In serving a noble family, it is the attention to detail that tells. The freshly-ironed copies of the Times and Tit-bits. The claret served at precisely the temperature of a sun-warmed grape: it is these little things which may make the difference between a contented Family and an unhappy one. The Devil is the details, my Gran used to say. And so he is. Witness for example, the events of that fateful August day in 1914 when the stillroom maid was decapitated by the dumbwaiter.
So begins Mrs Daffodil, the delightfully efficient homicidal housekeeper of the title story in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.
Born in an unspecified year during the reign of Queen Victoria to a wastrel and his beset wife in Puddledank, Lincolnshire, Margaret Louisa Daffodil (Maisie to the family) was sent into service after being orphaned at a young age. By a rare combination of sympathy, ingenuity, and blackmail she worked her way up the ladder at various great houses, arriving at the pinnacle: housekeeper of Whitsend Hall. When Nancy, the stillroom maid, is decapitated by the dumbwaiter during a romp with the master of Whitsend, Mrs Daffodil must act swiftly to avert a crisis that could bring down that stately home. Even in the most trying circumstances, Mrs Daffodil always Finds a Way. Think Downton Abbey meets Dexter.
In researching the neo-Edwardian stories of A Spot of Bother and in writing my “Ghosts of the Past” series–scrapbooks of true Victorian hauntings and horrors–I constantly find fascinating snippets of historic ephemera–fads that had their 15 minutes of fame in 1871 and were never seen again. Here at Mrs Daffodil Digresses, you’ll find long-lost glimpses of costume and social history, quoted from their original sources.
Some posts will be short squibs; others will be longish short stories. I will keep my commentary to a minimum. Mrs Daffodil, however, will be in excellent voice. She will do her best to educate, elevate, and amuse.
As for the other tales in A Spot of Bother: “Property of a Lady” tells of a gentlemanly collector of erotica and his encounter with a sentimental succubus. The next two tales, “Stitches” and “Crape,” focus on sewing and costume history. In “Stitches,” a dress-maker’s apprentice is taught her trade by a ghostly teacher
--at a fearful cost. “Crape” is a story of a woman haunted by Victorian mourning conventions gone horribly wrong. And, of course, the title story introduces Mrs Daffodil as she attempts to tidy away the family skeletons in an ever-widening circle of murderous accidents.
Mrs Daffodil is pleased to welcome you to this blog where she hopes you will enjoy her blend of the genteel and the unspeakable.
The Cedars, Mafeking Road, Mitching Hill
24 March 2013
A Spot of Bother may be found in e-book format at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The first two volumes of The Ghosts of the Past series: The Face in the Window, The Headless Horror, The Ghost Wore Black, and The Victorian Book of the Dead are available from those retailers in paperback and e-book versions.
If you have a taste for ghost stories, the grim and gruesome, or Fortean mysteries, wonders and curiosities, please visit my Killer Budgie Blog at http://hauntedohiobooks.com/the-blog-of-chris-woodyard/
While I have also written a series of books on Ohio ghosts (the Haunted Ohio series) and four volumes of the Ghosts of the Past series: The Face in the Window,The Headless Horror, The Ghost Wore Black, and The Victorian Book of the Dead the blog roves through topics from all over the world and many centuries.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes