33.27 Nicholas Coleridge Godchildren: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780312604820

Godchildren: A Novel

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9780312604820: Godchildren: A Novel

All the godchildren, looking back on that fateful dinner, remembered it in the same way: the vacant wooden throne at the head of the table, the huge array of wine glasses and water glasses that were always a feature of dining at any of Marcus' houses, the sense of expectation and dread that hung over them like a cloud of mustard gas.

In his magnificent island home overlooking the sea, the great tycoon Marcus Brand plays host to his six godchildren. But soon, secrets will be revealed that dramatically alter the tone of this holiday weekend, and all will have to confront a web of betrayals and lies spanning four decades...

Each from a different background, the godchildren grew up enthralled by their godfather: Charlie, fascinated by Marcus's wealth; Mary, whose life is blighted by tragedy; Jamie, feckless but utterly charming; Saffron, stunningly beautiful but unaware of her power over men; Abigail, insecure and gauche; and Stuart, who is torn between admiration and hatred for his capitalist godfather.

Godchildren is an epic tale; powerful, engrossing, and impossible to put down. With his trademark blend of wicked satire and impeccable writing, Coleridge has created gloriously jaw dropping portrait of the British upper crust.

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About the Author:

Nicholas Coleridge is managing director of Condé Nast in Britain, the magazine publishing house that includes Vogue, Tatler, House & Garden and Vanity Fair. His bestselling novels have been published in twelve languages. He lives in England with his family.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One
July, 1966

‘You are not going to believe what’s turned up in this morning’s post,’ said Lady Crieff to her husband in the breakfast room at Ardnessaig House. ‘I must say, I do call it a nerve.’

Alistair Crieff, who was known throughout Angus for the elegance of his calves in canary-yellow shooting stockings, was frowning over an item in the Dundee Courier. The new socialist Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was threatening to introduce a wealth tax, which would oblige the Crieffs to estimate the value of their pair of Landseers and the small Lely in their bedroom, and pay a proportion of their value every year to the Exchequer.

‘An invitation for Charlie to stay in the South of France,’ said Verena sharply. ‘When I tell you who it’s from, you’re going to be horrified ... Marcus Brand.’

‘Marcus? Good heavens, we haven’t heard a squeak out of him for five years.’ ‘Longer. Not since Charlie’s christening. That was the last time he was up. Of course nobody realized what he’d been up to then, or we’d never have asked him at all.’

‘And he’s asked Charlie to stay in France? Why the devil has he done that?’ ‘I’ll read you what he says,’ said Verena. ‘The letter’s written on his office writing paper, which is typical. A not very nice address in Broad Street. ‘ "My dear Verena, I haven’t seen you for far too long" – I should think not – "nor, I’m sorry to say, have I seen Charles since his christening eight years ago and I feel it’s time I started to get to know my godson" – well, I call that presumptuous, considering what happened – "so I have decided to invite my six godchildren to the South of France for the third week in August, where I have recently bought a villa on Cap Ferrat." Oh, yes, with poor Lucy’s money, no doubt! "I have engaged a couple of maids to help look after them all, so I can assure you the children will be well cared for. If you feel able to part with Charles for that week, I will send his aeroplane ticket for Nice which I will, of course, provide." ’

Verena Crieff emitted a sharp little cough of disapproval. ‘The sheer cheek of the man astonishes one. Wait until I tell the Macphersons ... Hector told me that if he ever set eyes on Marcus again, he couldn’t be held accountable for his actions. They’ve never got over it – Lucy was always the favourite – though they have to accept some of the blame themselves. They never should have allowed her to marry someone like Marcus. I mean, nobody knew the first thing about him. Such a frightful fellow, as I said right from the beginning. Didn’t I say so?’

‘You never were quite sure about him,’ agreed Lord Crieff, as he invariably did agree with any statement made by his forceful, dogmatic wife. ‘But we did ask him to be one of Charlie’s godfathers, so we must have liked him at the time.’

‘Nonsense! We merely asked him to stand in for Lucy. It was Lucy we wanted, not Marcus. Lucy we all loved. The christening was only a week after that ghastly motor accident. Marcus was still up here, and after all, nobody had the slightest idea then about his awful fiddles.’

‘I wonder what Marcus is up to now? He always was a clever fellow.’.

