It’s another fabulous Friday and I’d like to welcome Anne Forsythe to my blog. So pull up a chair along with your favorite cup of tea and let’s chat with this extrodinary woman to learn a little more about her!
Interview with Anne Forsythe, a widow who lives in a house owned by the Earl of Chirbury in the village of Longford
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Rescuing my family, without a doubt, and establishing them here in Longford. I have not done it alone, of course. Dear Ruth has been with me every step of the way, and we were so lucky to find our servant, Hannah. She came as wet nurse to my daughter, Daisy, and has stayed to look after us all. She is a treasure.
I was only 18, you know, when we had to run. Ruth was not more than two years older. But we could not stay to let my uncle carry out his wicked plans. Fortunately, I had a little money—enough to get us all to London and to hide us for long enough… Well, suffice it to say that it was neither easy nor pleasant, but it worked. That is the important thing, is it not?
Then, when we came to Longford, Mr Baxter the land agent was very helpful, and the dear Rector and his wife, too. We have really been very fortunate.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? An evening at home with my family. We play games, or take turns in reading aloud, or we sing. I love to sit and listen to my sisters, Kitty and Ruth, singing. My own voice is nothing to speak of, but I believe that Daisy, my daughter, will have a very pretty voice when she is grown.
What is your current state of mind? I am content. We have a roof over our heads, food to put on the table, clothes to our backs. Many are not as fortunate. We, ourselves, went hungry to bed in that first year in Longford, when we were still learning to stretch every shilling. In another year, things will change again, but I do not believe we could be happier than we are now.
What is your favorite occupation? My sisters would tell you that I love best to organise things, and I fear there is some truth in that! Let me see. My favourite occupation. I like to sew. I enjoy cooking when our dear servant Hannah will let me. I love teaching; I teach three mornings a week at the local mill school.
I know! Archery. Archery is my favourite occupation. When I practice at the foot of the garden, or compete in the competitions… it is as if I am transported to another world. Nothing exists except the bow, the string, the arrow, the target. And the satisfaction of placing each arrow where I want it! There is nothing like it in the world.
What is your most treasured possession? I have a prayer book that was my mother’s. It is the only thing of hers that I have. There were a few pieces of jewellery—nothing valuable, but little things my poor brother let me have when I turned 17. They are all sold, gone to feed us in those first years. But I have my mother’s prayer book, and when I say my prayers at night, I feel so close to her.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? Do you mean romantic love? That is not for me. I hope my dear sister Kitty will one day find a husband she can love, and who will love her. But I am past the age, do you not think?
Oh. You are wondering about Mr Forsythe? I never speak of Daisy’s father. Did you have another question?
What is your most marked characteristic? Determination. I will do anything for my family, and will not danger or disapproval stand in my way.
When and where were you the happiest? I am now the happiest I have ever been. I am content.
What is it that you most dislike? Hypocrisy. I strongly dislike the way people can be nice before your eyes and yet claw at your reputation behind your back. I have often seen it in the village. I cannot abide mean-minded gossip, but I most dislike the kind of two-faced dissembling that often masks such nastiness from the victim.
What is your greatest fear? I fear having my sister Kitty taken from us. I believe the rest of us are safe. Dear Meg is not quite 21, but I think—I am almost certain—that my uncle would leave her to me. He wanted to put her away; he feared her, I think. Which is silly; she is the gentlest, sweetest creature. A child in the body of an adult. But I have seen that reaction in others. People can be very cruel to those who are different.
Still, I think that means Meg is safe. But Kitty… If my uncle finds us… I will not let it happen. If I must, I will take my family again, and start over somewhere else.
What is your greatest extravagance? You may laugh, but my greatest extravagance is good quality tea. Truly, if I never again have a thrice-steeped cup it will be too soon! Now that Ruth and I are both earning a few shillings, I always buy the best quality of tea I can. The village shop knows to stock it for me, and one of my great pleasures is to sit in the morning with our dear Hannah, before anyone else is awake, sipping tea by the kitchen fire.
Which living person do you most despise? Beyond a doubt, it is either my uncle or his son. I think my uncle, because he should have cared for the orphaned daughters of his brother, but he immediately tried to turn his guardianship to his own account. I hate it when people prey on the weak.
What is your greatest regret? I regret that I didn’t sleep with my sisters, or have them with me, the night that it all changed. If I had, my brother might yet be alive; I might have had my season; all might have been different. And yet… I am content, and my sisters are happy, I believe. Things would have been different, but who is to say they would have been better?
