by Lady Carlton née Katie O’Roarke, heroine of “The Blonde Samurai”
My wedding was perfect. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…
As in bluebood.
I am speaking about his lordship, Lord James Carlton, born to Braystone House, a fifteenth-century limestone goliath situated somewhere in the Midlands and unknown to me.
‘Tis true that I, Katie O’Roarke, married an English lord in the summer of 1872. Like many titled “land-rich but cash-poor” Englishman, James needed funds and I needed a husband.
But not just any husband.
To please my sainted mother, I did as many American heiresses did. I sailed across the pond to England and joined the ranks of British royalty since its American counterpart of New York society matrons with the dubious moniker of Knickerbockers would have none of the likes of me.
But I digress, dear lady reader.
Today’s post is not about romance but marriage. A mariage de convenance as the French are wont to say. And so I shall attempt to enlighten you with the extravagant and wildly dazzling world of the American heiress in 1870s London.
Where shall I begin?
The O’Roarkes were nouveau riche, what I like to call gritty rich since my da was a man who wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty to make an honest dollar. And that he did in railroads. He was among the self-made millionaires who could easily afford to spend what they made.
Even though my mother furnished our New York brownstone with elegant chairs in blue velvet inlaid with ebony and ivory and adorned herself in pleated skirts in watered silks, the snobbish society ladies would have nothing to do with us. No invitations to dinner parties or fancy balls. Her silver tray designed to hold such invitations remained empty.
But you don’t know my Irish mother. Undaunted after being snubbed by the elitist New York Society, Mama insisted we head for Paris.
And from there to London where the H.R.H, the Prince of Wales, a royal with a reputation for the ladies, harbored no prejudice against Americans, but rather welcomed the company of Yankee heiresses with fortunes to spend and who looked charming in the latest Parisian gowns while doing so.
They called us buccaneers since we set out to plunder the titles of England like pirates in silk petticoats, the doors to a glittering new world opening up to us with invitations to all the London Society soirees.
I soon discovered that while being Lady Carlton afforded me great prestige, it left me with a lonely heart…
Until I arrived in Japan, the land of cherry blossoms and samurai, where I learned the way of the way of the warrior: loyalty, honor and self-respect from a samurai called Shintaro, one of the most mysterious, elusive and enigmatic men in all Japan.
[***Jina’s note: Jennie Churchill was the mother of Sir Winston Churchill]
February 2010: meet The Blonde Samurai
“She embraced the way of the warrior. Two swords. Two loves.”