Elizabeth Clansham

Rated 3.80/5 based on 5 reviews
Elizabeth, reluctant teacher and aspiring author, retreats to a croft house in the Scottish Highlands to write a novel and avoid real life. Real love, however, proves harder to elude. Andrew maintains it’s the things you don’t do in life that you regret but is it ever too late for love to blossom?

"A finely-crafted tale of social interactions, love and finding yourself," Review, Sept 2011. More

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About Catherine E. Chapman

I write women's fiction and romance. My longer works have been described as accessible character fiction. I also write shorter fiction in the genres of contemporary and historical romance.

For tasters of my writing, the short stories, 'Opening Night,' 'The Ramblers,' 'The Family Tree,' 'The Office Party' and 'All the Trimmings,' are available to download for free from Smashwords & their retailers.

Many thanks to all who have reviewed, recommended and rated my books. I really appreciate feedback from readers.

My seven short historical romances are available in one volume, 'Collected Romances.' I am currently working on longer-length historical romances.

'The Laird's Right-Hand Lady,' a contemporary romance set in the Scottish Highlands, is my most recent publication on Smashwords.

Read Catherine E. Chapman's Smashwords Interview
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Joanne Armstrong reviewed on on Oct. 13, 2014

A mesmerising read, skilfully and humorously woven together.

'Elizabeth Clansham' is a contemporary romance, set in the Highlands of Scotland.

Elizabeth Clansham arrives in a small Scottish village to teach literature. Well, in fact what she really is doing is running away from dealing with the loss of her father and the realisation that she has no meaningful “others” in her life, whilst telling herself that she is going to write a novel.
The village accepts her into its bosom and she becomes a part of its daily life. Through the eyes of her pupils, we see her as a teacher, the subject of a teenage crush, and as a romantic heroine. In the eyes of the village gossips she is a single woman (strike that - a spinster) for whom a beau must be found amongst the local bachelors. Through the eyes of a scowling, troubled child she is a witch.
Elizabeth is all of them and more (although I have to admit I never really “got” the witch one). She’s also a loner; a recluse who is unable to deal with personal questions or judgment, mainly because she is afraid of what she will see when she eventually turns the mirror on herself. Her character’s development is clever to say the least. At the start I struggled to get a handle on her, and as the book progressed I realised that the opinions I was forming of her were all wrong anyway - and not to trust her point of view, since it was so stubbornly myopic.
I loved that it was so subtle.
The book isn’t just about Elizabeth though. Chapman introduces us to her English class (thankfully small, as I was wondering if I’d keep track of everyone), both the day and night-time students, plus the local gamekeeper, the gossips and the neighbours. We have a good handful of characters to pick and choose between. Who will be cast as the literary sacrificial lamb? (Oh surely not him, surely not her!) Who will get together with who? I know who I wanted to get together, but will they work?
It is a wonderful story with wonderful characters. They live and breathe beautifully. They have their own language (I especially loved Ronnie’s, every third word an expletive), their own back stories, their own motives and desires. I thought that Chapman wrote the students to perfection. She deals with teenage-hood with a light brush, covering everything both respectfully and without moralising. In this book you will find teen drinking, bullying, many teenage crushes, dropping out, arson, anger issues at being abandoned, curiosity about gay sex, curiosity about heterosexual sex, and living with the town drunk as your father. And above all, friendship. All this was in the classroom Elizabeth Clansham walked into on her first day on the job, blissfully unaware. She’s still blissfully unaware of most of it by the end of the year too, but thankfully much more tuned in to her students’ day to day issues by then.
Elizabeth is the main story, the students from her class woven in as a side story beautifully. The other side story which I thought was absolutely spot-on was the seven-year-old child’s (the one who decided she was a witch). I suspect that Lauren’s story began as a small by-line but quickly grew. For me it threatened to eclipse the main character’s, since I enjoyed it so much. Lauren comes to stay in the village because her mother is running from her past too, and although Laeticia and Elizabeth are absolutely chalk and cheese when it comes to characters, they strike up the closest friendship Elizabeth is likely to have while she remains so hell-bent on protecting her emotions.
My final accolade for this book has to go to the constant references to literature. Elizabeth is teaching a high school literature class, trying to encourage her students to read widely among Austen, Bronte, Shakespeare and Shelley. And it wasn’t not long before I started seeing the characters everywhere - although Chapman did have to lay a few solid traps for me before I noticed what she was doing. There’s Macbeth and Lady Macbeth! There’s Mr Darcy. There’s Heathcliff (thank God he’s a little bit tamed), and she’s just got to be Emma… She has brought them all together, put them in a Highland village and given them modern names, but still, here they are. How will they fare meeting each other?
Clever, clever, clever. It has made me want to reread my old favourites to draw the similarities for myself. And to answer the question which the book never attempts: just who is Elizabeth?
(review of free book)
Heather Boustead reviewed on on May 14, 2012

Elizabeth Clansham
By Catherine E. Chapman

Elizabeth Clansham has recently moved to a small town in the Scottish Highlands in order to pursue her writing, all the while she teaches English part time. Across from her small home lives Andrew a former pop star who drifts listlessly through life until Laetitia and her daughter Lauren arrive on his doorstep, Laetitia is fleeing Glasgow when a menacing man shows up to her flat and threatens to hurt her daughter if she does not repay her debt. Then there is Angus, the gamekeeper and father figure who has taken in his niece when her mother has abandoned her. Between the four romance begins to bloom and each of their lives is changed by the others.

