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The Real Housewives of Highbury

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“So apparently, all of a sudden this random piano shows up at Jane's house, and I'm like, 'Where did this even come from?' She says she doesn't know, and that it must've come from her good friends over in Ireland, that they must’ve wanted to surprise her. Now, look. I have a lot of friends, okay? Everybody loves me, I'm pretty sure. But nobody has ever just given me a whole piano out of the blue! That's all I'm saying.”


“Well, I don't really know. Maybe no one ever gave Emma a piano because they didn't think she'd know what to do with it?”


“Fine! Augusta and her ragtag bunch of misfits can come to Box Hill with us.”

“Thank you, sweetheart. I knew you wouldn't mind. We are all going to the same place, after all. He meant well.”

“Ugh. I suppose he did. But you need to get that husband of yours under control, Annie, or you'll turn around and find the Sucklings at your table for Christmas dinner. Or more likely their letter of apology while dear old Philip and Augusta help themselves to the choicest pieces of mince pie.”



“In Highbury, who you know really does determine how far you'll go.”
- Harriet

“Take it from me: Nice girls really can finish first.”
- Jane

“I don't get older. I just get better and better.”
- Anna

“Sorry girls; money can't buy you class. Luckily, I was born with both.”
- Emma

“All my friends say I have this housewife thing down.”
- Augusta

“Am I supposed to say something witty here? Let me think … could you take three dull things instead?”
- Henrietta



“So, we were planning to drive to Box Hill, but after muscling in on my party, the Eltons ended up wrecking their SUV monstrosity and ruining everything. I would've gone on without them, of course, but Annie said we couldn't. Good thing George invited us to spend the day picking his strawberries instead, lovely man. Donwell’s no national landmark, but it certainly beats having to entertain the Eltons at home.”


“Everybody! Listen! Now, make sure you look at me and Jane; look, this is the proper way to pick a strawberry. Oh, you all should've had big baskets like ours! But I guess you can do the best you can with what you have. Hetty, you don't want to stoop too low. Look how your niece is doing it, that's right.”


[sighs] … Augusta can be … trying.


The woman is maddening. Everyone tells me I need to be patient with her because she's new in town, but she doesn't act like she's new in town. She acts more like she's new to Earth. I know Anna and George hate her as much as I do, but I can never get them to admit it.


“Knightley, I thought we were having a picnic spread in the shade? I see the perfect spot, right under that beautiful cluster of oak trees?”

“You did mention that, but I thought it would be more pleasant to eat indoors. Since we'll be picnicking at Box Hill tomorrow, you know.”

“Ah, well I'm sure if the indoors is as beautiful as out here, then we won't lose by the change.”

“Yes, your estate is so very beautiful, Knightley. You might have a problem carting the lovely Augusta out of here at the end of the day. She'd be ever so decorative, I'm sure. You could count on her to strike loads of attractive poses under every stand of oaks on the place.”

“Come on, Emma. Give over.”

“What? Surely you wouldn't get tired of her company? Such bosom chums as you are after all, and you, right hand to her husband the reverend?”

“Nonsensical girl.”


“Jane, did I tell you? I found you a job!”

“You did what?”


Okay, fine. She can downright stomp on your nerves sometimes, but she's harmless, really. Like a well-intentioned gnat.


“I got you an amazing place at my friend's ad agency! Smallridge, Partridge, and Bragge. You've heard of them, surely, or at least you know their work. They do all the stuff for Crown Hotels. And you're their newest jingle writer! Or at least, you will be when you turn up at their offices a week from Wednesday.”

“Augusta, I have told you over and over—”

“I know, I know, you want to wait awhile and work on your own music, but in this economy you can't let skills like yours go to waste! I mean, really. Do you want to end up busking on street corners and waiting to be cast on The Voice?”


I don't know how Jane can stand that Augusta Elton always trying to boss her around and run her life. I know she needs all the help she can get since her aunt went broke and she had to rush through school, but … well, I'm just glad it's Emma who's looking out for me, and not her.”


“Augusta, I'm not showing up at any ad agency next Wednesday or any other time. I want to have this last summer of freedom, and that's the end of it.”

“Well, I guess we'll have to see about that.”

“Aunt Hetty, do you want to walk?”

