Today's Wednesday Wonders is part of a blog tour for
Lies and Letters
by Ashtyn Newbold
About Lies and Letters:
“That same ache I had been feeling for weeks now blossomed inside of me, bruised, bleeding, and broken. Only now did I realize it was my heart.”After a season in London, Charlotte Lyons is still regrettably unattached. With her family’s finances in peril, she is sent away with her sister to a bleak coastal town where she is expected to pursue a wealthy earl. She is beautiful and talented, how can she possibly fail? But when her heart is captured by someone entirely unexpected, Charlotte finds herself caught up in a web of lies and intrigue. Between hardship and sorrow, she finds more than she bargained for, forced to choose between the life she once wanted and a new love she never imagined.
The scratching of a quill did little to settle my nerves. Neither did the pattering of rain, nor the abrupt planking of the pianoforte from downstairs. In fact, all the sounds produced quite the opposite effect.
Slamming my quill down on my writing desk, I jumped from my chair, striking my knee on the underside of the desk. The inkwell tipped, splattering my gown. I froze, staring at the tear drops of black. Propelled by a new bout of anger, I rushed at the door and threw it open.
I knew it was Clara at the pianoforte, rehearsing for a dinner party at which she was bound to humiliate us all. And as if the rain wasn't enough to upset me, my sister carried on with her horrifying display while I was trying to write a letter to my dearest friend, Alice. It had been two long months since I had visited her at Kellaway Manor, and I was itching to know if her eldest brother was still unattached.
I gripped by stained skirts as I stomped down the stairs. It was such a relief to stomp. In public, I was only permitted to glide.
“Clara! Quit that horrendous music and look what you have done to me!” My voice was a shriek, shrill from lack of use.
Clara's hands stopped for a moment, suspended above the keys. Her smile was tight as she took in my dirtied dress and ink-covered hands. Without comment, she resumed her playing with renewed vigor.
“Clara!” I rushed at her and threw the music off the stand, missing the burning fireplace by inches. The sheets fell to the ground like dead petals. “Content yourself with the fact that you will never be as talented as me.” I placed my hand on her shoulder and leaned in close. “Nor will you ever be as pretty.”
Her face darkened to a shade of cherry red and her brow creased. In anger or shame, I couldn't tell.
“A well-bred lady will always maintain and even disposition. I trust you haven't applied rouge to your entire face.
“Charlotte, stop!” She threw my hand off her shoulder. A dark smudge of ink stained her ivory sleeve.
I glanced at it with mock regret. “Oh, dear sister, forgive me.”
With an animal-like grunt she leapt from her seat and charged at me. Her palms slammed into my shoulders and I faltered, gasping. Clara was sixteen, two years younger than me, but we were similar in proportion. I regained my bearings and returned the action, throwing her back several steps. It was a fair fight, to be sure.
“I am going to sit beside Mr. Weatherby tomorrow, and you will be placed beside Mr. Connor’s belching!” I screamed.
“Mr. Weatherby favors me!”
I scoffed. "What has possibly implanted such a fantasy in your simple head? He certainly wasn't charmed by your musical talent.”
She cast me a look of contempt. “Do not ever speak to me again!” She gave me one last shove before crossing her arms. “I wish to play music, and I will play music, and you cannot stop me!”
I caught my breath, rolling my eyes. With the clean area of my hand, I brushed back my pale curls. “Very well, but you will never master the art as I have. You will never be like me.”
She stepped closer, the light from the flames flickering over her face. I expected to see a look of hot anger, or an inadequacy. But instead I saw pity. “I have never wanted to be like you, Charlotte.”
My Book Review:
Written in the first person from Charlotte’s point of view, I did not want to relate to this proud, selfish, self-centered harridan of a girl. Then the story introduced her mother, and it was apparent she was the product of this woman’s teachings—teachings she internalized in an effort to win her mother’s love.
This book touched on the shallow values of the Regency era where among the many of the well-to-do, the focus was on pride, prestige, wealth and position. That was how Charlotte and Clara’s mother had been raised, and those were the values she had sought to instill in her daughters, particularly in Charlotte, the daughter considered the most beautiful and who was extremely talented on the pianoforte.
The author did a masterful job of portraying the personalities in this story. It was easy for me to visualize each one as the story progressed and the family suffered its reversals. I was quite disgusted with the mother who sent her daughters off by themselves to a remote section of England where their family’s disgrace would not be known with a task for Charlotte to ensnare a wealthy, titled husband. At the same time, the mother saw to her own comfort—and her own conniving.
It was while on this journey the two sisters learned of their true potential and what was truly important to them—what would make them truly happy. However, even when those traits about herself Charlotte valued most deserted her, and she found something better, at first she denied the good and sought to return and fit back into the society in which her mother had coached her to belong.
This was a novel of self-discovery, and of realizing what is truly important in life. The romance elements are sweet and inspiring. I highly recommend it.
You may purchase Lies and Letters at the following:
About Ashtyn Newbold: