night Archives - Eloisa James

"A reigning queen of romance" - CBS Monday Morning

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Bookcode: night

End of School Debris

One of the complexities of being a writing mother, for me, lies in a passionate wish to catch my children’s lives, for good or bad. For example, when Anna was diagnosed with Lyme’s Disease for the third time, I wrote Duchess by Night, which includes a child infected by rat bite fever. (I also moved out of New Jersey, but that’s another story.)

Similarly—and more obviously—I wrote the memoir Paris in Love because I wanted to capture the year my family and I lived in France, rather than allow it to slide away in the easy, dreamy way by which happy years disappear. I wanted to remember for myself, but I also wanted Anna and Luca to remember details they might otherwise have forgotten.

Which this leads to one of the trickiest motherhood questions of all: what do you do with the boatloads of debris that accrue during childhood? Are they precious memories, to be frozen in amber, or candidates for the recycling bin? Yesterday Anna brought home multiple versions of a print made from a school bus gouged out of linoleum. It’s a nice school bus. Really. Great headlights.

AnnaXsTurtleStill, with a 13-year-old’s wisdom, she detected lack of enthusiasm in my face and cried: You never like anything I create! You think I’m a terrible artist! Leaving artistic judgments aside (Picasso would have trouble with a linoleum school bus too), what about all the art I’ve got framed and pinned all over this house? The lopsided purple candle-holder/monkey, who is carefully propped up in my bookshelf? The factory made out of cardboard and cotton balls that my husband refuses to throw away? The glittery, green paper maché turtle in the dining room?

It’s hard to give up those memories, both for her sake and mine. But we live in an apartment in New York City! We can’t keep everything. Not as important as to be or not to be, but still weighty!

Inside Duchess By Night

  • This is the third book in the Desperate Duchess series. Although it stands alone, there are a number of characters that appeared first in Desperate Duchesses, such as the Duke and Duchess of Beaumont (Jemma and Elijah).
  • The Duchess series has a formal structure: each new book opens at the same party that closed the previous book. So An Affair Before Christmas opened with Duchess of Beaumont’s post-duel party, which closed Desperate Duchesses. Duchess by Night opens at the Duchess of Beaumont’s Twelfth Night party, which closed Affair Before Christmas  (some Affair characters dance by, identified only through costume). Duchess by Night ends with one of Lord Strange’s dissolute house parties…no prizes for guessing the first scene in When the Duke Returns (the fourth book in the series).
  • In each of the Duchess books, I leave one small question unanswered. In Desperate Duchesses, who is Teddy’s mother? In An Affair Before Christmas, why did Lord Strange sell only the queen in his chess set? And in Duchess by Night, Lord Strange decides to sell the rest of the set: who will buy it? You will learn more about the chess set – and Teddy’s mother – in the final book in the series when all will be answered (I admit it: I probably admire J.K. Rowling a bit too much).
  • People are always praising writers for their creativity and imagination. I’m not one to turn down praise, but the fact is that many episodes in my novels have a basis in truth. When I was writing Duchess by Night, my daughter was bitten by a tick and contacted Lyme’s disease. It’s hardly as serious as rat bite fever, but I happened to be reading Robert Sullivan’s wonderful book, Rats. Before I knew it, Eugenia had rat bite fever, and I was putting all my fears for my daughter on the page.
  • Lord Strange’s new secretary, Miss DesJardins, first appeared in Desperate Duchesses, where she was responsible for the ornate, yet naked, centerpiece designated for Jemma’s party (and vetoed by Elijah). Once she’s installed at Fonthill, she comes up with the Tahitian Feast of Venus with its naked, shivering nymphs. Don’t worry! I have plans for Miss DesJardins and her unusual skills; she will appear again.
  • The hummingbird collection that Jem thinks of buying is real; I discovered it in a wonderful book by Judith Pascoe called The Hummingbird Cabinet: A Rare and Curious History of Romantic Collectors. If you’re interested in curiosities and their cabinets, this is a great place to start.

Readers Rhyme Mother Goose Style

Eloisa loves creative contests, so for the release of Duchess By Night, she asked her readers to write their own Mother Goose style rhyme. If you’re wondering about the Mother Goose part, read the book!

Cindy from CA:

Sly little duchess comes into Town,
Upstairs, downstairs, in a blue velvet gown,
Spying in the gardens,
Peering through the thorns,
Are all the rakes tucked in beds,
It’s very nearly morn!

Alea from CT:

That Old Mother Goose’s
Costume got loose is
Reason to let down one’s hair.

Trading skirts for britches
A duchess gains riches:
One gloriously Strange affair

Susan from KY:

Oh duchess, oh duchess,
will you be mine?
You shall not be lonely,
nor dress as a swine.
But sit on a throne
with me at your feet.
Dressed like a queen,
your heart complete.

A Harriet Paper Doll

Eloisa chose this reader-submitted paper doll for Harriet, her heroine from Duchess By Night:

“This is the dress that Jem would have designed for Harriet.”

To see six more paper doll dresses designed by readers plus the one Eloisa made, and to access the download template so you can make your own, please explore Eloisa’s Design-a-Duchess Paper Dolls Book Extra.