10 July 2010



Welcome to our first Themed Challenge! If you have anything to say about a Family Home, today is the day to link up or forever hold your peace.

(I've noticed lately how many readers I have who love to hold their peace. Odd, that . . .)

Next month's theme is Nature Settings. In other words: no walls, no roofs, no air of civilisation. How does 7 August 2010 sound to everyone? (Want it sooner? Later? Themes every other week instead of every month? No themes at all? Don't hold your peace on this one, folks.)

Ramsay House
Mine Till Midnight
by Lisa Kleypas

Win . . . had been reading from a thick tome about Hampshire and its environs. . . "The history of Ramsay House is impressive."

"Our house is in a history book?" Beatrix asked in delight.

"It's only a small paragraph," Win said from behind the book, "'Ramsay House . . . stands in a small park populated with stately oaks and beeches, coverts of bracken, and surrounds of deer-cropped turf. Originally an Elizabethan manor house completed in 1594, the building boasts of many long galleries representative of the period. Alterations and additions to the house have resulted in the grafting of a Jacobean ballroom and a Gregorian wing."

"We have a ballroom!" Poppy exclaimed.

"We have deer!" Beatrix said gleefully.

Leo settled deeper into his corner. "God, I hope we have a privy."

While reading this novel, I was struck at how perfectly Ramsay House matches the Hathaway family, who have just moved in.
In the same way that people and their pets can grow to resemble each other, I think that people and their houses can age in similar patterns. But this is when they meet when one party is young. In this story, both the home and the family are relatively old when the death of a distant relative turns Leo Hathaway into the new Lord Ramsay. And yet the house fits!

When the work to clean and restore it begins in earnest, our heroine muses that it is "a charming place, really, with eccentricities, secret corners and unique features that only needed some polish and attention," and makes an explicit comparison between the home and its new inhabitants. (For the benefit of less subtle readers, you know. =P)

But Ramsay House isn't quirky for the sake of being quirky: all its unusual features also serve the plot. There is "the bee room," to name one--an upstairs parlour left unused for so long that about two hundred thousand bees were able to turn it into a hive. And then there's the fact that the place is haunted--by a ghost that doesn't come with the old structure but with the new occupants! Oh, and a mysterious fire nearly burns the old place down, making a painful parallel to the dissension in a once-happy family. But the best part of all is that Ramsay House is Catholic!!! Yes, it is as Catholic as old English houses come, even though the Hathaways are solid, simple Church of England folk--excepting (I suppose) the gypsy foster brother. It would have been nice to have a Catholic family move into a Catholic house . . . but I can't have all my literary fantasies, can I?

Last week, I read the fourth book in the Hathaways series, Married by Morning. It is Lord Ramsay's story and the only other story in which plot, character and setting come together so perfectly. Which is just right, I think, as his redemption in Mine Till Midnight parallels the restoration of his new home. Leo as a character and Ramsay House as a setting are tied together so tightly that there was simply no way for him to have his own romance without the house coming into play.

Now it's your turn!
Leave the link to your Locus Focus post in the linky
and take some time to check out and comment on those of others.
I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! =D

EDIT: Here are quick links to all the Family Homes linked up for our first Theme Challenge . . .

Books before Breakfast, Elinor's House (Inkheart by Cornelia Funke)

Breaking the Curve, Jelaza Kazone (Liadan Universe books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller)

Birdie's Nest, Penshurst (To Penshurst by John Donne)

Spike Is Best, Ithaca (The Odyssey by Homer)

Null Epistolary, The Burrow (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)

Image Source: Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas


Kinsey said...

Wait, Locus Focus will now be themed? I love the sound of that!
I am definitely doing Locus Focus this Saturday (or is it a Friday now?). Thankfully, I think I have an idea on what I'll write about.

Kinsey said...

Ahh! I just read your Locus Focus, and it reminded me that I have been wanting to read those books for a while. Now that you've posted an excerpt, my hands are itching to get them.