“Of course, sweetheart. We haven't seen half of the garden yet! Just let me think where I laid my camera.”


I mean, this daft woman spent the whole day trying to get Jane to take some random job in a piano bar or something. She was incessant. A part of me wanted to tell her to run down there and take the job herself if she was so in love with it. But of course sweet Jane would never say anything like that. I did notice that she slipped out while Augusta's back was turned trying to get everybody interested in donkeys for some reason. She dragged the whole party down. And George and Harriet were equally dull; he kept asking her whether she liked staying in the country, and trying to teach her about farming. For crying out loud, George, who cares? I'm going to have to make sure tomorrow's party is more exciting. Thank goodness Frank will be there; I know I can count on him for help with that.



Box Hill was, well … it was a mess to be honest. Frank and Emma were ridiculous! They spent the whole day flirting. And poor, poor Hetty. Let's just say she knows who her true friends are now.


Emma and Frank Churchill – what a charming couple! I think they would have the cutest children. Someone whispered to me that Frank seemed to be making eyes at my Jane a little while ago, but I never saw anything in it. He's a bit too flash for her anyway; I don't think she'd – well, she has her music. Maybe next year when she starts teaching school, she'll meet a nice Vice Principal. Or perhaps someone like that nice Mr. Saunders, who teaches metal shop ...


“Ah, Emma. You have no idea how much I really wish I would've come to Donwell yesterday.”


“Well, you were there and I wasn't; that's always going to be a sad state of affairs in my book. I was wild and restless thinking of you there without me.”

“Oh? Well, you certainly didn't miss much, I can tell you. And we're both here now, so you should be nice and comfortable.”

“And yet my heart is racing. Want to feel it?”


Everyone thinks I'm into Frank for some reason. I guess in Highbury if a girl so much as smiles at a man, she's throwing herself at him. It was all just fun! Well, for me anyway. Frank might have read something into it, but he's a big boy. He can take care of himself.


“All right, all right. Everybody's suitably shocked. You can turn the charm off now.”


All of a sudden Frank and Emma started flirting like crazy. At some point I wondered why she didn't just drag him off into a hedgerow somewhere. But I guess that's feminism for you. It's no wonder she doesn't have a husband yet. And then—


“Okay everybody. We've all seen the hill and said, 'oh! We're higher up than I thought.' Now let's start the party. Miss Emma Woodhouse, our wise queen, had the forethought to pack some wine in one or other of these picnic baskets and suggests we play a game. Who's up for it? A little Never Have I Ever?”

“Oh Miss Emma is in charge, is she? Really? I would've thought that the woman who put this whole party together would be considered the queen. I mean, would we have been able to get in on the donkey rides without my connections? Hmm? No, you would all still be standing in line.”

“Augusta, it's just a game! You really need to calm down.”

“Did you just tell me to calm down, Emma?”

“I don't know. All I do know is that someone here is on 10 while the rest of us are on 3.”


I never heard of such a thing. This girl telling me to calm down like I'm some kind of child having a tantrum? I am a married woman, okay? I have a husband. There’s a ring on it. And what does she have?


“Hey, don't worry about it, honey. Everyone knows whose party this really is. Come on, let's take a walk. I think you can see the river from over there on that ridge.”

“No, Phil, don't you dare try to usher me out like I'm crazy. I AM NOT CRAZY. I am a bride! My sister is married to one of the biggest realtors in Maple Grove! He runs the west side.”


So she says. I mean, I've never met this elusive sister or her mogul husband. If he's so high and mighty, why can't he do anything about the hovel they're calling home? I'll believe it when I see some granite countertops, Gussie.


“Well, I'll play your game, Emma dear. I'm all for a bit of fun in my way, although I’m as like as not to forget the rules as we go on, as all know!”

“Oh Hetty, it's no fun for you to play. You're a preacher's daughter; we all know you haven't done anything. Unless boring people to death actually qualifies as murder.”



Oh. No. She. Did. Not.


“Emma, what were you thinking? Way harsh!"


I couldn't believe she said that. And to someone who's supposedly such an old friend of the family?! But like I've been telling everyone since I came to Highbury: it’s really no wonder Mr. Elton turned her down flat. She's a monster.


“Frank is what with who?!


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