractive, not necessarily the cause of the understanding. When I heard of his loss, I will say I wanted to wrap my arms around him and hold him, not as a lover or a friend, but as a mother. I wanted to rest his head on my shoulder and hold him so he would know he was protected and loved, just as my mother did for me. My heart went out to the little boy inside of him who had lost his only friend. For me, I lost my best friend, but not my only friend. He lost his only friend.

EC: Do you think Sebastian is able to understand the importance of family and how to love?

LT:I believe he knows what he wants and has always wanted, but I do think he’s afraid he won’t know how. He admitted as much to me. He’s afraid he’ll become his father. There’s no shame in such fear, but as he becomes more himself, he’ll let it go. He only holds onto such a fear because he’s still learning who he is outside of what others have told him. As I mentioned earlier in this conversation, he has such a deep capacity for love and is so compassionate, I know in my heart he will be the best father and husband a woman could ever ask for, but I don’t think he yet knows that about himself. He will. Give him time. 

EC: Do the best relationships start out as friendships?

LT:I believe I loved Sebastian before I saw him as a friend, but who can say which emotion came first. I respected him, and that was the basis on which we built a future. If you cannot befriend a spouse, before or after seeing them as a partner, then what remains when passion fades or times are rough? Not all friendships should be relationships, but all relationships should be friendships. At least from my estimation. If you cannot respect them as a friend, how can you possibly love them? 

EC: Can a man and a woman ever be just friends?

LT:They are more likely to be friends than anything else. Passion and love are rare. Passion, especially, is so often fleeting, and love must be there to sustain when passion runs its course. I’ve seen many friendships, but I’ve only rarely seen passion. Friendship does not guarantee a good match, nor does it guarantee love or passion, but it should be the foundation of the relationship. It may, in most cases, simply be friendship. I have many close friends, some of which are male, and none of which I’ve felt remotely attracted to beyond friendship. Take my cousin Walter as an example. We are good friends, and I enjoy time with him and conversation. I would go to great lengths to help him if he needed me, but I’ve never harboured romantic feelings for him. I do love him, but as family, nothing more. 

EC: Why do you love the sea so much?

LT:There’s a raw power to the sea that is underestimated, as well as a magic that is misunderstood. I remember one time when I was little, standing at the edge of the water with Mama, thinking how big the world was and how small I was. My personal world consisted only of a few miles, yet when I stood at the water’s edge, I could see on to forever nothing but blue water. It was humbling but awe-inspiring. The ocean seemed to me the largest and most powerful element on earth. It had the power to wreck ships, carry pirates, and drown swimmers, but it harvests life and beauty. When I let the water lap over my feet that day, I felt connected. Where had those same droplets been that were now touching my feet? Where would they go next, carrying the essence of me? 

EC: What do you like doing for fun?

LT:Oh, there are a great many diversions I enjoy! Learning and reading, of course, so that I might live vicariously through the minds of scientists, adventurers, and philosophers. I love the outdoors, the warmth of the sun, the whisper of the wind, the smell of nature. Wilderness walks are a favourite pastime of mine, especially walks that turn into explorations. I would never turn down a swim, be it in a pond or ocean. I may not like a crowd or socializing, but I do enjoy good company, so calling on friends is always pleasant. Sebastian has promised to teach me about the stars and how to use his telescope, so in time, perhaps that will be a new interest of mine. 

EC: What are your hopes and dreams?

LT:I share Sebastian’s desire for a large family. I want to be the kind of mother I remember my own Mama being. I envision sharing with Sebastian his dreams, as well, for he has such grand plans for his lands, and I want to do what I can to help. I do hope to become good friends with his sister Lilith, and if I have my druthers, she’ll move in with us before long. Befriending the tenantry and laborers is important to me, and I hope to strengthen the connections for all his properties by creating a familial relationship with everyone in our care. I don’t like to be idle and always want a sense of purpose, a sense of utility and usefulness. I want always to be helping someone or achieving something. I do believe the land will keep us busy as we rebuild and build out, creating more homes, larger towns, more positions.

