Help A Bitch Out

HaBO: Picnic for Charity

Kim writes:

I’m looking for a book title and author.  The book is set back in the 1700-1800’s in England or nearby and it’s about a girl not exactly accepted by the “ton” who is invited on a picnic auction (for charity).  She hesitantly brings her basket to be auctioned off and as the auction takes place she watches the pretty ribbons blowing in the wind on the basket belonging to the “catch of the season” which is getting lots of bids… this girl’s (main character) basket was purposely getting no bids and one person(who was paid to) bid a humiliating low bid and he was the only taker.

She was so embarrassed…well the handsome man all the girls had eyes for caught on and bid an outrageous amount and had the picnic with her.  They already knew each other and weren’t on good terms. I really want to know the author and title…Can anyone help me?

Charity picnic auction? Is that historically possible? And does anyone recognize that book?


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  1. 1
    Sarah Frantz says:

    Crap, I’ve read that book, I know I have, but I don’t remember what it is.  Which is so not helpful, I know!

  2. 2
    Stubby says:

    Bet not, and it’s one of the reasons I can’t (or rarely can) read historicals; I’m a history major, I know history, and the past was not that fun.  It was dirty and smelly and disease-ridden; womens’ lives were tightly controlled and the things that we take for granted today – about life, about people, about our places in the world and our relations with others – do not apply. 

    So if you want to write a romance that women want to read, you have to include anachronisms like this – you just have to, because an historically realistic romance would be just icky. 

    And I say this even though my all time favorite romance – and I’ve read many – is The Windflower, by Laura London (IIRC, that’s a pen name of a husband and wife writing team) – wherein a handsome Duke, who happens to have a half-brother who is a famous pirate, and who happens to dabble part time in piracy himself, kidnaps an innocent young American girl during the War of 1812 and they proceed to raise hell on the Atlantic crossing back to England – stopping for a break at the Carribbean retreat of the pirate captain – before returning to England where he marries her and she becomes a Duchess.  And she becomes best friends with all the pirates in the crew.  So I don’t disapprove of anachronisms, I just recognize them when I see them.

    I’m starting to write again myself, and I’ve always wanted to do a western romance, but I can’t do a real western because – ick.  Totally non-romantic.

  3. 3
    lijakaca says:

    I don’t know if this is right, but for some reason an Easter anthology is coming to mind – something with purple on the cover.  Drat, I wish I was at my parent’s house, because I know exactly where it’s sitting!

  4. 4
    Kimberly Anne says:

    Okay, am I the only one who read this HaBO and started singing, “Oooooooooklahoma!”?


  5. 5
    LesleyW says:

    Hmmm, the only book I’ve read with a charity picnic auction is the 4th of Forever by Mary McBride I think. But it’s definitely not that, ‘cause FOF is set in America.

    Good book though IIRC, the heroine fills her basket with apples which I think she scrumped.

  6. 6
    Amie Stuart says:

    *sigh* I’ve read this one too but I’ll be darned if I can think of what it is!

  7. 7
    Brandyllyn says:

    Off topic:

    Scrumping is suck a great word for what is in fact fruit larceny.

  8. 8

    Are you sure it’s England? It sounds like a Pamela Morsi book I read a while back, but I could be wrong? She only does American, though (at least as far as I know.)

  9. 9
    BevQB says:

    FINALLY a book I recognize! I read that book! I KNOW I did!

    Oh wait, you wanted to know the title and/or author too, didn’t you? Be damned if I can remember them. Even google books didn’t help with a “romance basket auction” search or a couple of others I tried.

    And yes, it’s England during the Regency period.

  10. 10
    Scotsie says:

    Oh crapping-damn, I SO know this one too.  But I have to go staff the reference desk.  Pray for no patrons and lots of Google time :)

  11. 11
    snarkhunter says:

    I am positive that I’ve read this…but I think it wasn’t set in England. I think it might’ve been set in America or even Canada.

    If it is the book I’m thinking of (which…I have no idea what book that is) , then I’m also thinking it might not be a romance novel in the traditional sense. Because I didn’t read them until my 20s, and I know I read this particular book in my teens.

    Unless, of course, this exact plot has been used several times by several authors, which is entirely possible.

  12. 12
    Tumperkin says:

    This sounds a lot like a Marion Chesney – possibly one of the Six Sisters series (Minerva, Annabel, Deirdre, Daphne, Diana or Frederica) maybe?

  13. 13
    snarkhunter says:

    Oh, wait. I know what book I was thinking of, and I think it is NOT the book Kim is looking for. Mine was Joan Lowery Nixon’s A Deadly Promise, which is a YA historical/romance/thriller set in the Old West.

  14. 14
    miaserene says:

    Seconding Tumperkin’s—this sounds like Chesney to me too. The description made me think of Minerva, but I’m not any kind of sure this scene was in that book.

  15. 15

    I’m amazed that there seem to be so many different stories that are close to this description and setting off people’s memories! I guess everything really has been done before, eh? :D

  16. 16

    The pretty ribbons blowing in the wind really got me. Dagnabit, I know this book.

  17. 17
    Aemelia says:

    could it have been SCANDALOUS LOVE by Brenda Joyce, it took place in Victorian England though, but I do remember a charity picnic…now I need to go find this again!

