A Regency Invitation

This is the Blog of the Book! Read all about the process by which Regency authors Joanna Maitland, Elizabeth Rolls and Nicola Cornick wrote collaboratively to create the story of the Regency House Party of the Season! A Regency Invitation is published in November 2005 from Harlequin Historicals.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Creating the setting and the outline plot




Nicola Cornick
12 December 2003


Here is some more detail for the setting. Ashdown is a very compact house, but we could add a west wing if you like (which is what they may originally have intended). You can see a picture of the house and garden at

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-findaplace/w-ashdownhouse/
and at
http://www.theheritagetrail.co.uk/notable%20houses/ashdown%20house.htm

The garden is based on a seventeenth century plan. There is a mile long wooded avenue to the north. The cupola on the roof definitely has potential to feature in one or all of the stories. They used to hang a lantern in it that could be seen from the hills all around and have firework parties on the roof! If it would help, I can send you both a description of the house and gardens externally so that you know the kind of detail I'll be putting in the set up.

It would be great if you could furnish the rooms, Elizabeth!

[Note to blog readers: the links work if you would like to see a picture of Ashdown House and there are several images of the house in the image library at the second link.]

Nicola Cornick
12 December 2003

PS: Forgot to ask - do you want to leave Ashdown in Berkshire with hunting and shooting (and quite near Newbury) or would you prefer to relocate it elsewhere in the UK? If we're leaving it in Berks I could a bit of local colour to my external description.

What do we want to call "our" house???


Joanna Maitland
12 December 2003

Nicola, it's absolutely gorgeous. Hadn't looked till now and I adore it. I now understand exactly why you love it so much. And I think it's perfect for us. Clearly, it is not the host's main residence, just a hunting box/pleasure house, and perfect for the kind of quasi-family gathering we want to write about. What's more, I think I *must* visit it soon so that I can soak up the atmosphere. Then I can take pics to put on my website when the book comes out. At the moment, I've printed off the National Trust aerial pic for my work folder, and also a postcard sized version which is now stuck on my monitor, as inspiration.

Would it be a good idea to visit on one of your on-days? or on an off day? Can I buy you lunch somewhere nice in return for being taken round Ashdown with the most knowledgeable possible guide? (Sorry Elizabeth, but I promise to take lots of pics of the outside. And I'm happy to share them.)

I think we should probably leave the house where it is, as long as there's hunting and shooting. Also fishing?? (If not, we can add a trout stream, no doubt.) We don't need to shoot grouse, after all, since they need moors and are very specific. If you've got grouse, you can't have anything much else. We can shoot pheasants if we need to. And having Newbury nearby helps with horse-racing and the like. It will also be within reasonable travelling distance of Bath, Bristol and, at a pinch, London, in case we need to send our characters there.

House names? I think that's for Elizabeth, really, since she *owns* the house-owner/host. Perhaps we could do a variant on Ashdown ie xxxdown? Or a variant on xxxbourne, since it's near Lambourne?

Re the lodge houses. I don't mind whether my heroine's brother is incarcerated in a lodge or a dower house or a tied cottage, but it must be well off the beaten track and quite a long way from the main house or any other habitation. The host can't take any risk of passing nobs out for an evening stroll/blowing a cloud noticing a light and realising there's someone in a supposedly empty property. Is there an obvious place in the grounds where we might situate such a property, Nicola?

And yes, your suggested hints re my story sound great. I can give you chapter and verse quite soon, since I've already started writing. The vague familiarity of my heroine to yours seems good too and I'm sure they would soon become friends after my heroine resumes her proper station. I've named her Amy Devereaux, by the way, though as abigail, she's called Amelia Dent. Her feckless brother is Edward (Ned) Devereaux. Amy is going to be a very outgoing, friendly lass (with striking silver-blonde hair which she hides beneath a huge ugly cap while she's an abigail, because she daren't risk anyone seeing it and thinking she's a very unusual abigail.)

Amy is already best mates with Countess F who will be quite a lot younger than her husband, the Earl, who needs to be somewhere in his 40s I guess, especially if he's to be the older brother of Elizabeth's hero. (That's up to Elizabeth, of course. My Earl can be a cousin or something if that fits better.) On reflection, I might make F the Earl's second wife, a love match after his first marriage which was arranged, childless, and very unhappy. I could even, one day, write their love story as a full length book! Gosh, this is all so exciting I'm getting miles ahead of myself!