EC: If you have a crystal ball what would your life be like in five years?

LT:Oh, what a blasphemous question! Crystal balls indeed. I do believe I like how you think, Elise. May I call you Elise? How presumptuous of me. I feel we’ve become such good friends during this conversation. If given the opportunity to look into a crystal ball, I would look away, for I want the adventure and the surprise! It’s no fun knowing what will happen. And should I make plans, would I then be disappointed if they didn’t come true? I will be happy with whatever life brings me. I would imagine, given my current direction, that in five years, we will have expanded the towns of all his properties, have at least three children, be rich as Croesus, and be as happy as larks. I won’t be disappointed if we’re poor as paupers and childless, as long as we’re together, but wouldn’t it be lovely to think the best? 

THANK YOU!!

Paullett Golden is a lover of the fairy tale historical romance and has launched herself into a writing career. She’s been writing historical romances since an early age and has been a professor of writing for two decades. She divides her time between Texas and Northumberland, England.

Introducing Louisa from Jessica Fellowes’s Bright Young Dead

Thank you for doing this. You appear very loyal, willing to threaten your job as a nanny to defend your friend who is accused of murder. You live in an exciting time because society is changing and it appears your hopes are changing as well. 

Elise Cooper: Why did you decide to become a nanny of sorts?

Louisa Cannon:I needed to get away from London and my friend Jennie was with Miss Nancy when I bumped into her just before Christmas 1919. Miss Nancy mentioned that the nursery maid had left and they were in need of another, what with Lady Redesdale expecting another baby at the time. I thought it couldn’t be too hard to pick up what to do, and I’m good enough at sewing too, because of helping my mother with laundry and mending the linens for the big houses. 

EC: Now that many of the girls are older you have morphed into a chaperone-what is that like?

LC: Nanny Blor looks after the littlest ones, and I think because Miss Nancy and Miss Pamela and I are not too far apart in age, it was more natural for it to be me going with them to London. Although I know London, I don’t know it the way they know it. I’d never have seen the insides of some of the houses they go to, let alone the parties and the nightclubs. Sitting with Miss Nancy or Miss Pamela I hear all kinds of conversations that the likes of me would never be party to usually. 

EC: You have become an amateur sleuth-why?

LC:I didn’t mean to! But Mr. Sullivan became a friend of mine, when he was working for the railway police – he’s a sergeant with the Metropolitan Police now – got me interested. Nanny Blor’s sister knew the nurse who was murdered on the train, and that got everyone involved somehow. I didn’t really want to get caught up in it all but somehow it happened, and knowing Miss Nancy and hearing what the police were investigating. it meant I was the one who could put the pieces together I think. 

EC: Alice Diamond is a larger than life criminal-are you afraid of her?

LC:Yes, but not because I thought she would be violent. It was more that she was the most powerful woman I’d ever seen. I didn’t know a woman could command attention in a room like she could. And she does whatever she wants. I’m not saying those are necessarily good things and she’s a thief – that’s bad, of course. But there’s something amazing about seeing a woman know what she wants and go after it, with no man stopping her.

EC: Do you ever wish that you can trade places with the “Bright Young Things,” those you work for, and become part of the rich and famous?

LC:I don’t think that I want be rich and famous, I want to be myself. But I don’t see why I shouldn’t be myself and have a little of what they have sometimes. I do like those beautiful dresses. It’s all just pretend in a way, like putting wallpaper up. What you look like on the outside – does that mean that’s what you are on the inside? I don’t know. I feel sometimes like what I wear betrays me and that if someone could really see me, they’d see me in something different. But I am who I am, I can’t change that and I don’t know that I really want to. 

EC: How would you describe your relationship with Guy?

LC:Oh. That’s hard to do. I like Guy, I like him a lot. We’ve been friends for some years now and I know he has been sweet on me in the past. It’s just complicated because I want to work, and if I marry, I have to quit my job. But for Guy, life could go on just the same as before, only he’d have a wife instead of his mother doing his washing and cooking his meals. It’s an exciting time for women right now – 1925! We can go out to work and earn our own money, and not have a father or husband telling us what to do. I want some of that. 

