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1. Silly Little Sisters FREE

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An old, impecunious nobleman lives with his family in his shambles of a country castle, and to make good his failed finances, means to marry off his eldest daughter to a wealthy but disreputable rake – who, on visiting to meet his intended, immediately exercises his roving eye. The trouble is, he also comes with a loaded past that reflects very luridly on his present and has a cynical family of his own.

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288,375 words

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Anne Hauden ©


                        The use of black cloth for the fashioning of a suit of clothes, especially when the textile in question was of a silken crêpe, usually presupposed that the wearer was in full mourning, but it had then to be matched with the modish long waistcote and knee-breeches in the same fabric, mercifully looser and more comfortably fitting than the fashions of a decade ago.  In this case, however, the latter two garments were unalike the coat, for they were made of figured paduasoy, also black, the brocading of the latter of a most exquisite kind and probably woven to order, which was about as costly a proceeding as could be in matters of dress.  The choice of black for wear was favoured by the mercantile orders in large and dirty towns for obvious reasons, or among the rich for reasons of whim and eccentricity, as was the choice of greyish face powder instead of the white bismuth, but not applied as usual like a mask, but rubbed upon certain parts of the already lean physiognomy to highlight and sharpen its hard and regular features, for the lavish application of white and pink and red did not suit this face at all.  A concession to the dictates of accepted accessories was made in the presence of a little taffeta patch on one cheekbone, while the dressing of one’s own hair was in compleat contrariness to the latest coiffures, which prescribed the use of exquisite wigs with a curled foretop, a pigeon’s wing or two at the ears, and a liberal use of powder and pomatum to make the hair look grey, whatever the wearer’s real hair colour, but if he used a wig, that mattered not for he would have been shaven bald – whereas the specimen under scrutiny had tresses the colour of the raven’s wing, and that was perhaps why he wore black clothes and made his countenance look dead.  This sobriety was not of a puritanical kind; there was a flurry of Valenciennes lace to embellish the snow white linens, diamonds at the throat and in all buttons whether of waistcote or cote or the wide, turned back cuffs, and exquisite embroidery on all edges of cuff, hems and pocket flaps.  There was even a muff of feathers, all dyed black, and black stockings worn under the breeches hem, with garters hidden, of course, unlike the modes half-a-generation ago.

            This spectacle of morbid finery was sprawled upon the comfortable, bright, silken squabs of a carriage with a ‘cellar’ – or cellaret – beneath the seat, containing foods and wines and wares in which to fare upon them, with glass windows not just above the doors but at the side panels, and silken curtains to draw over them for privacy or to keep out any blazing rays of the sun.  It was a vehicle that only the very rich could afford in which to be transported, as was apparent even from the outside, which was a neat shape, like an inverted isosceles trapezium but with very rounded corners so that at first sight it was akin to a broad oval.  The whole was lacquered in black, with a coat of arms under a ducal crest upon the door panels.  As with most heavier carriages of this type the cabin was fitted to the framework with leathern straps but this creation had springs too, which enabled the body to ride well as the wheels, all four of which took the toll of whatever the roads had to offer, and not all roads were good, nor the whole stretch of a roadway in good repair, for that matter depended upon the parish through which it passed, which was responsible for its upkeep.  This vehicle managed all vicissitudes cast its way, for it was not just on ordinary great carriage, it was a berline, a thing which had reached England from the continent, and was the invention of a Provençal of Italian origin, one Philippe Chiesa, Chief Engineer to the late Elector of...

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2. Silly Little Peeresses

This is the sequel to ‘Silly Little Sisters’, with marriage, mischief, mayhem and unprincipled activity confused with stalwart loyalty, with two stories running through this  novel.

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3. Offy's Ditch

Dr. Barrieuw keeps a charity hospital in Houndsditch in a vile part of London for folk whom the rest of society chuses to forget – and for anyone else who needs his services.  On one of his occasional forays outside his dark world, he meets a rich spinster, Theophilia, who runs her own affairs and is used to kicking into shape everyone who dares cross or disobey her.  Yet Barrieuw’s hospital is becoming perilously short of space, and his own private fortune is running out … with cameo appearances by William Hogarth and others!

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5. Mongrelle

Years ago, this writer read one of Georgette Heyer’s most popular novels and liked it very much.  She still likes it and it is no less a superb work; nevertheless she thought that perhaps it did not go far enough in itself and in the circumstances set out therein.  So she wrote what she believed it could have been, althô the characters changed in many ways, as did their initial respective situations.  Set against a backcloth of Louis XV’s Versailles, the Battle of Fontenoy, the coming of the philosophes and the rise of La Pompadour, here is a story of secrets and adventures – and the urge to lampoon humanity has been irresistible.

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4. Margaret's Coffin

His jingle-brained cousin having been thrown into gaol for debt, Herriard goes running to his friend Edwin for help and intercession in various directions.  As all of them belong to the upper orders and Beau Brummell has just begun his reign over the World of Fashion, it is certainly not the thing to go visiting prisons or anywhere, really, beyond Charing Cross.  Very reluctantly, Edwin shifts himself accordingly, and while loitering in a gaol-house corridor, he sees a fresh, young charity worker, who smells of soap … and who comes with strange and mysterious baggage.  Edwin just cannot resist.

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Grateful thanks to The Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut,
The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.,
Michael Judkins, at Pexels.