PRINCE WILLIAM’S MARRIAGE IS CAUSING AMERICAN WOMEN
TO DASH TO LONDON HUNTING FOR A PRINCE!
SINCE THE ANNOUCEMENT OF PRINCE WILLIAM’S MARRIAGE TO KATE, MORE AND MORE AMERICAN WOMEN ARE FLOCKING TO LONDON TO HANG OUT WITH ROYALTY. THESE WOMAN ARE INTERESTED
NOT IN WILLIAM BUT HARRY. THEY HAVE BEEN DUBBED “HARRY HUNTERS” SEEING THEMSELVES AS BECOMING HIS PRINCESS -WIFE. THEY GO WHERE THEY KNOW ROYALTY CAN BE FOUND SUCH AS ASCOT OR MORE LIKELY THE POSH SHOPS OF SLOAN STREET. OTHER NAMES FOR THEM ARE ‘SLOAN RANGERS’ OR EVEN MORE DIRECT “THRONE RANGERS.” BUT IF THEY CAN’T CONNECT WITH HARRY THEY STILL HAVE THE DREAM OF SOME ROYAL OR TITLED MAN. THEY EVEN DRESS A BIT LIKE KATE WITH A SMALL ‘FASCINATOR’ IN PLACE OF A HAT. SO MANY ARE ARRIVING THERE THE ‘TODAY’ SHOW HAD A SPECIAL FEATURE ABOUT THEM. BUT THOSE GALS ARE NOT UNIQUE.
THERE IS HISTORY OF AMERICAN WOMEN CONNECTING WITH ENGLISH ROYALTY OR NOBILITY -- FROM LADY CHURCHILL WHO WAS JENNIE JEROME FROM NEW YORK CITY IN THE EARLY NINETEEN HUNDREDS TO WALLIS SIMPSON LATER. HELEN ARGERS’ NOVEL, ‘THE GILDED LILY” HAS AMUSING AND EXCITING CHAPTERS ON AMERICAN SOCIALITES GOING TO ENGLAND TO CATCH TITLED HUSBANDS. READ BELOW FOR MORE DETAILS ON ONE SUCH PARTICULAR ENCOUNTER OF A YOUNG AMERICAN IN THAT POSITION AND THE SCANDALOUS OCCURRENCE THAT FORCED HER TO LEAVE NEW YORK AND LAND IN ENGLAIND.
TIP: TO ALL SUCH AMERICAN GIRLS SET TO TRACK HARRY DOWN, IT WOULD BE BEST IF YOU READ ‘THE GILDED LILY” TO PROPERLY PREPARE YOURSELF ON HOW TO WIN OVER A TITLED ENGLISHMAN.
FOR AN OVERALL VIEW OF THE NOVEL--"THE GILDED LILY" by Helen Argers See Helen Argers' Novels Page above. Just click to see the –COVER AND THE THE SHORT PROLOGUE
And Great Reviews by New York Times, Booklist, NJ Star Ledger comparing Helen
to Jane Austen, Edith Wharton and Margaret Mitchell
CURRENT CONNECTION: WHY IS “THE GILDED LILY “SO RELEVANT TODAY?
1. Economy: Currently in America, as in the late Nineteenth Century, we’ve become less a middle class society nation than one of vast contrast between the super-rich and the poor. That also was the condition in the Gilded Age when the newspapers were filled with the superrich’s extravagances –from wild parties and industrial barons – rarely mentioning the conditions of the poor, unless some rioted in the streets. But mostly they were forgotten. But obviously the past is prologue. Today, as then, we have become celebrity watchers, especially of rich young socialites, millionaire actresses and sportsmen and political personalities —following their parties, their outfits, even their comments on Twitter or Facebook.
2. Royal marriage. As mentioned, many American gals inspired by the royal marriage besides rushing over to England to grab themselves a Prince Harry will also settle for a Lord or even just a Knight. This interest in royals and nobles is reminiscent of the actions of many American debutantes in the Gilded Era.