EC: Since this is 1925 are you a supporter of women’s suffrage?

LC:Yes, of course. We’ve got the vote now – well, sort of, if you’re over 30 years old and a house owner. But it’s better than the nothing we had before. I believe in women’s rights. There aren’t enough men around since the war and women have to be able to go out to work to support themselves. 

EC: Do you think he is unusual in that he treats women as equals-considering his police partner is a woman?

LC:Yes, I think Guy is unusual, which is why I like him and why it gets complicated between us. He does show real respect for women, and he listens. Not many men do that. Though I don’t know that he’s very interested in trying to change the world, he’s quite happy to keep the status quo, I think. So he’ll be good to women but I don’t think he wants them in charge or anything like that. What man does? 

EC: Is it more fun to be around Nancy or Pamela?

LC:They’re both very different. Miss Nancy is quite sharp, you have to be careful not to be on the wrong end of her. But she can also be very funny, and a lot of fun. She’s the most daring, the most willing to try something new. If it wasn’t for Miss Nancy I wouldn’t have had the courage to go to the 43 nightclub, and I’m grateful to her for that. Miss Pamela is quieter but she’s steady and kind. The others rely on her to be their rock. If you were in trouble, Miss Pamela’s the one you’d want on your side. 

EC: What do you like doing for fun?

LC:I don’t get much time for fun but I like reading – Lady Redesdale tells me books to read for history and she is kind enough to let me borrow from their library. Otherwise, I go for long walks with the littlest girls – Debo and Decca – and I love learning more about the flowers that grow in the country. I grew up in London and didn’t see much more than the odd patch of grass and oak trees. Out here in the country you can see for miles and miles, nothing but fields and hedgerows and birds soaring in the skies. It makes me feel free. 

EC: What are your hopes and dreams?

LC:I don’t know that I dare think beyond next week. But I suppose it would be nice to think that I might be a woman of some significance somehow, one day. That seems a bit silly, I know. I had to leave school at fourteen and I don’t know any science. I’m not sure what work I might be able to do but I’m always looking about, you read about things in the newspapers that would have seemed impossible only a few years ago. 

THANK YOU!!

JESSICA FELLOWES is an author, journalist, and public speaker, best known for her five official New York Times bestselling companion books to the Downton Abbey TV series. Former deputy director of Country Life, and columnist for the Mail on Sunday, she has written for the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, She has knowledge of the 1920s era and has now ventured into writing  a series of historical crime fiction with returning characters Louis Cannon and Guy Sullivan. 

Meet Bess Crawford from Charles Todd’s A Forgotten Place

Thanks for joining us!

41GH+Si0kELPeople have described you as independent, steadfast, intelligent, and resilient. You always seem to find a patient who needs your help and you never turn your back on them, even if it means risking your life. You are a nurse who will not back down from a situation or a mystery.  But you also have scars from being on the front lines and seeing so many men maimed and killed during this Great War.

Elise Cooper: Why did you choose to become a nurse? 

 

Bess Crawford: After my father retired from the army we went back to England. Then war came. Of course, I couldn’t march off with the regiment to France, however much it meant to me. The next best thing was to be a nursing Sister, and save as many of the wounded as I could. Unfortunately, some of those we saved had to go back into the line and were killed. But we did what we could, and I believe we made their dying easier even when we couldn’t make them well.  It was difficult, not an easy task, there on the front lines. I saw some terrible things, and sometimes I dream about them. But I have no regrets. And I am so grateful to my parents for letting me train for the Queen Alexandra’s. They could have said no, but they understood why I felt I must do this.

 

EC: Do you think WWI brought more power to women, as many took on professions? 

