Excerpt from Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Lady Clementine

by Marie Benedict

Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict X
Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2020, 336 pages

    Jul 2020, 416 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

I settled upon a response. "No, sir, not at all. I find your views quite in line with my own, and I am delighted to make your acquaintance."

"Not delighted enough to share your name, it seems."

My cheeks flamed even hotter. "I am Miss Clementine Hozier."

"It is my pleasure, Miss Hozier."


I smile at the memory now. Before I can answer Nellie, her twin, Bill, bounds into the room. Bill is my younger brother and still schoolboy gangly despite his position as an officer in the Royal Navy. He is midbite into an enormous apple that promptly drops to the floor when he sees me. "What in the devil are you doing here? Not skipping out on another commitment, I hope?"

Leaping to my feet, I jab his arm for the reference to my not one but two jilted fiancés—­Sidney Cornwallis Peel, grandson of the former prime minister Sir Robert Peel, and Lionel Earle, men with lofty titles or positions and the promise of financial security but with whom I foresaw a life of staid decorum and scant hope of purpose. While I eschew the unconventional life led by my mother, I found that I could not commit to either of these fine gentlemen solely for the sake of propriety when I longed for a life of meaning and—dare I think it—emotion, even though decorousness was a powerful lure.

Nellie, Bill, and I burst into laughter, and I feel impossibly light. The heavy sense of isolation I felt in the long hours before dawn fades away, and in the presence of my siblings, the aisle-­long march to my new life no longer seems an insurmountable journey. Until Mother walks into the room.

For the first time in memory, Mother is speechless. No judgmental lectures on her pet topics, no public redressing for perceived slights, no under-­the-­breath yet audible remarks about bourgeois acquaintances. And most incredibly, it is me—­the least favored and often ignored of her children—­who has rendered mute the outspoken Lady Blanche Hozier.

Nellie, the favorite, leaps in to defend me. "Clemmie is here only for tea and a quick visit, Mama."

Mother rises up to her full height and finds her voice. In a shrill, mocking tone, she says, "A visit? At dawn? On the morning of her wedding?"

No one answers. Such questions are not meant to be answered.

With her blond hair in disheveled strands around her still-­beautiful face, she stares at each of us in turn, making yet another criticism dressed up as a rhetorical question. "Can any of you think of anything less appropriate?"

I almost snort with laughter at our bohemian mother, never one to follow the strictures of society, church, or family, doubting the appropriateness of her children's behavior. She, whose own behavior has long flouted the traditions of marriage and child-­rearing through multiple simultaneous affairs and long absences. And we, who cling to convention as a life raft in the sea of our mother's tempestuousness.

Glancing at Nellie and Bill, I recognize the cowed expressions beginning to form on their faces, and I remind myself what today means. For me, for our family. Instead of submitting to Mother's irritation and hoping a remorseful look will dissipate her foul humor, I assemble my own features into an air of amusement. Today, I will assume a powerful mantle, and this is my first effort at making plain that the balance has shifted.

"Surely you don't begrudge your daughter a brief trip across town to see her family on the morning of her wedding, Mama?" I ask with a smile. I'm trying to sound like Grandmother, also called Lady Blanche, who, as a Stanley of Alderley inhabiting Airlie Castle, embodies all the strong and assertive qualities the Stanley matriarchs are known for, including female education. Not that Mother follows suit in her own beliefs; she is unorthodox in every view except on the subject of female education. I cannot understand it, but I suppose it's that Mother's focus lies on her relationships with men, most of whom find female education distasteful.

Excerpted from Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict. Copyright © 2020 by Marie Benedict. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Where Coyotes Howl
    Where Coyotes Howl
    by Sandra Dallas
    Where Coyotes Howl may appear to be a classically conventional historical novel — a wide-eyed ...
  • Book Jacket: After the Miracle
    After the Miracle
    by Max Wallace
    Many people have heard one particular story about Helen Keller—how the saintly teacher, Annie ...
  • Book Jacket: The Lost Wife
    The Lost Wife
    by Susanna Moore
    The Lost Wife is a hard-hitting novella based in part on a white settler named Sarah Wakefield's ...
  • Book Jacket
    Firekeeper's Daughter
    by Angeline Boulley
    Voted 2021 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Angeline Boulley's young adult ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
West with Giraffes
by Lynda Rutledge
A rousing novel inspired by the incredible true story of two giraffes who won the hearts of Depression-era America.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Pieces of Blue
    by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    A hilarious and heartfelt novel for fans of Maria Semple and Emma Straub.

Win This Book
Win Girlfriend on Mars

30 Copies to Give Away!

A funny and poignant debut novel that skewers billionaire-funded space travel in a love story of interplanetary proportions.



Solve this clue:

S I F A R Day

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.