In “The Gilded Lily” set in and after 1876, it became usual for rich American society women to move to London to marry nobles and come back to America with titles. The higher the title, the richer the gals had to be. One such American socialite was in disgrace for what was assumed a night she had spent in Central Park with a young man without promptly announcing her marriage. But Nina De Bonnard, the crème of New York society, refused to marry the man who had drugged her to keep her there. She would have bravely faced New York’s exclusive 400 society except that she overhead her younger sister, Adele, complaining that she too would be ostracized if Nina remained in their set. So caring for her sister and her family, Nina bravely took off for London. She was easily accepted in London by a young married American woman who had gone there and already snatched her titled husband. However, she found many difficulties for an American lady in English society and blatantly brought out the pros and cons to Nina of marrying into English nobility.
Here are some of the Nina’s thoughts and experiences.
(EXCERPT FROM “THE GILDED LILY.”)
“There had to be someplace to go that would be right for her and right for her family. As if in answer to her dilemma, Nina looked down at the George Eliot novel she was currently reading and thought England! Yes, she exclaimed to herself with a sigh of relief, she would visit England. Surely that would put enough distance between her and all the people she wished never to see again. . .”
(Considering all her enemies and whispers, Nina realizes she has to do more than just leave for England which would make it seem as if she had something to run away from. That is when she comes up with her inspiration.)
“She needed an offensive strike that would quickly give everyone the impression that London was her great opportunity. To accomplish that required showing a great desire to meet the Prince and Princess of Wales, not to mention Jennie Churchill, and even Lily Langtry. Especially essential was making Adele and Mama believe that so they would not feel guilty for wanting her gone. Yes, yes, they must be completely convinced – to the point of rejoicing with her that she was going to a better place. Except for heaven, there could be no more exclusive place than London. And if Nina remembered correctly, Mrs. De Bonnard at least had some entry in the latter locale. She was always talking about her young American friend, Louisa Collins, who had gone there, married a nobleman, and become Lady Moncrief. Amazing how things fell into place. Lady Moncrief would be the one essential key to making Nina’s move not only believable, but even enviable.
Planning her campaign as if she were Napoleon, Nina sat down at the desk and outlined her course of action. First she would persuade her mother to write to Lady Moncrief and subtly suggest how much pleasure it would be for her to have a visit from a total stranger. Well, that could be phrased better. Her mother would know how to put it. Next, her mother must spread the word to the ladies with the longest tongues that Nina was going to mix with royalty, and add as an aside that a Worth gown was being made for Nina’s presentation to the Queen. Whether that presentation was possible, Nina didn’t know. All that mattered was that everyone else see her new destination as a coup of major magnitude so there would be no possibility that anyone would ever believe Nina did not really want to go: not the ladies and gentlemen of New York and Oceana society, not the particular gentlemen who had pretended to care for her and humiliated her instead, not any member of her family, and, most of all, not even herself. “
(The next chapter has Nina in London.)
“In London Nina De Bonnard became yet another person. In America she had had a series of personas. She had gone from being a sister and daughter to a young belle to a femme fatale to a madcap searching for her next prank to a writer of some praise and then an invalid, lost in her body’s pain and her mind’s confusion. On the long voyage to England, she was a languid convalescent gaining strength by resting on a deck chair. And now in England she was the American lady, with all the responsibility of America’s faults and acts on her graceful, silk-encased shoulders. Often she attempted to shrug that off and be just Nina. But to the English, she was an American. Regardless of her father’s income and her mother’s standing at home, she had no standing in England. She was, after all, a commoner. In the Old World, titles were all that entitled one to respect.
