In which we look back at SILENT IN THE SANCTUARY

Since this is the month we bid farewell to Julia–at least for  now!–I thought we would celebrate with a look back at some of the exclusive extras I’ve written that aren’t available in the print books. Feel free to add your own favorite memories of Julia, Nicholas, and the gang of unruly Marches in the comments!

In our look back at SILENT IN THE SANCTUARY, we begin with the cast of characters:

Cast of Characters


Lady Julia Grey, an adventurous English aristocrat

Portia, Lady Bettiscombe, her sister

Eglamour March (Plum), her brother

Lysander March, also her brother

Violante March, his wife

Count Alessandro Fornacci, their friend

The Earl March, an English nobleman

Nicholas Brisbane, private inquiry agent and guest

Charlotte King, his fiancée

Emma Phipps, cousin to the March family

Lucy Phipps, her sister

Sir Cedric Eastley, Lucy’s fiancé

Henry Ludlow, his secretary

Hortense de Bellefleur, a guest

Lady Hermia March, sister to Earl March

Dorcas March, relation to Earl March

Reverend Francis Twickenham (Father Fly), the vicar

Lucian Snow, his curate

Aquinas, acting butler

Morag Colquohoun, maid to Lady Julia

William “IV”, a footman

Magda, a Gypsy woman

Jasper, her brother

Perdita and Tarquin, niece and nephew to Lady Julia

And the pets:

Grim, a raven

Mr. Pugglesworth (Puggy), a Pug

Florence, an Italian greyhound

Peter Simple and Christopher Sly, the cats and their kittens

Crab, the mastiff and the pups

And continue with a plum pudding recipe:

Plum Pudding

Plum pudding is a very serious matter indeed to the March family, and Christmas celebrations at Bellmont Abbey would not be complete without it. In its present form, plum pudding was created by King George III’s chef as an homage to his royal master’s fondness for English puddings. According to tradition, the proper day for preparing the pudding is the Sunday after Trinity, and the whole family ought to be assembled in the kitchen to stir in turn, youngest to eldest. One stirs from east to west in honour of the three kings. It was once the custom to use 13 ingredients to symbolise Jesus and his apostles, although charms with pagan connections are added to the mix—a ring for a future bride or bridegroom, a coin for coming wealth. One is even encouraged to make a wish upon the stir! The following recipe is taken from the very excellent Mrs. Beeton, in her original book, Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861, and may well be the very recipe used by the Earl March’s venerable Cook.

An Unrivalled Plum-Pudding

1 ½ lb. of muscatel raisins

1 ¾ lb. of currants

1 lb. of sultana raisins

2 lbs. of finest moist sugar

2 lbs. of bread crumbs

16 eggs

2 lbs. finely-chopped suet

6 oz. of mixed candied peel

Rind of 2 lemons

1 oz. of ground nutmeg

1 oz. of ground cinnamon

½ oz. of pounded bitter almonds

¼ pint of brandy

Stone and cut up the raisins, but do not chop them; wash and dry the currants, and cut the candied peel into thin slices. Mix all the dry ingredients well together, and moisten with eggs, which should be well-beaten and strained. Stir in the brandy, and when all is thoroughly mixed, well butter and flour a stout new pudding-cloth. Put in the pudding, tie it down very tightly and closely. Boil from 6-8 hours, and serve with brandy-sauce. A few sweet almonds, blanched, may be used for a pretty garnish. Sufficient for 12 or 14 persons.