Thursday, March 10, 2022

Mrs. Morphett's Macaroons by Patsy Trench - Book Tour + Giveaway

Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons

London, 1905. A show. A stuttering romance. Two squabbling actresses.

Is it Shakespeare? Is it Vaudeville?

Not quite. It is Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons, a satirical play about suffragettes which its creators - friends and would-be lovers Robbie Robinson and Violet Graham - are preparing to mount in London’s West End.

It is the play rival actresses Merry and Gaye would kill to be in, if only they hadn’t insulted the producer all those years ago.

For Robbie and Violet however the road to West End glory is not smooth. There are backers to be appeased, actors to be tamed and a theatre to be found; and in the midst of it all a budding romance that risks being undermined by professional differences.

Never mix business with pleasure?

Maybe, maybe not.

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Violet and Robbie visit the music hall

From Chapter 23 of ‘Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons’

London, 1905. Robbie and Violet, would-be lovers and work colleagues, have just visited a music hall. They are working together – he as writer, she as producer – on a new play about suffragettes, which they are hoping to mount in the West End. However the real purpose of the visit on Violet’s part is not just to experience an Edwardian music hall for the first time but to ask Robbie to sleep with her so that she could obtain a divorce from the man she married and then left some years ago, who now wants to marry someone else. (Adultery was one of the few reasons people could divorce one another at the time.) ‘Elizabeth’ is the play’s backer.

It was Violet’s choice to walk home, and in order to forestall the ultimate topic of the evening she chattered non-stop all the way. She gave Robbie a detailed description of every act – ‘I was there too, remember,’ he mildly if pointlessly reminded her – which of them she particularly enjoyed and which of them she did not. When that was exhausted she turned her attention to the audience, and how their reaction told her when she was completely missing the point ‘because of some code’ such as railways, and when she was not, such as in the piano tuner. She felt quite proud of herself about that. She told him about her delight at her discovery of the subtext and how it reminded her of the Enlightenment . . .

‘The Enlightenment?’

. . . When the French philosophes used irony and classical references in order to condemn the status quo and the established Church without arousing the ire of either.

‘Ah, as in a secret language. I see, I think.’

. . . And wasn’t it marvellous how art and hypocrisy go hand in hand, not just in the West End but all over. Why, if there weren’t such a thing as a Censor, whether it was the Lord Chamberlain or the London County Council, writers would have nothing to write about and performers nothing to perform.

‘Is that not a little far-fetched?’

‘Well yes, maybe,’ she rushed on, ‘but you know what I mean. Ultimately all art is a celebration of the appalling and glorious complexity of mankind.’

Even Violet realised she was going off the rails a bit, to coin another railway metaphor. But by then they had reached her front door and she had to say, ‘Will you come in?’

‘It’s late,’ said Robbie.

‘Not so late. And there is something I have to say to you.’

‘In that case . . .’ Robbie stood there while she fumbled for her keys and opened her front door – it took some doing, her hand was inexplicably shaking – and they stepped inside.

‘Follow me.’

She led him up the stairs to her room on the first floor. When they reached her landing she stopped, and blinked once or twice.

‘Are you intending to seduce me?’ he asked.

‘What makes you say that?’ She spoke more sharply than she intended.

‘I can’t imagine,’ said Robbie. He was still smiling as Violet opened the door to her sitting room and ushered him inside.

She removed her hat, took a deep breath and sank into an armchair. Then she threw her head back as if transfixed by something on the ceiling, and Robbie had to resist an overwhelming urge to kiss her neck.

‘I’ve never been here before,’ he remarked. ‘Might I perhaps turn on a light or two?’

When Violet did not reply he searched for the light switches and took in the room. In the dimness it looked rather gloomy, yet cosy enough. He took a turn around, it did not take long, and the next time he glanced in Violet’s direction she was sitting upright in her chair staring at him.

‘So?’ said Robbie. He sat down. ‘What is it you wanted to say to me?’

Violet was still staring at him as if he wasn’t exactly there.

‘I was wondering,’ she began, ‘if we should . . .’ She cleared her throat. ‘What we should be doing about hiring a theatre.’

‘It’s funny you should ask that. Because I was going to suggest, after this evening, if we shouldn’t have a word with Sam.’

‘Who’s Sam?’ she asked feebly.

‘He owns The Cuckoo, and other halls besides.’ Forget the West End, Robbie went on, it was an unnecessary stretch financially. Costs were ridiculous, they would have to fill the theatre every night to get their money back. Not to mention the hypocritical audiences (he added for good measure, with a chuckle). Far better to try the play out in a genuine theatre with a genuine audience, like tonight’s, with minimum costs and a ready-made crowd that’s not afraid to tell you exactly what they think. The only sticking point might be Elizabeth. She wouldn’t be seen dead in a music hall, but he felt sure he could talk her round. He’d have a word with Sam the next day. The Cuckoo might not be the ideal place but there were plenty of others. And then it would be full steam ahead.

He stopped, finally, and asked Violet what she thought. She was still staring at him as if she were seeing through him. He had the distinct impression she had not been listening to a word he’d said.

‘You’re tired,’ he said. He got to his feet.

‘Are you going?’ She tried unsuccessfully to keep the anxiety from her voice.

‘Unless you have other ideas?’

She opened her mouth to say something and then closed it again.

‘You’re tired,’ Robbie repeated. He went to her and kissed her on the top of her head. ‘Goodnight,’ he said.

He picked up his coat and hat and left.


Author Bio – Patsy Trench has spent her life working in the theatre. She was an actress for twenty years in theatre and television in the UK and Australia. She has written scripts for stage and (TV) screen and co-founded The Children’s Musical Theatre of London, creating original musicals with primary school children. She is the author of three non fiction books about colonial Australia based on her own family history and four novels about women breaking the mould in times past. Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons is book four in her ‘Modern Women: Entertaining Edwardians’ series and is set in the world she knows and loves best. When she is not writing books she teaches theatre part-time and organises theatre trips for overseas students.

She lives in London. She has two children and so far one grandson.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: PatsyTrenchWriting

Twitter: @PatsyTrench

Instagram: claudiafaraday1920



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