Love in the Afternoon (Hathaways, Book 5). Home · Love in the . Author: Lisa Kleypas. downloads Views KB Size Report. DOWNLOAD PDF. Author: Kleypas Lisa Love in the Afternoon (Hathaways, Book 5) · Read more · Love in the Afternoon (Hathaways, Book 5). Read more. About the book: Love in the Afternoon book. Author: Lisa Kleypas. Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks; First Edition edition. Publish date: (June.
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Read Love in the Afternoon read free novels online from your Mobile, Pc. Love in the Afternoon is a Romance novel by Lisa Kleypas. As a lover of animals and nature, Beatrix Hathaway has always Lisa-Kleypas- medical-site.info MB. View PDF. Download Add to My . Read Love in the Afternoon (The Hathaways, #5) Book PDF. Love in the Afternoon continues the Hallaways series by Victorian romance author Lisa Kleypas.
The letters. I love romances that involve letters, tho of course the letters must be well written and convey the right emotions and have the right pace to move the story along. This is definitely one of those cases.
I was in love with the book within the first few chapters because of the letters. Heck, if I got those letters from Christopher, I'd be in love with him too! So many wonderful gems of humor. I absolutely love Beatrice for these reasons, probably why Christopher loves her too Still one of my all-time favs.
Perhaps I haven't read this author in recent years because none of her later works could top this one. Still hoping she'll find that magic again one of these days! Everyone knows your family is. I don't want it to be over. As far as ending a series goes this book was great, but I really am not ready to let go of my Hathaways. I am abnormally attached to this series and this fictional family. Sons, brothers, fathers. The man you knew is gone for good, and I fear you may not like his replacement nearly so well.
Recently Mr. Now it appears the mare has conceived, and a feud is raging between Caird, who demands financial compensation, and Mawdsley, who insists that had the pasture fencing been in better repair, the clandestine meeting would never have occurred.
Worse still, it has been suggested that the mare is a shameless lightskirt and did not try nearly hard enough to preserve her virtue. Pru being the shallow person she was decided she wouldn't write Mr. Phelan back since he wrote about ugly and boring things that she cared nothing for.
Bea ask to see the letter as it spoke of a dog the Captain found. While reading the letter her heart ached for the once shallow Captain who was much changed and hurting from all the ugliness of war. So she ask Pru if she could write him to try to help cheer him up and sign it as Pru. Pru agreed but didn't much care either way.
What started out as kind gesture turns into deep feelings of love. When Captain Phelan returns from war will he find out that it wasn't Pru writing him? Will he hate Bea for tricking him? You must give yourself enough time to get better. I loved all her little quirks.
She had a true love for animals and nature. She was outspoken, opinionated, and a little wild. Bea had a sense of humor and she was very sweet. I love the way Bea was with Christopher. I loved that she would use her dog training voice on him. Christopher I loved at first. Then I got a little pissed at him. Then I loved him again so uh yeah! Me and Christopher had a up and down relationship. I ached for all he went through in war, but when he first got home he would act rude or judgmental to Bea and it made me want to thump him.
I love that when he realized it was Bea that had wrote the letters that he told her it was her he loved. I also loved that he wanted her before he knew she wrote the letters.
And I had to. I felt as if it had been written for me. It was only supposed to be once. But then you wrote back, and I let myself answer just once more. The rest of it was real. If you believe nothing else, please believe that.
Would you really have let me marry Prudence? If she was the one you wanted. And then beginning to see them in you. Bea was able to heal his battered soul and bring him peace. Christopher was able to accept and love Bea for who she was. He made her feel safe. I want to say that I hated Pru with a deep passion.
I wanted her suffer. She was such a selfish, shallow, air headed bitch that every time she showed up in this book I wanted to scream. I was glad that Bea stole Christopher from Pru. I wish she would have did worse. I know, I'm mean. Sorry not sorry! I loved how the series wrapped up. Love seeing all the other couples and their growing families. It has been a really long time since I got a book hangover, but I have one now. I finished this book yesterday and put off writing the review because I wasn't ready for it to be over.
Now I feel like I am having Lisa Kleypas withdrawal. I can't believe there will be no more Hathaways. How will I know if they have more babies????? I loved every moment of this series, loved this family , and I love Lisa Kleypas. She wears breeches, and references Greek philosophers, and has read far too many veterinary manuals. I know that she keeps the kinds of pets that other people pay to have exterminated. I know that she is compassionate, intelligent, and brave, and the only thing she truly fears is being abandoned.
And I would never do that, because I happen to love her to distraction. View all 72 comments. Dec 14, peachygirl rated it it was amazing Shelves: Give me a dozen more Hathaways and it still won't be enough! Love in the Afternoon is just as good as the other books in the series. Of all the Hathaways, Beatrice has always been quirkier and bit of a wild child. And that reflects in her love story too. Her relationship with Christopher has its rough patches, but for the most part, these two were compatible and for a Hathaway, that's saying something.