  18. 18


    So if you want to write a romance that women want to read, you have to include anachronisms like this – you just have to, because an historically realistic romance would be just icky.

    I dunno, a lot of women I know seem to like Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, and I don’t think they included anachronisms in their fiction.

  19. 19

    I dunno, a lot of women I know seem to like Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, and I don’t think they included anachronisms in their fiction.

    Touche. I think if you read contemporary letters of any time period, you’ll find that 100% of the people weren’t miserable and disgusting. Sorry. I’ve read wonderfully romantic, loving letters written between married couples.

    When Charles Kingsley wrote of his wife-to-be: “My hands are perfumed with her delicious limbs, and I cannot wash off the scent, and every moment the thought comes across me of those mysterious recesses of beauty where my hands have been wandering, and my heart sinks with a sweet faintness and my blood tingles through every limb.” … I don’t think he was talking about fish tacos. Or smelly pits.

    He was a Victorian clergyman, btw. Fucking romantic as hell.

  20. 20

    Also, upper class women LOVED charity stuff. It was a respectable way to fill their time. On its face, this doesn’t seem impossible, certainly not in the Victorian. You could feel good about yourself without mixing with the lower classes. Wait, that sounds familiar. *G*

  21. 21
    Jeanette Johnson says:

    was it a Lyverle Spencer? I really think I read it

  22. 22
    Stubby says:

    Naomi – you’re right, of course.  I was thinking of modern romances – the “trashy books” that I like to read.  I used to read a lot of Amanda Quick and other Regency romances, and I read a few Western-themed ones as well – and of course Laura London.

    Jane and Charlotte would not have thought their time particularly icky and, compared to earlier periods, it wasn’t.

  23. 23
    Esri Rose says:

    I think this is a Chesney (Amanda Quick) romance. Isn’t there a whole boat trip to an island part, too?

  24. 24
    Esri Rose says:

    And a little brother?

  25. 25
    Erin says:

    I would have sworn that I had seen it, except then I realized:

    1. Gilmore Girls episode
    2. Similar idea in The Quiet Man, except it was hats fluttering around with ribbons, not baskets.

    So I think my brain invented a memory.

  26. 26
    Stubby says:

    And one more thing, cause this is interesting and it got me thinking.

    Whatever the circumstances of your particular time period are, that’s normal to you.  A middle class or upperclass woman in Regency England would probably not complain about the state of modern sanitation, personal hygiene, etc., because that is all she knew.  My mother, growing up on the Gulf Coast in the 40s and 50s, did not think she was going to pass out from the heat all the time – but now, in 2008, if she had to go without air conditioning for a week or more, she’d be some kind of pissed off.  We are creatures of our environment.

    When I read a Western romance, I think about stuff like – makeup.  Shampoo.  Baths.  Paved streets.  A readily accessible source of fresh water.  Lack of all of the above – or at least a regular supply of all of the above.  This is not a problem of the author or the genre – it’s just me.

    And I know that people in times past were just as romantic and sexually attracted to one another as they are today – cf. Napoleon’s instruction to Josephine not to bathe, because he was coming home – it wasn’t necessarily the sexual I was thinking of, just the day to day circumstances of life.

    Oh well.  Sorry for the threadjack.

  27. 27
    Scotsie says:

    That was my first thought to, that it must be an early Amanda Quick.  But Google-digging is bringing up nothing.  So I changed tactics to Virginia Henley and Catherine Coulter.  AQ, VH and CC were the majority of my early romance reading and I thought for sure I had read this in one of their books.  OK, back to digging!!!

  28. 28

    Bet not, and it’s one of the reasons I can’t (or rarely can) read historicals; I’m a history major, I know history, and the past was not that fun. 

    I was just very taken aback by your above statement. A charity basket auction seems like good, clean fun. I mean we’re not talking a bachelor auction in the Victorian! The past was fun enough, at least for rich people, and often fun for poor people, too, on special occasions like harvest celebrations or May Day.

  29. 29
    fanny says:

    I am officially going nuts.  Like all the posters before me, I KNOW I’ve read this.  I think I even enjoyed it quite a bit.  I have this distinct impression of chicken or something in the picnic basket.  And eating it under a tree. 

    My Google skills are totally letting me down right now.

  30. 30
    Stubby says:

    Victoria: again, you’re right and I think I expressed it poorly.  People had fun; it’s just that I can’t imagine myself enjoying it, from my modern perspective.  Does that make sense?

    I just read a really good YA novel (I like YA paranormals) – Gideon the Cutpurse, about a couple of modern English kids who get whomped back in time to the 1730s.  It was really well done – very vivid characters.  But her descriptions of the clothing, the food, everything was well done as well.  The weevils crawling in the bread; the stuff floating on top of the soup; the flies at the dinner table; the corsets that had the teenage heroine gasping for breath because she didn’t know how to move and sit in them; that’s the stuff I get distracted thinking about.  Like I said, it’s not a genre or author problem – it’s a me thing.

    It does not affect my partiality for pirate romances, when I know full well that life on a sailing ship was 5 times ickier than anything on land.  I still want to live on a clipper ship.

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