Rebecca, a 15-year-old American, isn't entirely happy with her life, comfortable though it is. Still, even she knows that she shouldn't talk to strangers. So when her mysterious neighbour Miss Hatfield asked her in for a chat and a drink, Rebecca wasn't entirely sure why she said yes. It was a decision that was to change everything.
For Miss Hatfield is immortal. And now, thanks to a drop of water from the Fountain of Youth, Rebecca is as well. But this gift might be more of a curse, and it comes with a price. Rebecca is beginning to lose her personality, to take on the aspects of her neighbour. She is becoming the next Miss Hatfield.
But before the process goes too far, Rebecca must travel back in time to turn-of-the-century New York and steal a painting, a picture which might provide a clue to the whereabouts of the source of immortality. A clue which must remain hidden from the world. In order to retrieve the painting, Rebecca must infiltrate a wealthy household, learn more about the head of the family, and find an opportunity to escape. Before her journey is through, she will also have - rather reluctantly - fallen in love. But how can she stay with the boy she cares for, when she must return to her own time before her time-travelling has a fatal effect on her body? And would she rather stay and die in love, or leave and live alone?
And who is the mysterious stranger who shadows her from place to place? A hunter for the secret of immortality - or someone who has already found it?
The Seventh Miss Hatfield is published by Gollancz on July 31st, and the eBook will be available for £1.99 until August 7th. Thanks to Anna for writing the below guest post, and I hope you'll check out the book!
Young and Strong and Female
by Anna Caltabiano
As a teenage girl, I always like reading about other teenage girls. There’s something about opening a book and seeing someone who looks like you, sounds like you, and thinks like you. It’s magical. And fortunately for teenage girls like me there are many books (especially young adult books) that feature a variety female characters.
Many older books, now seen as classics, have a particular vein of female characters populating their worlds. These characters fulfill traditional female roles and live constrained lives. Jane Eyre fulfills a multitude of female roles—a tutor, a rescued sister, and then finally a wife. Jane Eyre’s life is so constrained that most of the tension in her character is about getting control over the very narrow choices that she has, such as either marrying St. John or Rochester. Even Cathy in Wuthering Heights, who’s known for being so wild, settles down, gets married, and runs her own household. However, the female characters in classic novels make life-changing decisions by going against the grain of society. They make these revolutionary decisions, but do so within a very firm box defined by societ. Jane Eyre’s decision to marry Rochester, who has nothing at the end, instead of the stable St. John would have been surprising to readers in that time period. Cathy in Wuthering Heights makes the decision to marry Edgar Linton and firmly stands by it.
Nowadays in popular literature, female characters are making bigger choices, spinning society on its head. Characters like Katniss in The Hunger Games are not playing by the rules of the game anymore—they’re defining their own game. Instead of waiting to be saved by a male character, Katniss saves herself and other characters through cold reasoning and her own survival skills. From the first few pages, by volunteering to be in The Hunger Games instead of her younger sister, Katniss takes control, courageously faces horrible truths, and refuses to be intimidated or constrained.
Looking at these examples, it’The Seventh Miss Hatfield, I consciously wanted to write a female protagonist who made her own choices. In the start of the book, my main female character starts off as a classical heroine. She starts as merely a victim. Things happen to her, and she’s powerless to control or even influence anything. Over time, she grows to become the proactive protagonist, driving events around her, instead of being caught in action she cannot influence.
s safe to say that female characters in novels have evolved as views in our society towards women have changed. It’s finally seen as ok to have headstrong female characters in charge of their own lives. When writing
They might not always be right and sometimes they do fail, but female characters have learned to make their own choices, and accept the consequences of these actions. As a teenage girl, meeting these characters through books, is more than inspiring. It shows me that women can and should be the leading characters in their own lives.