Her devotion to animals, her family and Christopher in the same order; Although there could b Give me a dozen more Hathaways and it still won't be enough!
Her devotion to animals, her family and Christopher in the same order; Although there could be a tie between her beau and family is so darn sweet. Wish this lovely series never ended. May 27, Juliana Philippa rated it it was amazing Shelves: Absolutely delightful and to my surprise my favorite Hathaway book Lisa Kleypas' latest novel is absolutely delightful; she has woven a wonderful and rich tale of love, and has done so with a great deal of skill and depth.
I've been a great fan of the Hathaway clan and their stories, but for some reason was never very interested in Beatrix's. The sneak preview at the end of Married by Morning completely changed my opinion and I was ecstatic to only have to wait a month Prudence finds the letter boring and tedious and has no intention of replying.
Beatrix has no great fondness for the man: However reading his letter makes her feel an odd connection to the man who has written it and when Prudence refuses to write him back and urges Beatrix to pretend to be her and write a response, Beatrix decides that she will.
After all, he's in a war zone and he's found a dog with behavioral issues One letter becomes two, which become three, and before she knows it, they are exchanging what almost amount to love letters. What started out as a desire to help has turned into something completely unexpected, and Beatrix feels guilt over the kept-up pretension that Prudence is the one writing the letters and is conflicted with love for this man whom before she only felt dislike for.
When Christopher returns a war hero, hailed by all society and having newly inherited substantial property, Prudence becomes interested in him once again and though their friendship ends with difficult parting words, both she and Beatrix agree that neither will reveal the truth to Christopher and the masquerade will continue. Christopher comes home a broken man, having survived two years of intense war and now forced to deal with the reality of his older brother's death. He has changed from the foolish, vain, and shallow society-darling he used to be.
The one thing that has kept him going through all the difficulties has been the thought of "Prudence," the woman he's been exchanging letters with. She is in London when he finally feels ready to reengage with the world, but before he is able to leave and see her he has several encounters with his neighbor Beatrix Hathaway - who is annoying, frustrating, contrary, odd He remains committed to meeting the woman of his dreams though - the woman who wrote him such beautiful letters and whom he is determined to marry.
He therefore travels to London to meet this paragon and is confused when, after spending some time with Prudence, he finds it increasingly difficult to believe that she is the woman behind his treasured letters. If not she, however, then who? Was it all a game, some prank that was being played on him?
And if it is the woman whom he has begun to suspect After everything he's been through and done in this horrible war, will he ever truly be happy? Love in the Afternoon tackles the very serious issue of the difficult war experiences soldiers have and what we now refer to as PTSD. Christopher and Beatrix both feel like outsiders; they watch others at a distance and feel their difference when compared to the rest of society.
Christopher has changed so much and bears so much guilt, sadness, and despair, that he is no longer sure where - or if - he fits in. Beatrix has always been unusual - even for a Hathaway! To not have to wait till the last page for both people to say "I love you"? Now that's just MasterCard priceless. A lot of times with romances, we're hankering at the end for more of the happily-ever after and have to content ourselves with the epilogue, if the author is kind enough to include one.
Once they're "together," all the exchanges between them read so smoothly that it feels like they've been together forever, understand each other extremely well, and best of all - you've had a front row seat to the whole thing! Don't get me wrong - although there is not as much going on as early in the book as Kleypas usually writes, the chemistry and tension between Beatrix and Christopher is fabulous throughout.
Their connection also has a deep emotional and almost spiritual quality, which is often hard to find in romance books and I'm sure even harder to write, so hats off to you, Lisa! The way that Christopher talks about Beatrix - both the letter-writer and the woman - will have you swooning and grinning like a madwoman.
Her passion and feelings for him are equally intense and OTHER This truly is a fabulous book - the two main characters are intriguing and complex and their relationship comes alive within these pages. Also, there were thankfully no errant murderers on the loose, no gun-crazed kidnappers, no evil almost-mothers-in-law who try to pawn off the unwanted heroine on a possible rapist who ends up being a hero in another book I love St.
Vincent as much as the next Kleypas fan, so before you revolt, that was not a slight towards him! There's a little surprise twist at the end, but in this case it was not at all superfluous and helps deal with one of the big issues that has been dominating the entire book.
That the masquerade doesn't continue on until the end, but is instead revealed far before that, was simply perfect in my mind. Christopher and Beatrix have already fallen in love with another through words on a page, but for a real relationship to work they also have to deal with the actual human being and everything out in the open. Kleypas realizes this, and as a result, doesn't make the letter-writing charade the central figure, but instead truly makes it a love story about Christopher and Beatrix finding one another, both literally and figuratively.