Can you tell us where the West Wing would have fitted? I think we probably do need to add it, so that there's just a bit more room for all our characters. Love the cupola. While my hero and heroine are both in hiding, so to speak, I think I might have a wee assignation up there, perhaps when my heroine volunteers to go up to light the lantern? And maybe I could have a firework party on the roof at the end of my story to celebrate proving my hero's innocence and his betrothal to my heroine?

Yes please to the description of the house and gardens externally. And yes please to Elizabeth furnishing the rooms Can we use colours to distinguish them perhaps? I mean the blue bedchamber, the pink bedchamber, the crimson saloon etc. Helps the readers without actually telling them exactly where the rooms are.

Must stop emailing now and get on with the thinking. Unlike you, Elizabeth, I don't have ankle-snappers to worry about. Or moving house. I don't know how you manage to fit it all in.

PS Have just looked again at NT site and realised that house is only open from April-October. Double damn. Still, the grounds are open all the year round, I see, and I think it would be worth a visit to get the feel of them and to see the house from the outside. And the offer of lunch is still on, Nicola


Elizabeth Rolls
12 December 2003

I'm right in the middle of my synopsis, but it is also the middle of the night - about 2am and I have to get up at 6am . . . okay, okay, I know! Anyway, I like Joanna's overview and I am madly working out mine so it will fit. Will have it to you tomorrow night. Perfectly happy to have an abigail and a companion.

I think the first heroine would fit very well as a younger sister of my hero. She can then drop some information about his marriage.

Nicola, my hero is Anthony Lyndhurst. Don't think he's titled because the title would have to go to the next male heir and it would be most unlikely that Anthony would consider leaving the money and estate away from the title, unless he knew the heir presumptive to be a complete scumbag. In which case, why did he invite him to the house party?

The public reason for his wife's disappearance is that she vanished in the flight from Brussels during the Waterloo campaign. He refuses to talk about her at all. Except for Villain C, no one in his family ever met her since they married in Belgium during the lead up to Waterloo.

More details tomorrow. Your ideas are all so helpful.

Thanks for the pictures, Nicola. Love it. And yes, Joanna - I do want to see the photos! Colour coded rooms are very useful. I'll try to get my synopsis finished and then tackle the furnishings tomorrow night.


Joanna Maitland
12 December 2003

Nicola, if you could possibly manage it, it would be very helpful if your heroine could also drop a hint about my heroine's missing brother, Ned Devereaux. I imagine her making a very sharp remark to the effect that Ned is a very rude (and very gossipy) young man who left the house very abruptly (before the story started) without even taking the trouble to say goodbye to her. She might also say something to indicate that (apart from gossiping) he seems to think of nothing but shooting, gambling and drinking. Thoroughly selfish and immature. Not at all the sort of fellow that any sensible girl would wish to have anything to do with.

That would plant a little seed that there's something not quite right about Ned's departure. I can pick up on it in story 2. And it would also make it obvious that Ned is not going to be the hero of any of the stories. In fact, he's a bit of a pain in the ass, as I intend to make clear, if I can get it into the wordcount.


Nicola Cornick
12 December 2003

I'm so glad you both like Ashdown! I will put together a crib sheet on the house and gardens and email it to both of you. We will need to add details like the trout stream and Joanna's lodge house (which we could place in the woods at the end of the mile long avenue). I think it's a great idea to have colour-themed rooms as well.

Thank you for the info on what you'd like me to put in story 1. I am writing my synopsis and will incorporate hints for both your stories.

Joanna, you are very welcome indeed to come and have a guided tour of the outside of Ashdown, take photos, see the grounds and get a feel for the place. It is a shame that the house is closed until April but there's a nice pub down the road! We can raise a glass to you, Elizabeth!

I'll be back in touch with the Ashdown descriptions and my synopsis soon.


Elizabeth Rolls
12 December 2003

I'll be looking forward to the info and photos. Nice to at least hear aboutthe pub down the road. Have a half of Guinness for me!
Nicola - I'll have my synopsis through - I hope! - late this evening my time.I'll include lots of info about Anthony since you will both need him welland truly on stage.

Joanna Maitland
12 December 2003

Me too. (Looking forward, I mean.) Mind you, I don't drink Guinness. When I was pregnant (long, long ago!) my midwife advised me to drink it for the iron since I couldn't get along with iron tablets. I almost had to put a clothes peg on my nose to get the Guinness down. Absolutely hated it! So I'll raise a glass to you, Elizabeth, but *not* Guinness.