Lady Louisa Moncrief was accepted because she had married a nobleman, but even she was still viewed as an invader. Her ladyship explained her adopted countrymen to Nina. “After fifteen years, they still assume I grew up in a wigwam. At a recent archery contest, my name was entered. The host simply wouldn’t accept that I’d never used a bow and arrow, convinced that all Americans are trained by Indians! Entre nous, Lady Randoph Churchill doesn’t help since she looks like an Indian herself, with her dark hair and strong features. Thank heavens I have blond hair and you, reddish.” She paused for a hurried breath. “Another thing expected is that we’re all rich as Croesus. I am constantly put down for fabulous sums for every lady’s charity, until I put it to them that my husband Lord Moncrief, has full charge of my money, and then the hostess has second thoughts, knowing that an Englishman who marries an American woman for her money will not part with a penny. The truth is that Alfy just wanted a comfortable life. Just as he has a steward to care for his estates, he has me to manage our money and pay his gambling bills. I assure him that things are going swimmingly, and he is content. Englishmen are accustomed to delegating and being deferred to; once a wife understands that, she can control him by pretending to defer and taking over all responsibility. Unlike American men, who always want to take over themselves. I’m raising my son to be just like his father.”
She took a deeper breath, during which Nina wondered why she was being told all this. But Lady Moncrief was direct to a fault and, without waiting to be asked, replied, “I assume you’re here to marry an English lord. I know you are wealthy, extremely popular, and not satisfied with American men, having jilted so many of them. You want a lord you can control. I have the perfect candidate. And I shall enjoy watching you outshine some of these English ladies who see us as upstarts!”
Nina considered inserting a denial, but then shrugged her shoulders. She had not come to marry, but she would not be averse to having an English lord or two at her feet. Besides, she discovered shortly upon arrival that it was pointless to attempt to get a word in edgewise with Louisa, who talked as if she’d been locked up in a box for several years and had to gush out all her thoughts upon release. Part of her loquacity was due to finding a “fellow American” who understood her. Obviously, understanding was a quality that was universally desire. Growing up in Oceana, Nina had looked for people to understand her. In New York she didn’t care whether anybody understood her or not. Then gradually she had begun understanding everyone—starting with her father and then her mother and then her sister—understanding, understanding to the point of once more sentencing herself to exile. Therefore, Nina did not see why presently she should discriminate against Louisa and not make the attempt to understand her as well. What she realized about Louisa was that she just wanted the appearance of an audience. So she supplied that, pretending to listen while engaging in her own thoughts. Yet after a week of steady chatter, Nina was ready to do anything to get away from Louisa, even meeting Lord Nelson Brindsley, who was Louisa’s candidate for her hand.
Since it was June, the season was practically over, with only one or two important social events still to come. Some of the Mayfair set had already retired to Bath, Brighton or their country estates. Lady Moncrief bemoaned that Nina had come so late, but, regarding the spectacular young lady in her peacock blue gown with a crown of peacock feathers framing her blazing hair, she was certain Nina De Bonnard would not need more time to make her mark.
Lord Brindsley was quick to raise his monocle at her entrance. When assured by Lady Moncrief that she was an heiress of no small fortune, he became Nina’s constant attendant. The trouble was that with her appeal and the rumor of her wealth, other English lords began attending her as well. That had his lordship and Lady Moncrief quickly conferring –and settling the problem of competition in a trice. Nina was not to remain in London. Rather, Lady Moncrief and Nina De Bonnard were invited to spend the end of June and beginning of July at his lordships country seat.
