|Books with Welsh love spoons, and a traditional Welsh blanket|
by Stephanie Twyst, Duchess of Chellingworth - aided and abetted by Cathy Ace, author of The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries
THE CASE OF THE UNSUITABLE SUITOR
is shortlisted for this year's Bony Blithe Award
for Best Canadian Light Mystery!
Hello there – my name’s Stephanie Twyst. Nice to meet you. Welcome to our wonderful library here, at Chellingworth Hall. May I pour you some tea?
How should you refer to me? How kind of you to ask. Properly speaking, I’m "Her Grace, The Duchess of Chellingworth"; you’re supposed to call me “Your Grace” or “Duchess” in conversation, unless we’re in the company of other Duchesses, in which case – of course – you’d use “Duchess of Chellingworth”, because, otherwise how on earth would you differentiate between us?
But you can call me Stephanie. Just for now, while we’re alone. My mother-in-law’s not due to join us for a while, so maybe you’d better use “Duchess” then, because she can be a bit of a stickler for the proper form of address. Maybe that’s because – like me – she wasn’t born with a title, but acquired one through marriage. She was a dancer on the West End stage when she met Henry’s widowed father; it must have been an odd change of lifestyle for her. I’ve grown to love Althea – that’s the Dowager Duchess’s name – since I came to Chellingworth. You call her “Your Grace” or “Duchess” too, by the way. She prefers “Your Grace”.
Me? I was the public relations manager here at the Hall when I met the Duke, Henry, my husband.
No, I don't think one could say it was "love at first sight", but we did get along terribly well, and that helps, of course. From friendship grew affection; the best way.
No, me neither; all those nasty calories add up so quickly, don’t they? On the other hand, I believe the scone is completely calorie-free! I rather miss being called Stephanie. It’s odd when you marry the man you love and, just because he’s a Duke, thereafter he’s pretty much the only person who uses your given name when addressing you. I adore it when Henry says my name; I love him very much, you see. And I know we’ll both love our firstborn a great deal – when it finally pops out. Honestly, I feel as though I’ve been pregnant forever!
But you’re here for the books, really, aren’t you?
Yes, we do have a magnificent collection. When we’ve finished this tea we’ll take a closer look, with some white cotton gloves on, of course. This library is nothing like the ones I used when I was growing up; public libraries are wonderful too, aren’t they? My mum and dad couldn’t really run to buying lots of books for me when I was little, so I don’t think I’d have become the reader I am today without access to all those books at my local library.
Shall I tell you a secret? My favourite author was Enid Blyton. I’d read anything she wrote. I started with Noddy, moved onto The Famous Five and The Secret Seven, then I found Mallory Towers. All those midnight feasts, all those adventures! I lived through those characters, and never imagined I’d end up living in a grand place like this, with books from floor to ceiling…though most of them are rather old and dry, and none of them would be suitable for our little boy or girl at all.
Our local libraries – in Builth Wells and Brecon – aren’t
huge, but at least they still exist. And there’s the mobile library bus that
tours the south of Powys each month, of course. It’s something I’ve been
thinking I might make my “mission”. Every Duchess should have a “mission”;
Althea’s been hugely involved with healthcare and educational charities, over
the years. With this little one on the way, I’ve been thinking about the basics
– and reading is, I believe, the most critical; the ability to read is the best
path toward fulfillment for any individual.
|Builth Wells library|
|The library bus, south Powys|
Pardon? Oh, yes, you’re right, literacy and libraries do sit well together. How true.
Now – how about this Bible here…would you like to take a look? Created in the late 1400s it’s a stunning work of art…
If you’d like to win a LARGE PRINT copy of THE CASE OF THE CURIOUS COOK - which begins with a tap leaking from a bathroom into the library at Chellingworth Hall, and develops to requires the skills of all four of the private investigators at The WISE Enquiries Agency – please comment below, with your email address, telling me about the library to which you'd like to donate the book. Open to all library lovers...anywhere in the world!
Comments close at midnight (Eastern) on 24th April 2018.
Cathy Ace is the award-winning author of The Cait Morgan Mysteries and The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries. Find out more about Cathy's work and life at her brand new website: http://www.cathyace.com/