 

BC: The answer must be no.  We didn’t achieve any power at all, not really. It was always made clear that we were replacing men who were needed in the field. Even the nurses knew that many Army officers were appalled at the thought of women so close to the Front, and they’d have been just as happy to have orderlies take over our work. The fact that we were trained to deal with wounds didn’t enter into it. We were women.  I’ve heard that some of the Australian nurses in Egypt were denied resources, to force them to give up. They didn’t, of course, but it was a rough patch, and it was the patients who suffered.  However, I think we showed our country that we could pull our weight when England was in danger, and she didn’t collapse from our mismanagement. (Bess smiles.)

We grew vegetables, we took over desks where men could be spared, we worked in factories and drove omnibuses—and we did it all well. That was what mattered. And after the war, some women will be allowed to vote, if the Government keeps its promise to the Suffragettes. There will be restrictions, I’m sure, and I probably shan’t be old enough.  Nor do I own property or stand as head of a household. Still, it will be a beginning. Although some men will go on claiming we aren’t emotionally capable of wise decisions. I ask you!

 

EC: When the War is finally over would you like to be a detective? 

 

BC:(Laughing.)  I don’t think so. Heavens, no.  I did what I had to do, out of duty and a sense of what was right.  But my cousin, Melinda Trent, also a soldier’s daughter, tells me that trouble always knows where to find me.  (Laughter fades.) That could be true. I was part of a regiment, however small a part that was. And I expect that will shape my life for a long time. When someone is in very great trouble, how do you shake your head and just walk away?  The Army never runs. How could I?

 

EC: How has your dad influenced you? 

 

BC: We call him Colonel Sahib, which is what the native soldiers called him. It’s a term of respect, rather like Colonel Sir. He was such a good officer, and the Army called him back during the war to do certain missions and deal with certain matters—my mother and I never knew what these were. But he continues to serve in any way he can. And that’s good, because he’s wise and experienced and level-headed. I have always admired and loved him, and I can speak to him on any subject, and he listens to me and gives me his honest opinion. He dealt with a regiment and he still found time for a small daughter.

 

EC:  Do you think he admired you for serving during WWI?

 

BC:Although he’s never said it, I think he was very proud of what I did in the war. Even though he must have been terrified for me there in the forward aid stations, he gave me permission to go. He didn’t want me to have my own motorcar, either, but he just shook his head and accepted it when I drove up.

 

EC: How has your mom influenced you? 

 

BC: My mother’s rather exceptional too!  As the Colonel’s Lady, she had a good deal of responsibility toward the wives and children of the men in our regiment, and she took that quite seriously.  She’s the daughter of a country squire, well-educated, brought up with great marriage prospects because there was money in the family. And then she fell in love with a handsome Army officer, and my poor grandparents were appalled!  But they had the good sense to see that it was really love, not just the uniform, and they agreed to the marriage. She insisted I learn to play the piano, draw, sew and cook and run a household, while I was more interested in riding and other exciting things.  And I am so glad she did, because even wild little girls grow up to be women. She’s warm-hearted, sensible, calm in emergencies, a good tennis player, and I love her more than I can say.  She married a man with responsibilities, grave ones, and she’s given him the support and love he needed to be his best. I hope I can do the same one day.

 

EC: How come you have not had any intimate relationships? 

 

BC:(Laughing).  This is early 1919, Elise, nice women don’t have “intimate relationships.” And I respect my parents too much to be anything but the woman they want me to be. I’ve had so many friends, many of them men because of my upbringing, and I enjoy working with them and talking to them. I didn’t expect Sergeant Lassiter to propose, you know.

 

EC:  Why didn’t you accept it?

 

BC:That was such a terrible moment, because I knew he meant his proposal, and I wasn’t ready to fall in love. Well, I couldn’t, could I? I’d have been dismissed from the Queen Alexandra’s. And this was my work, my duty–I’d taken it on and I wanted to keep serving as long as the wounded needed care. Several of my friends, including my flat mate, Diana, had to keep an engagement secret for several years, or lose her own place. I didn’t feel I could do that. I tried to let him down as gently as I could, but that’s painful all the same.

 

EC: How would you describe Simon and your interactions? 

