Monday 12 November 2018

Twelfth-Night Cake and the Rosings Ghost by Robin Kobayashi - Guest Post and Giveaway

Book cover: Twelfth-Night Cake & The Rosings Ghost by Robin Kobayashi
Today I'm welcoming a new visitor to the blog. Robin Kobayashi has written two young adult novellas featuring characters from Pride & Prejudice. This latest story, Twelfth Night Cake and the Rosings Ghost is set in the festive season. Robin has stopped by with an excerpt of the story and the chance to win an ebook! Read on for more details.

Book Description 

In this Christmas novella set in the year 1818, a plucky little girl must contend with a mischievous ghost at Rosings.

Colonel Fitzwilliam and his eight-year-old daughter, Sofia-Elisabete, pass a winter’s month at Rosings, the estate of his aunt, Lady Catherine. There, the Colonel must help his illegitimate child, who is half-British, half-Portuguese, navigate the prejudices of their world as his outspoken daughter clashes with the imperious Lady Catherine.

One evening, on the first day of Christmas, they hear the tale of the mysterious Rosings Ghost who, centuries ago, vexed the inhabitants of Rosings during the twelve days of Christmas. The next morning strange things begin to happen. Why has the Rosings Ghost returned now? Why does a furious Lady Catherine blame Sofia-Elisabete for all of the ghost’s pranks?

Will our girl hero Sofia-Elisabete, with the help of her father, uncover the real secret of the Rosings Ghost and put an end to its tricks?

Guest Post from Robin Elizabeth Kobayashi

I’ve always imagined that there was more to Colonel Fitzwilliam’s story than meets the eye. A key scene in Pride and Prejudice occurs at Rosings, where Elizabeth Bennet is grilling him and making him feel awfully uncomfortable about justifying his life-style choices. Finally, in an effort to cut her off, the colonel says, ‘These are home questions…’

What other choices had he made in his lifetime? And which ones did he regret, particularly those made during a time of war? If he rose to the rank of colonel or lieutenant colonel, he must have seen some military action. So, I placed him in Portugal when Napoleon’s army is about to invade that country for taking sides with England. In Lisbon, he meets a beautiful Portuguese girl, and that’s when Sofia-Elisabete, his illegitimate daughter, is conceived.

Book cover: I, Sofia-Elisabete, Love Child of Colonel Fitzwilliam: A Perfect World in the Moon by Robin Kobayashi
My novel I, Sofia-Elisabete, Love Child of Colonel Fitzwilliam: A Perfect World in the Moon, which is told from Sofia-Elisabete’s point of view, describes in both a humorous and poignant fashion her beginnings as an abandoned foundling, her search for her father and their close relationship when she finds him, and the tragedy that occurs when, at the age of five, she runs away from home to find the perfect world in the moon – a utopia that she believes will cure her father’s bouts with melancholy.

After finishing the novel, I wanted to know what happened to these characters of Sofia-Elisabete and the colonel. Sofia-Elisabete, who is half-Portuguese, Catholic and a love child, is very much an outsider. How does she feel growing up in England during the Regency Era? Her father, who adores her, refuses to hide her in the countryside, to be brought up by strangers.

In my novella Twelfth-Night Cake & the Rosings Ghost, I imagined how the bold and outspoken Sofia-Elisabete would clash with the bold and outspoken Lady Catherine at Rosings. And all this clashing would take place during the Christmas season, a time of peace and goodwill to all people. But the colonel and his daughter aren’t the only two visitors at Rosings. The Rosings Ghost has returned; a ghost that very much enjoys playing pranks! Lady Catherine, who doesn’t believe in the Rosings Ghost, blames Sofia-Elisabete for everything that goes wrong. What’s a young eight-year-old to do?

This past year I’ve been immersed in writing YA historical fiction that appeals to all ages, finishing three novellas about the lovable, strong-willed Sofia-Elisabete and her close relationship with her father, Colonel Fitzwilliam. Twelfth-Night Cake & the Rosings Ghost is the first novella to be released in this series. My sincere thanks to Ceri for helping me launch the Rosings Ghost novella on her site!

Excerpt from Twelfth-Night Cake & the Rosings Ghost

Lady Catherine, who calls Sofia-Elisabete ‘the little brown one’, is making our girl hero eat tasteless gruel as punishment for taking her ladyship’s candy to give to the poor children. Hungry as ever, Sofia-Elisabete gulps down the remains of Anne de Bourgh’s chocolate. She wonders why her color matters. She never thought of herself as a color before. Towards the end of this scene, she questions the colonel about her brown-tinged skin.

Book cover: Twelfth-Night Cake & The Rosings Ghost by Robin Kobayashi
On my third and final day of eating cruel gruel, which is how I dubbed it, I got it into my brain that my own suffering would no longer do. Breakfast over, and no one attending to me, I seized Annie’s cup of chocolate and, quick, quick, quick, I slurped up what remained in it. Now, most mornings after breakfast, Annie would hie to the stable to call on her beloved ponies, Sylvester and Macdougal, and she, being an eccentric, would kiss them and slobber them and talk like a stable boy to them and rub them down with fresh straw. I hear you cry, ‘Surely you are funning?’ I own that I had spied on her the other day. Having burst into giggles at her silliness and stable-boy talk, I was found out and banished from the stable.