‘Too clever by half, that was his trouble. Imagine using Lucy’s money for his business deals. Macpherson family money! It would be like you using Arbroath money.’ Verena Crieff invariably invoked her own side of the family when she wished to imply great wealth and grandeur. ‘Hector got to the bottom of it all eventually, but he could never retrieve the missing money. How could Lucy have left it all to Marcus? I thought that’s what trusts were for, to prevent capital from leaving the family.’

Nothing aroused greater outrage in Lady Crieff, as the elder daughter of the youngest sister of the 13th Earl of Arbroath, than the thought of inherited money passing into the hands of outsiders.

‘Do we know whether Marcus ever remarried?’ asked Alistair.

‘I wouldn’t put it past him. I was never convinced he was all that faithful to Lucy while she was alive, if you really want to know. Now he’s got his hands on her money, he’s probably shacked up with some brassy little piece of work. The Macphersons couldn’t bear him. He used to give Lucy the most awful common jewellery, which he bought somewhere in London.’

‘What will you do about the invitation?’ asked Alistair.

‘I shall refuse it, of course. It would be highly unsuitable. We’re never going to see Marcus Brand again, nobody is, so there’s no point encouraging him.’

There was the sound of subdued voices on the staircase, and the despotic figure of Nanny Arbroath appeared at the dining-room door trailed by Charlie and his elder sisters, Mary Jane and Annabel.

‘Good morning, Nanny,’ said Alistair. ‘All had your breakfast already upstairs, have you?’

‘Yes, thank you, Lord Crieff,’ replied Nanny Arbroath in her severe Peebleshire accent. ‘I’m taking the children for a walk up to the end of the drive to see if the men have made any progress with that gate. Come along now, Charlie, don’t put your hands on that table, I’ve told you I don’t know how many times. And you can wipe that smile off your face too, Annabel. If there’s anything to smile about, I’d be the one to know about it – not you.’

At the age of forty-four, Nanny Arbroath, who was always known by the surname of the grandest of three families whose offspring she had systematically terrorised, was at the height of her intimidatory powers. Physically rather a small woman – her height augmented by the two-inch lifts in her black walking shoes – with close-cropped black hair, she had an ability to inspire obedience in her employers and charges alike. Never known to take a day off in the twenty-eight years since she’d entered service as a nursery maid, she admitted to no family of her own. Too conscious of her status in the hierarchy of life to fraternise with the other servants, she spent her evenings alone in the day nursery surreptitiously tippling sweet liqueurs. As she endlessly reminded the Crieff children, she had accepted the position at Ardnessaig House with considerable misgivings, finding it a comedown after Arbroath Castle. Alistair Crieff did his best never to be trapped in the same room as Nanny Arbroath from one month to the next, with the consequence that he scarcely saw his children. Even Verena Crieff had to remind herself of her own well-mapped lineage before broaching any subject liable to inconvenience her children’s keeper.

Charlie Crieff, gangly and curly haired, slunk across to the mahogany sideboard. There, under the guise of inspecting the stuffed stag trophies which punctuated the walls of the dining room, he dug his fingers into a jar of marmalade and thrust them into his mouth.

Nanny Arbroath was reminding Lord Crieff that when she’d been at Arbroath Castle she’d had not one but two nursery maids working under her. ‘And neither one of them ever took a single day off, that was something I was always most particular about.’

Charlie’s hand edged towards a cut-crystal pot of honey. It stood, along with the marmalade and jams, on a round silver tray, covered by a linen napkin. A horn spoon, its handle engraved with the Crieff crest, had all but submerged itself in the honey.

He glanced round to see if he was being observed, and sunk his fingers into the pot.

‘Charlie’s stealing honey!’ Mary Jane’s tell-tale voice sang out. ‘Look, everyone, his fingers are in the honey.’

Nanny Arbroath, darting with the quickness of a cobra, caught Charlie a sharp slap across the back of his legs.

Jumping back to avoid her, and trailing honey across the mahogany surface from his fingertips, Charlie knocked over a large silver-plated capercaillie which stood, tail feathers displayed, on the sideboard. The hideous table-centre toppled forwards, its silver beak gouging into the polished wood while its clawed feet left skidmarks an inch long.

‘Charles, you will go straight up to your bedroom and stay there,’ snapped Verena Crieff. ‘And you will not come out again until breakfast time tomorrow morning.’