 

BC(Smiling.)  Simon is Simon.  He lied about his age, you know. Tall and strong as he was, he got away with it, but he was just a wild boy. He exasperated my father, but the Colonel Sahib could see beyond the wildness, and he knew what Simon could be capable of.  He took him under his wing, made him a man, and he asked him to go back to England to train as an officer, but Simon refused.  I think my father knows something about him that my mother and I don’t, because he never insisted on Simon going back. My mother did something for Simon out in India that he owes her for. Something rather serious, I think, but I don’t know about that either. And it’s Simon’s secret, not mine. He’s become the son my father never had. And that’s precious to me.

 

EC:  So do you consider him a brother?

 

BC:Simon is also the brother I never had, in and out of my life since India, since I was small. (Looking away.) I’m terribly fond of him.  And he’s been such a rock…

 

EC: What effect has the war had on you? 

 

BC: There was fighting out in India, wounds, men dying, trouble with the tribes along the Frontier with Afghanistan. We saw that and I thought I’d seen war. But the Great War was so much worse. And I was grown, a nurse. No one spared me the bad news, as they tried to do in India when I was small.  I have nightmares, as I’ve mentioned. And I have had to learn to put my emotions aside and try to help a patient, no matter how terrible his wound might be.  A nurse must remain calm, no matter what. And the discipline I learned in India, where it could be so dangerous, and the discipline I learned in nursing, to be objective and sensible, have helped.  I hope some of what I’ve seen will fade with time. One day I’ll want to marry, have children, and I don’t want them to see the shadows of war in me.  My mother is a good model there—she never let me feel threatened or afraid of anything, even when she was most worried about my father out in the field in India.

 

EC: From your viewpoint what effect has the war had on the fighting men? 

 

BC: Of course, there are the dead, so many, many of them.  And the missing. Many men were taken prisoner during the fighting too. This is never good for morale, but they were all so brave, the men I worked with.  You know, they didn’t fear death as much as they did losing a limb or being terribly disfigured—burns, facial wounds, ugly scars. I have worked with so many amputees and burn victims, and I have sometimes seen them break. Especially when they realize they can’t support their family. The last thing they want is to be a burden. Even now since the war is over, we’ve lost too many to depression. I find it so sad.

 

EC:  There are emotional wounds?

 

BC:  These are the other wounds you don’t see. Of the mind. Shell shock. People who don’t know anything about war call that cowardice. I know too well that it is the shock of losing so many men in too short a time.  The officers felt this most particularly.  New recruits would arrive, and before anyone could learn more than their names, they were killed. And an officer had to send men back over the top even when he knew it was useless to try again. There were the men caught in shell blasts, who died without a mark on them. Others deafened or shocked senseless by the tunnels going up.  I was so proud of our Army. But when a battle lasts for months, as it did on the Somme, men will break. Some will be stronger afterward, though.  I have seen that too.

 

EC: What have you learned about yourself after serving in the War? 

 

BC: I went into nursing with great hopes of saving lives. I had to learn that one can’t save them all, no matter how skilled the doctors and nurses might be. I had to learn how to sit beside a dying man and keep his spirits up to the end, with smiles and a brave front.  I had to face German soldiers taking over my aid station and keep calm, keep my patients safe.  I had to watch over them in ambulances being fired upon from the air, or crossing countryside where there were no roads and my patients suffered. I’ve crossed seas where U-boats were waiting, and knew that if we went down, I might not survive, but none of my patients had a chance. I’ve had other problems to cope with, of course, helping people in various ways. I’ve learned to be braver than I thought I could be, but I try never to be foolish. Still, I hate injustice, I hate to see people being hurt or taken advantage of. I always have. The war hasn’t changed that.

 

EC: If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you want to go considering you have been to many places? 

