The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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June 26, 2011

If you're longing for Downton Abbey...

Mrs. Cash’s ducal reminiscences were interrupted by the footman serving the soup. Lord Bridport insisted on dinner taking no more than an hour, so each of the seven courses remained for only a short time in front of the diner. Mrs. Cash, who found that the prospect of Lulworth had awakened her appetite, realized that she most focus on the lobster bisque. As she concentrated on conveying the soup to the undamaged side of her mouth, Odo took his chance. As the sole heir to a considerable fortune and due to inherit even more from his maternal grandfather, Odo was not abashed by Mrs. Cash’s wealth, nor was he in the least interested in her catalogue of foreign titles.

'I quite envy you going to Lulworth, if it weren’t under such dramatic circumstances. It’s a lovely house, one of the few really fine houses around here. It’s not a great big dukery like the ones up north, it’s more subtle than that. Lulworth has charm,’ Odo tittered, ‘if a building can be said to have charm. And you must see the chapel, it’s exquisite, a little rococo gem.’ He made a circle in the air with a finger to indicate the curves of the chapel. ‘Of course I haven’t been there since the old Duke’s funeral, but I gather things have gone downhill since then. Wretched death duties I suppose.’ Odo looked down the table to where his wife was sitting and raised his voice a little.

I almost feel sorry for Ivo. He was such a perfect younger son, excellent shot, popular with the ladies, clever. There was some talk of the Diplomatic, after he came out of the Guards, but then Maltravers, his elder brother, broke his neck eighteenth months after the old Duke died, and it all came to Ivo. That was about a year ago, and since then he has become such a bore. He’s shut himself up at Lulworth and won’t come out to play. Didn’t come to town for the season, nobody’s seen him for months. Even Charlotte can’t tempt him, and they used to be such friends.’

At the mention of her name, his wife began to talk with uncharacteristic animation to the Rural Dean on her left. If Mrs. Cash had not been in the habit of only observing what was directly connected to her own interests, she might have noticed the flush spreading over Charlotte Beauchamp’s cheeks. But Mrs. Cash’s attention was all with Odo.

So there is no Duchess at Lulworth?’ she said, as nonchalantly as she was able. She didn’t remember seeing Wareham’s name in the list of noble bachelors in Titled Americans, a magazine she would never admit to buying, though she was exhaustively acquainted with its contents. She was certain she would not have missed an eligible duke.

Not even a dowager,’ said Odo, looking at Mrs. Cash directly …

— From The American Heiress {originally The Last Duchess},
by Daisy Goodwin

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1 comment:

Ann Summerville said...

I can't wait for more.

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