This book reminded me a lot of Debbie Macomber’s style of writing using real life scenarios as the focus instead of fantastical situations. If you enjoy a laid back approach to the romance genre and something more realistic than vampires or a serial killer who focuses on the main character for any number of reason you will enjoy this book. Each character goes through their own growth period and finds out who they truly are or want to be. Catherine E. Chapman managed to encompass four individuals but also Elizabeth’s students into the story each one having their own romantic trysts; it was very intricate and well written I only wish there had been more conclusions to some of the individual stories, but the author does a splendid job bringing each one to life.
(reviewed 36 days after purchase)
Karen Mason reviewed on on April 9, 2012

My first thought about Elizabeth Clansham is that it was written in the wrong era. Take out the sex, bad language and modern references, and it would make a fine historical novel. Indeed the old-fashioned names of Miss Clansham's pupils made me keep thinking it was set many years before. The book reads like a soap opera, full of characters with inter-weaving stories and this was where I became a little confused and frustrated. To me the most interesting characters were Elizabeth herself, her relationship with her uptight neighbour, and his slutty ex-girlfriend and her long-suffering daughter, and no sooner would I start getting into their stories, then I would be disturbed by irritating schoolchildren and fledgling lesbians. I am sure the whole thing would play out far better on screen than in a book and I would recommend that Chapman considers writing for television, as to maintain a story with so many characters, without getting confusing is an admirable achievement and one I think she should take further.

For myself, I would have preferred there to be only one or two main stories running through the book, with the other characters as bit players rather than whole chunks dedicated to them. But if you don't mind this sort of storytelling then you will find Elizabeth Clansham well-written and engaging.
(reviewed 25 days after purchase)
Katy Sozaeva reviewed on on March 23, 2012

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this eBook in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Elizabeth Clansham retreats to a croft house in the Scottish Highlands to write a novel and avoid real life. Reluctant teacher and aspiring author, she finds that the part-time job she has taken to fund her idyllic existence impacts upon her life more than she'd anticipated; her students are determined to find her a love-match. Will it be Angus, gamekeeper and uncle of one of Elizabeth's pupils, or Andrew, Elizabeth's reclusive neighbour in the croft?

Andrew's solitary bachelor life is turned upside-down by the arrival of his former girlfriend, Laetitia – fleeing the city of Glasgow and her mounting debts, and seeking shelter with Andrew in the hills. Will their old flame be rekindled or will Lauren, Laetitia’s seven-year-old daughter, get her way and realise a father-figure in Angus?

Andrew maintains it’s the things you don’t do in life that you regret but is it ever too late for love to blossom?

My Thoughts: I should start out by saying I don’t like romance novels. What particularly drives me mad is when the romantic couples spend most of the books hating each other, or being jerky at random for no real reason. Therefore, I’m happy to say, that was not the case here. The only ones acting like adolescents were, actually, adolescents. There were actually several scenes at which I laughed out loud, particularly some of the random discussions Elizabeth Clansham’s night class would get into, as I remember starting a fair numbers of like discussions myself while in school. It also reminded me why I decided against being a teacher; I definitely would not have dealt with her classes with the patience that she showed. I rather like Angus - I guess I, like Laeticia, am a fool for a big, hairy man, and would probably especially like one who regularly supplied me with venison and steaks! *laugh* Andrew was a weird one - I couldn’t decide exactly how I felt about him, and I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to develop his character a bit more, but as it was, he remained rather an enigma.

Overall, not really my type of book, although I enjoyed it well enough, but folks who enjoy literary fiction and/or romantic fiction should enjoy it quite a lot.
(reviewed 9 months after purchase)
Katie hupke reviewed on on July 11, 2011

I would recommend this book to people who like the movie Love Actually. It is not a fast paced, action-adventure book. I was slightly confused in the beginning of the book because I wasn't sure of the setting or to what location Elizabeth had moved to, but the author sort of told you a little ways into the book. However, since I am not from London, nor have I been there, maybe I would of figured it out a little quicker if I was familiar with the geography.

I'm trying to think of the best way to rate this book and I'm having a hard time, so I am going to do positives and negatives...

I thought the characters were semi-easy to relate to and there was a wide variety, every person seemed very different from the last thus making it easy for me to remember who everyone was.

It was an easy, light read

Maybe this is how editing is done in England (I don't know for sure) but it bothered me that when a conversation was written in the book (he said "", she said "") the author used single quotes. It just threw me off a little bit.

Some questions were left unanswered for me, but maybe I just needed to 'read into' the story more... for example - what EXACTLY did Laetitia do for a living prior to moving there (was she a porn star, or just a model in a nudie magazine, or a whore, or combo of all of them)? Why was she in so much debt? Why was Elizabeth so uptight?

I got over most of it and managed to enjoy the story, I just think it needed to be a little bit longer to do some extra character development.

And the description of the book doesn't seem to fit what it actually is. There really didn't seem to be a lot of story about Andrew and Elizabeth, again, it seemed to more of a montage of all the characters like Love Actually.
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)

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