I’ve recently formatted Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall for print with CreateSpace and had it re-edited by by my patient editor, Alison Williams, in case there were any slips in the new format. All clear, so it was published in print on 12th December.
Both my books are now available in paperback, and they’d make beautiful Christmas presents! In fact, most books make beautiful Christmas presents, so please think of gifting them to your loved ones this Christmas 🙂
Don’t forget I’m ofering a Giveaway of both paperbacks until 25th December, so you still on time to take part just follow this link to enter.
The main action in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, takes place on and around Christmas time, 1866-67. Adele has returned from a long stay, of almost a year, in Italy with her fiancé, the widowed Mr. Greenwood and his son, Dante, to spend Christmas at Eyre Hall. They will be joined by other guests.
This is Adele’s narration of the Christmas Day Dinner and celebrations at Eyre Hall in Chapter VI.
It was a merry reunion for the most part, filled with varied guests. The table was exquisitely laid, with our finest china dishes, fine Italian crystal goblets, sterling silver cutlery, sparkling cut glass decanters etched with grape and vine. Leah, as always, managed to excel on grand occasions. Cook had prepared a feast for us including roast turkey, mince pies, and plum cake with a sprig of holly on the top.
We had two merry visitors, Judge Harwood’s youngest daughters, Phoebe, John’s loquacious fiancée, and Clarissa her lively younger sister who insisted we decorate Eyre Hall for Christmas as everyone did in London. I helped them adorn the windowsills with Christmas wreaths made of yew, holly and holly berries tied with raffia. Jenny was instructed to make ivy wreaths by stitching ivy leaves on strips of green cloth, which we hung from the fireplace, through the balusters, and along the handrails of the staircases. I also helped the joyful sisters drape the chandeliers with greenery, pinecones, and walnuts. Eyre Hall had never looked so merry! Everywhere you looked, there was greenery and dried fruits and nuts. We even had a Christmas tree in every room for the first time! We decorated them with cinnamon sticks tied in bundles, walnuts all wrapped in colourful bits of cloth, and pinecones covered with bright ribbons.
Jane’s new little pet, Nell, followed us around like a lost puppy, trying to join in the fun, but Phoebe and Clarissa kept sending her off to the kitchen, saying she was a ‘tedious little elf’. She did look like an ethereal little waif, although now that Jane had bought her some proper dresses and shoes, she looked less like a pauper and more like a little fairy. However, she did have an exasperating way of popping up out of the blue and asking too many questions. I was glad to be rid of her.
I was furious with Annette who was behaving most selfishly. She was the most beautiful woman at the table, yet she was unfriendly, and refused to give Dante a chance. The places of honour at the table were reserved for Diana to Jane’s right, opposite her husband, Admiral Fitzjames, and for me to Mr. Mason’s right, opposite William. Annette sat on my right, opposite Dante. It was a magnificent occasion for them to become more acquainted, but I noticed how Dante spent most of the evening talking to John who had changed places with Clarissa, who had boldly insisted on sitting next to Michael. Although Annette was seated next to Dante, she was constantly turning away from him towards Michael who was on her other side. Actually, Michael was continuously turning to Annette, and away from Clarissa’s shameless flirting.
It was pleasing to meet Jane’s affectionate cousin, Diana, once more, although her boisterous husband, Admiral Fitzjames, who speaks far too much and far too loudly, dominated most of the conversation with boring talk about the navy. In fact, there were far too many tedious naval officers at the table to talk about anything else; the lecherous–looking Captain Carrington, who could not keep his eyes off all the ladies at the table, but especially Annette, and Michael who had returned as a dazzling lieutenant. Captain Carrington could not speak highly enough about his bravery, and both Phoebe and Clarissa were smitten by his uniform and good looks.
Michael was getting all the attention at the table, including Jane’s. I had always been wary of Michael. He was far too clever and ambitious for his own good. England was a great nation because everyone knew their place. He forgot his and poor Jane got into a great deal of trouble. I hoped they had both learnt their lesson.
Jane was wearing a beautiful silk crimson evening gown, which enhanced her stern expression, yet highlighted her pale beauty. It worried me that Clarissa swapped places with John so that he could sit next to Phoebe, but that meant that she sat next to Michael, and every time she spoke to him, touched his arm, or giggled loudly, Jane flinched noticeably. She should have had more sense than to care about him.
After dinner, Phoebe and Clarissa insisted on playing blind man’s bluff in the drawing room and hanging mistletoe balls in the centre of the room and the doorway. We all played, except Jane and Mrs. Carrington. Jane turned away from the bustle to the furious hearth as a brazen Clarissa, who insisted that everyone kissed at Christmas parties in London, pushed Michael under some mistletoe. She made sure she was kissed and caught by all the young men, and then organised a game of hide–and–seek, at which time William complained of tiredness, and I of a headache, so we both retired, reminding Dante that he should speak to Annette regarding his intentions.
I hope you enjoyed this extract from Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall.
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