Caroline Warfield Interviews Miss Esther Baumann from the Holly and Hopeful Hearts Anthology

hhh-memeCaroline Warfield arrives by hired carriage at the home of Mr. Nathaniel Baumann in Great Saint Helen’s Street, Bishopsgate, having passed through the City on her way from her preferred lodgings in Russell Square. Though the external of the townhouse appears quite modest, the interior glows with good taste and elegance. It may sit far from Mayfair, but its furnishings would enhance any home in that more prestigious address. A liveried footman shows her to a sunny room overlooking a small garden in the back where Miss Esther Baumann, the subject of this interview, greets her with a warm smile.

castleCW: I can see why you asked to meet here. You are much more relaxed than at Haverford House or Hollystone Hall.

EB: As much as I love my friends, this is home. I’m proud of my father and his accomplishments.

Caroline ignores the note of defensiveness. Though Esther met with little prejudice during the recent house party, sentiments against trade are even more virulent among the upper classes than the casual anti-Semitism she has occasionally experienced.

CW: I have no doubt of that. He is a great man.

protraitEB: What do you wish to speak with me about?

CW: First let me say that is a lovely betrothal ring you are wearing. Things worked out well for you.

EB: Yes, but you didn’t make it easy, did you?

CW: What fun would it be, if I made it easy?

Both ladies sip their tea companionably.

CW: I want to ask you some questions about your recent experiences at Hollystone Hall today. For instance, you seemed very excited about the invitation, your first to a ton house party. Did you find the Duchess of Haverford intimidating?

EB: At first yes—she’s a duchess for goodness sake! Her Grace quickly put me at my ease, however. She is a warm and caring person who looked after the comfort of each one of her guests, and often their, shall we say, relationships as well.

CW: What did you think of the Hall when you arrived?

EB: I felt overwhelmed at first. The sheer scale of it is massive, and it is exquisite in detail. I quickly got over that.

CW: How is that?

Esther raises her hand and gestures gracefully around the room, which has an understated beauty and is filled with—is that a Rembrandt on the wall?

EB: Though bigger and grander, it wasn’t so much different than what I am used to.

CW: That reminds me. I noticed you enjoyed discussing art with some of the guests. You gave at least one highly edifying tour with the Earl of Hythe. How did you become so knowledgeable?

portrait-2EB: My father noticed my interest at a young age and encouraged me to learn as much as I could about art history and curation. He arranged for me to have private tutoring from members of the Royal Academy of Art. Some of them found me amusing. All of them taught me things. As a result I’ve been able to be of assistance to my father in his business.

CW: But your father is a banker, is he not?

EB: Yes, of course, but you would be surprised how often scions of a wealthy family will bring an art treasure to a banker as collateral. Sometimes they redeem it. It is useful for my father to have someone he trusts who can authenticate and evaluate it.

CW: Impressive. How did Mr. Halevy react to Hollystone Hall?

EB: It’s odd. I would have expected him to feel awkward and uncomfortable, and to some extent he did. However, his mind was on other things.

CW: On you, for instance?

Esther merely blushes.

CW: He seemed to get on well enough with at least some of the other guests.

EB: Adam has had to learn that the rich and powerful aren’t that different from the rest of humanity. Some are vile; more are fine people. He has had to open his mind about many things.

CW: And his heart?

Esther smiles broadly. “That too,” she says.

Esther Baumann is the Heroine of An Open Heart, Caroline Warfield’s contribution to Holly and Hopeful Hearts, the Bluestocking Belle’s 2016 Holiday anthology. Eight all-new novellas all take place during and around a house party hosted by the Duchess of Haverford in support of her favorite charities, those dedicated to the education of women and girls, a cause Esther passionately supports. 25% of the proceeds from the book will be given to The Malala Fund in support of girls’ education worldwide.


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When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever marriages she can. Eight assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?




A Suitable Husband, by Jude Knight

As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Surely she can find a suitable husband amongst the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party. Above stairs or possibly below.


Valuing Vanessa, by Susana Ellis

Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life.


A Kiss for Charity, by Sherry Ewing

Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?


Artemis, by Jessica Cale

Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?


The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, by Jude Knight

James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy.


Christmas Kisses, by Nicole Zoltack

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts.


An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield

Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the Judaic traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?


Dashing Through the Snow, by Amy Rose Bennett

Headstrong bluestocking, Miss Kate Woodville, never thought her Christmas would be spent racing across England with a viscount hell-bent on vengeance. She certainly never expected to find love…



Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all she is a romantic. She contributes to History Imagined every month. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

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