I've been thinking about my hero. I think I won't make him the host's brother because there's a risk of getting too many characters named Lyndhurst. So I'll make him a cousin, the son of the host's deceased elder sister, if that's all right. Then he'll have a different surname. Actually, at the moment, he doesn't even have a first name but no doubt it will come. OTOH, I have written the naked hero meets heroine scene (or most of it). Remember that scene with Colin Firth getting out of his bath in P&P? Well, think of that -- but with much more time before anyone wraps anything in any kind of towel/dressing gown etc. My heroine, bless her, is rooted to the spot and can neither move nor speak. Especially when he orders her to pass the towel! (I'm giggling even as I write this. I do love writing scenes like that.)

I have named the Earl and Countess, though. He is John, Earl of Mardon and she is Charlotte. Hope that doesn't get in the way of any of your names. If the Earl is Anthony Lyndhurst's elder brother, his surname will be Lyndhurst too, obviously. If he's a more distant relation, I'll think of something else.

Oh, I really love doing this. It's great fun. Can't wait to read your synopses, both.


Elizabeth Rolls
13 December 2003

Good thinking about the surname, Joanna. I'll look forward to your naked hero scene. How nice to think that I am going to get to read it FIRST. Along with Nicola, of course.

Sorry to hear you don't like Guinness. Gin and tonic will do!

Can you let me know when you decide about the relationship between Anthony and the Earl of Mardon? If Anthony is a younger son, then I have to come up with some reason why he has the sort of fortune that one worries about. Like a stinking wealthy godfather in trade. It's not wildly important but it would require clarification. Unless Anthony was a half brother and somehow inherited his mother's fortune.


Joanna Maitland
13 December 2003

Thanks, Elizabeth. Actually it doesn't matter much to me whether the Earl is Anthony's brother or not. If you can see any plot reasons for having him as a brother, I'll do that. (I can't see any, but there might be some later, I suppose, when we're into the writing.) If it makes it easier to explain Anthony's fortune, I'll make the Earl a more distant relation. Up to you. Unless Nicola needs it to be one way or the other? After all, your heroine is Anthony's sister. Does she need an older uncle who is an Earl? Or would that complicate things even more?

I *think* my hero may be called Will Sinclair. He's mulling it over even as I type. No doubt he'll let me know whether he likes it a bit later on. (In the naked man scene, he does not tell my heroine who he is or why he is there. Typical man!)


Joanna Maitland
13 December 2003

Have now furiously scribbled outline of key scenes of my story and I think I'm getting somewhere. Or starting to. Only difficulty will be word count. Argh.

Have had a few disjointed thoughts that I wanted to share before I forget them.

Arrival of great-aunt harridan and companion. It occurred to me that said harridan really wouldn't have a place at a house party to select an heir. She's not a potential heir and she would probably be viewed as getting in the way. What if she decided to invite herself when she heard about heroine 1's possible betrothal? On the grounds that any potential husband needs great-aunt's vetting. (Having good sources, she would learn of it almost instantly, of course.) If it suits your plot, Elizabeth, great-aunt could be talked of towards end of story 1 and arrive then or near start of story 2. I imagine companion would have been very reluctant to accompany said harridan since she fears being recognised by husband. Do you want me to show companion trying desperately to avoid Anthony eg by sudden headaches so she can't come down to dinner?

Is my villain C going to be your villain, too, Elizabeth? One of your emails seemed to suggest that. Can we make that work since I was planning to write villain C out at the end of story 2? Do you want me to keep him going for story 3? If so, have you already decided on a name for him? For me, he's just another potential heir but for you, I imagine, he's a closer heir. Is he another Lyndhurst?

What year are we in? Does it matter?

I'm not sure that I'll have room for the fireworks party on the roof in story 2. But I could have Anthony decide to do it, or think about it in story 2. Then maybe it could actually take place at the end of story 3. Ending with a bang, so to speak. What do you both think?

Not for decisions now. If we are going to get a commissioned cover, should we suggest that a washed-out photo of Ashdown might be part of the background? Obviously it would need to be done from such an angle that it wasn't possible to tell whether there was a west wing or not. I'm planning to use the cupola in story 2, so it would help readers to see what I'm on about.

Also not for decision now, but do we want to think about a joint Dear Reader letter about how we came to write the stories? And the settings we chose?


Nicola Cornick
15 December 2003

I am writing my story synopsis and have a couple of things I wanted to run past you.

