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 Second Officer Dorothy Fairfax from Sarah Sundin’s The Sea Before Us

Today on PASTimes we welcome a character from the latest book by Sarah Sundin!

The Sea Before Us-Book CoverName: Second Officer Dorothy Fairfax

Parents: Reginald and Margaret Fairfax, but my mother was killed in the London Blitz in 1940.

Siblings: My older brothers, Arthur and Gilbert, both served in the Royal Navy and they both died serving the crown.

Places lived: I’ve lived in London all my life.

Jobs: I’m proud to serve as an officer in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. As a “Wren,” I work in Allied Naval Headquarters in London, where I use civilian snapshots and reconnaissance photos to help create maps and diagrams for the upcoming Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France.

Friends: I simply adore my friends! Gwen Hamilton and Muriel Shaw serve in the Wrens with me, and my dear friend Johanna Katin works for my father.

Enemies: She isn’t quite an enemy, but I’m not fond of my commander, First Officer Julia Bliss-Baldwin. And she certainly isn’t fond of me.

Dating, marriage: The man I’ve adored since I was a schoolgirl is serving in my command, Lt. Cdr. Lawrence Eaton. I’m finally turning his head. However, a certain American naval officer, Lt. Wyatt Paxton, is making me reconsider my lifelong dream.

Do you like yourself? Not particularly. I’m too loud and enthusiastic and boisterous, and I’m cursed with freckles.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? I dearly long to be suave and sophisticated, the kind of woman Lawrence Eaton could love. But most of all, I wish I could change my father’s life. He is so melancholy that he barely eats or goes to his office. And he never looks at me if he can help it.

Strongest/weakest character traits: My friends say I’m very loyal and caring, and they enjoy my daredevil spirit. However, I’m also too dramatic and boisterous, simply not proper for an English lady.

How much self-control do you have? Practically none. I’m far too impulsive.

Fears: Heights and flying.

Collections, talents: I do enjoy drawing and painting. I’m quite an amateur, but it relaxes me. Also, my artistic skill helps me create maps and diagrams for the Allies.

Food, drink: All my life I’ve had a horrid sweet-tooth. Wartime rationing has allowed me to have a trim figure for the first time.

Best way to spend a weekend: Going out with my friends, dancing, seeing the sights in London, and walking Bonnie Prince Charlie, my Scottish terrier.

What would a great gift for you be? More oil paints! They can’t be found with the war on, and I’ve had to resort to watercolors, which are too wispy and ethereal for my taste now.

When are you happy? When I’m with my friends.

What makes you angry? Very little.

What makes you sad? When others are sad, especially my father. The only person who can lift his spirits now is Wyatt.

What makes you laugh? So much. I laugh far too often for a proper lady.

Hopes and dreams: I’ve always dreamed that Lawrence would fall in love with me. Wyatt is becoming a dear friend, but how could I fall in love with an American and leave my father?

Biggest trauma: The deaths of my mother and brothers, all within one year.

What do you care about most in the world? Doing my part to bring this beastly war to an end.

Do you have a secret? That my father doesn’t love me. He can’t bear the sight of me, because I only remind him that he’s lost all the people he did love. However, I’m all he has left and I love him, so I’ll fight for him.

What do you like best about the other main characters in your book? Wyatt has become a dear friend. He’s kind and honest, and he does the right thing even when it hurt. He’s humble enough to admit his sins and dedicated enough to make amends. And I enjoy his company immensely.

What do you like least about the other main characters in your book? Wyatt is always present, and my father prefers him over Lawrence. At first I barely noticed Wyatt, but the more I do notice him, the more attractive he becomes. That simply won’t do. I need to marry an exciting man, and Wyatt is the quiet sort.

Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you: It happens in this story, when my desire to win Lawrence’s heart clashes with my fear of flying. Simply dreadful.

 

About the book:

In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a “Wren” in the Women’s Royal Naval Service, who pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France—including those of her family’s summer home—in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt turns into naval bombardment plans for D-day.

As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn into something more. But both of them have too much to lose to give in to love . . .

