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It is my hypothesis that social conventions are created to test our fortitude.
Rockland circa 1900-
As the mayor’s daughter, Madeline Brown enjoys a rich social life that many might envy. But a sharp mind but a growing talent for observation leaves Madeline torn between avoiding social censure and exploring the world around her.
With an aunt who considers higher education and employment equally unsuitable for the mayor’s daughter, there is little to amuse her save endless committee meetings, evening socials, and her favorite pastime: curling up with an exciting detective novel. The temperance and suffrage movements hold little interest for a young woman who has just endured the rigors of her father’s mayoral campaign.
So when a young man shows interest in her friend, Madeline’s interest piques–until his actions hint that he might not be the upstanding gentleman everyone presumes him to be. Unable to ignore her concerns, Madeline finds herself in the middle of an investigation into his character and discovers a side of Rockland she’s never encountered.
Will her new hobby reduce the tedium of her life, or will her “meddling” create tension for herself and her father? Will she be forced to squelch this budding skill of hers or has Madeline finally found her calling in life?
Meddlin’ Madeline: Sweet on You.
Welcome to Rockland’s infancy.
Sweet on You is the first book in the Meddlin’ Madeline Mysteries. Watch for the second book in the series, Such a Tease, in winter, 2017
SERIES: Meddlin’ Madeline #1
GENRE: Historical Mystery/Romance
PUBLISHER: Wynneword House
RELEASE DATE: April 24, 2016
“When one asks help from Providence, one should be prepared for the consequences.”
If you’re a fan of Chautona Havig’s contemporary Rockland books (Ready or Not, Argosy Junction, Noble Pursuits, etc.) then you will love going back in time a bit to experience Rockland at the turn of the twentieth century. Madeline, with all her well-intentioned meddling & her sweet relationship with her father & her obliviosity (new word) to how her friend Russell feels about her, reminded me in all the best ways of Jane Austen’s Emma. Which would make Russell a shoe-in for Mr. Knightley, and after yesterday’s bookish confession‘s post we all know how I feel about him 🙂
Madeline is a delightful character, one who is aware of her father’s position as mayor – and of her position as his daughter – and (mostly) behaves accordingly. But at the same time, she refuses to fit obediently into the mold that society would dictate to her. She’s more interested in figuring out what Mr. Vernon Smythe is hiding than in joining the temperance or suffragette movements, certainly more invested in investigating than in finding a husband.
And yet, even as Madeline ignores social conventions to follow in Sherlock Holmes’ footsteps, we the readers are treated to glimpses of a fascinating time in our country’s history. A time when electricity and cars were just starting to catch on. A time when the temperance and suffragette movements were the talk of newspapers and parlors. A time when women were starting to realize they had more options than they’d been given. And yet a time when women still had fewer options than they should have had. The history never takes over the story – that’s all Madeline and her capers! But it supports the plot and the setting in subtle ways that enhance both.
Bottom Line: Sweet on You, this first book in the new Meddlin’ Madeline series by Chautona Havig is fun and entertaining. The beginning felt a little awkward to me – as though I had missed a previous book and had to catch up. There isn’t a lot of background given, and we’re sort-of dropped into the story in progress. But other than that – and once you get past that – the story moves along nicely and Madeline in all her Emma-like quirks quickly endears herself to you. I am looking forward to more books in the series, particularly to find out if Madeline ever notices that Russell is her Knightley. 😀
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 3.5 stars / Entertaining read
I am fortunate enough to live in the great state of California (in the Mojave Desert) with my husband Kevin and five of my nine children. My eldest is married with five children, so I have the fun of a son-in-law and grandbabies to enjoy. I’ve graduated six out of my nine children from our home school, and they’re all doing quite well in their lives. My younger children keep me from getting too selfish, and someday I’ll be fully retired as their teacher. I have to say, I’m lookin’ forward to it. Teaching about gerunds was fun the first time… not so much anymore. I salute all of those in the education field. You are my heroes.
When I’m not writing (which I admit isn’t often) I enjoy blogging (a totally different kind of writing, trust me), paper crafts, sewing, smocking, photo editing, and old music. No, really, I like OLD stuff… the Beatles are too newfangled for me. Yeah,I know they’re before my time… but I like stuff before my PARENTS time.
Other Books by Chautona Havig
The idea for Madeline came while I was searching for photos for another book idea (one I still haven’t fleshed out yet!). I came across an intriguing picture of a girl wearing a bowler and loved it. I wondered who she was and what she was reading. Well… then I turned the page and… wow! Dozens of photos appeared—all in the same general theme. Bowler hat, gloves, late Victorian/early Edwardian clothes…. I could just see her riding through town on a “wheel” and solving crimes. And well, the rest was born. I had to narrow down about twenty pictures to five. I couldn’t do it. So, I did six. I just hope I can limit myself to six.
