One of my favorite movies is LOVE ACTUALLY. Not only is it wonderfully feel-good, I love that it celebrates so many different kinds of love — love of a sister for a brother (though that one’s so sad) for a pop star for his manager, for a little boy for his first major crush, for a man grieving for his dead wife, the bittersweet acceptance of a wronged wife, the lusty love off a secretary for her boss — and what a boss! It goes on. . .
I struggled with my book THE AUTUMN BRIDE which comes out next week. It’s the first book in a series and for the first time in my writing career, the hero and heroine’s love story wasn’t center stage from the very beginning. I joked to my friends that for the first part of the book the love story was really between four girls and an old lady — but the truth was, I was worried.
But sometimes you have to write the book the way it needs to be written, and I loved the relationship that developed between the four destitute girls and the feisty, bedridden Lady Beatrice Davenham and hoped readers would forgive me that my gorgeous hero, Max, didn’t get much of a look-in at first.
And then the reviews came out (you can see them on my website) and it seemed that others loved seeing them interact and look after each other as much as I did. And I realized it was a bit of a LOVE ACTUALLY situation — that while we love to read about the love between a man and a woman, we also love to read about the love of friends and family, even if it’s a made-up family, created after Abby, a desperate and destitute young woman, climbs through the window of a mansion intending to steal, and finds a bedridden aristocratic old lady in almost as desperate a situation as herself.
“Have you come to kill me?” The hoarse whisper coming out of the darkness almost stopped Abby’s heart. She swung around, scanning the room, braced to flee. Nothing moved, only shadows outlined by the faint shimmer of moonlight from the windows where she’d pulled back the curtains. No sign of anyone.
“I said, have you come to kill me?” It came from the bed. Sounding more irritated than frightened.
“No, of course not!” Abby whispered back. She tiptoed closer to the bed, straining her eyes in the darkness. What she’d taken for a bundle of clothes piled on the bed was an old woman lying awkwardly, fallen between her pillows, her bedclothes rumpled in a twist.
“You’re a gel. Wearing breeches, but I can still tell you’re a gel.”
“Yes.” Abby waited. If the woman screamed or tried to raise the alarm she’d dive out of the window. It was risky, but better than being hanged or transported.
“You’re not here to kill me?”
Abby blinked. “Pity?”
So what can four destitute girls do to help an old lady who’s helpless in the hands of her neglectful servants?
Why, pretend to be her long-lost nieces, of course, take over the house, sack the dreadful servants and take care of the feisty old lady. She’s delighted, and happily claims them as her nieces. Then her autocratic nephew arrives back from the Orient, and demands to know who these impostors are.
“Who the devil are they?” Max said when the door was finally shut. “I told you, my nieces.” “Nonsense, you don’t have any nieces. Who are they really?” She shrugged in a manner he recognized of old. “If I say they’re my nieces, they are.” “You forget who you’re talking to, Aunt Bea. I’ll take an oath those girls aren’t even related to one another, let alone you.” She gave him a warm smile. “Dear boy, so lovely to have you home again. Now, tell me what you’ve been up to. What’s brought you back to England after all this time? Going to settle down with a nice gel and make me a great-aunt, are you?” “Don’t change the subject.” She smacked his hand. “Don’t be dreary, Max. I’ve told you they’re my nieces and that’s all you need to know.
And so the stage is set for some fun fireworks as Max tries to discover the truth about Abby and her “sisters,” Lady Beatrice tells some absolute whoppers and Max gets hopelessly tangled in this household of devious woman — and cats. I loved writing this book and I hope you love reading it.
So what about you? Are you a fan of LOVE ACTUALLY? What’s your favorite part of the movie? If you were the director, would you change any part of it?
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About the Author:
I’ve always loved stories. Family legend has it that I used to spend hours playing in the sand pit, with a dog on either side of me and Rocka the horse leaning over me, his head just touching my shoulder, while I told them stories. I have to say, dogs and horses are great audiences, apart from their tendency to drool occasionally. But people are even nicer.
In case you imagine we were a filthy rich horse-owning family, let me assure you we weren’t. The horse period was a time when my parents entered a “let’s-be-self-sufficient” phase, so we had a horse, but no electricity and all our water came from the rain tank.
As well as the horse and dogs, we had 2 cows (Buttercup and Daisy and one of them always had a calf), a sheep (Woolly,) goats (Billy and Nanny) dozens of ducks, chooks, and a couple of geese, a pet bluetongue lizard and a huge vegie patch. I don’t know how my mother managed, really, because both she and Dad taught full time, but she came home and cooked on a wood stove and did all the laundry by hand, boiling the clothes and sheets in a big copper kettle. Somehow, we were always warm, clean, well fed and happy. She’s pretty amazing, my mum.
Once I learned to read, I spent my days outside playing with the animals (I include my brother and 2 sisters here) and when inside I read. For most of my childhood we didn’t have TV, so books have always been a big part of my life. Luckily our house was always full of them. Travel was also a big part of my childhood. My parents had itchy feet. We spent a lot of time driving from one part of Australia to another, visiting relatives or friends or simply to see what was there. I’ve lived in Scotland, Malaysia and Greece. We travelled through Europe in a caravan and I’d swum most of the famous rivers in Europe by the time I was eight.
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