1. I thought it might be nice to kick the stories off with a formal style invitation to the house party at the beginning. I guess we may be asked to write a "Dear reader" letter as well but I thought we could set the scene with a "Mr Anthony Lyndhurst requests the pleasure of your company at a House Party..." What do you think?

2. I've decided it might be better if my heroine, Cassie Ward, is a cousin to Anthony Lyndhurst rather than a younger sister. I found that I was bringing him into her story a bit too much and I don't really want to write a lot about "your" character, Elizabeth, because when you write him it is bound to be different! So I have made him a cousin with an interest in Cassie's welfare as head of the family, but then given her a mother/chaperone called Mrs Cecilia Ward who can't control her headstrong daughter. Hope this is okay.

More later...


Nicola Cornick
15 December 2003

Here are some brief notes on Ashdown House. If there are any other details you would like, just let me know. I'll include a short physical description in story 1 but basically we can use this as the background and make up our own bits to add on!

Happy writing, both!

*******************
Ashdown House

Ashdown lies in the Manor of Ashbury, which was formed in Saxon times. The estate passed to Glastonbury Abbey in the 10th century and by 1342 had been partially enclosed to create a deer park to supply venison. There is an Iron Age hill fort on the edge of the park and the remains of the park pale, the embankment that kept the deer in, is still visible like a small ha-ha in the fields around the estate.

The present house at Ashdown was built in the 1660s by William, first Earl of Craven. It is built from dressed chalk and is therefore a very pale, cream colour. The window surrounds and dressed stonework are Bath stone. It is very narrow and tall and seems to float above the surrounding down land, anchored visually by its two lodge houses. It is a rare example of late 17th century architecture in the Dutch style with a hipped roof, dormer windows, massive chimneystacks and a crowning cupola with a golden ball. This style became fashionable in England after the Restoration.

Lord Craven probably used Ashdown as a hunting lodge. The cupola and balustraded roof provide excellent views of the land around and were used for spotting animals and watching the chase. There are no servants quarters in the house – staff lived in the Lodge Houses and in Ashdown village. [However we may wish them to live on the top floor in our story so that they are closer to the action?]

The internal arrangement of the house is very simple. A central passage goes from the front door to the garden door. The oak staircase takes up a quarter of the floor space of the entire building. It is the most impressive feature in the entire house with newel posts whose recessed panels may once have contained carvings of fruit and flowers.

The rooms are airy, well lit by casement windows and well proportioned. Some are decorated with plasterwork cornices showing simple, bold, acanthus patterns.*

The park was laid out in the formal style of the 17th century with four rides or avenues radiating from the house through dense woodland. The Western avenue comprised lime trees. The North Avenue creates a vista of the house that is a mile long. Shady rides meander through the woods and open onto dappled glades where wild flowers thrive. There are deer, badgers, foxes and many other birds and animals in the woodland.*

The garden is very simple. It comprises a parterre of box hedges and gravel laid out in S-shaped scrolls. The parterre also contains two benches and some stone statuary – 2 obelisks on square plinths 4’ 6’’ tall, stone balls on pillars and 4 stone pineapples also mounted on pillars approximately 5 foot tall. The garden is sheltered from the park by high hedges. [Good for assignations? We can also add in a summer house, water feature, etc wherever we like!]

*Information from Ashdown House National Trust guidebook

***********************


Elizabeth Rolls
15 December 2003

My old-fashioned scribbling has paid off and I now have a much clearer idea of what I am doing. (Hears sighs of relief blasting from the northern hemisphere.)
I actually have some sort of synopsis.

Joanna, I did intend to use villain C in my plot -- mainly because I wondered how likely it was to have two villains and I thought if we got rid of C too early, then my plot might be a little short on tension. I mean there's bound to be plenty of emotional tension between Anthony and Georgiana, but if there has been an intrigue thread running through the first two stories and we snip it completely, it might be a little awkward. Similarly starting another intrigue could be awkward.

Could whatever crime B is supposed to have done, be cleared up without exposing C? Make it look as though it was entirely accidental that B looked guilty? Or at least not as if C was involved.

I think having the great aunt arrive in story 2 is a good idea. Otherwise, why haven't things come to a head with Anthony and Georgiana earlier? She can only avoid him for so long by trading on her lower status as a companion and convenient headaches.

I think there does have to be some sort of connection between Great Aunt H and Georgiana. Otherwise it's just too pat. I thought that probably Georgiana went to her Godmother and the godmother got her the position with Great Aunt H on purpose. Great Aunt knows perfectly well who her 'companion' is. Georgiana has no idea initially of the connection between her employer and Anthony. She is absolutely horrified to find herself at Anthony's house party.