View all 5 comments. Gosh I just fell in love with this wonderful story!!! Beatrix is the Hathaway sister I wanted to read about the most, and her story was so wonderful! Exceeded my expectations. And I love a wounded hero. If you haven't been reading Lisa Kleypas, I honestly don't know what you're doing with your life.
View all 7 comments. Why in the world would you want to read this book? Actually, it reminds me of my slightly crazy family and it made me smile so big. No, mum, I'm not saying we are crazy. Sort of. Afraid to face a dull lady? Try independent, peculiar haha , strong-minded. Oh, and you have to know that Bea has a thing: Like, every each of them, despite the misfortunes she's going through because of them sometimes: Do I need to add something? That's what I thought.
What I didn't tell you was the fact that Beatrix and Christopher meet under strange circumstances: Does Prudence want to answer him? Naaaah , of course she doesn't, because balls and gown you know?
So, what could Beatrix do? Let this lonely soldier losing hope? Of course not! As an altruist woman as she is, she answered. Now, that is quite awesome for an historical - and for a romance in general, actually. I'm such a fan of this dog. In a word: Perhaps afterward we could manage a coherent discussion.
This story was the best!!! It has love letters and I knew that I would love Beatrix and Christopher to pieces I was mulling over my rating but this book decides it. If you don't you aren't part of the cool crowd. The cool crowd reads AMyzing books disregarding hype or lack thereof.
Oh yeah! Kat Valentine Awesome review! Oct 20, Didi rated it really liked it Shelves: What a sweet story! Beatrix Hathaway finally gets her own happily ever after. Of all the Hathaways, Bea has always been the most peculiar, in a good way! In tune with nature and all its creatures, she was a compassionate, loyal, patient and loving woman. I loved seeing her fall for someone and desire a future similar to her siblings.
Captain Christopher Phelan was a man changed by war. His despair and anguish over all he'd seen and done was palpable. I felt his pain, it was so severe at times an What a sweet story! I felt his pain, it was so severe at times and broke my heart.
Beatrix was perfect for him, a soothing presence that understood his issues and changes. A changed man coming home, Christopher saw in Bea a miracle, a woman he loved fiercely and it was so sweet. I loved seeing the family for the last time, Leo was as hilarious as ever, and such a wonderful brother. The letters exchanged between Bea and Christopher were touching and filled with longing, reading them moved me.
I'm so glad Prudence got what she deserved, she turned out to be an awful friend, motivated by jealousy and greed. This was as all of LK's books I've read, written with perfection. Have you noticed all her characters are acutely different? You can feel each one's personality as a tangible thing.
Some authors seem to write varying characters in a similar manner. Regardless of the number of books written you could sometimes easily insert any character names and it would be the same. Not LK. Even several books into a series, the specific character nuances are there, everyone being a distinct and fascinating person all their own. I can't say enough about her and her writing except she's unbelievably fantastic and my favorite author.
This is the end of the series for me and despite the bittersweet feelings going through me, I'm glad all the beautiful Hathaways found their true love. My favorites in this series will always be Seduced at Sunrise and Married by Morning. Anyways, goodbye Hathaways! View all 21 comments. Jan 10, Treece rated it really liked it Shelves: Can't believe I read the whole thing. Pride and Prejudice meets Cyrano de Bergerac meets Dr. Doolittle etc etc You get the picture. The big picture is that I loved this story.
Captain Christopher Phelan is divine, damaged and dangerous. Beatrix Hathaway is unconventional, compassionate and refreshing. The way this couple is brought together through letters and Fate appealed to the romance lover in me. I enjoyed how Christoper unraveled the threads and clues, stumbling Rating: I enjoyed how Christoper unraveled the threads and clues, stumbling his way into the world of the Hathaways. And Beatrix's pets were as adorable as she was.
The predictable turns at the end are why this didn't make the 5 star mark for me. But hey, it still was a thrill. I loved every moment of this story, and this pairing.
So much so that although this is book five, I have decided to back track to read book one in the series. It was also nice to gain glimpses of some of The Wallflower's universe and characters too. Another superb book by Lisa Kleypas, and worth every minute. View all 4 comments.
Nov 06, Dina rated it really liked it Shelves: This was great ending to the delicious Hathaways series, but I didn't like the ending. What I didn't like was the somewhat "manipulative" way Ms.
Kleypas left some secondary characters' fate hanging, as if she was staging the set for a new series. Other than that, I have no complains. May 14, Hollis rated it really liked it Shelves: This review can also be found at Romantic Historical Reviews.
