"...a small jewel of a story!"
~ Claudia Christina Rapp, LoveLetter
Springtime Pleasures won an Award of Merit in the 2014 HOLT Medallion Contest.
The wild boars Charlie encounters in the course of the novel are, alas, very much anachronistic: in Britain wild boars became extinct during the Middle Ages. Moreover, they are usually far less fierce than in my novel. Still, I've kept the boars because they remind me of many a happy day in my childhood when my Mum would take me to the see the wild boars in a nearby wildlife park. They also remind me of The Adventures of Asterix, which I adored as a child.
I'm a huge fan of W. M. Thackeray, so I made the opening of Springtime Pleasures a parody of the opening of his novel Vanity Fair. There, Becky and Amelia are also given copies of Dr. Johnson's dictionary by Miss Pinkerton (Becky promptly chucks her copy out of the window of the carriage).
Caught between duty ...
George Augustus Griffin, Viscount Chanderley has to marry - fast: His father has ordered him to find a suitable wife this very season. Alas, the only woman Griff has eyes for is the very unsuitable Miss Carlotta Stanton, who is not only unbecomingly tall but also wears the ugliest spectacles in all of England. Still, Griff is utterly bewitched by her intense green eyes. Yet however much he feels drawn to her joie de vivre, duty and honor demand that he stay far away from Miss Stanton.
... and desire
Dubbed "the Giantess" because of her unfortunate height, Charlie Stanton finds the London season far less glamorous than she had thought it would be - not the least because she is consigned a place among the wallflowers. But then she becomes acquainted with the very dashing Lord Chanderley, whose life is overshadowed by a terrible tragedy in his past. Ever ready to help others, Charlie is determined to rid him of his Sad Melancholia - even if it means taking on wild boars and highwaymen. However, the biggest challenge might be the elusive viscount himself and his belief that he is beyond all redemption.
Praise for Springtime Pleasures
A "small jewel of a story"
~ LoveLetter Magazin
in which our story opens with wild boars,
highwaymen, and an early-morning stroll
up St. James's Street
Spring 1817, somewhere north of the Tweed
When the century was still in its teens, and on one surprisingly sunshiny day in April, there drove up to the rusty gate of Miss Pinkerton's Academy for Young Ladies, on Chiswick Lane, a large, battered coach, with two fat horses and a fat coachman, his face mottled with hectic red. A scrawny youth, who sat on the box beside the rotund coachman, bit his nails, tugged at his sweaty hair, and scrambled down the box as soon as the coach drew up opposite Miss Pinkerton's spotted brass plate. St. Cuthbert's Academy for Young Ladies, it read with old-fashioned, un-neoclassical flourish. One corner was dented and below the letters somebody had scratched a leering face. It might have been the face of a gargoyle, or perhaps the scratcher had simply not been used to working with brass. But the scrawny youth ignored these artistic endeavours altogether and instead pulled the bell, hard enough to make it bleat like the heavenly trumpets on Doomsday. At the din, at least a score of young heads were seen peering out of the narrow windows of the once stately brick house.
Indeed, the bell sounded loud enough to be heard even in Miss Pinkerton's private upstairs parlor, where she was presently entertaining two of her hopeful pupils with seed-cake and her usual parting speech, which typically covered topics such as The Evils Of The World Outside, Be True To Thyself, and Upholding The Spirit Of St. Cuthbert's Even & Especially In Times Of Adversity (this part also involved a discourse on The Importance of Carrying Your Needlework with You At All Times).
"Ah," Miss Jemima Pinkerton interrupted herself when the bell tolled. "That will be Mr MacFarlane's carriage, come to carry you away from us." She bestowed a slightly misty smile on the two young ladies sitting in front of her, in appearance as different from each other as night and day. One small and plump, with curly blond hair and an English milk-and-roses face, the other tall and thin, her dark hair almost black against the Celtic paleness of her skin, the intense green of her eyes partly hidden by a pair of brass spectacles.
"Well, my dears." Miss Pinkerton could feel her smile becoming even mistier than before. "Remember what I told you about the excellent uses of ox-gall soap, in particular in regard to Removing Bloodstains from Delicate Fabrics."
"Yes, Miss Pinkerton." The two girls nodded earnestly, their fresh young faces still innocent and untouched of the fate that awaited them. How would they fare in far-away London? She had led them this far, and now she had to trust that the spirit of St. Cuthbert would carry them safely onward.
Miss Pinkerton removed a lacy handkerchief out of one of the sleeves of her dress, and delicately dabbed the corners of her eyes. "Well, then ..." She cleared her throat and roused herself from sentimentality. "Girls, the world awaits you," she said grandly as she said to all of her pupils about to leave the bossom of her school. "I hope you will do St. Cuthbert's proud."
Again, the two heads bobbed up and down. "Yes, Miss Pinkerton."
Satisfied that she had done her best, the schoolmistress handed the two girls the letter for their parents, or, in Miss Stanton's case, for the girl's aunt and uncle -- it behoved a schoolmistress to write to the parents about their daughter's accomplishments upon the girl's parting from school. And to include the last bill, of course.
The letters having thus been dealt with, Miss Pinkerton reached for the two larger parcels on her desk. "Dear Dr. Johnson," she said. "Such a revered gentleman. His work --" She patted the parcels. "-- will do you many a good turn, no doubt. He was much taken with St. Cuthbert's as you know." A dreamy smile appeared on Miss Pinkerton's face. "Who could forget those immortal lines 'Addressed to a Young Lady on quitting St. Cuthbert's, on Chiswick Lane'? Why, he even included some verses from our school song. Hmhmhmm. 'Grab the nearest --" Yet just as Miss Pinkerton was about to launch into song, the door burst open and a scrawny boy stumbled into the room, his eyes wild. "Ah," the schoolmistress said, "you've come about --"
"The Boar!" the boy gasped.
The two girls eyed his distraught frame with interest.
"The boar?" Miss Pinkerton echoed, clearly perplexed. "Not the coach?"
"The Bestial Boar. It's ... it's back in the village!"
Miss Pinkerton's face fell. "Oh dear," she said, while the boy's face in turn crumbled.
"It's horrible. Horrible!" he whispered brokenly.
Miss Pinkerton blinked, obviously taken aback by so much despair.
"Nonsense," she said briskly, before she turned to her girls. "Miss Brockwin, please hand the young gentleman a slice of seed-cake. Nothing like seed-cake to revive the constitution, mark my words. And now, my dears --" She looked from one young lady to the other, and smiled. "-- go and get the guns."