The Woodhouse Girls

The Woodhouse Girls [collaborative novel] (started: Jan. 2016) 
                                               Set during: American Civil war (1861-1865)

    This is the life story of four young women struggling to make their way in a corrupt world. Philippe, Beth, Anna, and Cordelia Woodhouse were split up into three different orphanages when they were young after their parents and eldest sister were killed in a house fire. Reunited seven years later with the help of a presumptuous lawyer, they move to the country to start over as best they can. The novel then splits into separate parts for each character's personal experiences as they come of age.

    (By me)

    Philippe Woodhouse and her three sisters were split up at a young age after their oldest sister and parents were killed in a house fire.  Seven long years later, they are reunited with the help of a certain presumptuous and shallow young lawyer, Mr. Frederic Winsor.  He is a bit sweet on all the girls, especially Philippe, and gives them some money to make a start in life.  
    {Late summer, 1861} As We Are opens to a scene where Philippe is gloating over her recently attained job as a seamstress.  With this new source of income, it isn’t long before the girls’ days living in a city boarding house for the poor people of the city are numbered.  Within a month, the sisters scrape up enough money to buy an almost collapsed cottage from kind Widow Goodhill who, after moving out of her house, goes to “live with the gypsies” down the road.  When they move, they have suddenly lost all contact between themselves and Frederic Winsor (who had not visited them in over a month) and thus when he does decide to visit, he finds that they have disappeared.  
    Taking charge, Philippe hires a twenty-two-year-old German man named Theodore (Teddy) Clemens.  He is particularly generous to the Woodhouse girls, and, knowing Philippe’s wishes to start a small farm, gives them a gift of six chickens on his first day of work.  They also buy a milking cow from a friendly neighbor.  Having a soft spot for young children, Teddy instructs Cordelia, who is then bent on being a carpenter, in the art of repairing a house.  He also entertains the sisters with stories of his time in Bonn, Germany living with his ten-person family.
    {1861-63} Teddy understands Philippe and how she has struggled with her responsibilities over the past sixteen years.  Knowing there is only one way to cure her of her bitterness toward the world, he befriends her and the two become tight knit by their similarities in personality and taste.  Teddy teaches her how to garden, farm, and essentially deal with life, this kept secret from the proud Philippe, of course.  They spend their time together making music, both literally and with their friendship.  Philippe learns that Teddy was once a professor of music in Germany and that he plays the violin impeccably.  The two combine their talents (Philippe has an uncommonly good voice), and Teddy also persuades Philippe to join the church choir where she flourishes in the admiration she receives.  
    Two years later, Teddy begins to realize that his feelings for her have deepened and that he has fallen in love with the dauntless Philippe.  Arising from his suddenly more frequent visits, Philippe picks up on this, and, not interested in a relationship at the moment, she begins to avoid him and act slightly cold to him, trying to shake him off.  Teddy attempts innumerable times to talk alone with Philippe, but, with her new attitude toward him, she succeeds in making valid excuses to leave him each time. 
    {Spring, 1864} Suddenly, in early April, Teddy is drafted into the Union army because of the lack of volunteering men, and hastily leaves, desolately realizing Philippe might already be engaged when he returns.  While he is gone, the Woodhouse girls receive a bill that they can’t pay with the little money they have saved up over the years.  All frantic, they try desperately to gain enough money to pay it, but their house is soon mortgaged and a law office, actually the one the unknowing Frederic Winsor works for, threatens to take it from them in a matter of weeks.  Philippe decides to attempt to get a good reputation in society and a benefactor, and so packs her bags and departs for an old friend of her mother’s (with whom she has been corresponding since the first chapter) in Atlanta, Georgia.  She leaves her younger sisters under the care of Widow Goodhill, who is delighted to have company.  
    {Summer, 1864} Bustling Atlanta is much different from the open countryside she is used to.  Vying for a prominent spot in society, she attends a ball and there unexpectedly meets the brazen Frederic Winsor for the first time in three years.  A sudden scheme enters her head.  Why not get him to help her and her sisters pay off the mortgage with his seemingly endless money?  Or, ask again for his services as a lawyer to help them retain the house long enough for the girls themselves to make enough money to pay off the bill?
