The carter left me too early, and I had to walk up the hill, dragging my bags. The house was black against the sky by then, and the moon was covered by dirty clouds. The trees bent over toward me and their look was not welcoming. A squat woman with keys at her side opened to the banging of my door.
‘They are all abed,’ she said. ‘We were expecting you at five.’
I could see nothing past her but a few flickering candles. You would think a grand house like this one might have a chandelier.
Kate Williams’ previous books are England's Mistress, a biography of Emma Hamilton, and Becoming Queen, about the young Queen Victoria. She has presented television and radio programmes on Victorian history and her debut novel, The Pleasures of Men, a tale about a young woman obsessed with a serial killer in 1840, will be published by Penguin later this year.