Well this is it, readers. With the completion of Love in the Afternoon , we've reached the end of our my journey with the Hathaways. This is goodbye to one of the most wonderful, hilarious, and precious fictional families I've ever had the pleasure to read about. And it — thankfully — ends on quite the high note. As you probably know from my string of Retro Reviews over the last few weeks, the Hathaways are a group of unconventional si This review can also be found at Romantic Historical Reviews.
As you probably know from my string of Retro Reviews over the last few weeks, the Hathaways are a group of unconventional siblings. A series of unfortunate events left Leo, the eldest and sole male, with a viscountcy which neither he nor his sisters were prepared for.
More scholarly than suitable for London society, after six years they had more or less settled into as much respectability as would ever be afforded them. This was helped by marriages to wealthy or accomplished men — only half of whom were even more unconventional than the siblings themselves, even if they were all scandalous enough to marry for love instead of rank — and friendships with many highly respected peers.
But the youngest of the Hathaways, and the most darling, is Beatrix; she had more or less resigned herself to spinsterhood as the years passed and her siblings increased their broods, while showing no signs of finding anyone who would love her, much less tolerate her and her preoccupation with collecting and tending to wounded or unappreciated creatures.
That is, of course, until her friend finds herself in a rather unwanted correspondence with a soldier at the front. The second son of a local family distinguished by a significant fortune, Christopher Phelan is good looking, unburdened by the need to inherit which allowed him to download a commission , and is a favourite amongst the London ladies. The Rifle Brigade is an unusual band of soldiers, selected from other regiments and trained to use their own initiative on the front lines to pick off the enemy that were usually beyond range.
Christopher's skills and formidable leadership earned him a Captaincy but two years on the front has left him physically and emotionally scarred, haunted by the loss of friends and compatriots. The only bright spot has been the letters sent to him by his sweetheart back home; a woman who had been beautiful and flirtatious in their brief acquaintance prior to his leaving but has shown remarkable depths over the course of their correspondence.
A woman he has fallen hopelessly in love with. That is until he receives a final letter from her saying she isn't who he believes her to be. Twisted up inside about the very out of character deception she's been part of, Beatrix both longs for and dreads Christopher's return from the war.
She hates that she's kept her true identity from him for so long, and hates even more that she's abandoned him, having felt obliged to promise her friend she will never reveal the truth about his correspondent despite the fact that Prudence is shallow and selfish and only interested in the man, now a war hero, for the trappings of his heroism and good looks. And Christopher knows only that he loves the woman who signed the letters, who made him feel so much despite being so out of reach, which makes his fascination with Beatrix Hathaway, a girl he once called a peculiar creature, a girl he finds totally unconventional and not at all appealing rather odd.
Why does he long for her, why does every moment spent with Prudence convince him she couldn't have written those words to him; words that he memorized, words that kept him warm, kept him sane, kept him hopeful for a future after the darkness of war.
I was so, so here for this brand of storytelling. Not only am I a sucker for written communications between lovers, but I loved that Christopher has this total character change as a result of his hardships.
His experiences have left him traumatized, quick to flinch or rage, tormented by nightmares, and he is the perfect specimen for Beatrix to perform her magic on. The only part that doesn't feel as strong is when Christopher finally discovers the truth. His reaction is rage and violence, not directed towards anyone, but still, it's somewhat extreme. And then.. We already know he loves Beatrix, and she loves him, but the shift is startling after his reaction to the deception, and I think it might have worked better had the author skipped the middling part altogether and just transitioned right into the joy of discovery.
Though I suppose the lack of drama may have disappointed some readers. This pairing doesn't have the bickering hate-to-love of the previous couple and is instead a battle of the wills, which is almost just as delicious. These two are both alphas and watching them compromise, debate who is to yield and what is to give, is both hilarious and sweet. It's so refreshing to have that all out in the open and I loved it.
Christopher is ever resistant to Beatrix but his reasons for it are founded in self-awareness. He knows he's damaged, he knows he can only offer so much, and he loves her too much to consign her to what he believes will be less than she deserves. Thankfully she is a Hathaway and sets him straight. There's a surprising twist at the end that I liked but I felt was a little rushed. Ultimately though, it just reinforces the overall theme of healing and nurturing that Beatrix embodies. She's such a fabulous character, accepting every person for who they are, being patient, observing carefully what they need.
She's strong, capable and smart, but it's Christopher who sees that what keeps her apart from others is insecurity. Rescued animals will not abandon her because they need her as much as she needs them. The very way Christopher needs her. She's his anchor, his port in the storm, even as she pushes him to talk through what haunts him, the darkness he still carries, even as she tries to convince him he will never hurt her.
They are both so strong-willed yet neither of them can do without the other. As this is the last of The Hathaway series, I can't end this review without reiterating everything I've said before.