    Originally in Atlanta to marry for money replenish his diminished supply, Frederic has happened across Philippe at the aforementioned ball.  Strangely enough, he truly does love Philippe greatly and has not forgotten about her since he abandoned her and her sisters in 1861.  He is charmed by Philippe’s bravery and wit, unlike any other woman’s whom he has ever met.  He sees that she is much prettier than she was at age fifteen when he first met her, for her thin form has completely filled out and she is all attractive curves, good nature, and grace.  Also, she is willing to flirt with him, yet is still unlike other women because she does not fall at his feet and is stubborn and hard-to-get.  Sacrificing his hopes for money in the future, he follows his heart and asks Philippe to marry him.  When he hears her story, he thinks himself a fool for not giving them enough money three years before and for not searching for the sisters harder after they moved.  Philippe willingly forgives him and the fact that their house is being taken by his law agency, and he manages to render his services as a lawyer as Philippe had planned.  He also gives her most of his remaining money, though he does not tell her that there is little left.  The two spend lots of time together in Atlanta.  At one point, Frederic discovers that Philippe is corresponding with a man named Theodore Clemens, a soldier, and he becomes jealous, making fun of Teddy’s easy, friendly way in the letters and how Teddy, in one paragraph, explains to Philippe that he has been appointed colonel of a regiment.  Philippe, knowing that though she is fond of Frederic she does not love him, continues to flirt with him and make a mess of things.  After a few weeks thus, Philippe returns home to surprise her sisters with the news that they can pay the mortgage and that she is engaged to be married the next summer. 
    {Winter, 1864-65} On a short leave for Christmas, Teddy visits the Woodhouse girls.  His presence delight the girls and he himself, is glad to be back with them.  When he hears of Philippe’s engagement to Frederic, he is appalled and becomes frantic.  Apparently, he is acquainted with Frederic and knows he is a gambler and an unfair man.  She withholds from him what Frederic said about Teddy’s letters to her.  An unpleasant argument arises between Teddy and Philippe on Teddy’s last day of leave when he attempts to reveal Frederic’s character to Philippe in an effort of protection.  Philippe refuses to believe any accusations made against Frederic.  
    A month after Teddy returns to the army from Christmas leave, he is captured by the Confederate army and eventually, after a long imprisonment, sentenced to be executed by a firing squad.  Moments before the execution, a man named Philip Adams -- who Teddy earlier befriended and was captured the day after Teddy, only was sent to a  lower security prison where he soon escaped -- saves Teddy.  The two fugitives return to New York City and Phillip introduces his sister, who is also a governess, to Philippe.  She is named Loudia Adams and becomes Philippe’s most trusted confidante and friend.  Philippe consoles herself by not allowing Teddy anywhere near her, even into the house.  Loudia reveals to Philippe her observation that Philippe really is in love with Teddy but just won’t admit it to herself.  Philippe tells Loudia she wonders why she couldn’t eat or sleep for days after she received Teddy’s letter saying her was to be executed and Loudia tells Philippe it’s because she loves him.  Phillip Adams, Loudia’s brother, a remarkably well-mannered and incredibly handsome man, also becomes Philippe’s close friend and Teddy struggles with a bit of jealously at this point because he and Philippe are not on the best terms at the time.  
    Frederic makes plans to come to New York to see Philippe before he goes to Scotland on a business trip.  While he is with the Woodhouse girls, staying in a nearby hotel, Teddy point-blank refuses to visit Philippe.  About three days into Frederic's visit, one morning Frederic doesn't appear.  Worried that he might be ill, Philippe investigates and goes to his hotel only to find that there is not trace of him -- that he as packed his bags and left.  A heartbroken Philippe struggles to make her way in the world with what she has left in life.  Loudia is with Philippe when she receives letters from various people asking her to pay Frederic Winsor’s gambling debts.  Philippe is heartbroken now that the truth has come out about her late fiancé’s character.  Loudia now sees the problem clear as day when Philippe tells her the whole story about how she met Teddy and then lost him, only to befriend the seemingly appealing Frederic and become engaged to him for money’s sake.  Loudia, actually quite a wise young woman, works undercover and tries to repair Teddy and Philippe's relationship, in due course bringing them back together again only a little worse for wear at the start.  
      {Autumn, 1865} After years of holding it back, Teddy again asks Philippe’s hand in marriage and Philippe comes to her senses and gladly accepts, realizing that it was not the dashing fraud Frederic that she loved all along, but Teddy Clemens, the friend of her childhood.  She becomes aware that money isn’t everything even though it helped the Woodhouse girls greatly, and that her sisters and Teddy are more important to her than anything.  The noted line that the story, As We Are, is named after is revealed at this point.  Lessons learned and blighted hopes recompensed, Teddy and Philippe are married soon after. 