Nina did not wish to make herself so exclusive. But since her hostess had already accepted for her, the young American visitor could only grin and bare her complaints about his lordship to her diary. Lord Nelson Brindsley was amusing but not intentionally so. Further, the statement that he was almost a double of the Prince of Wales, she discovered, upon seeing His Highness, could only be considered a compliment by the English, who obviously preferred mutton faces and sheepish manners. As for his lordship’s conversation, it carried British understatement to the point of an undertone. So silent was he throughout their first dance that he was almost nonexistent until realizing that something had to be said, he granted her a haughty nod and one word: “Pleasure.” Whether that referred to his pleasure or hers, Nina was uncertain, so she murmured something indistinct to match him and leave him equally confused. He did not learn from her lesson, but proving his obtuseness, continued his obliqueness. Later, while other gentlemen were complimenting her on her beauty and peacock gown, he blurted, “Shot a peacock, once.” “Why?” Nina asked, and that had him retreating into shocked silence. The British never needed an excuse to shoot a bird. Afterwards, she complained to Louisa that his lordship’s Vandyke beard came to a point sharper than his conversation . . . and, parenthetically, that his pointy beard tickled when they danced.
Louisa would not be deterred. If forced, his lordship would trim his beard. Nothing must stop this planned alliance. “I have already written of its possibility to your mother and received a letter of encouragement. She says, in effect, that she had hopes of just such a match.”
Nina frowned. The last thing she wanted to do was be Lady Brindsley in permanent exile from home and those she loved. That would be carrying understanding to a fault. Actually she could see that fault opening at her feet – and regretted having gotten herself into a situation out of which she’d have to make quite a leap to land safely and home free. Not till she viewed his father’s estate, Mayberry Castle, did some of Lord Brindsley’s charm to the English finally become evident to Nina. She had known he was the son of the Duke of Mayberry, for Louisa talked of nothing else and the invitation had come from the duchess of Mayberry herself, but she had not been aware of the grandeur that title imposed until she stood and gazed at the massive Mayberry Castle. It showed what impostures the faux castles in Oceana were – giving suggestions of past grandeur with present plumbing. The real thing just was –holding the majesty of antiquity in every stone. The turrets were real, where archers must have stood to defend their lord’s domain. The dungeons were real with actual chains and locks. Nor were the grounds neat parks, but a countryside with forests and a private lake and even a private village. Within, the castle continued to fit the authentic with suits of armor before massive fireplaces and generations of portraits in the family galleries. Nina was awestruck. Gradually, Lord Brindsley in his own surroundings looked more imposing; even his monosyllabic speech grew more pregnant with possible nuances”
(End of excerpt)
Argers description of the Duke and Duchess: “His Grace, upon hearing that Nina did not gamble and preferred a book to cards, dismissed her not only from his thoughts but from his sight, turning away. “ The Duchess was “walking about as if she smelled something -- particularly when she saw Nina. Her words to the young American were just barely this side of civility, and often slid over. . . A small woman, Her Grace had an air of expecting curtsies whenever she appeared.”
Then comes the moment during which this incompatible gathering reaches a startling conclusion when the anti-Americanism vies against the English desire to maintain their standing with American money. At first all seems, at least from Nina’s point of view, tottering on amusement with so many opposites with set expectations, but then Nina’s own expectations are changed to shock at the arrival of two gentlemen from America that she had thought at least she would never have to see either of them again.
Read exactly what occurs when the brash Americans come up against the English and a contest begins not only for Nina but for a Ducal crown and how far everyone will go beyond the pall to win.
Get ‘THE GILDED LILY’ by HELEN ARGERS at any bookstore or online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. It is both hardcover and paperback.
Also read Chapter One’s opening paragraphs to have a more general idea of the overall novel and the beginning of a love affair that is best described as two forces in a duel for honor and self respect against emotions and attraction. Also to see exactly why Helen Argers has been compared to Jane Austen for her epigrammatic ironic touches that delight all lovers of writing.
Nina De Bonnard was the only lady at her family's garden party who did not have a parasol. That was unquestionably proof of her nonconformity. It showed that she was not only nonchalant about the dangers of the sun but also unwilling to rely on a parasol's proven assistance in dealing with another elemental force of nature: gentlemen.
Indeed, the language of a parasol had been perfected by generations of ladies and understood and accepted by generations of gentlemen. Closed, a parasol could effectively hold a gentleman at bay. Open but held near to the head, it blocked a man's advances. But lifting the open parasol higher demonstrated willingness to be approached. As for allowing a young man to duck his head under one's personal canopy--well, that was tantamount to an announcement.