 

BC: I’ve had an invitation to a wedding in Ireland!  A nurse I served with on Britannic. The ship sank, but we survived.  I’m so happy for her.  First, I must go back to France for a few weeks. Matron has something she wants me to help her to do there. And I want to go back to India. Melinda Crawford, my cousin, would like me to travel with her when it’s safe to go. We want Simon to come with us. He’s reluctant to return to India. But Melinda will persuade him, I think. And my parents would feel happier if we weren’t traveling so far alone.  Melinda was a heroine in the Great Indian Mutiny. Imagine that. She’s traveled everywhere. I’d like to see South Africa. Perhaps Canada or America. So much of the world is unsettled now, so perhaps I shall have to be patient. (Smiles.) Or I might marry and never travel at all. Who knows?

 

EC: What do you do to relax? 

 

BC: I used to ride quite often in India. Horses didn’t fare well in Africa, with the tsetse flies and other diseases, and so I didn’t learn to ride until I was in India. I enjoy a fast game of tennis. I enjoy reading. I had a very good governess who made reading exciting. My father taught me to play chess, too. As a child, I liked putting up fruits and jams with my mother and our cook, but my favorite thing was helping make our Christmas Puddings.  And eating them too, of course. (Smiles.) I love to drive my own motorcar but don’t have many opportunities at present. I’ve driven Simon’s—it’s larger and more powerful than mine, but I can manage it. Although the first time I turned the crank on that one, I thought my elbow would break!  My mother drives as well. I enjoy parties, but we haven’t had many since the war began. I’m quite a good dancer, and I rather enjoy that too. But so many of my dancing partners are dead now. So sad.

 

EC: If you had a crystal ball what would your life be like in five years? 

 

BC: Oh my!  In five years?  I shall surely have finished nursing. Unless there is another war, of course.  Married?  I shan’t even be thirty by then. Before the war I’d be considered a spinster now! (Laughs.) Ah well. Perhaps someone will still wish to marry me. Simon tells me that I’m too stubborn. Well, he isn’t married either, so there!

 

EC: What are your hopes and dreams? 

 

BC:For peace. I’ve seen enough death. It’s time the world learned to get along.

 

EC: Anything else you would like to say that has not been asked? 

 

BC:  You’ve been quite formidably thorough, you know. I’ve found myself thinking about things I haven’t put into words even to myself.  I just got back from a most beautiful part of Wales. There were some rather awful things going on there, but some happiness came of that too.  I’m glad. I’ve been summoned to London to the Queen Alexandra’s HQ to speak to Matron about an assignment in France. They’re talking about Peace there, but they don’t seem to be very friendly about it. I don’t know just what I’m to do there, but I’ll find out in London.  Wish me luck. But there’s the Irish wedding in June, that’s to look forward to. My parents are a little worried about Ireland, but I shall manage, After all, I’m an Army Nursing Sister. What harm could come to me in Ireland? I nursed Irish troops during the war…

 

BC: Thank you, Elise. It’s been a pleasure. (Laughs) I don’t believe I’ve ever been interviewed before. Life is always full of unexpected things. And there’s Simon, arriving to drive me home. He’s amused by all this. I shan’t hear the end of it, you know.

 

 EC:Thank you for doing this, much appreciated!

***

Charles and Caroline Todd are a mother-and-son writing team who live on the east coast of the United States. Caroline has a BA in English Literature and History, and a Masters in International Relations. Charles has a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Business Management, and a culinary arts degree that means he can boil more than water. Caroline has been married (to the same man) for umpteen years, and Charles is divorced.Charles Todd is the New York Times bestselling author of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries, the Bess Crawford mysteries, and two stand-alone novels.CharlesTodd_7861_retouched

 

 

Character Interview with Serena Winthrop from Miss Serena’s Secret by Carolyn Miller.

9780825445347.jpeg

Today we have the pleasure of hearing from the protagonist of Carolyn Miller’s new novel!

 

Q: Miss Serena Winthrop, welcome. I’d like to start by asking about your pretty name, Serena, and whether it is a family name passed through generations of Winthrops.

 

A: Thank you. Serena is not a family name as such, but a name my father chose, as he was hopeful it would prove indicative of a calm and temperate character. I believe some might think it well chosen, although those who know me well would likely beg to disagree.