    This story of The Woodhouse Girls is different from the other’s being a more sentimental, sincere one.  It deals with the problems of facing the truth about love and moreover the two sides of human nature: good and bad.  But this story will also identify something further . . . the powers of hope and faithfulness, of being true and staying close to God’s word.  Philippe and her sisters are timelessly classic characters played out in a historical allegory to the corrupt modern world and life’s temptations, exemplifying the importance being honest and not hastily judging others.  Philippe Woodhouse is a character you will not soon forget, and her story is one that will make an imprint on your life forever: As We Are.  

    philippe, teddy, and frederic

    the woodhouse girls in general

    (By Dorothy Jane)

    (By Annika/the sister)

    Anna Woodhouse's adventures begin when, at age sixteen, she sees an advertisement in the newspaper asking women to nurse in Eau Claire, Wisconsin under Clara Barton.  Deciding to take the job and not realizing what it will lead to, Anna packs her bags in September of 1862 and travels by train, to Eau Claire.  Anna knows that she is much to young to be taking the job and that the requirements stated that all nurses must be over age 18 and married, but she doesn't care and thinks only of her duty.  She arrives in Wisconsin soon after the battle of Antietam, later recorded the bloodiest single day battle ever fought in American history.  She soon meets a young and friendly doctor named Laurence Moore who patiently instructs her in the way of nursing.  The two become uncommonly close.
    10 months after her arrival, Anna receives a letter from home stating that Beth is dangerously ill with Diphtheria.  Granted permission to leave, Anna hurries home.  Philippe is away in Atlanta at the time, thus Cordelia is frantic with worry for her older sister, Beth.  It is two long months before Beth is mostly recovered from her strange bout of Diphtheria, and Anna realizes that she can't go back to the battlefield and that her nursing days are over.  She writes to Clara Barton, telling her that she will no longer be able to serve as a nurse for the remainder of the war.  She also writes a letter to Laurence saying that she will not be returning.  Laurence works for one more week, and as noble as he may be, he follows Anna and deserts the hospital, walking 900 miles to reach her after reading the return address on her letter.  He swims across the 5 mile Mackinaw Straits of Lake Michigan, entering into Michigan's capital, Lansing, in search of food.  He stops at a bar close by which is filled with injured old men, some blind in one eye, and other missing limbs as a result of the ferocities of the war.  One of the men leaves to alert the sheriff of a suspected deserter in the bar.  When Laurence exits the bar, he is ambushed by the sheriff and runs escaping with a gaping bullet wound in his lower right arm.  
    He then makes his way through a small section of Canada and enters New York, Anna's homeland.  At this point, Laurence's would is festering and infected.  When Laurence finally arrives at the Woodhouse girls' cottage, Laurence's arm is amputated by the town doctor, Mr. Ruttles.  Mr. Ruttles takes such a liking to kind Laurence Moore that he takes him on as an apprentice and student.  
    Anna and Laurence are soon engaged, and Anna becomes the editor of a women's magazine, organizing meetings with upper-class women in New York City to talk, knit socks for soldiers, and make bandages.  

    A year later, Anna and Laurence are married in a beautiful country church where Anna becomes Mrs. Laurence Moore, and a little girl named Daisy Rencia soon enters their life.

    (By A. R. Key)

