Susana: Lady P has been having a wonderful time with me this winter in central Florida. She gets along well with my parents, especially my mother.
Lady P: In many ways, Mrs. Ellis and I are kindred spirits. Why, she even looks like me when she puts on that navy bonnet with the crimson trim. She dotes on her grandchildren, as I do, of course, and I even helped her make the most darling little dresses and skirts for them, as well as a vest and trousers for the boy. Did you know that Susana’s sister has eleven children, nine of them girls? Goodness, I don’t know how she manages without any servants. My own daughter Sarah cannot manage her three even with a houseful of servants.
Susana: I don’t think that’s fair, your ladyship. Having your mother there to nitpick over everything you do can be nerve-wracking for anyone. Especially when your mother—or your houseguest—thinks everything should be done her way
Lady P: Well really, Susana, your housekeeping skills are sadly lacking, and you don’t even have the sense to feel remorseful about it. If you refuse to clean your house yourself, the very least you could do is hire someone else to do it.
Susana [shrugging]: Cleaning is a waste of time. It’ll only get dirty again, after all. Besides, I don’t care to have some stranger in my house while I’m busy writing and need to concentrate. Your banging around is about as much as I can stand. In any case, Romeo Roomba does a fabulous job cleaning the floors. All I have to do is push the “on” button and when he’s finished he returns to his charging station and turns himself off. What could be better?
Lady P [clucking her tongue]: What is the world coming to when you have to get a machine to do such a simple task for you? Why, in my day, the maids had to take up the rugs and beat the dust out of them.
Susana: Oh yes, I’m sure everything was done much better in the 19th century. No doubt you had to walk three miles to school every day, and you and your siblings used to fight over the gizzard when roast chicken was served.
Lady P: Well! I can see you’re not in a proper mood for a conversation. Perhaps I shall indulge myself with a dip in the bathing pool.
Susana: A wonderful idea, Lady P! The other residents always enjoy chatting with you. Why, when you left the other day, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop, and several people got up and left out of sheer boredom.
Following Lady P’s Departure
Susana [chuckling]: And they do get a kick out of seeing her in her outlandish bathing costume too. She couldn’t find a proper one here, of course, so she made one out my mother’s old capri pants and a belted T-shirt. She insists she can’t possibly be seen in a modern bathing suit, not even one with a skirt.
Anyway, in spite of all our bickering, Lady P has been assisting me with my current work-in-progress, A Home For Helena. The story is loosely based on a true story in which Lady P played a pivotal role. Of course, the names and details have been changed to protect the innocent—and the guilty, I suppose.
A Home For Helena
Helena Lloyd grew up in foster homes until she was finally adopted by a kind old lady who loved her and taught her how to live by example. When she died, she left Helena enough money to attend college and get her MBA. But Helena discovered the business world was not for her, so she tried a few other things. When the story starts, she has just quit her job as a nanny for a wealthy couple in London, but is being stalked by her former employer. She runs into a gypsy lady who tells her that she is a soul lost in the wrong era. Sounds crazy, but when she thinks about it, there seems to be a ring of truth in it. So she agrees to travel to the era she supposedly “belongs” in, which is Regency-era England.
Helena doesn’t know the first thing about the Regency era, but fortunately, the gypsy lady gives her the address of a prominent London lady who has done a bit of time traveling herself. You guessed it—my own Lady Pendleton!
While staying with Lady P, an urgent message arrives from Lady P’s daughter in Kent. The Newsomes are in desperate need of a governess, and at Lady P’s urging, Helena agrees to travel there and fill in until a permanent governess can be found.
That’s when she meets James Walker, a neighboring widower whose daughter Annabelle is temporarily lodging with the Newsomes. His first marriage was a disaster, and he’s not keen on remarrying, but since he can’t seem to manage his young daughter on his own, everyone is telling him to find a wife.
The Newsomes’ new governess is about as un-governess-like as you can get. She’s young and beautiful, wears stylish clothing, and her teaching methods are decidedly odd. Not to mention her manner of speech, which is nothing like any American he has ever met. She is also quite free with her opinions, and James could never bear to have a wife like that. Not that he’s interested in marrying her. His next wife will be quiet and biddable and content with what he can offer her.
But is that what he really wants?
Helena finds James Walker devastatingly handsome, but she’s not there to find a husband. She doubts that a modern woman could bear to live in a period where women lived completely under their husband’s control. And even if she could, surely the knowledge of her journey through time would send him running in the opposite direction.
Who were Helena’s parents and how did she end up two hundred years in the future? Will Helena and James be able to resolve their differences and live happily ever after?
And most of all, what role will Lady P play in the final showdown?
Tune in later this year when A Home For Helena hits the digital shelves
If you could travel through time, where would you go and why? Do you think you could make the decision to remain there permanently?