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“Hi, my name’s Jeanell Buckley, and I’m reading from a short story, which is a tribute to Jane Austen, and is called Persuasion at Westgate buildings.
Westgate-buildings is a damp place and much putrid throat and other complaints infest the houses. I attend upon Mrs Smith, a lady of considerable ailment herself, and only this morning discovered a tabby cat fresh dead upon the cobbles at her door. Still, it could be leagues worse and we complement our tedium through tales, not sinful in essentials, but mischievous as far as genteel society is concerned. Daily my mistress watches at her cramped window and has, on occasions, caught sight of Mr Elliot, the elegant but dim gentleman who brought her this downfall. His evils are much inflated but the truth serves no purpose for my missus.
Despite her interest in fashion, she will not wear the short sleeved gown brought to her by Miss Elliot, who is a caller at Westgate-buildings, for fear the disfigurements at her wrist will be spied. Miss Elliot is by no means unattractive herself, and her own gowns are a gift to our rooms, but she carries herself like a lady displeased with her nobility. I suspect the charitable lady lives in fear of my mistress’s fate and, in truth, some ladies is more vulnerable to poverty than others.
My wrists, whilst hardy, ain’t much recovered from four evenings past. I serve at the Wallis’ in Marlborough-buildings after I leave Mrs Smith, and that household have took on the new fashion of servant to table so I must make me way from lady to gentleman laden with a burden fit to break my arm. The tray slipped and, by providence, the very lap it spilt into was Mr Elliot’s, and the sauce, if it scalded me, must have rendered him warm. Rather than an insult, he give me a needy frown in way of some twisted apology uncalled for. He knows I wait on Mrs Smith and was perchance thinking of her, of whose true condition he is surely ignorant, despite what my mistress thinks. Gentlemen, like ladies, do come to grief through the unstable health of the other and, well, whatever brought on my lady’s fever, Mr Elliot must bear the guilt of it.”
ABOUT JEANELL BUCKLEY:
Jeanell writes fiction and poetry and is currently revising her third novel. She completed an MA in Creative Writing from MQU in 2009 and was awarded the Vice- Chancellor’s Commendation for Academic Excellence for her major project – a novel with the working title of Chalet Heat.
She is interested in speculative fiction and is currently working on a screenplay based on her first novel, Citizens of stone, which was short listed for a Varuna Harper Collins Manuscript Fellowship in 2005.
“I was awarded a Varuna Residential Fellowship to work on an early draft of my first novel, Citizens of stone. During this time I was given fantastic support and feedback on my project by Peter and the other fellows. Subsequently I entered Citizens of stone in the Harper Collins Manuscript Award through Varuna and made it to the short list. It has been wonderful to meet other writers through Varuna and the experience of going into a long period of writing, away from the distractions of normal life, is invaluable. And the knowledge that so many other writers have produced excellent work there is a bonus.” Jeanell Buckley
“Fashionable bones”, Fictitious force (US spec fiction) 2005
“Skin deep” published at http://www.australianreader.com.au 2004
“The night passage” in Skive magazine – short stories online – http://www.skivemagazine.mockfrog.com.u
“Blood brothers”, in Silverfish New Writing 2 (Silverfish books), 2002
“The living machine”, in Imajes (Word Vibes, Cooma, 2002)
Essay in Jane Austen Antipodean views, ed Susannah Fullerton and Ann Harbers, (Sydney, Wellington Press, 2001)
“Old voyages” – (review of The Salt Letters by Christine Balint) Hecate – Australian Women’s Book Review, 2001
“Rudolf Steiner – visionary and philosopher” at Mindatlas.com
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