Following up on some suggestions from Sharon (thanks, Sharon!), this week’s update focuses on Charles’s mother, Lady Elizabeth Fraser (in Vienna Waltz, she’s Lady Arabella Rannoch). This week’s Fraser Correspondence addition is a letter Elizabeth writes to Raoul in January 1799 (shortly after he’s had to flee the country in the wake of the United Irish Uprising). I hadn’t written a letter from Elizabeth before, but I found her voice came to me surprisingly easily. Below is a teaser from Vienna Waltz, a brief flashback to Charles/Malcolm’s boyhood in which Elizabeth/Arabella appears. Oddly, it wasn’t until some comments AnnaT made on last week’s post that I realized Elizabeth’s problems carry an echo of Percy Blakeney’s mother. An echo that wasn’t consciously done but perhaps was somewhere in my subconscious.

Do you have any questions about Elizabeth or Charles’s family or the characters’ backstory in general? Ask away!


Charles’s first memories of Prince Talleyrand went back to the age of five. He and his brother had been riding in their mother’s barouche in Hyde Park, a rare treat. An elegant gentleman leaning on a walking stick stopped to speak with their mother. A cloud of powder rose from his hair as he bent in a courtly bow. Charles could still remember how the powder had tickled his nose (powder was becoming a rare sight in London by 1792). Talleyrand kissed their mother’s hand. When she introduced the two boys he nodded with a serious acknowledgement adults rarely afforded them.
“I know who you are,” Charles said, studying this interesting new acquaintance clad in the sort of full-skirted coat his grandfather wore. “You helped overthrow King Louis and Queen Marie Antoinette.”
His mother drew a sharp breath, though a hint of laughter showed in her eyes. “Charles, that isn’t precisely–“
“On the contrary, Elizabeth. He is a perceptive boy. Just what I would expect from a son of yours.” Talleyrand inclined his head toward Charles. “You are quite right, Master Fraser. Though I fear matters have taken a sad turn in France just now. That is why I am enjoying the hospitality of your lovely country.”