Friday, January 10, 2014

"Heirs of the Body"

Carola Dunn is the author of Heirs of the Body and many previous mysteries featuring Daisy Dalrymple, as well as numerous historical novels. Born and raised in England, she lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Dunn applied the Page 69 Test to Heirs of the Body and reported the following:
Page 69 of Heirs of the Body doesn't illuminate the plot. It does illustrate the background of the series: the clash between the pre-WWI generation, here Daisy's mother, the Dowager Lady Dalrymple, and the post-war generation, Daisy herself, with Geraldine, the present Lady Dalrymple—whose husband had been a schoolmaster until he inherited—caught uneasily in between. Rapidly changing expectations and social mores are part of the reason I chose to write about the 1920s.

The page does end with stormy weather in the offing!

Page 69:
Daisy's mother got round to asking after her grandchildren. As she had completely ignored their existence the previous day, Daisy took this sudden solicitude with a pinch of salt. A wayward impulse made her begin with Belinda, in whom the dowager had even less interest than in the twins.

"Belinda's doing very well at school. She's even thinking she might like to go on to university, though it's much too early to make a decision, of course."

"Belinda...? Oh, your stepdaughter. I cannot approve of excessive education for young ladies...but of course, the child doesn't quite—"


"I'm very fond of Belinda," Geraldine put in hastily. "A nice child, and bright. And having seen many decidedly unintelligent boys going on to fritter away everyone's time at Oxford and Cambridge, I don't believe it can be right to waste a good brain just because it's female."

"If Bel wants to continue her studies when she's seventeen or eighteen, she shall. Miranda, too. She loves picture books and she knows most of her ABCs. Oliver is more interested in trains at present. Not content with his wooden train, he builds his own with his blocks."

"Not what I would describe as a useful accomplishment. Still, you did at least produce an heir." The dowager gave Geraldine a disparaging look, then transferred it to Daisy. "Though it hardly matters, since there is no title to inherit."

Daisy's mother was the only person who invariably succeeded in bringing her to the boiling point. It must have been obvious because Geraldine, with an alarmed glance at Daisy, said, "Will you have another wafer, Maud?" and thrust the plate towards the dowager, as if to stop her mouth. "And may pour you some more lemonade? Daisy, let me refill your glass."

They both accepted. The social amenities restored, the dowager took a sip and said graciously, "An excellent notion. June is seldom so hot. I believe we shall have a storm."

As if to confirm her prediction, a distant mutter of thunder made itself heard. Though they were sitting by the open window, not a breath of air relieved the stifling heat. Heavy clouds darkened the sky, but no rain fell. Conversation languished.
The plot of Heirs of the Body concerns the present Lord Dalrymple's search for an heir. Not having been brought up in the expectation of becoming viscount (Daisy's brother was killed in the war), he finds himself on the eve of his fiftieth birthday without having stirred himself to discover who will inherit the title and estate.

Worldwide advertising brings four credible candidates to London from all over the Empire. Three, rather; one is represented by his wife (or widow). He's been missing a couple of months. She doesn't know where he is nor when or whether he'll return.

The family and all the prospective heirs are invited to the Dalrymple estate, Fairacres, for his lordship's birthday. A series of accidents and a death make it plain that someone is determined to let nothing and no one stand in the way of his inheriting.
Visit Carola Dunn's website and blog.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Carola Dunn and Trillian.

Writers Read: Carola Dunn.

--Marshal Zeringue