I love these characters, I love this family, and it made me so happy to see the ease with which they all interacted and loved one another. I especially loved that Kleypas made a point of showing how well Christopher already fit with them and leaves us to imagine how they'd all get along in the years to come. Because while it was easy to root for these delightful eccentric siblings to find love, those they were matched with were as deserving of happiness as the Hathaways themselves.
So many were like Beatrix's discarded creatures; so many needed a home, needed love, needed family. And there's nothing quite so magical for a reader as feeling as though you've occupied a place among them, too.
Even if only for a little while. This will come as no surprise but I highly recommend this book, and this series, and even as I say goodbye, it's comforting to know that I have so much more Kleypas to discover. Jul 30, Leah rated it really liked it Shelves: This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It all started with a letter For all intents and purposes, Captain Christopher Phelan was a rake. He liked to drink, party, and he joined the army because he thought it was "cool.
Beatrix Hathaway has always been an animal lover, and that passion carried over to humans. She looked at everyone with compassion, and so, when faced with the rather desperate letter of a lonely military officer, there was choice but to write back In light of her f It all started with a letter In light of her friend Prudence Mercer's refusal to respond to Christopher's letter, Beatrix undertakes the job.
Over a period of time, the letters go from friendly correspondence to love letters. The two come to care for each other; they fall in love. Except there's one problem: While Beatrix knows she's writing to Christopher, he thinks that Prudence Mercer is the woman he loves.
Before her heart can be completely and utterly broken, Beatrix ends the correspondence. Many months later, Christopher finally returns home, but is conspicuously absent in society. Until one day when Beatrix finds his dog, Albert, roaming in the forest and she runs into Christopher.
They don't get off to a good start, but the next day, due to the urging of his sister-in-law, Christopher goes to Ramsay House and apologizes to Beatrix, and the seeds of friendship are planted. A couple weeks later, Christopher resolves to go to London to find Prudence, who he believes he is in love with.
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Five cavalry regiments were mowed down without support. Two hundred men and nearly four hundred horses lost in twenty minutes. More fighting on the fifth of November, at Inkerman. We went to rescue soldiers stranded on the field before the Russians could reach them.
Albert went out with me under a storm of shot and shell, and helped to identify the wounded so we could carry them out of range of the guns. My closest friend in the regiment was killed. Please thank your friend Beatrix for her advice about Albert. His biting is less frequent, and he never goes for me, although he's taken a few nips at visitors to the tent. May and October, the best-smelling months?
I'll make a case for December: As for your favorite song. It seems nearly everyone here has fallen prey to some kind of illness except for me.
I've had no symptoms of cholera nor any of the other diseases that have swept through both divisions. I feel I should at least feign some kind of digestive problem for the sake of decency. Regarding the donkey feud: Mules are more surefooted than horses, generally healthier, and best of all, they have very expressive ears.
And they're not unduly stubborn, as long they're managed well. If you wonder at my apparent fondness for mules, I should probably explain that as a boy, I had a pet mule named Hector, after the mule mentioned in the Iliad.
I wouldn't presume to ask you to wait for me, Pru, but I will ask that you write to me again. I've read your last letter more times than I can count. Somehow you're more real to me now, two thousand miles away, than you ever were before. Ever yours, Christopher P. Sketch of Albert included 26 As Beatrix read, she was alternately concerned, moved, and charmed out of her stockings.
Please, Pru. I'll show it to you before I send it. Oh, very well, write to him again if it amuses you. She slipped the letter from Christopher Phelan into her pocket. A metallic handle. Blanching, she realized that she had unintentionally taken the shaving brush from Christopher's dresser.
Her problem was back. Somehow Beatrix managed to keep smiling and chatting calmly with Prudence, while inside she was filled with turmoil. Every now and then when Beatrix was nervous or worried, she pocketed some small object from a shop or residence.
She had done it ever since her parents had died. Sometimes she wasn't at all aware she had taken something, whereas at other times the compulsion was so irresistible that she began to perspire and tremble until she finally gave in.
Stealing the objects was never any trouble at all. It was only returning them that presented difficulties. Beatrix and her family had always managed to restore the objects to their proper places. But it had, on occasion, required extreme measures--paying calls at improper times of the day, or inventing wild excuses to roam through someone's house--that had only fortified the Hathaways' reputation for eccentricity. She could do it the next time she visited Audrey.
Beatrix took the cue without hesitation. It's time for me to go home and attend to some chores. One Rifle officer was said to have been bayoneted. It wasn't you, was it? Are you injured? I'm so afraid for you. And I'm so sorry that your friend was killed. We are decorating for the holidays, hanging holly and mistletoe. I am enclosing a Christmas card done by a local artist.
Note the tassel and string at the bottom--when you pull it, the merrymaking gentlemen on theleft will quaff their goblets of wine. I love the old familiar carols. I love the sameness of every Christmas. I love eating the plum pudding even though I don't really like plum pudding. There is comfort in ritual, isn't there?
