#teasertuesday: Visit to the Dressmakers

July 6, 2010

Feeling emboldened from my last #teasertueaday foray, I’ve decided to participate again…

My novel is a comedic Regency mystery…its a bit of Jane Austen hyperbole…as I put it in a previous post:

Sometimes I say my novel is a ‘Regency Soap Opera’ because the plot is a little outlandish…but its all within the bounds of the era. French spies. Mad genius poets. Too much alcohol. Radical politics. Dopplegangers.

That’s how it was, in a way. Genteel with a Gothic underbelly.

Here is today’s #teasertuesday excerpt:

“Caro?” my aunt hissed beneath her breath and I came to suddenly to find Madam Foucoult, spry and wiry, with her grey hair pulled back in tight ringlets, studying me intently over the mahogany table top upon which she’d spread out several shades of lavender silk. I tried to focus on the fabric, wrenching my thoughts out of the past, but none of them would hold me. Nothing caught my eye.

I heard myself saying:
  “I think, perhaps, something yellow?” which raised my aunt’s eyebrows but Madam was ecstatic, ordering her assistants to pull out all the yellow fabric spools. Soon there were about twelve in a dazzling array, from palest butter cream to vivid daffodil and tropical sunshine.

Er…Now I was flummoxed. The brightness was overwhelming, inspiring second thoughts. Madam, sensing my hesitation, shooed me away, then circled the table, studious and concentrated, finally narrowing it down to three with a critical eye.

“You will be like the sun sparkling on water, yes? Like radiant sunbeams breaking through dull, skies, yes?” Decisively, she chose a solid buttery colour embossed with a silver diamond print. This, she said, with a Kashmir shawl in a slightly deeper shade.  Kid boots in cream. Gloves to match. Hair band studded with diamond shaped crystals. Pointed crystal earrings and a crystal cross on a silver chain about my throat. And my mask would be silver fabric ringed with tiny crystals and fringed with downy silver feathers.

My aunt nodded her agreement, then went on to choose her usual peacock blue, with a matching turban heavily decorated in jewels and ostrich feathers, and a black velvet mask, as was her standard.

Leaving them to their discussions of fittings and time lines, I fingered a filigree of lace on display and tried not to fidget.  I’d been thinking a stew’s mix since I’d woke that morning.

I kept wondering where they were now. What route they were taking.

Somerset was beautiful, mystical country, a land I both adored and abhorred and I couldn’t decide if I wished I was with them. Some sites were not meant to be re-visited.

Was I glad they were gone? I couldn’t decide that either. I had questions for them now. Demands. Requests. But if I had to face them again—just the thought made me choke. Lord Waverly, with his puppyish devotion. Sir Milburn, calculating and punctilious.  I didn’t think I would be calm. I might say or do things I’d come to regret.

Best just to let it lie? I wondered.


  1. I enjoyed reading this. The line I liked the most:

    ‘His ‘death’, their lies, their supposed journey to Somerset to track his path.’

    • Thanks! That line you like (and I’m so glad you like it!) is alluding to (one of the) mysteries in the book.

      When choosing an excerpt to post, I’m a bit limited because I don’t want a scene that gives away too much of the mystery…or too little…

      Julie Johnson

  2. I think this has potential to be a great read! Your handle on the regency-style prose is admirable, and I’m curious about the rest of the story. Thanks for posting!

    • Thank you! It’s tricky to write Regency style but still have a modern feel (I’m not trying to completely copy Jane Austen). I want it to feel accessible and smooth…

      Thanks for dropping by!
      Julie Johnson

  3. “Genteel with a gothic underbelly”? Way to grab my interest! You may want to keep that as a hook for the Pride & Prejudice With Zombies readers too 😉 (no, I haven’t read it – just can’t bring myself to.. yet).

    Hard for an excerpt of a story to contain all the suspense implied, especially Regency, which devotes passages to witty description (which you’ve done wonderfully, by the way). Based on this excerpt only (which I know would be weighted differently in a novel) I’d ask if there’s any way to integrate the questioning thoughts with the wonderful fabric/costume descriptions – have them play off one another?

    The only change of pace I noted was during the outfit description being pushed on the heroine. It was the only part which seemed to slow down and not have multiple levels going on. My suggestion (again, based on this passage alone only) would be to start integrating the musing on the gentlemen and her questions here – a nice play on words & concepts might work – allowing her to be distracted and perhaps rely on seeing her “aunt’s head nod in agreement” so she wouldn’t betray her lack of concentration on this most important of choices to the shopkeeper… etc

    If my comment doesn’t fit overall, or you’ve spent time on this right before the passage as well- the fabric discussion being a needed respite for both reader and heroine -please ignore. I’m only an admirer of this genre. I’m not sure I could write it myself!

    • Everything you listed here I’ve also considered (and am still considering)…I have her ruminating a fair bit before and especially after this excerpt (which is why I chose this excerpt because it doesn’t give too much away!)

      I know the list of clothing is a bit tedious and am considering shortening it…on the other hand, its a tedious chore, so maybe I should keep it like that…

      Currently undecided!

  4. I think I loved this excerp even more than I did last week’s! You’re style is so charming and easy to follow and the voice of your MC is so funny! I especially loved your use of the words “abhorred” and “adored” in close proximity.

    • Thank you! I’m very encouraged by your positive response. It means I’m on the right track!

      Julie Johnson

  5. This week’s was less tongue-in-cheek and felt more realistic. I liked it, especially the part where she can’t decide the fabric because she’s caught up in thinking of other things.

  6. It’s less tongue in cheek because Mr. Rutherford’s not in this scene…whenever he shows up the narrator gets especially uptight and sarcastic! I can’t get her to stop, actually.

    It seems there something about that guy…

    Julie Johnson

  7. Love this!! I’d definitely read. 🙂

  8. Another great excerpt! Your command of style and language make this an awesome read. I really enjoy reading your work and I hope you continue to share it!

    • Thanks! I’ve been so encouraged by such a warm & supportive writing community found on the web. I definitely intend to post again!

      Julie Johnson

  9. I know, I’m shamefully late reviewing this, but I’ve been busy, I swear. I’m falling back on that old adage about it being better late then never.

    I don’t know what I enjoyed more, your fantastic excerpt or your description of your novel. For some reason I find the idea of a Regency Soap opera completely and utterly fascinating.

    As far as this weeks teaser, I found it very realistic. I also get the sense that scene may be leading to a dramatic scene.

    I’m looking forward to reading more next Tues.

    Happy Writing.

    • Thanks for dropping by! I only just received your comment (I was away for 2 weeks on holiday) so I’m also late!

      Yes, isn’t the idea of a Regency soap opera totally compelling? I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks so!

      Julie Johnson

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