    Cordelia Jane Woodhouse, a rash, headstrong and witty young lady when the chapter first opens. But despite the hard-working, lightheartedness that she sets off, she’s lived through many tragedies, and a great many more are arising.
    At strikingly young ages, Cordelia lost her eldest sister and loving parents to the mercy of fire. Then was separated from her two elder siblings, she and her twin sister are forced to go to a happy orphanage. Cordelia and Anne, her twin sister, although they are fed, dressed and taught well, cling to each other and refuse all manners of kindness. Even though she is younger than Anna, she is taller, colder and even more a beast-full girl than before. One night she takes her sister and escaped. Appalled at everything that was going on, this pitiless, harsh little girl would do everything necessary to make sure her sister was safe. She became clever in all the ways of the world, and eagerly accepted a job as a scullery made at a boarding house, sometimes mistaken for an orphanage (mostly because passer-by’s see two young ladies walking in and out of the rotted building). After seven long years of cruelty, wizening and heartache, the four sisters are at long-last reunited together with the help of a dashing young man. Cordelia dislikes him on the spot. Which isn’t very unusual, since she mostly doesn’t like anyone now. But they had other problems to worry about. The dashing young man, known as Fredrick Winsor, loans them some money to start off a life, allowing them to bye a dusty, dirty, un-suitable apartment. Although they are thankful for it, each and every one of them detests it, so they are overjoyed to hear that Philippe had bought a little cottage on plot of land.
    Once moving there, they lose all contact with that Mr. Winsor, which slowly saddens Philippe, the eldest, but delights Cordelia, the youngest. So they hire a thirty-two year old German man to help fix of the cottage, with the regular duties Cordelia holds. She is very thankful for the extra help, but soon finds out that he is smitten with Philippe. Cordelia had always been frightened of the thought, but can do nothing about it, and is proud of her sister who ignores the feelings Theodore (that was his name) has for her.
    But all-too-soon, Beth (the second eldest, a motherly creature) finds a courteous young man, and soon Anna does as well. Cordelia cannot stand this, she was separated from her sisters once, she couldn’t bare for it to happen again. She throws herself into long, grueling work from sunrise to long after dark. She shuts herself off from all society, which nobody really missed her because she was a bold speaker and spoke her rights whenever possible. She was prideful and selfish and would lash out feverishly at anyone for a reason none too good. And although she was flighty, pleasant and attractive, she saw the world of only the cruelness it held. It pained her to see her sisters confiding in those men more often than into their sisters. She adored them, praised them, but couldn’t bear the thought of losing them.
    Her strong willed spirit caused her to get into many comical yet serious scrapes, including one that was forever after called ‘The Trolley Incident’, in which Cordelia encounters a handsome but extremely rude young man, which happens to be the editor’s son. He comes to apologize the next morn, and finds that Cordelia (only from the short time of their knowing) is like a wild horse, only to be tamed and seen with more gentle people. That she was wonderful company, and very pleasant to talk to. But Cordelia, finding that her feelings are deepening to the young man, distracts herself when Philippe leaves for Atlanta, Georgia. Cordelia weeps a bitter tear, at what she sees as the loss of her sister. She holds tight to Anne and Beth, but they are having affairs of their own. So she goes out into the fields and spends many an hour mourning, praying and wishing endlessly in an old tree, about how their small, feeble family is slowly being torn apart. When Philippe returns, Cordelia hardly notices, everything taking such a toll on her. Philippe, Beth and Anna are all extremely worried, and realized just how much they needed their joyful, comical, lighthearted Cordelia and how much light she brought everywhere she went. But lately it had all changed, she was solemn, cold and spiteful, where had their dear sister gone?
    When Cordelia finds out that Philippe is engaged, her meals are lesser, her faint smile weaker, and tears come easily and frequently now. Cordelia hates the person she has turned into with all her heart, she hates everyone trying to cheer her up, false kindness that only comes out of pity. She hates that her sisters are growing farther and farther away from each other.
    She was heartbroken when she finds out Fredrick was a fraud, cheat and gambler. Even though she had never liked him, her empathy took her back home and found Philippe. The first sight of her and her sisters all gathered around a small fire made her break down. She cried so much by her sisters, altogether by a fireplace that could barely burn. She had been so caught up in what she thought was happening, she was blind to what was actually happening. No one knew how long they cried, but when each sister quieted down, they each told everything that had happened to them, everything, considering romance, troubles and hardships which none of them had noticed. After everything was done, Beth made supper, Anne drew, Philippe collected flowers, and Cordelia set there, thinking and praying about everything that had happened.
    She had always been a writer, a poet, and a singer with a melodious, soulful voice. But she had never used it, because even as a child, she grew up in such grief, she never found the voice to. But now, she sang, she sang at the top of her lungs, even when a knock sounded at the door and a man entered, she still sang. Beth would come in later, joining in the singing, Anna and finally Philippe and Teddy entered, followed by who knows else. And there, all in the small parlor, where so many unspoken things had happened, they sang.
    Later, in the room that they all shared, Philippe was sound asleep, Beth and Anna were as well. But Cordelia set up, and went over to her writing desk. She took out a fresh sheet of parchment and wrote a story that was soon famously published later, she wrote all night. Naming it, A Thousand Tears.
    The next day, Philemon asked for her hand in marriage. She accepted with a glad and light heart. She hadn’t felt that way in years, with no guilty weight, and expectations to meet. Cordelia and Philemon were married, at age twenty-two and thirty-five, simply yet sweetly at a wonderful Chapel. They then move off into the country. Where she bore five children, naming most of them after her beloved sisters, now happy as well. Who visit as often as ever.

    The book closes with a wonderfully joyful ending at a family reunion. Cordelia, Philippe, Beth and Anna. Everyone married and teary-eyed. But one by one, each sister escapes out into the open field. Looking back on everything that had happened to them, everything they had been through. Standing there, hand-in-hand, the four lost sisters, now reunited like never before. Each girl with a tremendous smile on their faces, their hearts aching with happiness. Together they all looked up at the moon, the same moon that had watched over them even fifteen long years before. The most touching, heart-felt and comical story of four sisters— The Woodhouse Girls.

    Post a Comment

    Don't be shy, please leave me a comment! ♥

    © Lavender + Blue. Design by FCD.