But Nina preferred her hands free and her body unsheltered, refusing to accept the basic confinements of her set. Any messages she needed sent to a gentleman she would send in her own direct way. Thus she gave the illusion of being approachable, until a gentleman attempted to do so. Then it became quite clear that she had her own rules, from which her followers deviated at their peril. Today she was holding a long white rose and used that to anoint a favorite. A touch from it meant permission to come closer and converse. To her admirers, the flower seemed like an extension of her own smooth, white-skinned hand, its touch was her touch and decidedly titillating.
Whether here at Oceana or during the winter months amongst the gilded set of New York City's elegant ballrooms, Nina's beaus followed her like a royal entourage. Heedless of the whispers from surface observers that the lady could not be satisfied by one gentleman, Nina used her entourage to protect herself from any individual gentleman.
Out of the corner of her eye Nina spotted a compelling stranger. His two immediate attractions were that he was not of her set and that he was older than her crowd by almost a decade, all of which he had apparently spent looking at ladies. At least that was what the amused expression in his deep, dark eyes seemed to indicate. Stopping mid step, Nina returned his look, her arched eyebrows lifting higher in a steady evaluation.
There was something about his cool, appraising stare that had Nina wondering whether he was keeping his evaluation on a gentlemanly level. A cold, discomforting sensation was spreading through her. She found herself wishing for her stole and sent one of her admirers to the house for one. Still, step by step, the stranger advanced. And step by step Nina retreated behind her admirers. The white eyelet wrap was brought and Nina had to wait through flowery comments about the young man's wishing he were the wrap upon her shoulders before she could use it. She rewarded her gallant with her bright unforgettable smile, and the gentleman felt more than compensated. Yet the wrap had no effect. She still felt trembles. Next moment the wrap was used to cover the décolletage of her dress, for the intruder's pointed stare had Nina rethinking her mother's admonition that the bodice was cut too low for an afternoon affair. Nina resented being made to feel so inhibited. She was usually neither embarrassed by her feminine attributes nor proud of them. Mostly she was unaware of her body, feeling herself a watcher, separated from her group and thus untouched by remarks--jealous or admiring--and certainly untouched by a look, tantamount to a leer, from an unknown and un-introduced gentleman!
Another annoying aspect of the gentleman was his attitude, lounging, laughing, languid. He had stopped his movement toward her and was resting his large form with one arm against an oak tree, as if he would not put himself to the trouble of moving from a choice spot. The small smile around his lips suggested that he was considering whether she was worth any further effort.
Piqued, Nina could not dismiss the attraction of his being an uninvited intruder to this select affair. That delicious fact could quickly be determined by checking with her mother, who had sent out the invitations. But Nina decided not to do so, lest that make her attraction too obvious, even to herself. And certainly her mother would question any special attention to a stranger. A lady never betrayed interest of the smallest kind in a gentleman until and unless she had been properly introduced to him. Only then, perhaps, could he enter into her thoughts. Yet Nina had long since gone beyond that degree of restriction. She liked to think of herself as a daring young lady in command of her life who would take chances, especially if the gentleman in question had chanced a great deal more by gate-crashing into her home.
The next moment the stranger was approached by two of her father's friends. Nina caught her breath, waiting for him to be uncovered and escorted off her property. When the conversation proved obviously friendly, she exhaled in disappointment. He had somehow passed muster. That instantly diminished his allure for Nina, and she turned away.