GAH has invited herself because she sees it as the perfect way to bring matters to a head between Anthony and Georgiana. She has never told Anthony where his wife is because, as far as she knows, he has made no attempt to find his wife.

Does the great aunt have a name yet? I wondered about Harriet. After all, the readers don't have to know that she started out as Great Aunt Harridan!

I'm not terribly fussed about villain C's name. As long as it isn't Anthony. He probably should be another Lyndhurst. Unless we hyphenate him and make him Blankington-Lyndhurst. Obviously this heir situation has problems! Perhaps his mother's family, having large amounts of money and influence, insisted on the hyphenation.

As for the year, my backstory is that Anthony served in the Peninsula and Waterloo. He married Georgiana in the run up to Waterloo as a matter of honour when she was jilted by another officer. He catches her, with C's connivance, at the Duchess of Richmond's ball, saying farewell to her ex-fiancé. All she intended was to wish the young idiot well and assure him that she is happy in her marriage. Anthony walks in at exactly the wrong moment and completely misunderstands what he sees. He says a great number of things in his fury that would have been much better left unsaid and finds, when he returns from Waterloo that his wife is gone. Along with a very valuable pearl necklace that belonged to his mother. He assumes that she has fled with her lover. He discovers later that her supposed lover is dead and realises that she has run away alone. He does attempt to trace her but fails to find her.

Georgiana has gone to her godmother who finds her a position, on purpose, with Anthony's Great Aunt H. When Great Aunt H gets wind of the house party, she decides to make an appearance with her 'companion' in tow.

It turns out in the end that C has deliberately garbled a message Georgiana has asked him to give Anthony at the Duchess of Richmond's ball. Instead of telling Anthony that G has been looking for him and that she asked him to tell A that she is in the garden speaking to her ex, he simply told A that G was in the garden with her ex. It also turns out that C took the pearls to settle his gaming debts and destroyed the note G left telling A that she had gone to her godmother.

That is C's style in my outline. He comes across to me as a manipulative type. Very quick to capitalise on someone's mistake and twist people's thinking. I think he needs to come across as plausible, not out and out obvious scum. Otherwise Anthony would never consider him as a possible heir let alone permit him to stay on. Could we make C a younger brother of the Earl of Mardon? Then Anthony might consider him as a potential heir because of his younger son status. Fellow feeling since Anthony was a younger son himself and only inherited because his brother died.

I thought perhaps the earl might warn Anthony that C is not a good prospect as an heir, that he shouldn't allow his fellow feeling to cloud his judgment. That C is still quite irresponsible and has scorned to settle to anything. That his gaming debts have been settled several times. He might even comment that the only time C managed to settle his own debts was just after Waterloo. 'Naturally one hesitates to accuse one's own brother of plunder,' said John with a faint grin.

In the synopsis as it stands now C does try to get rid of Georgiana near the end when he realises that his lies are about to be exposed. I'll also need to ferret out his involvement in hero B's problems. Or at least Anthony will. As I imagine it, he works that out, and realises that maybe C misled him on purpose at the ball. Goes to confront him and finds him trying to dispose of Georgiana. Then discovers that C stole and pawned the pearls etc.

Did Joanna request a fireworks display from the cupola? I'm sure that can be worked in at the end. I'll probably cut to Anthony and Georgiana indulging in their own personal fireworks display by the stream! Or would there be too many mosquitoes and other biting things about?

The action for my story would start with Anthony absenting himself very conspicuously from some vital bit of action in Joanna's story. Possibly straight after the resolution of B's innocence. He's had quite enough of Great Aunt H's 'companion' avoiding him and has decided to have it out with her for once and for all.

I'll type up the whole outline of the action, along with notes about Anthony and Georgiana, properly tomorrow and send it through. Hopefully this gives you an idea though. At the moment it deals very much with the resolution of Anthony and Georgiana's marriage. It feels a little short, but there are all your characters to write in and threads to tie in at the end, so probably short is better. In terms of writing, I thought perhaps I might tackle the scenes that only involve, or mostly involve A and G and minor players first. Once your characters are fleshed out and I can read them on the page and you tell me about them, I'll tackle those scenes.

About timing - for my backstory to work I need the houseparty to happen at least one year after Waterloo. Possibly more. I don't want C to recognise Georgiana. She was only 17 at the time of Waterloo and if say, four years had passed and he had only met her once or twice, then it is conceivable that he would not recognise her. Especially since she now wears very dowdy clothes and does her hair differently. What do you think?

