Three 17th Century female spies work secretly to restore Charles II to the throne.
Killing Beauties is a tale of espionage, treason, and plot set in 1650s England. In it, three women spies, or she-intelligencers, as they were known, attempt to infiltrate the parliamentarian secret service in order to help restore Charles Stuart to the throne.
Killing Beauties is inspired by the true-life stories of Susan Hyde and Diana Jennings, both active female spies: the former acting as postmistress for royalist secret society the Sealed Knot; the latter an altogether more shady character. They travel to London to carry out the mission given them by Susan's brother, Sir Edward Hyde, one which will test their friendship and their reputations as both ladies and subjects.
In this audio extract, Diana and her escort, Captain Duggan, stay at the estate of the late Sir Robert Filmer, a royalist sympathiser. Only his youngest son, Samuel, is at home, and Diana, as is her wont, asks for rather more than he wishes to give:
Some things other people have said about my writing:
‘Langman is a fine writer. Dark yet witty, both light and profound. I found myself frequently both amused and disturbed. It’s a rare gift.’ Anthony McGowan, author
‘Pete Langman’s stories invite you into a cold, unsettling world in which ugly things happen. His writing, however, is clean and perceptive; you are transported into strange minds and settings and you leave feeling like you know a bit more about the human condition.’ Araminta Hall, author
Susan awoke late. The events of the previous day, and perhaps, more unexpectedly, the evening that followed it, had taken their toll. She had not been able to leave Thurloe’s chambers early on account of her indisposition, but equally it had allowed her to avoid staying late, as well as ensuring that he postpone his parsley-sweetened plans. On arriving back at her lodgings Susan had taken a sleeping draught of her own concoction. It was both swift and long-acting. The sun was well past its zenith when she finally stirred. The fog in her head took a little longer to dissipate, but as it did so, it presaged a day of revelation.
‘I must visit the apothecary, today,’ she said. Not for the first time did she bemoan the fact that her current circumstances did not allow for a lady’s maid. There appeared to be little that she was not having to sacrifice in order that the Knot might survive. Or, she thought to herself, perhaps it was more accurate to say that there was little that Edward was unwilling to have her sacrifice.
Susan washed, dressed, and sat at her makeshift desk in her room. She sharpened her quill and opened her pot of ink. It was dried-up. A splash of urine failed to revive it suitably so she placed paper, ink pot, wax and seal into her medicine bag, slung it over her shoulder and set off to the Bailey. It was an area which made a chill run down the spine of anyone who tended to live at odds with the law of the land, for it was here that the capital’s criminal courts resided, and the resultant flow of miscreants along its streets made the Covent Garden regulars appear to be positively shining examples of urban health and moral rectitude. Her journey was without incident, in itself rarely to be remarked upon other than she was not in a state of mind that would have allowed her to react in the manner she would usually choose. Her fatigue and general confusion with regards recent events made it more likely that she would respond to, say, an attempt to relieve her of her purse with instinctive force rather than considered subtlety.
Les Filles d'Ophelie - the significance of the locket
Sunday, 7 April 2019
The locket shows membership of Les Filles d'Ophelie (the daughters of Ophelia), the all-female secret society to which both Susan and Diana belong. On the front it bears the image of a nightingale, the symbol of the sisterhood, while on the reverse, the sisterhood's motto: ego avis enim cantans inaspecta (I am the bird that sings unseen),
The locket is a vital part of the plot of Killing Beauties…
Diana meets an old friend and gains a new one
Tuesday, 19 March 2019
In this audio extract, Diana Jennings is en route to London, accompanied by her escort, Captain Duggan. They stay overnight at the estate of a family of royalist sympathisers but things do not go quite as planned.
Life begins at forty
Saturday, 9 March 2019
Well, they do say life begins at 40, and now that we’ve hit 40% in just 21 days, we’re starting to run out of clichés ... a huge thank you to all of you who have pledged already, and to those about to. The campaign is starting to spread its reach, and the special pledges are starting to go live, too. Helen’s glorious crow is getting a lot attention, and for those of you umming and ahing about it,…
Now that was a good start
Wednesday, 20 February 2019
25% in the first week is a great start, and a big thank you to everyone who has pledged in support of Killing Beauties so far. There’s still a way to go, mind, but confidence is high. The print will be ready for display very soon, as the awesome Helen Masacz has been working on it for the past few days. It’s worth checking her out on the internet to get a flavour of what she does. We think the prints…
It has begun!
Wednesday, 13 February 2019
I imagine that this is the most terrifying part of it all ... the beginning.
It's going to be a little like watching a pan of water come to the boil. Or perhaps like the old Blue Peter appeals indicators ... let's raise it up to ...
Thank you for reading, pledging, sharing. It will all be worth it in the end.
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