Charlie shot out of the dining room before anything worse should happen, leaving Mary Jane smirking sanctimoniously behind him – he hated Mary Jane – and Nanny Arbroath huffing and puffing and declaring that she’d never come across a more troublesome child in all her born days. Only his father, who dared say nothing, and Annabel, who loved her little brother dearly, had any sympathy for Charlie.

After the fuss had died down, and the girls set off on their walk up the drive, Verena Crieff said, ‘I really don’t know how we’re going to get through these summer holidays with Charlie behaving as he is.’

‘Oh, he’s all right,’ Alistair replied. ‘He’s no worse than any other boy of his age.’

‘It wouldn’t surprise me if Nanny handed in her notice. She’s at the end of her tether.’

‘Why not send him to France then? That’d give us all a bre...

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Book Description Thomas Dunne Books, United States, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. All the godchildren, looking back on that fateful dinner, remembered it in the same way: the vacant wooden throne at the head of the table, the huge array of wine glasses and water glasses that were always a feature of dining at any of Marcus houses, the sense of expectation and dread that hung over them like a cloud of mustard gas. In his magnificent island home overlooking the sea, the great tycoon Marcus Brand plays host to his six godchildren. But soon, secrets will be revealed that dramatically alter the tone of this holiday weekend, and all will have to confront a web of betrayals and lies spanning four decades. Each from a different background, the godchildren grew up enthralled by their godfather: Charlie, fascinated by Marcus s wealth; Mary, whose life is blighted by tragedy; Jamie, feckless but utterly charming; Saffron, stunningly beautiful but unaware of her power over men; Abigail, insecure and gauche; and Stuart, who is torn between admiration and hatred for his capitalist godfather. Godchildren is an epic tale; powerful, engrossing, and impossible to put down. With his trademark blend of wicked satire and impeccable writing, Coleridge has created gloriously jaw dropping portrait of the British upper crust. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780312604820

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Book Description Thomas Dunne Books, United States, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.All the godchildren, looking back on that fateful dinner, remembered it in the same way: the vacant wooden throne at the head of the table, the huge array of wine glasses and water glasses that were always a feature of dining at any of Marcus houses, the sense of expectation and dread that hung over them like a cloud of mustard gas. In his magnificent island home overlooking the sea, the great tycoon Marcus Brand plays host to his six godchildren. But soon, secrets will be revealed that dramatically alter the tone of this holiday weekend, and all will have to confront a web of betrayals and lies spanning four decades. Each from a different background, the godchildren grew up enthralled by their godfather: Charlie, fascinated by Marcus s wealth; Mary, whose life is blighted by tragedy; Jamie, feckless but utterly charming; Saffron, stunningly beautiful but unaware of her power over men; Abigail, insecure and gauche; and Stuart, who is torn between admiration and hatred for his capitalist godfather. Godchildren is an epic tale; powerful, engrossing, and impossible to put down. With his trademark blend of wicked satire and impeccable writing, Coleridge has created gloriously jaw dropping portrait of the British upper crust. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780312604820

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Book Description St. Martin's Griffin. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 560 pages. Dimensions: 8.0in. x 5.5in. x 1.4in.All the godchildren, looking back on that fateful dinner, remembered it in the same way: the vacant wooden throne at the head of the table, the huge array of wine glasses and water glasses that were always a feature of dining at any of Marcus houses, the sense of expectation and dread that hung over them like a cloud of mustard gas. In his magnificent island home overlooking the sea, the great tycoon Marcus Brandplays host to his six godchildren. But soon, secrets will be revealed that dramatically alter the tone of this holiday weekend, and all will have to confront a web of betrayals and lies spanning four decadesEach from a different background, the godchildren grew up enthralled by their godfather: Charlie, fascinated by Marcuss wealth; Mary, whose life is blighted by tragedy; Jamie, feckless but utterly charming; Saffron, stunningly beautiful but unaware of her power over men; Abigail, insecure and gauche; and Stuart, whois torn between admiration and hatred for his capitalist godfather. Godchildren isan epic tale; powerful, engrossing, and impossible to put down. With his trademark blend of wicked satire and impeccable writing, Coleridge has created gloriously jaw dropping portrait of the British upper crust. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780312604820

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