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  • Kristan Higgins

Luncheon at the estate

Updated: May 5, 2022

There’s a special house in LIFE AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES…Sheerwater, Genevieve London’s expansive, tasteful home in the fictional town of Stoningham, Connecticut. Twenty-some-odd rooms, ten acres, a solarium, a library, a private dock. You know, like my place (pause for laughter).

a maze

A maze for those days when there’s nothing to do.

I love houses. Going to open houses is one of my hobbies, in fact. Those tour of home fundraising events? I love them. I always have. So imagine my joy, my leaping heart when I went to an actual estate many years ago. I was dating a guy who knew the owners of this estate. I can’t remember how, but we were invited for lunch. I’m sure the place had a name, but I don’t remember it. But it was an estate. How cool! How Austenian! I planned to be a good voyeur and soak up every detail. What would we eat! Those tiny sandwiches, maybe, or a haunch of some kind? Would it be served? Would they have a butler? Would we retire to the library for brandy afterward?

What I imagined…

What I imagined…

Years of reading historical romance had prepared me to fully enjoy. Perhaps we’d take a turn about the drawing room, or meander through the maze (there was actually a maze!). A game of whist? Why not? I was ready. I’d been born ready.

We passed through a giant iron gate and wound up the driveway to a glorious home, all peaks and gables and slate and stone. Pemberley, I thought. Wuthering Heights. A delicious envy surged through me.

My would-be husband

My would-be husband

Yeah. Until we got inside, that was. Now, you know I like dogs, of course. More than most people, even. But being molested by a pack of Irish wolfhounds upon entering was not the impression I hoped to make. Once the beasts were called away, I noticed how dark it was. How cold. It was late fall or winter, and we could see our breath. And…er…it was filthy. Dank. Grimy.

I won't lie. It was creepy.

I won’t lie. It was creepy.

Perhaps there was a roaring fire somewhere. Or not. Not, as the case turned out. We met the other diners, and the host, who was as chilly as the house. I noticed a few things I hadn’t imagined in my musings—the dirty napkins, for example. The tarnished silverware. Pemberley was turning into Miss Havisham’s in front of my eyes.

Then came lunch itself as we made awkward small talk. Soup, the first course, in a giant tureen. Campbell’s Tomato Soup, to be precise, unmistakable in its familiarity, now dotted with clots of dog fur, served at room temperature (cold, that is to say). Mmm.

Someday, Mr. Darcy. Someday.

Someday, Mr. Darcy. Someday.

And soup was all we got. Soup, and water. No cheese, no crackers, no dessert. We stayed a while longer, sitting on damp, lumpy pieces of furniture made in centuries past. At one point, our host left the room and never returned. My boyfriend and I finally figured out the afternoon was over. We found the exit, swiping cobwebs out of eyes, trying to contain our laughter and preserve our honor from the randy dogs.


Now, Genevieve London would never let dog hair get in your soup, and she’d make sure you had a lovely cocktail or glass of wine. Nothing but the best for old Gigi. She might seem chilly herself, but her house is warm and welcoming. And like the estate where I regrettably had lunch, what you see is not always what you get. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

Hope our paths cross while I’m book tour! My full schedule is under Appearances on my website. xox


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