This is a historical novel, so that meant lots of research. Well, in the sense that it takes place in another period, anyway. Research proved much more difficult than you might imagine. You see, the world was in a state of flux in 1901. Victorian mores gave way way to a new, modern era—a new century! Though an exciting time in history, because everything was in a perpetual state of change, finding truly historically accurate information was almost impossible!
Additionally, the writing style is very different. This is partly due to a quirk of Madeline’s, but it is also because people used broader vocabularies back then. I wrote the book with a style that fit the era. It was difficult not to lapse into modern vernacular or even something a bit more twenties. After all, the series title was inspired by a song from the 1920’s!
Fun Fact #2
This book begins a journey of self-discovery for Madeline. One of the things I wanted most to do with this book was to explore the “birth” of a detective—to show what it might be like for someone to realize that he or she notices things that others don’t. Through Madeline, I explored how people would react to having their secrets exposed, and I tried to show just how difficult it would be to investigate suspicious things without becoming deceitful or putting oneself in compromising positions. It’s easy to assume people would appreciate knowing if they were being taken advantage of, but would they really? Would pride not get in the way of things? I suspect it would.
Each book does have a definite “mystery”. But, these aren’t traditional mysteries. There won’t be a murder until the final book, but each one will increase in difficulty for Madeline and the reader to decipher the truth and will add a new element of danger and self-discovery. Additionally, there’s an overarching story over the entire series that won’t be resolved until the end.
Fun Fact #3
We have five more books to go! We’re just getting started with Madeline’s adventures. A sneak peek into the rest of the series: we’ll get to learn more about her best friend, Amy. I haven’t decided just what kind of girl Amy is, but I suspect she’s quite beautiful. I think that’ll play a part in a future book. She’s also likely to meet someone in her European tour. Will she be the friend with the suspicious letter in book four? Who knows? Not me!
Madeline’s Unofficial Glossary
One of the best parts about writing this series is playing with words that I grew up using and reading, but most people don’t use anymore. I had parents of a literary turn of mind, so I grew up being told to, “Slow down and enunciate.” This began at age 3. So, while other kids were told to “go potty,” I was told to “use the facilities.” I’ll never forget in second grade telling a classmate, “That’s your prerogative,” when she said, “I don’t like you.” She was… confused, I think.
Add to that the fun slang of the day, not to mention a quirk I’m not giving away, and I can honestly say I had a blast writing this book. However, I know not everyone is fond of sesquipedalian words or erudite language. So, with that in mind, I decided to write this glossary of words you will find in the book. Please note: definitions are mine and written with my tongue super-glued to the inside of my cheek.
- Pretending to be reserved in an attempt to hide the truth. Desperate. A misguided notion that pretending not to notice someone will create interest.
- The quality of never being able to make up your mind. A woman.
- The misguided notion that one must be like Nellie Olson in These Happy Golden Years and allow one’s tongue to go “flippity-flop.” Example: Gossips are often multi-eloquent.
- Slang for a nickel. Also, a horse-drawn “cab.” Because it has fewer syll–nope. Not that. Because people like to confuse one another in speech. “Hey, do you have a jitney?” Gee… let’s see. I’ve got a nickel, but I left my horse and carriage in my other pants at home…
- Doesn’t matter, because I had to remove it from the book. I didn’t read the entire dictionary entry when I chose the word, and only saw 1880 mentioned. Alas, the first known use is 1919. Eighteen years after this book takes place. I consider the coiner to be tardy, and would appreciate that in the future, words be coined by the dates I need. Thank you. (Do you see the amount of research I must do. I have to check if words were even IN USE before I use them. And I still almost flubbed it.)
- Madeline… wait. That’s not quite right. But close enough. Okay. Madeline Brown when she has a bee in her bowler. Resisting authority or convention.
Dialogue de sourds: noun (French)
- Literally: a worthless conversation where both parties speak to a glass wall, hearing only themselves. Example: political conversations, theological conversations, ideological conversations, Facebook wall “discussions,” and arguments with toddlers.
- Ridiculous or silly–like the assertion that someone saying the word is using foul language.
- Marked by an inability to part with money. A lickpenny. (see how I did that?)
- A word meaning amusing or extremely interesting that lends itself more to sarcasm than plain speaking.
- A nosy person who gets away with it under the guise of “helping.” Sometimes known as a detective.
- Um… yeah. This glossary. Madeline does lend herself to the fustian.
There you go. It’s just a taste of what’s ahead. Happy reading!
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