Albert looks like a lovely dog, perhaps not outwardly a gentleman, but inside a loyal and soulful fellow. I worry that something's happened to you. I hope you are safe. I light a candle for you on the tree every night. Answer me as soon as you're able. Sincerely, Prudence P. I share your affection for mules. Very unpretentious creatures who never boast of their ancestry. One wishes certain people would be a bit more mulish in that regard.
How did you guess? It happened as we were climbing a hill to overtake a battery of Russian guns. It was a minor shoulder wound, certainly not worth reporting. There was a storm on the fourteenth of November that wrecked the camps and sank French and British ships in the harbor. More loss of life, and unfortunately most of the winter supplies and equipment are gone.
I believe this is what is known as "rough campaigning. Last night I dreamed of food. Ordinarily I dream of you, but last night I'm sorry to say that you were eclipsed by lamb with mint sauce. It is bitterly cold. I am now sleeping with Albert. We're a pair of surly bedfellows, but we're both willing to endure it in the effort to keep from freezing to death.
Albert has become indispensable to the company--he carries messages under fire and runs much faster than a man can. He's also an excellent sentry and scout. Here are a few things I've learned from Albert Any food is fair game until it is actually swallowed by someone else. Take a nap whenever you can. Don't bark unless it's important. Chasing one's tail is sometimes unavoidable.
I hope your Christmas was splendid. Thank you for the card--it reached me on the twenty-fourth of December, and it was passed all around my company, most of them never having seen a Christmas card before.
Before it was finally handed back to me, the cardboard gentlemen attached to the tassel had done a great deal of quaffing. I also like the word "quaff. Here's one for you: Or "nidifice," a nest. Has Mr. Caird's mare given birth yet? Perhaps I'll ask my brother to make an offer. One never knows when one might need a good mule. Dear Christopher, It feels far too prosaic to send a letter by post. I wish I could find a 30 more interesting way.
I would tie a little scroll to a bird's leg, or send you a message in a bottle. However, in the interest ofefficiency, I'll have to make do with the Royal Mails. I have just read in the Times that you have been involved in yet more heroics. Why must you take such risks? The ordinary duty of a soldier is dangerous enough. Have a care for your safety, Christopher--for my sake if not your own.
My request is entirely selfish. I could not bear for your letters to stop coming. I'm so far away, Pru. I'm standing outside my own life and looking in.
Amid all this brutality, I have discovered the simple pleasures of petting a dog, reading a letter, and staring at the night sky. Tonight I almost thought I saw the ancient constellation named Argo.
You're not supposed to be able to see Argo unless you're in Australia, but still, I was almost certain I had a glimpse of it. I beg you to forget what I wrote before: I do want you to wait for me. Don't marry anyone before I come home. Wait for me. Dear Christopher, This is the perfume of March: Every morning and afternoonI drink fresh mint tea sweetened with honey.
I've done a great deal of walking lately. I seem to think better outdoors. Last night was remarkably clear. I looked up at the sky to find the Argo. I'm terrible at constellations. I can never make out any of them except for Orion and his belt. But the longer I stared, the more the sky seemed like an ocean, and then I saw an entire fleet of ships made of stars.
A flotilla was anchored at the moon, while others were casting off. I imagined we were on one of those ships, sailing on moonlight. In truth, I find the ocean unnerving. Too vast. I much prefer the forests around Stony Cross. They're always fascinating, and full of commonplace miracles.
I wish you could see them with me. And together we would listen to the wind rushing through the leaves overhead, a lovely swooshy melody. As I sit here writing to you, I have propped my stocking feet much too close to the hearth. I've actually singed my stockings on occasion, and once I had to stomp out my feet when they started smoking.
Even after that, I still can't seem to rid myself of the habit. There, now you could pick me out of a 31 crowd blindfolded. Simply follow the scent of scorched stockings. Enclosed is a robin's feather that I found during my walk this morning. It's for luck. Keep it in your pocket. Just now I had the oddest feeling while writing this letter, as if you were standing in the room with me.
As if my pen had become a magic wand, and I had conjured you right here. If I wish hard enough. Dearest Prudence, I have the robin's feather in my pocket. How did you know I needed a token to carry into battle? For the past two weeks I've been in a rifle pit, sniping back and forth with the Russians. It's no longer a cavalry war, it's all engineers and artillery. Albert stayed in the trench with me, only going out to carry messages up and down the line. During the lulls, I try to imagine being in some other place.
I imagine you with your feet propped near the hearth, and your breath sweet with mint tea. I imagine walking through the Stony Cross forests with you.