 

Q: Would you mind telling us more about your family?

 

A: I am the younger daughter of Lord and Lady Winthrop. My father, the Baron, died last year, and circumstances led to a distant cousin inheriting the title, which proved quite shocking at the time. Now, however, my mother and sister are reconciled to the situation—and to him. My sister, Catherine, recently married Jonathan, so I am very pleased to have someone so kind and generous as Jon look out for me as an elder brother.

 

Q: I’m so sorry to hear about your father. That must have been extremely trying. Would you mind telling us about where you went to school and your time there?

 

A: I attended Miss Haverstock’s Seminary for Young Ladies in Bath, Somerset. Beyond that, I have nothing more to say.

 

Q: Oh! Well, now that you to graduate from the school room, I imagine you will be embarking upon your first London season soon. Could you please tell us about what you most look forward to?

 

A: While I understand it is the usual thing for young ladies to look forward to such things, I have no great desire to attend balls or dinners or engage in the sorts of flirtations most people seem to think appropriate. In fact, the only thing in which I would take any real pleasure would be a visit to Somerset House for the Summer Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Art.

 

Q: Yes, I understand you are something of an artist. Would you care to tell us about your interest in this field?

 

A: I loveart. I love to draw, to paint, to see how a scene of beauty or an image in my mind can be translated to the page. I find myself getting lost to all else when I am in the throes of sketching or painting, much to my mother’s chagrin. I like both portraits and landscapes, but I’m afraid I have no patience for still life. I know it can prove helpful for developing my technique, but truly, I cannot take any great pleasure in painting a bowl of fruit. A bowl of fruit? I ask you!

Whilst I have worked mostly with watercolors, I would love to try oils even though some consider it an unladylike thing to do; there is something so rich and vibrant about the colors and textures of oils. And while my art never feels like it reaches that sense of truly being complete, in the process of creating, I imagine it must be a tiny bit like what our Heavenly Father must feel in His creation of the world. Not that I think I am like God, though. Far from it!

 

Q: You sound like you do have faith, though.

 

A: Of course! I might live in Christian England, but I would call myself a Christian, someone who not only believes in God and in His forgiveness of sins through our Savior Jesus Christ, but someone seeking His direction and guidance every day, through reading the Bible and prayer. I certainly am aware that I need God’s help, as my blunt manner of speaking canlead to trouble sometimes.

 

Q: Oh my! I hesitate to enquire, but would you care to share an example?

 

A: I’m afraid I have at times been rather too candid in my assessment of Lord Henry Carmichael’s character. He was dining with my family one time and made one of his usual tiresome remarks which I dared to point out. My mother hushed me to not bother him, and I mighthave said something about his not being bothered by what anyone might say, but rather always feels a sense of superior amusement. I believe my mother despairs at my prospects at ever contracting an eligible match.

 

Q: Forgive me, but were you truly so bold to the most eligible bachelor in England?

 

A: (Sniffs) He might be the heir to the Earl of Bevington, and some might call him charming and handsome, but I mistrust gentlemen of manners too smooth; one never really knows where one stands with such a man. And his reputation as a flirt and a gambler does not impress me one jot.

 

Q: After the gambling debts incurred by your own poor father such a sentiment is understandable. But truly, you do not consider the Bevington estate in Derbyshire something to aspire to? I understand the house and gardens are extremely beautiful, and possess something of a mysterious treasure.

 

A: I have heard the estate is very grand, but I hold no desire to evenseesuch a thing if it means marriage to a man of Lord Carmichael’s character. However, as he is one of my brother-in-law’s best friends, avoidance of him will likely prove impossible. So I shall just have to grit my teeth for Jonathan and Catherine’s sake, and try to remember to practice charity.

 

Q: To love one’s enemy?

 

A: It would be amiss to say Lord Carmichael is my enemy, perhaps better to admit he is merely someone I find intensely irritating. But I am hopeful that I shan’t have much to do with him, and can concentrate on my artwork instead. My dream is to one day have a painting exhibited in the Summer Exhibition, so such a thing demands my full attention.