Feeling emboldened by my chocolate caper to-day, I sneaked into the stable where I eavesdropped on Annie’s conversation with her ponies. She told them how naughty I had been. She growled like a dog at my ‘gggrruel punishment’ – a wit she is not – and how I needed to be taught a lesson for having done a bad thing, a very bad thing by stealing Lady Catherine’s medicinal drops. ‘She be a bad ’un. A’n’t I right, Sylvester? You knows I am.’ She fed a carrot to her pony.

Well, I never! I waited for Annie to quit the stable, and that’s when I pilfered her prized driving-whip. One of the ponies stamped his hoof in protest. ‘Shush, Macdougal,’ warned I, shaking my finger at him.

The sun in a cloudless sky had begun to melt the thin layer of frost on the ground. I sallied forth to the garden; from there, I bounded down the sloping lawn to reach the meadow land, my very own secret meadow. I pranced about, cracking the long whip – crac crac – again and again and again. I imagined myself atop a gleaming barouche, driving four-in-hand, my team of chocolate unicorns galloping to the great beyond. ‘Gee up! Awhi! Awhi!’ shouted I, mimicking a driver.

Unbeknown to me, papai had sighted me from a window at the manor-house. What a strange scene I must have presented to the servants, leaping about and crac-crac-ing my whip and taking a tumble now and then on the slippery ground. But papai was used to my peculiar ways. He strode out across the brown meadow to join me.

Having heard papai’s approach, I spun round to face him, my countenance flushed with exercise. ‘Papai, I’m driving a barouche and four with chocolate unicorns.’ He slowed his step in a most quizzical manner. ‘Come here, silly gooseberry,’ ordered he with an outstretched hand. But I sensed a trace of trouble on his face. Would he lecture me about my hoydenish ways?

I stepped away from him. With mingled feelings of childish panic and impish glee, I darted off like a hunted hare, doubling and turning. ‘Ha! Ha!’ I, the prey, taunted the hunter. But I was no match for a keen sportsman like my papai, who seized me by the back of my unlucky scarlet cloak and thereafter confiscated the driving-whip, scolding me that it wasn’t a toy and that I could hurt myself or someone or something.

‘Egads!’ He drew back. ‘What’s that big brown stain on the front of your pinafore?’

‘Methinks it’s mud.’ I felt my soiled pinafore.

Papai sniffed. ‘It smells chocolate-y. I wonder how it got there?’

‘I do believe…’ I puzzled my wits together for inspiration, ‘the chocolate unicorn nudged me with his magical horn.’

Papai cast a sceptical look at me. ‘I dare say you’re lying. Did you sneak about and drink chocolate at breakfast?’

It has long been a maxim with imps like me that one must always answer a question with another question to get oneself out of a scrape. And if one is very lucky, the all-knowing grown-up will have forgotten his question by then.

‘Papai, am I as brown as chocolate?’ I peered up at him with the saddest eyes I could muster.

He started at my question. ‘Nay. Your skin is a…lovely, light brown colour – very milky, with a bit of chocolate in it.’

‘Like your milky tea?’

‘Ye-e-e-s,’ faltered he.

‘But you hate milky tea.’

Papai gave a slight grimace, his eyelids crinkling. ‘True. That’s why I sweeten it with sugar.’

‘Am I your sweet little girl?’

‘Quite so.’ Papai tugged at his cravat. ‘You’re my sweet little girl, the colour of very milky tea.’

I sensed his relief, he having summoned up a grin for me. I wondered why my milky tea-ness caused him to fidget. Did my brown-ness vex people for some reason? I thought about people colours – the milky-white young ladies, the scarlet-faced old men, the nut-brown farmers. My wee brain couldn’t make sense of why that sort of thing mattered.

Papai strode through the meadow, his hands clasped behind his back, thinking many a deep thought, for a prodigious thinker he is. I ran alongside him, trying to keep pace with his manly stride. I clasped my hands behind my back likewise to summon up some deep thoughts of my own, as mine were always coming and going whenever they pleased. ‘Papai, I feel a deep thought coming round finally,’ said I with pride. And he laughed at me, wearing those sad, crinkling eyes of his.

About the Author

Author Robin Kobayashi
Robin Elizabeth Kobayashi is a native Californian who has lived in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. When she was twelve, she used to haunt the public library where they had a section of books called “Classic Fiction”. She made it her goal to read all of these books, starting with the A’s (Alcott, Austen), then the B’s (Brontë), but she got stuck on the D’s, because Dickens’ books were just so l-o-o-o-n-g in length. She never did finish her reading challenge. She never did understand Pride and Prejudice at the time; that would come much later. Fast forward several decades. After reading countless JAFF eBooks, many of them superb, she never thought she had a story to tell. Until one day she began to write about a half-Portuguese half-British girl living in the Regency Era. That novel, I, Sofia-Elisabete, Love Child of Colonel Fitzwilliam: A Perfect World in the Moon, received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews which also selected the novel as an Indie Best Books of the Month (August 2018). During the day, she works as a senior legal writer and editor for a leading global publisher.

