Upstairs . . .

I was about to turn away when a lantern flashed full in my face.

'Miss Penelope! What are you doing here?' It was Fred. He looked astonished. 'I thought we had an intruder,' he said, lowering the lantern.

I certainly felt like one, the way he was looking at me.

I wanted to explain, but I couldn't think what to say. He'd think me mad. I winced, imagining him talking about me to the servants. 'That Miss Penelope, she's a rum one. I found her hanging around the stables in the dark. I don't know why.'

I couldn't think why now either. Some stupid idea I'd had about it feeling like home. It didn't feel like home now.

'I'm sorry,' I said. I turned to go.

'No, wait,' he said. 'I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you. We have to be careful,' he explained. 'These horses are valuable.'

He had lifted up the lantern a little. 'Is something wrong?' he said.

I may as well tell him the truth.'Fred, I've had an awful afternoon. I couldn't bear to go back into the house. I didn't know where else to go.' I looked at him pleadingly. Had I made an awful mistake? What made me feel I could trust this boy I hardly knew?

He was looking steadily at me, but the hand that was holding the lantern was trembling.

I felt myself shiver. He leaned forward and I felt his hand touch my arm. It was the lightest softest touch but I felt the warmth from it run all through me. 'You're cold,' he said. 'You'll catch a chill. Here. Put this on. ' He took off his jacket and draped it gently over my shoulders. We neither of us spoke; we just stood there quietly together. I felt comfort slowly seep into me. I felt as if I could stood there with him for ever....

In Edwardian England you were supposed to Know Your Place. Polly wasn't the only person at Langdown Manor who broke the rules. Downstairs,  the new scullery maid, Ivy, found it just as hard to fit in . . .

Downstairs . . .

I was on my way back to the basement when I saw that someone was creeping along the passage that led to the hall. Ivy! She looked shocked when she saw me - as she should.

'Ivy!' I demanded. 'What are you doing up here? You know it's forbidden.'

She looked sullen. 'I had to get out of that scullery. I can't stand it, Jess. Maddie gives me no peace.'

I gave her a sceptical look.

'You didn't have to come up here though, did you? Hurry now - get back downstairs before anyone else sees you.' I took her by the elbows and gave her a push.

We reached the door that separated the upstairs world from the downstairs.

'Even the door's different on our side.' Ivy touched the green baize that covered the door on the downstairs side. 'What's this for?'

'It's to help muffle the sound, so the family won't hear us.'

She snorted. 'They want to pretend we don't exist, don't they? What would they do without us, I wonder. One day they'll 'ave to. I wish I could see it. Them sweating over the range, washing up their own plates and cups, making their own beds-'

'Enough of that!' I said. 'I'm not listening.'

'Well, I look forward to the day when they won't wipe their shoes on my back,' said Ivy. 'It's coming, Jess, whether you like it or not.'

'Until then, you've got three meals a day - and a roof over your head,' I said. 'But when this wonderful new world of yours comes, who knows? You might be on the streets - no job, no money, no home...'

Ivy snapped her fingers. 'I'm not afraid.'

But I was. It was all very well, but what would we do - girls like me who'd only ever worked in service?

Langdown Manor

A note from the author . . .

Imagine how you'd feel if your mother died and you were sent halfway across the world to live with relatives you'd never met... and then one of them is a cousin you know hates you from the first moment she sets eyes on you. Well, that's the fate that awaits Polly, Langdown Manor's feisty heroine. And then her life gets even more complicated when she meets Fred, the young groom who is romantically entangled with someone else...whose best friend just happens to be Polly's lady's maid . . .

Langdown Manor, my first full-length historical novel, was published in September last year. It's been billed as a book for fans of Downton Abbey. (Read it and see if you agree!) But unlike 'Downton' my book is all about teenagers - upstairs and down. Fans say that they want to know what happens next. I hope you will, too!

PS What you read below you won't find anywhere else. Read on - and find out what some of my characters felt about living and working at Langdown Manor.



Penelope ('Polly') Fitzsimmons, 17, Lord and Lady Langdown's niece, has strong views about what's wrong about her new life at the Manor! Everything!

I knew I'd hate Langdown Manor before I got here. Mother did - that's why she ran away. I'll run away too, one day. Everyone's so formal, so polite. Cousin Arabella is awful. She has mean little eyes, like a snake. And she wears pink - I wouldn't be seen dead in pink. They want to make me into a lady, but they won't. I don't want to be a lady. Ladies have no fun. I want to ride every day, drive a motor car and learn to fly. All the girls I've met here are idiots, except my little cousin Clemmie. They don't do anything. Cousin George is a bit of an idiot too, but at least he's more fun!