 

Sundin_SarahSarah Sundin is the best-selling author of ten historical novels, including 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,” and Through Waters Deepwas a finalist for the 2016 Carol Awardand won the INSPY Award.A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. She also enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers’ groups.Please visit her at http://www.sarahsundin.com.

Review: The Lost Garden by Kate Kerrigan

f2d968_899c0f0fecec444c9f5299bf81bcdd46~mv2_d_1410_2250_s_2The Lost Garden by Kate Kerrigan

Aileen Doherty is a young Irish girl who accompanies her father and brothers on a trip to work in Scotland picking tatties. She meets Jimmy Walsh who is there doing the same, and they fall in love. But a tragic accident pulls them apart. Stung by grief and abandoned by her mother, Aileen begins working on an abandoned garden. At the same time, disfigured by burns he suffered in the accident, Jimmy falls deeply into the underworld of London. Both have to work through their grief and find their way back home.

I enjoyed this book very much. The story was about healing and continuing on by creating beauty and love in the pieces of the characters’ lives they had left and also in new adventures they found. The author writes from the west of Ireland, and although the story is set just post WWII, the setting comes alive, as do the quirky characters. The style is different from what I usually read. The author writes from an omniscient point of view, so the reader gets to know what each character is thinking and feeling in every scene. She does this well, and once I got to used to it, I was totally emerged in the story. It felt like pure Irish storytelling.

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For those of you who read strictly Christian fiction, this is not that genre. However, even the harsh world of prostitution and drug use was handled with care, and for me it was not at all offensive. There were several allegorical images, such as the ashes from the fire where loved ones perished growing a never-before species of flower. This gave the book an overall literary feel that reminded me of novels by Susanna Kearsley, a Canadian author. If you enjoy her novels, I think you’ll also like Kate Kerrigan’s. Visit her website here.

Thanks to the author from providing a free electronic copy of this book for review. I have given my honest opinion.

 

The Horse Dancer-Book Review

The Horse Dancer by Jo Jo Moyes

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Paperback, 496 pages
Published April 11th 2017 by Penguin Books (first published 2009)
This story is about a young English girl, Sarah, being raised by her French grandfather who gives her a horse named Boo. I enjoyed it because it opened up a world for me that I knew nothing about: elite horsemanship skills. Her grandfather left a promising career in France to marry an Englishwoman and he hopes to pass on his skills to his granddaughter. But before he can do that, he is stricken with a stroke and hospitalized. Sarah is taken in by a lawyer who is struggling with a failed marriage. The couple is changed by being flung into a parenting role they are not prepared for.
I loved Sarah’s determination to continue what her grandfather was trying to teach her, even though the odds stack up against her. The parallel story of the lawyer with her own life struggles kept me turning pages. While not strictly historical, the novel looks back to the time of an elite French calvary skilled in an art form of dressage dating back over 250 years. That’s the historical part that drew me in, but the characters made me root for them.
Cindy Thomson is the author of eight books. Pages of Ireland is the sequel to her popular novel Brigid of Ireland. She is also the author of the Ellis Series, and writes for genealogy magazines. The past is her passion as she writes from her home in Ohio. Visit her at www.cindyswriting.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cindyswriting and on Twitter: @cindyswriting.

Meet Ruth Brown from Under Fire by Linda Shenton Matchett

Small Under Fire Cover

Journalist Ruth Brown’s sister Jane is pronounced dead after a boating accident in April 1942. Because Jane’s body is missing, Ruth is convinced her sister is still alive and follows clues to war-torn London. By the time she uncovers the truth about Jane’s disappearance, she has stumbled on black marketers, resistance fighters and the IRA – all of whom may want her dead for what she has discovered.

We’re excited to be sitting down today with Ruth Brown. It’s such a pleasure to meet you and hear about you and your book, Under Fire.

Quick Facts:

Eyes: Brown

Hair: Auburn

Right or left-handed: Right

Parents: Mel and Deborah Brown

Siblings: Younger sister Jane

Younger Brother Chip

Favorite Color:  Turquoise

Favorite Actor: William Powell, I love his sassiness

Hobbies: Kayaking, Hiking, Snow shoeing.

Home town: Hazelton Falls, NH

Job: Reporter for The Gazette

Novel PASTimes: Tell us about your best friend, and what would she say about you?