Connect with Robin on Facebook and Goodreads

This novella is available to buy now: 
• Amazon US • Amazon UK •  Barnes & NobleSmashwords • Add to your Goodreads Shelf

Giveaway Time

Book cover: Twelfth-Night Cake & The Rosings Ghost by Robin Kobayashi
Robin is kindly offering to give away 5 ebooks to visitors of Babblings of a Bookworm! To enter, just comment on this blog post before the end of the day on Monday the 19th of November. Please leave a way for me to contact you in case you are a winner.

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  1. How have I never read any of your works or not even been aware of them! Between Amazon, Nook, and FanFic, I have probably read well, well over a thousand. And I really like the Col. Fitzwilliam stories. I guess I need to win one as a reward for finding you.:)

    1. A thousand - wow! That's amazing. When I got to about 250, the stories started to blur together. I think that happens to many of us. So I wanted to write something unique from a child's perspective.

    2. That's such an impressive number, Betty! Good luck in winning one more for your collection.

    3. One of the bounties of being retired.

  2. I love how she explored a war-time background for Colonel Fitz. Sofie sounds adorable and I can't wait to read her story.

    Please do not enter me in the giveaway.

    1. Sofia is a great name. :--)

    2. Hi Sophia! Thanks for stopping by. I must agree that Sofia/Sophia are wonderful names; my daughter's middle name is Sophia, in homage to Georgette Heyer's The Grand Sophy (as well as being a beautiful name, of course!).

  3. Sounds like an interesting story. The child narrator is a very intriguing point of view. I'd like to read it!

    1. Maintaining the child’s voice throughout a story can be challenging. Thankfully, I have a great reviewer, the talented writer Elizabeth Bailey in the UK, who has been with me every step of the way in these stories about Sofia-Elisabete and Colonel Fitzwilliam.

    2. Hi Agnes! A child narrator can be a very interesting point of view, I agree!

      Robin's reply mentions Elizabeth Bailey; I wonder if she is the Elizabeth Bailey who posts in the Georgette Heyer Appreciation Group on Facebook? I have a feeling she is a writer :)

    3. Yes, you are correct. Elizabeth Bailey is a big fan of Georgette Heyer. Check out Elizabeth Bailey's Lady Fan Mystery Books. Book #3 The Opium Purge was just released November 1st.

  4. Oh... someone standing up to Lady C and "scary ghost stories from long ago". Interested!!! Wishing you such good luck! rearadmiral00 at gmail dot com

    1. Thanks! Writing the ghost story within the story was definitely fun for me. I read a lot of ghost stories from England and Germany to get myself prepared. I blended Gothic elements with a bit of humor since the child in the story is eight years old, and I didn’t want to scare her (and myself) too much.

    2. Thanks for stopping by, Kirk! Good luck in the giveaway :)

  5. Thanks you for introducing me (us?) to a new author. I do love the colonel and want the JAFF stories I read with him as a character to have a positive description of his behaviors. This sounds interesting, not only due to Lady Catherine's attitude but as I wonder about the opinions of British society as to skin color at that time. Surely there were marriages with ladies or gentlemen from other European cultural groups at that time. Even the Royal houses intermarried with other nations' ruling houses. And I cannot imagine that there were no intermarriages with the women of India when Britain ruled that country. Thanks for a chance to win a copy of this e-book. odara7rox(at)rcn(dot)com

    1. Hi Sheila. You raise a really interesting point, and one which I know little about. As you will know, there wasn't such a huge divide in terms of skin colour here as there was in the US, but there was still a lot of prejudice. I read a book about Dido Belle, who was a mixed race person whose father was a gentleman and whose mother was a slave. Her position in society was confused, but more because she was illegitimate rather than because of the colour of her skin.

      I wish for many reasons that Austen's Sanditon had been finished, but just one of those reasons is that one of the characters is mixed race and I would have loved to have seen what Austen meant to do with that character!

      Re. your point on inter-marrying; from my position of no research aside from watching the TV programme 'Who Do You Think You Are?' I can tell you that intermarrying with Indian women certainly did happen; but in the cases that I am aware of they generally stayed abroad. I am not sure how accepted the wives may have been. I think marriages with people of other European descent would also have happened. I, am married to somebody whose genealogy is from abroad (Malta, which is situated south of Italy, for those who don't know). My children don't look much different to me in terms of skin tone but we are in the age of sun cream, so it's hard to tell how they would have looked years ago. :)

  6. You pose some interesting questions. I think that attitudes towards race/skin color varied from person to person and it depended on many factors (education, travel, upbringing, etc.). For my research, I read accounts by British officers who fought in Portugal as well as British women who traveled to or lived in Portugal (Marianne Baillie, Lady Catherine Charlotte Jackson, Clarissa Trant - as a young girl). Sometimes you come across exceptional people who were quite tolerant; other times, you do not. My guess is that Lady Catherine would not be tolerant, whereas I would like to believe that Colonel Fitzwilliam would be, and if he wasn’t before, he is now, having come to love his own child.


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