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Lily Price on Etiquette  by Dianne Freeman

Lily Price here, in London for the social season of 1899, with instructions from my mother to find a British lord and marry him. My sister, Frances accomplished this very feat nine years ago and became Countess of Harleigh, rather impressive, don’t you think? She’s a widow now, sadly, but I’m fortunate she’s here to take me under her wing as I didn’t realize quite how much guidance I’d require.

You see, our mother set Frances on quite a grueling “How to be a lady” course, that lasted most of her unmarried life. When my turn came, I was not as good a student as my sister. Or perhaps not as willing a student. Well, the truth is, I completely rebelled. All the rules of etiquette seemed so silly but now I’m finding the British aristocracy take those rules very seriously.

Titles are a particular area of concern. My sister is Lady Harleigh because she was born plain Frances Price. Her good friend, Fiona Nash is Lady Fiona because she’s the daughter of an earl and thus, born a lady. How is one to know that? When I asked, Frances handed me a tome as thick as the bible, entitled Debrett’s Peerage. I’ve been here less than a week! I couldn’t possibly memorize it in such a short time. Which makes me grateful for one of those many etiquette rules—A young lady should never speak to anyone unless they’ve been introduced. While I find it uncomfortable standing next to someone without uttering a word simply because there’s no one to introduce us, it does save me from making the mistake of addressing him as Mister when he might be a Sir or a Lord or some other such personage. Continue reading “Lily Price on Etiquette  by Dianne Freeman”

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Introducing Frances Wynn by Dianne Freeman

Greetings from London, 1899. My name is Frances, Countess of Harleigh and I’m delighted to be sharing a bit about my life with you today.

You may be wondering how I, an American born in Akron, Ohio, became a Countess. The answer, quite simply, is that I owe it to my mother. A decade ago, while my father applied himself to the stock market, my mother, Violet Price set about working her way into New York Society, a daunting task to set oneself.

She failed miserably. The Knickerbocker set simply couldn’t abide the odor of new money. But when my mother heard of the success in London of Lillian Hammersley, Jennie Jerome, and many other girls, she contrived a new plan. She’d launch me onto London Society as the latest American heiress. The soul of efficiency, it took her less than a week to choose my future husband, Reginald Wynn, Earl of Harleigh.

My mother loved Reggie’s title and Reggie loved my money so I suppose one could call it a love match. I went along with the plan. I thought it would be great fun to marry a young, dashing lord. Indeed it was, until just after the wedding when my mother returned to New York, and Reggie returned to his friends and mistresses in town, and left me at the old pile—that’s what they call the ancient manor house.

Through the nine years of our marriage, Reggie remained constant—devoted to my dowry and unfaithful to me right up to the day he died. I never wished him any ill, he was the father of our daughter after all, but I couldn’t help but thrill at the prospect of freedom. Well, I did more than just shiver with excitement. During my mourning period, I made plans to move out on my own and away from my grasping in-laws. Reggie’s brother was the new earl and our arguments over money had become a daily ritual. But in just a few more days, I’ll have my own household.

Well, I won’t be entirely alone. My mother plans a return trip to her old hunting ground to bag another title for the family. After all, she considered my marriage a success, why not marry off my sister, Lily and make some other lord very wealthy. Continue reading “Introducing Frances Wynn by Dianne Freeman”