Ruth: My very best friend is Varis Gladstone. We met in the nursery at church when we were just babies! I don’t know what I’d do without her. She’s no bigger than a minute and really sweet, but strong-willed, and she has amazing faith. She’s beautiful, too and a real fashion plate. (Looks off into space). What would Varis say about me? Hmmm. She accepts me as I am, but she would probably say that I’m too curious and impetuous for my own good. She’s had to help me out of more than a few scrapes. (Laughs) But isn’t that what friends are for?

Novel PASTimes: What person do you most admire?

Ruth: That’s an easy one-Nellie Bly. No matter what it took, she got to the bottom of the story. Did you know that she went undercover in an insane asylum as a mental patient to unearth the fact that conditions were appalling? I want to be just like her-reporting the truth and bringing news to the public.

Novel PASTimes: What makes you happy?

Ruth: Being outside. Nothing brings me greater joy than to be in the woods or on the lake under a crystal clear blue sky filled with puffy white clouds.

Novel PASTimes: What makes you angry?

Ruth: Injustice and sneakiness are a tie.

Novel PASTimes: What is your greatest accomplishment? Being taken seriously as a journalist. When I first started working for the newspaper, Mr. Isaacs only let me work on the society pages and fluff pieces, but I exposed some corruption in the school board, and when it came time to follow clues about Jane to London, he signed me up with the AP.

Novel PASTimes: Speaking of London, you experienced some terrible things over there. How has that changed you?

Ruth: It has been awful. Bombing raids and the constant fear of invasion creates unending tension which makes it difficult to sleep, so everyone is exhausted. And there is such deprivation. The Land Army is running the farms, but in the city we eat a lot of tinned food. I can’t tell you the last time I saw an orange or an onion. I no longer take my safety or my food for granted. I thank God every day I am still alive and have something to eat. I also live in the moment, because you never know when it’s going to be your last. Relationships also are more precious. (shakes her head) I’ve seen some awful things I will never forget.

Novel PASTimes: You spoke of rationing, and a great number of items are either rationed or not available. What is the one thing you are finding difficult to do without?

Ruth: Fresh vegetables! It is very rural where I live in New Hampshire, and everyone had a garden of some sort. My mom loved to grow flowers and vegetables, and a huge portion of our back yard was a garden even before Victory gardens were the thing to do. Her butter beans were the biggest, sweetest bean I’ve ever eaten. (rubs her stomach). I’m making myself hungry just thinking about them!

Novel PASTimes: You’ve been in England several months now. What is your favorite place?

Ruth: Any of the parks, but Hyde Park is probably my favorite. There are benches along Serpentine Lake, and I can sit and watch the water for hours. It’s very peaceful and somewhat reminiscent of home.

Novel PASTimes: If there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would it be?

Ruth: I wish I could be sweet like Varis. I am a candid person and sometimes that can seem abrasive. But I’m working on changing!

Novel PASTimes: Where would you like to go next with your career?

Ruth: Even though it has been difficult to live in a country devastated by war, I have loved my time in England. It is a beautiful country, and the people are gracious and stalwart. I’d love to stay as a foreign correspondent, although there are rumors that once the war is over there will be a trial, and it would be very good for my career to cover that.

Novel PASTimes: Totally different subject…what traits do you hope your future husband will have?

Ruth: (laughs) Well considering that I’m not in the market for a husband, that’s a tough question. But if I had to pick a couple I’d say that he had to accept that I want to work for a living. I don’t want to stay home as “the little lady.” I want to continue to pursue a career in journalism or writing. And of course he would have to be a believer in Christ. Everything else is gravy!

Novel PASTimes: Thanks for spending time with us today. If you’d like to help solve the mystery of Ruth’s sister’s disappearance, get her story on www.amazon.com /dp/163213408X/ or http://www.electiopublishing.com/index.php/bookstore#!/Under-Fire-Paperback/p/88329129

linda-eLinda Shenton Matchett is an author, journalist, speaker, and history geek. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry, Linda has lived in historical places most of her life. She is a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and a Trustee for the Wolfeboro Public Library. Active in her church, Linda serves as treasurer, usher, choir member, and Bible study leader.

 

 

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