About OUR timing. I'll get as much actually written as I can before I go away in the New Year. Since it appears to be most unlikely that we will move now much before Easter, there should be plenty of time to weave it all together when I get back. Do we want to send scenes/chapters through as we go? Might be a help with dialogue etc. I don't want to make your characters say or do something totally out of character.

I'll have a detailed look at the public rooms, dining, drawing, billiard etc and try to get them furnished over the weekend. Let me know which ones you need. I think we can leave the bedchambers to our individual stories. I can't imagine that I need to invade anyone's bedchamber apart from Anthony's and Georgiana's, except possibly GAH. I'm assuming country house style, not too grand and not right up the minute in terms of fashion furnishings. Didn't we agree that this is not Anthony's principal country residence? More of a shooting box? Possibly Anthony breeds horses.

I like the idea of a photo of Ashdown House. A Dear Reader letter also sounds like a good idea. Readers love to know what was ticking over in the author's mind. At least this reader does. And some background on how we came to write them and weave the stories together would be fun too.

Sorry this is so long. It's dealing with any number of your emails. I've been flailing about trying to get a handle on how all this works!


Nicola Cornick
15 December 2003

Love your synopsis, Elizabeth!

As there is quite a lot of intrigue in your two stories, Elizabeth and Joanna, and because I will have to spend some of my words on set up, I've decided not to introduce any more elements of house party intrigue into story 1. IMO there are only so many secret goings on that can take place in one House Party!

What I will do is hint at the stories to come, by giving Cassie's opinions of:

a) Anthony's brief marriage
b) Villain C as a manipulative and possibly two-faced character
c) Suspicions about Amy creeping around in her guise as lady's maid
d) Ned Devereaux as a rather ill-mannered and indiscreet young man and the fact that he disappeared abruptly from the house party.

Hope this is okay with both of you.

In story 1 I need enough characters for a cricket team! Obviously I don't need to name all of them and at least half could be servants, but I'd also like to use Anthony, the Earl of Mardon, and Villain C as well as my hero, Lord Peter Quinlan. This could be the point where villain C (Blankington-Lyndhurst) could perhaps show his true colours in a brief giveaway by cheating at cricket? How unsporting! I might also introduce one or two House Party hangers-on to swell the numbers, since Georgiana and great Aunt Harriet won't be arriving until story 2 and the cast list is still quite small. We only need a core of main characters and I think we have those already, but we do need to give the impression of a few more guests out bagging the pheasants etc.

One question - have I missed how long after Waterloo we are setting the stories?

I have almost finished my draft synopsis and will send it along soon.

PS Elizabeth there were a lot of biting insects at Ashdown this summer but I think we could exercise poetic licence and get rid of them for the purposes of the story!


Joanna Maitland
15 December 2003

Have had a quick run through Elizabeth's synopsis but need to do it again in slow time. Two things strike me at once. Yes, we can really only have one villain, so C it will have to be. However, I'll have to rework my synopsis a bit to leave him standing at the end of story 2. Would it be OK if my hero and heroine suspected C, even if they couldn't yet prove he was the villain?

Second quick point. I'm going to change the Countess's name from Charlotte to something else because I think, with such a large cast, that we should avoid having more than one name beginning with any particular letter. Cassie is much more important, so my Countess has to change. Will your chaperon always be called Mrs Ward, Nicola? That would get round her being a C-name too.

It's obviously going to be tough on you, Elizabeth, since you'll be away in January. What I would find really helpful, if you have time, would be for you to write some of the Anthony/Georgiana scenes so that I (and Nicola, too, for Anthony) can get a better feel for the kind of characters they are and the way they talk.

Love the idea of an invite, Nicola. Much better than a Dear Reader job.

Will respond again once I've digested the emails.


Nicola Cornick
15 December 2003

I hadn't spotted all the "C" names, Joanna, but I can easily change Mrs Ward to Edwina, or something. I haven't even finally decided whether she features in the story. Cassie needs a friend/confidante/female relative but that's about as far as I've got.

I agree it would be tremendously helpful to have some idea of how Anthony speaks. If you have the time, Elizabeth, that would be brilliant.

Went to Ashdown today and was walking around the estate looking for suitable sites for romantic trysts etc. It's a good job I know the estate manager or I'd probably have been arrested for lurking in a suspicious manner!

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