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Due to the tragic loss of the Lord’s nephew and heir (the lad was swept overboard last month during a yacht race and is presumed drowned), the 7th Earl of Gotsum has assembled the family to acknowledge the new heir, Mr. Archibald Smythe, a distant cousin from Scotland.
Though Smythe finds himself in a new position within the family hierarchy, he is not previously unknown to the family nor Downturn. Many childhood summers were spent at the Abbey in the company of his cousins – though he does not recall them as happy occasions.
Old wounds will surface and new jealousies emerge as the family and staff form new alliances and attempt to restore the delicate balance of power within the estate.
If the family is to survive into the twentieth century, the past must be protected as much as the future. Does young Mr. Smythe understand Noblesse Oblige or will fate take yet another twist at the meeting of the clan?
Archibald “Archie” Smythe: Distant relative of Lord Gotsum and the new heir to Downturn Abbey after the unfortunate loss of Lord Gotsum’s nephew. He is a psychology professor for a small, private college in Scotland.
Carrie Gold, Countess of Gotsum: Lady Gotsum is the American wife of Lord Gotsum. Her father rose from a very humble beginning to a very powerful and rich coal tycoon in America. Though the family is very wealthy, they hold on to those simple roots. Lady Gotsum has suffered the veiled snubs and slights of her mother and sister-in-law for the past twenty-five years.
Hunter Gold, Earl of Gotsum: Lord Gotsum is the 7th Earl of Gotsum, a large estate in Chelsey. However, his father had very poor business sense and lost the majority of the family fortune. Lord Gotsum inherited the title, the estate and the debt upon his father’s death. He was, however, able to woo and marry an American coal heiress whose dowry saved his ancestral home. A further bit of bad luck provided him with three daughters and no sons.
Lady Catherine, eldest daughter of Lord Gotsum: Had been engaged to her cousin, the heir to Lord Gotsum, before he tragically drown. She has no intentions of every leaving Downturn Abbey or letting another woman ever be addressed as Lady Gotsum.
Lady Anne, middle daughter of Lord Gotsum: A little plainer than her elder sister, not as free-wheeling as her younger. Most people seem to pass her over.
Lady Jane, youngest daughter of Lord Gotsum: To the extreme displeasure of her parents and grandmother, Lady Jane has become a close associate of Mrs. Pankhurst, leader of the Women’s Social and Political Union, and has been labeled by the government as an “agitator.”
Lady Van der Slüty: Younger sister of Lord Gotsum and daughter of Dowager Lady Gotsum. Always rather “friendly” with men, she was only briefly married to the much older Earl of Van der Slüty when he met his untimely end. She retains control of the estate through a Living Trust.
Mrs. Kettle, Cook: Thirty years ago, she started as a “tween maid” at the Van der Slüty estate, but is now considered one of the best cooks currently in domestic service.
Mr. Harrison, Butler: Was once the personal valet to the 6th Lord Gotsum, promoted to Butler, Head of the Household under the current Lord Gotsum.
Reginald Griffin, Earl of Van der Slüty: Eldest son and heir to the late Lord Reginald and step-son to Lady Van der Slüty. He inherited the estate and the title, but most of the assets were bequeathed to Lady Van der Slüty – the step-mother who is two years your junior, through a life estate.
Violet, Dowager Countess of Gotsum: Widow of the 136th Earl of Gotsum and mother to the current Lord Gotsum and Lady Van der Slüty. An aristocrat through and through and a firm believer in noblesee oblige.