This week’s Book on One is The Real Charlotte by Somerville and Ross. It was written in 1894 by the literary team Edith Somerville and Violet Florence Martin under their collaborative pen name.
The Real Charlotte is a darkly comic novel about the range of chicanery deployed by the plain but bright Miss Charlotte Mullen to bend everyone to her iron will.
The title character, Charlotte, is an unmarried, middle-aged woman who behaves differently with each person with whom she has dealing. She is attracted to Mr Roddy Lambert, an old (and married) friend and neighbour, Charlotte does a lot for him, including lending him money.
She behaves another way with Sir and Lady Dysart and with their son and heir Christopher. She hopes her charge Francie will marry him.
However she has no patience and love for young, innocent Francie Fitzpatrick, a distant relative to whom Charlotte acts as guardian.
She perceives Francie as a threat, and treats her poorly from the moment she arrives at Charlotte's home, Tally Ho. The novel explores Charlotte’s attempts to manipulate all for her own gains in finance and social standing.
The Real Charlotte is read by Jennifer O’Dea.