Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Living Like Cinderella by Megan

Last month I was lucky enough to take a trip to the Biltmore mansion in North Carolina. You might be familiar with it--it was featured in the movies Richie Rich and Forrest Gump. (I need to acknowledge fellow Harlequin author Cindy Kirk for this picture from her FaceBook page as mine didn't turn out. Thanks for the loan, Cindy.)

The hiking in Tennessee and North Caroline was invigorating. Okay, sometimes my friends had to hike on without me. I admit it: I'm a flat-lander.  The trees had peaked before we arrived but the hills were still lovely with reds, golds, browns and yellows as well as the evergreens. The people were helpful and welcoming, even the sweet young man taking a traffic survey in Pisgah National Forest. They're proud of their waterfalls, to the point of having difficulty recommending which we should hike to see. Here's one lovely waterfall.

But back to the Biltmore. It was finished in 1895 for millionaire G.W. Vanderbilt, grandson of magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, the shipping baron. Despite the other tourists, I truly felt swept away into the past. I could well imagine the thrill of being asked out for a stroll through the rose garden by a handsome gentleman in a smart black suit and with a roguish twinkle in his eye. I could imagine wearing the lovely clothes, but not changing five times a day just to play croquet or eat a meal. I could easily imagine sleeping in a lush bed and dancing into the night.

The staff had begun to decorate for Christmas, a task which takes more than two weeks. I've been immersed in all things Christmas while writing Holly & Ivey: Christmas in Stilton, so I felt right at home. I was a week early for the installation of the 40' Christmas tree. I'd say "I'll see that on the next trip" but instead I'd love to visit in April to view the azalea garden in bloom. But any season in this lovely magnificent American castle is gorgeous.

That's what Cinderella's life changed to after the wedding. A man devoted to her. A lovely home, nice clothes, food, and servants. I'm sure it was a relief to live someplace not cleaned by rats and birds.  lol  I loved going back to a simpler time, which was also a harder time. The corsets alone would have killed me. The expectations of society would have been thwarted because I'm more likely to flirt with the chauffeur or the stable master than some stiff-minded rich boy. Nevertheless, it's a place of dreams.

Okay, I admit it. I fell in love with the library. GW Vanderbilt was a book collector and a reader. [sigh] And he had an indoor swimming pool! Yep. I could have been happy there, at least for a long visit.

What are some of your favorite places to visit in the US?

Megan Kelly
Santa Dear, available now

PS Blessings and prayers for my everyone affected by Superstorm Sandy and this current storm.


BW said...

I liked the Vanderbilt Estate in Hyde Park, New York plus also the Roosevelt Estate there too. I never been to the one you were blogging about.

But my favorite is Malabar Farm in Lucas, Ohio. It was author Louis Bromfield's home and Bogie and Bacall were married there in 1945.

Megan Kelly said...

Thanks for the ideas, BW. I'll put those on my "to see" list. It's not nearly as long as my TBR list or piles but it's growing. :)

Leigh Duncan said...


I love the Biltmore! Especially the rose garden. Also, the summer "cottages" in Newport, RI are fabulous.


Megan Kelly said...

Oh, Leigh, I'd love to go to the New England area. I'll put RI on the list.

Amanda Renée said...

I only live a few hours away from the Biltmore and I've been. I think it's time to get my butt in gear and make the drive!

I have two favorite places in the US to visit, especially over the holidays. New York City and Charleston. Both completely different yet majestic in their own way. And both remind me of home :)