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FOLLOW THE HEART: Meet Kate and Nora

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

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Yesterday, you met the three “leading men” from Follow the Heart. Now it’s time to give the two leading ladies the same honor. Be sure to check my Follow the Heart board on Pinterest today, as I will be posting images of these ladies as I have a chance.

Honora “Nora” Woodriff
Honora Woodriff[Template: Olivia Hallinan, altered for eye color]

Nora Woodriff grew up in a working-class family in Manchester, England. When her father was injured at his factory job, they could no longer support their children, so Nora and her siblings were sent out to find work—the boys to factories in the north of England and the girls to the south to find work in service. Nora, however, was too old to be taken on as a maid (with no prior experience), until she found herself on the doorstep of Mrs. Timperleigh’s Seminary for Deserving Young Women. She begged to work at the school, but Mrs. Timperleigh made her an offer—work in exchange for schooling, room, and board. Nora agreed. Upon completing her education, she taught at the school for a couple of years until the opportunity arose to become governess to the two younger daughters of Sir Anthony Buchanan at Wakesdown Manor. While Dorcas left after a year of Nora’s tutelage to go to finishing school, Nora has continued over the past several years, to work with the youngest Buchanan, Florie. She’s also managed to barely stave off rumors that she took the position (a young woman in her early 20s at the time) with an eye to becoming the next Lady Buchanan. While this has mostly died down, it still occasionally rears its ugly head.

Why Olivia Hallinan? Though it’s set a few decades later than this time period, I loved Olivia Hallinan in the TV series Lark Rise to Candleford. Besides her “girl-next-door” looks, the character she portrays in that series has just the right combination of sweet naivety and strength to suit someone like governess Nora Woodriff.

Katharine “Kate” Dearing
Kate Dearing[Template: Holley Fain]

This story is, for the most part, Kate’s story. Though both Kate and Christopher have been sent to England to marry wealth, the weight of this responsibility falls more heavily on her shoulders. First, she is the eldest child in the family. She knows more (or thinks she does) of what is going on with her father and the lost fortune. She’s always felt responsible for Christopher, especially since the death of their mother in childbirth when they were young. Second, she feels guilty that she hasn’t managed to catch a husband by her advanced age of twenty-eight. She knows that if she’d managed to keep her opinions to herself, to learn to flirt, to become a vapid socialite like all of the other women her age, she would be married by now and her family would not be in the dire straits they find themselves in. And she finds it hard to forgive her father for sending her off to England, or to ask his forgiveness for the harsh words they exchanged before she and Christopher boarded the steamship for England.

Why Holley Fain? I’ll admit I’ve never actually seen her in anything. I don’t even know what her voice sounds like. But when I saw a series of photos of her online, the character of Katharine/Kate (originally named Margaret/Meg) sprang to mind. Her physicality bespoke the kind of character I wanted Kate to be.

Holley - Kate

On May 1, I will be giving away FIVE signed copies of Follow the Heart.

Beginning Monday, April 15, 2013, and ending Tuesday, April 30, 2013, I’ll be doing a series of blog posts on the background and inspiration for the Great Exhibition series and Follow the Heart. Each comment you leave on every post between 4/15/13 and 4/30/13 will earn you a name in the “hat” for the drawing. (Posts will be closed to new comments after 24 hours, so be sure to check in daily—subscribe via email above, or check my Twitter or Facebook page, as each new post gets announced there, too—for the latest post to comment on.)

Comment early, comment often!

5 Comments
  1. Janella permalink
    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 11:53 am

    I love the images you posted for the leading ladies and their stories. I am eager for the series.

  2. Dora permalink
    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 3:26 pm

    Kate sounds like the kind of woman, I would have liked to be in that era. Everything I have read and heard, women were not to be “strong”. I am glad those thoughts are no longer the prevailing ideals for our gender. However, at the ripe old age of 42, I am still single, so may be men are still looking for vapid. Who knows.

  3. Amber permalink
    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 4:48 pm

    This is so exciting! I really like learning about the characters and being able to have their faces in mind when reading. I love that you’re doing this!

  4. Emma permalink
    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 7:20 pm

    I absolutely adore the names you gave these two ladies! I appreciate the in depth look you are giving us of the main characters! It is always fun to learn what the author was thinking when they created each character. :)

  5. Wednesday, April 17, 2013 9:20 pm

    I love how you share your characters with us. I admit I am a new fan. I just finished the Brides of Bonneterre and I am on the last book of the Matchmakers series. It is always fun to find a new author that you love.

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