The Neale Family and Anna’s Reaction to Marriage

Anna may have worn this as a child of 7 or 8. Courtesy of
Anna may have worn this outfit as a little girl of 7 or 8.
Picture Courtesy of

We’re back with more from the novel The Blue Pendant  by Susan A. Jennings. The main character Anna Neale, was born in 1894 towards the end of the Victorian era. The Neale family were not rich, but respectable middle-class. They lived in a modest house with two servants, a maid and a cook. Mr. Neale was an accountant and provided well for his family, two daughters and a son. Growing up in a Victorian middle-class family in England, Anna and her older sister Lou would be expected to marry quite young. A suitable match would be found by their parents. The word suitable, meaning that the prospective husband came from a respectable family, had sufficient finances and a secure occupation to support a wife and subsequent family.

Anna, influenced by her globe-trotting Uncle Bertie, decided quite early in her childhood that she wanted to follow in his footsteps. She had no intention of marrying and succumbing to the domestic life. It is ironic, that in spite of trying to avoid it, love and romance play a large role in her life as she searched and strived for her goal of adventure and independence.

A quote from Chapter One of  The Blue Pendant.  Anna’s response to her parents presenting her with a suitable husband.

Not only did Anna have no affection for Mr. Tolford, she had no interest in marrying anyone. The thought of running a household and having babies made her feel quite ill. Anna adamantly refused Thomas Tolford. Mama and Papa were insistent that if she didn’t marry she must find something useful to do, always adding, until she did marry, which Anna had decided long ago was not going to happen.”

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How is Rudyard Kipling connected to The Blue Pendant?

Rudyard Kipling

The Blue Pendant, historical fiction, connected Anna, the protagonist, to India through her uncle. Author, Rudyard Kipling, connected to India through birth. His Parents, Alice and John Lockwood Kipling spent their courtship at Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire, England, which explains Rudyard’s unusual name. After they married they moved to British India, where his father was Principal and Professor of Architectural Sculpture at Sir Jamseetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art in Bombay. Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865.

At five years old, Kipling was taken to England to board with a couple in Portsmouth, while he attended primary school, until old enough for boarding school. Reflecting on his childhood, Kipling wondered if his early interest in writing, which later developed into a literary life, might have been his way of coping with the abuse and neglect he suffered in Portsmouth.

The mid to late 19th century was the height of the the Victorian British Empire and it was normal for parents, working overseas in the British Empire, to send young children home to be educated.  I can’t imagine sending my children away, at any age, let alone at five years old.

In his adult years, Kipling travelled and lived in India and England. After marrying Carrie Balestier, an American, they lived in Vermont until political concerns prompted the family to move. After much traveling, they settled down in 1902 at a place called Burwash Sussex. Here they raised two of three children; Josephine their oldest daughter had died in1899 at the age of six. Kipling stayed in that house until his death in 1936.

I know this is a slim connection and perhaps a mere coincidence, but the first part of the The Blue Pendant is also set in Sussex, albeit a few miles away at Bexhill-on-Sea.

No matter where they lived, Kipling was a prolific writer and subsequently became one of the most famous authors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  He wrote for children and adults alike. The Jungle Book is a household name, even today, but he also wrote poems, short stories that were very popular in Victorian times, as well as novellas and novels. Many of his stories were of India, which is perhaps why he was Anna’s favorite author. Several of his titles are mentioned in The Blue Pendant.

The connection goes a little deeper when Anna sympathizes with Kipling’s struggle and early denial, of his son’s death in the Great War.

Rudyard Kipling was a fascinating man and author, for more details go to Wikipedia or read his biography. The original biography called, Rudyard Kipling written by John Palmer in 1923 has been restored and is available from Chapters/Indigo or select from the many other versions available in paperback or eBooks, at any on line book retailer.

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Anna’s Life Before 1913

NEW Sign up for Susan’s monthly e-newsletter All in One Place – A brief summary of April’s blogs, plus interesting book and author news. Next issue May 4

TODAY WE ARE BACK WITH ANNA……for those of you just joining us, Anna is the protagonist from my soon to be published novel The Blue Pendant.

