Tess Davies is one of my favorite main characters; certainly she’s the one who “announced herself” the fastest. You see, for me at least, when I start writing a character, sometimes it takes a long while to get to know them. They need a lot of time and care before they become themselves.
But Tess? She was her own person from almost the second I started writing. I still remember taking my first crack at the first scene and thinking, “Wow, she’s already here.”
Partly that has to do with Tess’ role in life as the book opens. She is working in domestic service in England, a subject that I’ve long found fascinating. Lately, a lot of people are enjoying “Downton Abbey,” a TV show that features a few glimpses of what life was like for servants of the English aristocracy. For me, the real hook was “Upstairs Downstairs,” a British show from the 1970s that offered a very detailed look at working in service – from the early Edwardian era until after World War I, at which point that world began to collapse.
Nobody wanted to work in service after that, you see. The modern world had opened up so many more possibilities, particularly for young women. So the prospect of slaving away for 14 hours a day, in uniform, with little chance of real advancement and as little as one weekend off a month – well, it didn’t seem so appealing any longer.
Tess already understands that. She’s tired of the drudgery, even more tired of always being treated as something less than human. Like many other girls at that time, she knows she could get different kinds of jobs, earn better money and enjoy more freedom than any other generation before her in history. She’s ready to go for it!
(Researching Tess’ duties was made a lot easier by one of my friends, who is such an avid history buff on that subject that she has a larger collection of books about English domestic servants than most libraries do. Tara’s interest began when she fell in love with the film “Gosford Park,” and that paid off for me, because I got to hang out at her house and read countless memoirs by people who had been in service – both the ones who loved it and the ones who were thrilled it was over.)
But Tess’ job is only one part of her personality. Probably what I love best about her is just how matter of fact and practical she is. Encountering werewolves on the Titanic – well, that would throw most of us, wouldn’t it? I know I’m not prepared.
Tess, though – she always meets a situation head-on. When the main antagonist, Mikhail, threatens her, she’s frightened … but she never backs down and quickly makes plans to protect herself and her friends as best she can. When the man she’s been captivated by turns out to have a terrible, and rather furry, secret … she doesn’t throw herself headlong into his melodrama but doesn’t abandon him, either. She always defends her family and her friends. She sizes people up well. And she never, ever gives in.
When FATEFUL begins, Tess knows her whole life is going to change. She doesn’t know exactly how much it’s going to change, or how fast – but she already knows. That’s not because of the events of the book; it’s because she’s already made that decision and is ready to take a huge chance. She’s betting on herself – her intelligence, her competence and her guts. Her courage always defines her, and that’s yet another reason Tess will always be a character very near to my heart.
Fateful Blog Hop Tour Guest Posts!
The Book Heist: Sinking Into Titanic Research
Hippies Beauty and Books Oh My: Tip of the Iceberg: Climax Themes and Challenges
Songs and Stories: Switching from Port to Starboard – From Vampires to Werewolves
Live to Read: On Board with Tess Davies
The Book Cellar: On Board with Alec Marlowe
Bellas Novella: On Board with Secondary Characters
Mundie Moms Book Reviews: More on the Unexplained: Why Claudia Gray Always Loved the Titanic
A novel by Claudia Gray
Eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, troubled family she serves. It’s 1912, and Tess has been trapped in the employ of the Lisles for years, amid painful memories and twisted secrets. But now the Lisle family is headed to America, with Tess in tow. Once the ship they’re sailing on—the RMS Titanic—reaches its destination, Tess plans to strike out and create a new life for herself.
Her single-minded focus shatters when she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets of his own. He’s in a hurry to leave Europe, and whispers aboard the ship say it’s because of the tragic end of his last affair with the French actress who died so gruesomely and so mysteriously. . . .
Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves exist and are stalking him—and now her, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over.
In Fateful, New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray delivers paranormal adventure, dark suspense, and alluring romance set against the opulent backdrop of the Titanic’s first—and last—voyage.
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