This is the journal of Eugenie Vye: the prettiest debutante of the 1890 season, with hair she can sit on and a seventeen-inch waist – yet somehow three years later, still unmarried. Lord Vye’s daughter might be thought to want for nothing, but life isn’t easy on fifty guineas a year with a jealous stepmother watching one’s every move. Eugenie’s passionate nature and unerring ability to get hold of the wrong end of the stick land her in trouble as she follows her heart: from elegant Swallowcliffe to the streets of fashionable London, by way of rural Ireland, glamorous belle époque Paris and an idyllic artists’ retreat at Giverny. She hurtles from one near-disaster to another, rescued only by a sense of humour, unquenchable optimism and her dear American friend Julia – until finally discovering love was right under her nose all along.
A story you’ll find hard to put down, told by a girl you won’t forget.
‘I stood quietly while the dressmaker flitted about, like a busy little humming bird swooping on a flower: draping fabric against my body, taking measurements with the tape around her neck, even removing my hat to adjust my hair! From time to time she would stand back and look at me, her head on one side, but with such kindly interest that I basked in the attention.
‘I think I have it,’ she said eventually. ‘At first I thought of presenting you as an innocent maiden, a naiad, all fresh-faced and dewy-eyed, but you have too much character for that. Your charm has been tempered by sorrow, forged into something altogether more remarkable. If I may say so, Miss Vye, you have the potential to become one of the leading beauties of your generation.’
This was too much. I sat down on the chaise longue and promptly burst into tears.’