The Hon. Arabella Langdown, 17, eldest daughter of Lord and Lady Langdown, wants to be a lady and has very strong views about her cousin Polly.

I was looking forward to coming out into society. But cousin Penelope will spoil it. I don't think she should come out at all. After all, who was her father? Some tea planter in India. It's extraordinary who is accepted by society these days. I wish she'd stayed in India. She embarrasses me - she doesn't know how to behave. You should see her try to curtsey! She doesn't know anything, and she doesn't seem to care either. Mother says I must put up with it. She wants us to be friends. We'll never be that. She seems to prefer the company of servants. What else would you expect from such a low-born girl?

The Hon. George Langdown, 20, heir to Langdown Manor, is looking forward to inheriting Langdown, and running things his way.

Pater says I'm extravagant. He doesn't understand that chaps like me must cut a bit of a dash. The allowance he gives me - it's barely enough to live on! I look forward to the day when Langdown Manor is mine. I don't give a toss about the house - great draughty leaky thing. I'd pull it down and use the money to live in London in style. Who wants to moulder away in the country! Cousin Pen livens the place up a bit. She's got a wild streak - likes fast cars, horses... like me. The chaps are all wild about her. She's put Arabella's nose out of joint. She'll marry in her first season. That servant girl - Ivy - is a scream. She should be on the stage.


Of course, if you were 'downstairs', one of the servants, life was very different, as you'll find out here.

Ivy, 16, the scullery maid - and would-be music hall star and glamour girl. Scullerying was one of the nastiest jobs in service you could have. What could make a girl like Ivy choose a job like that? This is what she has to say:

I had no choice! I never wanted to work in service. I only took the job to get away from Alf. That's the lazy good for nothing who moved in to live with us. Mam told me to call him Dad, but I wouldn't because he's not. Dad did a bunk one day and next day Alf was sitting in his chair. Alf made my life a misery. He expected me to wait on him. I won't wait on anyone. I won't get married, not now I've seen what it's done to Mam, not unless it's someone rich enough so I can have servants to do the work. Someone like Mr George, the master's son. But I've got plans. I mean to go on the stage when I've saved up enough. Mr George says I've got talent - real talent.

But at least I've got friends here. I make them laugh. I like that - I like an audience! Mind, that kitchen maid Maddie hates me. She's always trying to catch me out. I'm sure she wants to find an excuse to get rid of me. But I'll be off before that day comes. She's jealous of me, because Robert fancies me, and she fancies Robert. That's not my fault!

Jess, 17, housemaid and Polly's lady's maid explains how it felt to leave home, and what it was like to be promoted to young lady's maid.

It was really hard saying goodbye to Mam. My little sisters were still asleep. I managed to get up and dressed without them waking. I didn't want them to wake, or I'd have cried. I miss their warmth in the bed, them all snuggled up next to me. I packed my uniform into my box. Mam helped me make it, and I've promised to pay her back the money she gave me to pay for the material. It will be a while before I'll be able to keep any of my earnings - Mam needs help, especially now there's a little one on the way. I met Sarah in the village, and we took the wagon to Langdown Manor together. Sarah's my oldest friend. Langdown Manor is so big, so I am glad I'm working alongside Sarah. I don't feel so strange.

Now I'm working as Miss Penelope's maid too. I was shocked when the housekeeper told me. I've nothing against Miss Penelope, I feel sorry for her - come to live so far from home with a family she doesn't know. But I feel I don't belong anywhere now - neither upstairs nor downstairs. And I miss my friends. Sarah and I aren' t so friendly now - it's got something to do with Fred but I don' t know what.

Sarah, 17, housemaid, and Jess's best friend was desperate to get a job at the Manor - to be near Fred.

I am really happy to be working at the Manor, because Jess and Fred work there, too. Fred's my sweetheart, we've known each other ever so long. He got a job there in the stables last year. I really missed him. He loves horses. I don't. I'm afraid of them. Fred is lovely - I know we'll get married when we can afford it. I just wish I saw more of him.

Robert, 19, second footman, has his eye on the butler's job, and on Ivy...

I was proud to be promoted to be second footman at the Manor. I'm the best! One day I mean to be butler, when old jeepers-creepers retires. He's past it already. Time he moved on. There's not much I don't like about this place. What do I like best? Ivy! She's a laugh and the prettiest girl here. I mean to marry her one day. She pushes me away, but I know she likes me really. Worst thing? That Maddie. She's horrible to Ivy. I don't know why.

Publisher: Scholastic
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1407134779
ISBN-13: 978-1407134772
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"This book is excellently written, full of great descriptions of how it was for the lives of teenagers during the Edwardian period.  A thoroughly good read - can't wait for the sequel."

"A must for younger fans of Downton Abbey."

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