Actually, the gentleman was a stranger neither to Oceana nor to the De Bonnard family. He was Jordan Houghton Windsor, who had grown up in the same New York City upper-crust set but had left years ago and only recently returned. He had followed his mother and brother on their yearly migration from New York City to this New Jersey summer resort, not expecting a change of people but hoping for some slight loosening of their rigid patterns. Overall, Jordan concluded that this exclusive social set was rather like a snail, in that it carried along its own stultifying world wherever it went. Content in those cloistered ways, it moved at a slow, self-satisfied pace, leaving a smear to mark its glistening path. The movement was circular: where it began, there it ended. A small, tight set with gossip its main source of sustenance. A shell like that was too confining for his larger horizons, Jordan had decided, and he had taken off for Europe. He had an inkling the lady with the white rose might be a fellow rebel.
Persuaded by his family, much against his desire, to present himself at the De Bonnard party, Jordan hoped the ladies in attendance would reward him for his effort. They attempted to do so but failed. A thorough investigation of the young females present had revealed much to his amusement that they not only hung together in gaggles but jointly giggled. They even answered together: "Oh yes, Mr. Windsor!" "How exciting, Mr. Windsor!" Everyone was anxious to be singled out but fearful of standing out. Until the lady with the rose.
Looking in her direction again, he noted that she was completely enclosed by her supporters, so he set off for a walk on the long green lawn. Nothing could still the restlessness in him since his return. He must always be moving . . . seeking. Not far from here was the ocean; he could almost smell its salty tang. Confound, what had made him think that here on the open beaches and verandahs some of the closed thinking and guarded manner of New York's brownstone confinements would similarly open up? Some slight memories remained of life being freer at the beach, but those were undoubtedly due to his own youth at the time. This week at Oceana reminded him of all the reasons he'd left. Further, and most grating, was a new element of national chauvinism, possibly a result of the coming centennial celebration. In Europe, a variety of opinion was not only expected but offered. Here, they all thought in unison. America, the beautiful. America, the all-powerful. And yet wasn't that what he'd instinctively believed throughout his youth? Indeed, on his arrival in Europe, he'd been shocked to note that the people there did not secretly wish to be Americans themselves. Now, back home, he could only look at the America-boosterism about him with a smile and a shake of his head. Enough, he groaned when a matron stopped to ask everybody's favorite question: Wasn't he relieved to be back in the good-old-USA? He made his usual false reply. He had been on the point of an early departure until the appearance of the lady with the white roe. What had first amused was the way her phalanx of young men moved when she moved, keeping her always surrounded, like guards around a treasure. But his smile froze when he noted his younger brother, Dick, in the thick of the pack. Putting together some of the heated conversations he'd overheard between Dick and his friend, Bobby Van Reyden, he'd concluded that this must be their bone of contention, Nina De Bonnard. Even his mother had had several words of warning bout that lady. Not once but several times she'd stopped to say she hoped he would not pay the slightest attention to that young miss, who was perilously close to being considered fast!
Naturally, that practically assured he would be on the lookout for her. And yet that lady had caught his interest before he'd realized she was Miss De Bonnard. As a self-noted connoisseur of women, Jordan had from first view rated Nina according to his own personal system of evaluating the fair sex. Beauty was important, but intelligence and, most of all, charm garnered the highest marks on his scale. He'd put himself to the fatigue of actually pushing his way to the outer rim of her circle for a closer evaluation of her particulars: gold-red hair hidden almost completely by the usual wide-brimmed lawn hat; nose, unremarkable; mouth, ordinary; height, average; carriage, too much of a preen to it. Altogether, he would have given her a median rating but for her eyes. They doubled her marks. Not just for their elegant shape and a copper glow in the center of the hazel tones, but for the life in them. And then, as she unabashedly kept her composure under his direct glance, calmly accepting his challenge of stares, he had to up his rating a point further, above any he'd given other women, for audacity.
Unable to resist a challenge for long, Jordan returned to that lady's court. This time he did not hang back but resolvedly pushed his way through the crowd, and came face-to-face with her.
READ WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE TWO MEET AND AN IMMORAL PACT
THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING BETWEEN THEM IN ‘THE GILDED LILY” by Helen Argers.
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