A 1912 typing pool, which  I surmise, would not be dissimilar to  a class of young ladies in Mrs. Wordsworth's Secretarial School for Young Ladies
A 1912 typing pool, which I surmise, would not be dissimilar to a class of young ladies in Mrs. Wordsworth’s Secretarial School for Young Ladies

 Anna was born in 1894 and grew up in a middle class British family. Her father, an accountant, provided well for his family. They lived in a modest house in Rugby, Warwickshire England and had two servants; a cook and a maid. The girls, Anna and her older sister Lou, had the privilege of staying in school until they turned six-teen. In general, education was not considered important for girls; a girl from a poor family would be lucky to stay in school until she was thirteen. Daughters from upper class and some upper middle class families would be tutored at home and sometimes be sent to finishing school before coming out as a debutante spend, waiting for a suitable husband. Daughters of middle class families, lower on the middle class scale, (‘gotta love the Brits class system’) would be expected to take up a respectable occupation between school and marriage, such as governess, school teacher, nurse, service in a large house, or secretary.

Lou went into service but Anna’s aversion to anything domestic lead her to secretarial work. Instead of serving a secretarial apprenticeship, her father paid for her to attend, Mrs. Wordsworth’s Secretarial School for Young Ladies.  The preface of the owner’s name and title, ‘Mrs. Wordsworth’, gave the school a note of propriety and the term, ‘for young ladies’, indicated the school’s sensibilities towards making typewriting and shorthand, a suitable vocation for gentile young ladies.

1912 typewriter similar to the typewriter Anna would use.

Anna’s lessons, over and above typewriting and shorthand, would include; how to dress appropriately, deportment, manners and etiquette. There would be extensive lessons on  how to obey and answer to her male superiors. And yes, that would include making tea, coffee and being a general dogs-body. Something any executive assistant would cringe at today. But by 1912 standards Anna was privileged to attend such a school. A privilege that was not offered to her sister. Father made no secret of favoring Anna. The favoritism was already a bone of contention between sisters, causing friction and sarcasm, which we see develop in the early parts of the novel and change, only sometimes for the better, as the sisters grew older.

Q. Which blue pendant for the cover? See Cover Story April 18, 2015  A. It is certain that the pendant will hang on a black velvet ribbon and it is currently, a tie between, pendant #2 and #3. I’ll keep you posted.

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Name a Title for New Novel and Receive a Short Story

Many of you have been following the progress of my novel, affectionately called ‘Annie’, which is not actually the title. Now that the manuscript is complete I need to find a title.

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Bexhill-on-Sea Where Annie’s journey begins. Postcard courtesy of Old Town Preservation Society.

Here is a brief synopsis of Susan A Jennings’ new historical novel: Precocious nineteen-year-old Annie Neale accepts a clerk’s position in a prestigious seaside hotel. Annie smugly avoids her family’s wishes to marry or enter domestic service—a life she fears above all else. Thwarted by a sexually perverted superior, the ardor of two beaus, marriage, a hateful family member and unexpected secrets, Annie struggles to overcome adversity. Her dreams of
independence and adventure elude her at every turn. Annie’s journey is a roller coaster of emotion, taking the reader through two world wars, across two continents and spans three decades.

Title suggestions in no particular order: Please help me choose the best title for ‘Annie’

  • Have Your Love and Make That Two (has been the working title)
  • Have Your Love …And Make That Two (Possibly second phrase a sub heading)
  • Twice is Forever
  • Forever Annie
  • Annie’s Story or could be Saga or Journey
  • In Pursuit of Love and Liberty
  • Hiding Love & Seeking Freedom
  • Annie’s Forever Quest

Please post your choice or choices as a comment on the blog site or to collect your Free short story send me an email and write ‘Annie’ in the subject line. If you have an idea please share I am open to suggestions. Add to the email, which short story you prefer. (See below) The results will be posted in the March 20th blog

To all of my friends and readers I would like to thank you in advance. Please select and enjoy a FREE short story (PDF format), either A Grave Secret- a mystery with twists and turns or The Angel Card – a murder mystery with a touch of paranormal.

A Grave Secret by Susan A. JenningsA Grave Secret – A mysterious wreath appears on Jack’s grave every Christmas. Who puts it there? A friend, a secret admirer or could it be a lover. While searching for the answer, Sue, Jack’s widow, uncovers another secret from Jack’s past, involving an old friend from medical school and a voluptuous woman.



The Angel CardThe Angel Card – A reading of Angel Cards between three close friends reveals a sinister message that uncharacteristically unnerves Gabi, a tough career woman. Samantha’s intuition senses evil. Is Gabi in danger?  Is a death imminent or is hysterical Alicia influencing their judgment.