Which talent would you most like to have? To sing like Kitty? To play the pianoforte as well as Ruth? To be happy with little blessings like Meg? My sisters are the talented ones! What talent would I like for myself? Let me think… I know. I would like to be able to turn pebbles into gold. Wouldn’t that be a gift to treasure?
Where would you like to live? If I could, I would stay here in Longford. I know that Kitty must have her chance, and we’ll have to go to Bath, or perhaps Bristol, for that. Bath, I think. But if we can retain the tenancy on the cottage, I will always come back here. I feel part of the community here. We have been happy here.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Failing my sisters and my daughter. It is my duty and my delight to keep them safe, and to do that I must keep them hidden. I cannot fail. I cannot imagine any worse misery than knowing that they have been harmed because I failed.
What is the quality you most like in a man? Integrity. Someone who is true to their commitments all the way through to the bone. Sadly, few men seem to be like that.
What is the quality you most like in a woman? Loyalty.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Cowardice. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve wanted to just give up. But however hard it may be, I have to continue for the sake of Kitty and Meg—yes, and my daughter Daisy, too.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Hypocrisy. People should be open about what they want, and what they are doing. Little communities like ours—people can tear them apart if they are two-faced—if they say one thing to you and another behind your back.
What do you most value in your friends? Honesty. Friends should be honest with one another. And supportive. That’s important, too.
Who is your favorite hero or heroine of fiction? You will be shocked, but I have a great respect for Moll Flanders. Some of her choices were terrible, of course, and her early life immoral at best. But consider her disadvantages! Through it all, she was her own woman. She was brave and determined. I respect that.
Who are your heroes or heroines in real life? Ruth is my heroine. She is my best friend. She gave up everything to come with us, and she has stood by me through all the last seven years. Longer. She didn’t have to… my uncle could not have touched her. But she has been a rock. And the Rector’s wife, Mrs Ashbrook—all those children and she still finds time for everyone in need.
Which living person do you most admire? Mrs Ashbrook
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Meekness. I do not consider meekness a virtue at all. The Bible assures us that the meek will inherit the earth, but until that happy day, I think meekness merely encourages tyrants and bullies.
On what occasions do you lie? I do not like lies. I try to always be honest. But I will lie for my family. I have done so once before, and I would do so again if I had to. The safety and wellbeing of my daughter and my sisters–of my whole household—takes first place. If I can, I will simply avoid the truth. But a direct lie? Yes. Rarely, with reluctance, but yes.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I would like to be able to wave a magic wand and be more patient. Learning patience the long way, through all the frustrations of life… it is hard, and I seem to be a slow learner.
How would you like to die? I would like to die in my own bed, with my family around me, after a short illness that gives me time to say farewell to those I love.
What is your motto? Family first
A Baron for Becky ~ by Jude Knight
Release Date ~ August 5, 2015
Available now for pre-order
Becky is the envy of the courtesans of the demi-monde – the indulged mistress of the wealthy and charismatic Marquis of Aldridge. But she dreams of a normal life; one in which her daughter can have a future that does not depend on beauty, sex, and the whims of a man.
Finding herself with child, she hesitates to tell Aldridge. Will he cast her off, send her away, or keep her and condemn another child to this uncertain shadow world?
The devil-may-care face Hugh shows to the world hides a desperate sorrow; a sorrow he tries to drown with drink and riotous living. His years at war haunt him, but even more, he doesn’t want to think about the illness that robbed him of the ability to father a son. When he dies, his barony will die with him. His title will fall into abeyance, and his estate will be scooped up by the Crown.
When Aldridge surprises them both with a daring proposition, they do not expect love to be part of the bargain.
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Jude Knight Bio:
Jude Knight started writing fiction when she was still at school, but went on to spend many years as a commercial writer. In late December 2012, she came home from her mother’s funeral determined to finally achieve the dream her mother had always supported.
After more than a year collecting ideas, doing research, and creating plots and character sketches, she stopped procrastinating and started writing. Her first novella was published just before Christmas in 2014, and – to Jude’s awed surprise – hit several Amazon bestseller lists in both the US and the UK, at one point reaching the top 2 in the US and the very top in the UK. 2015 is the year of the novel, with one in April, one in August, and one in October. Jude is also part of a collaborative group of writers, the Blusetocking Belles, so watch for their boxed set just before Christmas 2015.
Jude chose 1 April as the launch date for Farewell to Kindness in honour of all the people who told her that she’d never achieve anything if she didn’t get her head out of a book.
In Jude’s books, you’ll find strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, and villains you’ll love to loathe. The novel plots tend towards the gothic, with a leavening of humour, and some insights into the similarities and differences between now and way back then.
Jude thinks her Mum would have liked them.