I would love to see some commonplace miracles, but I don't think I could find them without you. I need your help, Pru. I think you might be my only chance of becoming part of the world again. I feel as if I have more memories of you than I actually do. I was with you on only a handful of occasions. A dance. A conversation. A kiss. I wish I could relive those moments. I would appreciate them more. I would appreciate everything more. Last night I dreamed of you again. I couldn't see your face, but I felt you near me.
You were whispering to me. The last time I held you, I didn't know who you truly were. Or who I was, for that matter. We never looked beneath the surface. Perhaps it's better we didn't--I don't think I could have left you, had I felt for you then what I do now. I'll tell you what I'm fighting for.
Not for England, nor her allies, nor any patriotic cause. It's all come down to the hope of being with you. Dear Christopher, You've made me realize that words are the most important things in the world. And never so much as now. The moment Audrey gave me your last letter, my heart started beating faster, and I had to run to my secret house to read it in private. I haven't yet told you. It was on a distant portion of the Stony Cross estate that belongs to Lord Westcliff.
Later when I asked Lady Westcliff 32 about it, she said that keeping a secret house was a local custom in medieval times. The lord of the manor might have used it as a place to keep his mistress.
Once a Westcliff ancestor actually hid there from his own bloodthirsty retainers. Lady Westcliff said I could visit the secret house whenever I wanted, since it has long been abandoned. I go there often. It's my hiding place, my sanctuary. I've just lit a candle and set it in a window.
A very tiny lodestar, for you to follow home. Dearest Prudence, Amid all the noise and men and madness, I try to think of you in your secret house.
And my lodestar in the window. The things one has to do in war. I thought it would all become easier as time went on. And I'm sorry to say I was right. I fear for my soul. The things I have done, Pru. The things I have yet to do. If I don't expect God to forgive me, how can I ask you to? Dear Christopher, Love forgives all things. You don't even need to ask. Ever since you wrote to me about the Argos, I've been reading about stars. We've loads of books about them, as the subject was of particular interest to my father.
Aristotle taught that stars are made of a different matter than the four earthly elements--a quintessence--that also happens to be what the human psyche is made of. Which is why man's spirit corresponds to the stars. Perhaps that's not a very scientific view, but I do like the idea that there's a little starlight in each of us. I carry thoughts of you like my own personal constellation. How far away you are, dearest friend, but no farther than those fixed stars in my soul.
Dear Pru, We're settling in for a long siege. It's uncertain as to when I'll have the chance to write again. This is not my last letter, only the last for a while.
Do not doubt that I am coming back to you someday. Until I can hold you in my arms, these worn and ramshackle words are the only way to reach you. What a poor translation of love they are. Words could never do justice to you, or capture what you mean to me. I love you. I swear by the starlight. I will not leave this earth until you hear those words from me. She didn't realize she was crying until she felt the stroke of a breeze against her wet cheeks.
The muscles of her face ached as she tried to compose herself. He had written to her on the thirtieth of June, without knowing she had written to him on the same day. One couldn't help but take that as a sign. She hadn't experienced such a depth of bitter loss, of agonized longing, since her parents had died.
It was a different kind of grief, of course, but it carried the same flavor of hopeless need. What have I done? She, who had always gone through life with unsparing honesty, had carried out an unforgivable deception. And the truth would only make matters worse. If Christopher Phelan ever discovered that she had written to him under false pretenses, he would despise her. And if he never found out, Beatrix would always be "the girl who belonged in the stables. How had these feelings crept up on her?
Good God, she could hardly remember what Christopher Phelan looked like, and yet her heart was breaking over him. Worst of all, it was entirely likely that Christopher's declarations had been inspired by the hardships of wartime. This Christopher she knew from the letters. Nothing good would come of this situation. She had to put a stop to it. She could not pretend to be Prudence any longer. It wasn't fair to any of them, especially Christopher. Beatrix walked home slowly.
As she entered Ramsay House, she encountered Amelia, who was taking her young son Rye outside. Rye is going to ride his pony.
Every member of her family was quick to include her in their lives. They were all extraordinarily generous in that regard. And yet she sensed herself being cast, incrementally and inexorably, as the spinster aunt.
She felt eccentric and alone. A misfit, like the animals she kept. Her mind made a disjointed leap, summoning recollections of the men she had met during dances and dinners and soirees. She had never lacked for 34 male attention. Perhaps she should encourage one of them, just pick a likely candidate for attachment and be done with it.
Perhaps having her own life was worth being married to a man she didn't love. But that would be another form of misery. Her fingers slipped into the pocket of her dress to touch the letter from Christopher Phelan.
The feel of the parchment, which he had folded, caused her stomach to tighten with a hot, pleasurable pang. Is something troubling you, dear? Phelan's illness. According to Audrey, he has taken a turn for the worse. If I fill a basket with plum brandy and blancmange, will you take it to them? I'll go later this afternoon.
