I travel. Sometimes I travel by boat, plane, or automobile. Sometimes I travel by book. This week I rambled through Mayfair with Mary Lancaster from a modest home on Half Moon Street to a shabby past its prime house on Charles Street to the homes of the truly wealthy on Grosvener Square.
As opulent as some of these townhouses were, it is always stunning to me that they sit cheek by jowl directly at street level. Though some of the houses on Grosvener Square are five bays wide, more modest homes were quite narrow, and all of them are deeper than they are wide, with the most luxurious stretching back to stables facing the mews or lane behind the house. If they have a garden it is generally a narrow patch tucked in to the side of the house tucked between the owner’s dining room and the wall of the neighboring townhouse. This is the layout of the home of the Earl of Derby.
From the outside, the houses of Grosvener Square are pleasant but not impressive. The insides are another story entirely. Homeowners likely poured money and energy into the inside to outdo the rest of society!
The great privilege of owning a house on this square had to be the park in the center. Many streets of Mayfair are narrow and lined with the facades of house son both sides. Houses on Grosvener Square face a lush green park. The square was laid out by 1720 and building began a few years later. The initial plan, to have uniform design in the houses, eventually fell away. The park was designed with as much care. Oval in shape, it is the largest in Mayfair, and is still a wonderful urban green space today, exactly as it was intended.
Mary Lancaster makes great use of the garden in Letters to a Lover, when her heroine sneaks out of a ball at ten o’clock at night to deliver a packet in response to a blackmailer’s demands.
About the Book Letters to a Lover
Will blackmail wreck their marriage? Or save it?
When Azalea, the beautiful Viscountess Trench, receives a note threatening to expose her adulterous love letters unless she pays up, she faces even greater anxieties than most blackmail victims. Not only is her marriage a little too frail to withstand such revelations at this moment, but she can’t actually remember the adultery, let alone writing the letters.
In fact, there seems to be a great deal she can’t remember, which puts her at considerable disadvantage when facing down a blackmailer. In desperation, she turns to her sister Grizelda, recently returned from her honeymoon, to track down the culprit before her beloved husband finds out.
But Eric, Lord Trench, has grown tired of waiting patiently for his wife to come back to him. When he finds her in a bizarre assignation, he sees red, and demands that she gives him her trust and her love. If it is not already too late.
For worse dangers than scandal stalk Azalea and they will need to work fast if they are to save their marriage – and Azalea’s very life.
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