 

Q: Our best wishes for your artwork, Miss Serena, and for all your future plans. Perhaps in time your mother’s wishes for your matrimonial success will come true.

 

A: Thank you. Though I think such an event unlikely, one must surely possess the promise of hope, mustn’t one?

 

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked part-time as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher. E 011 copy 2 square.jpeg

A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novels include The Elusive Miss Ellison, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Winning Miss Winthrop and Miss Serena’s Secret, all available from Amazon, Book Depository, Koorong, etc

 

Connect with her:        website | facebook | pinterest | twitter| instagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penelope Howard from Jennifer A. Davids’ A Perfect Weakness

Today we welcome Penelope Howard from Jennifer A. Davids’ A Perfect Weakness

A Perfect Weakness_Front CoverHello Miss Howard. Won’t you tell us a little about yourself?

Of course. I live in the village of Woodley with my brother, Thomas, our housekeeper Hannah Trull and Fanny our maid-of-all-work.

Woodley? Where exactly is that?

In Hampshire, England.

Ah I’ve been to England several times but never Hampshire. I have been to London and enjoyed myself very much. Have you or your bother ever been to London?

Well, yes…but I’m afraid we did not enjoy ourselves as much as you must have. Although perhaps my brother would not agree.

Oh, I’m sorry. Did you go there together?

No. No we did not. They were quite separate occasions.

What do you do in Woodley?

I help manage the Home Farm for Ashford Hall as well as visit it’s tenants on behalf of the lord of the Hall. I also help our reverend, Mr. Gregory with a number of church related activities. And then there is my work as a volunteer nurse at our cottage hospital.

You do keep yourself busy.

Yes, it helps…well it helps pass the time.

I see. What is the lord of Ashford Hall like?

Lord Turner has very recently inherited. My brother has been bringing him up to date with everything. Thomas is Ashford Hall’s estate agent. He manages all the Hall’s properties. From what we can tell, Lord Turner is a very good man. An American, actually. He was cousin to my uncle, the late Lord Renshaw.

So you’re related to Lord Turner?

Not exactly. The late Lord Renshaw was our uncle by marriage; my aunt being my mother’s sister. Lord Turner is a cousin to my uncle by blood. Otherwise he could not have inherited the barony.

I’m surprised an American could have inherited at all.

As were we. But the solicitor, Mr. Smith assures us it is legal. Though he cannot sit in the House of Lords unless he renounces his American citizenship. He has surprised me though.

Oh? How?

He is a doctor. Or was. I’m not sure which. He gets so very odd when someone mentions medicine. Tense. We were under the impression that he would be very involved with the cottage hospital but we have lately heard he will not. He says Hall business will keep him busy. But I cannot see how since Thomas is so very good at managing things. It’s as if a great pain keeps him from practicing medicine. But then he served in the recent conflict in America. Perhaps that is why.

The recent conflict? Do you mean the Civil War?

Yes. I believe he was a doctor in the field or something like that. I wish he would tell me what is wrong. I could help, perhaps.

Well thank you for sharing with us Miss Howard. 

 

Jennifer A. Davids is a self-professed book nerd. The shelves of her office are overflowing with books and there are stacks of them by her bedside.Jennifer A Davids When she’s not reading, she’s dreaming up a new story to tell her readers. She lives in Central Ohio with her husband, two children, and two cats.

 

Website: www.jenniferadavids.com

Blog: jenniferadavids.wordpress.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jenniferadavids

Instagram: www.instagram.com/jennifera.davids

Twitter: www.twitter.com/JenniferADavids

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/jenadavids

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/5385735.Jennifer_A_Davids

You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9q-ufqnR08MHejl8WspXLQ?view_as=subscriber

 

A Perfect Weakness Pre-Order Link: https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Weakness-Jennifer-Davids/dp/194601656X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528805917&sr=8-1&keywords=a+perfect+weakness