She would write to Christopher one last time, something impersonal, a gentle withdrawal. Better that than to continue deceiving him. Carefully she uncapped the inkwell and dipped her pen, and began to write.
Dear Christopher, As much as I esteem you, dear friend, it would be unwise for either of us to be precipitate while you are still away. You have my earnest wishes for your well-being and safety. However, I think it best that any mention of more personal feelings between us should be delayed until you return. In fact, it is probably best that we end our correspondence. With each sentence, it became more difficult to make her fingers work properly.
The pen trembled in her fierce grip, and she felt her tears well again. It literally hurt to write such lies. Her throat had gone nearly too tight to breathe. She decided that before she could finish it, she would write the truth, the letter she longed to send to him, and then destroy it.
Breathing with effort, Beatrix snatched another piece of paper and hastily wrote a few lines, only for her eyes, hoping it would ease the intense pain that had clamped around her heart. Dearest Christopher, 35 I can't write to you again. Beatrix's eyes blurred.
Setting the page aside, she returned to her original letter and finished it, expressing her wishes and prayers for his safe return. As for the love letter, she crumpled it and shoved it into the drawer.
Later she would burn it in her own private ceremony, and watch every heartfelt word burn to ashes. She carried a substantial basket weighted with the brandy and blancmange, a round of mild white cheese, and a small "homely cake," dry and bare of icing, only slightly sweet.
Whether or not the Phelans needed such items didn't matter nearly so much as the gesture itself. Amelia had urged Beatrix to ride to the Phelan home in a carriage or cart, as the basket was a bit unwieldy. However, Beatrix wanted the exertion of walking, hoping it would help to calm her troubled spirits. She set her feet to a steady rhythm, and drew the early-summer air into her lungs. This is the smell of June, she wanted to write to Christopher. By the time she reached her destination, both her arms ached from having held the basket for so long.
The house, dressed in thick ivy, resembled a man huddling in his overcoat. Beatrix felt prickles of apprehension as she went to the front door and knocked. She was ushered inside by a solemn-faced butler who relieved her of the basket and showed her to the front receiving room. The house seemed overheated, especially after her walk.
Beatrix felt a bloom of perspiration emerge beneath the layers of her walking dress and inside her sturdy ankle boots. Audrey entered the room, thin and untidy, her hair half up, half down. She was wearing an apron with dark ruddy blotches on it. As Audrey met Beatrix's concerned gaze, she attempted a wan smile.
But you're one of the few people I don't have to maintain appearances for. I told the butler to pour a glass of the plum brandy and give it to Mrs. She's taken to her bed. A matter of days, the doctor says. Audrey flinched and raised her hands defensively. I can't be touched. I'll break into pieces. I have to be strong for John.
Let's talk quickly. I have only a few minutes. At least for an hour. But I can't let anyone else sit with him. It has to be me. I don't think she wants companionship, however. It was all for John. Like your family. But for others it's a limited resource.
Phelan's love is all poured out. She had just enough for her husband and John. Nothing seems important at the moment. From Pru. I'll send it along with a letter about John's condition. He'll want to know. Poor Christopher. It would be the worst possible time to distance herself from Christopher. On the other hand, perhaps it would be the best time. One small injury inflicted simultaneously with a far greater one.
Audrey watched the play of emotion on her face. Prudence is in London at this very moment, attending balls and soirees and all those silly, trivial events of the season. She couldn't have written that letter. And why is it that you're always the one delivering and fetching letters? Because of what she has written to him. And if I end up with that ninnyhead as a sister-inlaw, Bea, it will be your fault.
But I rather doubt the results will be. Filled with compassion, the Hathaways considered how best they could help the bereaved women. Ordinarily it would have fallen to Leo, the lord of the manor, to call on the Phelans and offer his services. However, Leo was in London, as Parliament was still in session. Currently a political debate was raging over the incompetence and indifference that had resulted in the Crimean troops being so appallingly ill supported and badly supplied.
It was decided that Merripen, Win's husband, would go to the Phelan home on behalf of the family. No one had any expectation that he would be received, since the mourners would undoubtedly be too grief-stricken to speak with anyone. However, Merripen would deliver a letter to offer any manner of assistance that might be needed.
Or ask if perhaps she wants someone to sit with her. Having been raised with the Hathaways since boyhood, Merripen was very much like a brother to all of them. I'll give it to the servants. She went to her desk and pulled out her writing papers and pens, and reached for the top of the inkwell.
Her hand froze in midair as she saw the half-crumpled letter in the drawer. It was the polite, distancing letter she had written to Christopher Phelan.
It had never been sent. Beatrix went cold all over, her knees threatening to give out from beneath her. She must have given Audrey the wrong letter. The unsigned one that had started with "I can't write to you again. She tried to calm her buzzing thoughts enough to think.
Had the letter been posted yet?