Wednesday, 31 December 2014

NY Eve Masked Ball: Lucy Carmichael by Margaret Kennedy

published 1951








[A masked party is being held for New Year’s Eve]

THE glass forest glittered very prettily, with lights among its branches, and by ten o’clock the upper floor of the Club was crowded with masked dancers. The only member to refuse disguise was the sombre McIntyre, who stood by the radiogram and changed the dance records. The women took the occasion more seriously than the men, who had mostly dressed up under protest and refused to disguise their voices…

“I wanna skate and I’m gonna skate,” said a cowboy to the Venetian lady with whom he danced, “and I’m gonna skate with you, baby.”

Lasciate ogni speranza” said the lady severely.

“Ah, but I’m coming. Who’s the boyo in the blue coat?”

“How should I know? …Is that Mrs. Fothergill?”

“Sure it is. Didn’t you know she was coming as Nell Gwyn? Will ye stop turning to look at the man!” …

The tune changed to a lively gallop and all couples spun apart for a Paul Jones. The Venetian subsided into the arms of a cardinal. “I see you’ve brought Charles,” she said. “Where did he get those clothes?”

“They’re some Melissa has for a Regency charade she’s getting up. They fit very well, don’t they?”

“They’re magnificent.”…



McIntyre had removed the dance records and turned on the radio. The Westminster bells rang out through the clamour and exclamations as everybody took off their masks. Not much surprise was felt, for most disguises had been thin, but Charles was scrutinised with considerable curiosity and Captain Quinn had a bad moment when he realised that Nell Gwyn was not Mrs. Fothergill.

Ding-dong, ding-dong! went the bells, as husbands and wives drew together and a circle was formed. Charles, abandoned, looked round for Lucy and saw her at the other side of the room between Cobb and Brett. Ding-dong, ding-dong … the bells faded and the voices sank and silence fell upon the Club, as they waited for Big Ben. John took Melissa’s hand. They thought of what the new year would bring to them.

BOOM … BOOM …




A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL CLOTHES IN BOOKS READERS



There’ve been several earlier entries on this book, but I couldn’t resist one last one, to celebrate the New Year. I love any kind of fancy dress/ costume party anyway, and featured one for last New Year too. For other mentions and discussions, click on the labels below.

Sometimes I complain that an author doesn’t make enough of these events, but Margaret Kennedy certainly does, with genuine misapprehensions and tactless remarks. Above, some of the characters mention going skating: this will happen the next day, New Year’s Day, and all the plot strands will tie together nicely with a predictable but charming end. The skating scene is nearly as lovely as the one in Tom’s Midnight Garden, for which we found this excellent picture.




The top picture is a fashion illustration from Paris, from the NY Public Library. For previous New Year's Eve entries click on the label below. 

15 comments:

  1. I lose my bet - a Mitford free zone today. Not one for me....surprised? No, I thought not.
    Wishing you and yours the best for 2015!

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    1. Same to you and your family, Col, and I'll try to feature more Mitfords in 1915, I know you've been disappointed that they weren't on the blog enough....

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  2. An excellent choice for New Year's Eve, Moira! And there's nothing like a fancy-dress event for all kinds of plot points. And that's to say nothing of the clothes involved! Little wonder you love them so much.Have a wonderful 2015!

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    1. Same to you Margot, and yes, ALL writers should do a fancy dress ball in their books....

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  3. You have put me on my mettle, Moira. Maybe a short story featuring a fancy dress party . . . I feel a plot coming on.
    I have just read and blogged about a book you recommended: Lissa Evan's Their Finest Hour and a Half. Loved it.
    Have a great 2015 and I'm looking forward to reading many more of your blogs.

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    1. Oh please do that, Chrissie, I think it has tremendous possibilities and I would love to read it (and feel I had in part inspired it). I'm going to go and read your review of Lissa Evans' book now.
      And, same to you, let's hope for successful blogging and writing for both of us in 2015....

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  4. That's such a great scene - love those misunderstandings. Happy New Year!

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    1. As I keep saying, I really don't know why people don't have masked fancy dress balls in more books - such opportunities!
      Happy New Year to you too....

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  5. Moira: Sharon and I are spending a quiet New Year's Eve at home. Might you have found a fancy dress ball to attend? I can see you in an extravagant flowing dress and a sparkling mask!

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    1. I wish! Had a lovely quiet dinner with friends, but no masks. I tried for a bit of a sparkle in my sensible clothes though.... Happy New Year to you and Sharon.

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  6. We do New Year's Eve quietly just as we do Christmas day, either a group of movies or ... we use to do a Gene Autry serial called The Phantom Empire every year. In various incarnations, first on tape, then in various DVD versions. With county singing and everything. Very casual, no fancy dress. We do have Hopping John on New Year's Day for good luck all year, although I don't remember ever doing that in my childhood in the South.

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    1. Now I'm intrigued about the Phantom Empire, I'll have to find out about that, not familiar to me at all. Happy New Year to you....

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    2. Just checked it out - western musical and scifi, could be made for you and Glen. Sounds fabulous!

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    3. I know, I don't know how we discovered it. We had a co-worker years ago who worked for the Autry Museum in LA at one time, and they used to show it there occasionally. Until then we were the only people we knew who had ever heard of it. We nearly watched it this year, but we are into another sci fi TV show right now... so did that instead.

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    4. I'm going to have to find it and watch it...

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