Belfry Bat said...


in other matters... Kinsey, where *is* your locus? I'll work on mine in the morning. It's actually a switch from what I'd planned (but in the end wouldn't have got to anyways... the week was a MESS!) so... who knows? we'll see how I manage.

Paul Stilwell said...

August 7th. sounds good to me.

You have to love reading about the history of the house you're living in; reading about the house while you're in the house.

And houses do age in the way you mention, don't they? Buyer beware!

Paul Stilwell said...

Not, by the way, that I've ever read the history of a house while living in the house; but the thought of it...

Sullivan McPig said...

You did it now! My owner put this book on her wish list thanks to you! And I'm wondering if there was indeed a privy.
I'm too chaotic and busy myself at the moment to make a locus focus post, but do have an idea for next saturday (if my internet is up and running again by then.)

Enbrethiliel said...


@ Kinsey: I put up my weekly Locus Focus post and the linky every Saturday--while in many parts of the world it is still Friday. And sometimes I get stragglers who link up on a Sunday. =P It's not a big deal, but I decided to change my schedule from "Saturday" to "weekend," anyway. I hope it's not confusing when Saturday's date is on the sidebar and the main Locus Focus page.

I was surprised at how long I managed to wait to read Kleypas' Hathaways series! Mine Till Midnight was out in 2007--and I can remember not really being interested in it after I was done with the last Wallflowers book. Now the final book is about to be (or just has been) published, and Kleypas is focussing on a new project, which I probably won't care for, either, until she's also done with it! And all of this totally explains why I can't write "Waiting on Wednesday" posts! =P

@ Bat: And the spam is indeed gone! =D

@ Paul: That may just be the appeal of those secret letters squirreled away in locked drawers, which are the only insight any respectable Gothic novel allows into the forbidding old home where the heroine finds herself. Of course such a letter is the only history that would ever be written about the place!

But yes, regular books are good, too, even without that personal touch. =)

PS--Is this part of the brainstorming for that comic book? =P

PPS--I'll have your prize in the post on Monday! I'm sorry it has taken so long, but you will get it very soon!

Enbrethiliel said...


@ Sully: I do seem to be doing a lot of "damage" when it comes to people's wish lists and to-be-read piles! =P Should I be feeling more remorseful? LOL! But I'm sure your owner and Voodoo Bride will like this one. =)

Well, I'll miss you this Saturday, but I totally understand about the chaos of a move!

iolanthe95 said...

This books sounds like something I have to read!

Enbrethiliel said...


Well, if you like Lisa Kleypas . . . ;-)

I wasn't very intrigued by the premise when the book first came out and had never really warmed to recurring character Cam Rohan (who is the hero here), which is why I took so long. (And well, whenever I see an IR Romance, I cynically wonder whether the author is just fetishising the "exoticness" of one partner.) But now that I've started the series, I have to say I love the Hathaways! They are worth it. =) I still roll my eyes whenever the Gypsy characters feel they need to remind everyone else that they are Rom, but it doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would.

Thanks for joining this week, Iolanthe! =D

Paul Stilwell said...

It may well be part of the brainstorming for the comic book. It's been more of a stormbrain than brainstorm of late, so it's hard to tell!

I look forward to the prize!

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks for linking up again, Paul! =) I just wish this meme could get all participants more traffic and comments because everyone writes such great stuff . . . =(

Paul Stilwell said...

Give it some time. All it takes is one little Pippin out there, and people will be wishing there was a little bit less traffic.

Belfry Bat said...

I have returned!

Poem to come later (when it comes to me, you know?)

Enbrethiliel said...


@ Stilwell: One little Pippin? Is that another literary reference flying over my head?

@ Bat: Oh, give the poem all the time it needs. Even my pressure cooked poem needed one more edit after I published it. I didn't call attention to that, which was also very Orwellian of me.

Paul Stilwell said...

Pippin, the one little pebble that causes an "avalanche" in The Lord of the Rings.

I think I was being melodramatic.