Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Olivia Petros’ Apparently Bottomless Handbag

Olivia Petros’ Apparently Bottomless Handbag: Object Post 66

Source? It probably came from a quite expensive shop back in the day. Olivia would have bought for quality and staying power.
Significance? It was apparently bottomless, and probably magical
Fate? Olivia would still have it
Author’s inspiration? Handbags can hold a lot of things and are very individual
Appeared in? The Peacock’s Pearl, The Drake’s Diamond

She bent to pick up her handbag and opened it with a snap.

Olivia Davis married Stephen Petros after nursing him through a nasty caber-tossing accident. They were both in their forties, but though Olivia found Stephen’s habits unusual, she knew there was no changing him. It was take him or leave him. They had one daughter, Cordelia, who had a daughter of her own; Catharina “Cat” Mahal. Cordelia and her parents didn’t always see eye to eye, (especially about witch-biz), but Cat loved her grandparents. Olivia was a strong-minded woman. She needed to be to keep her end up with Stephen. She was quietly powerful. When her granddaughter turned sixteen, Olivia brought her a letter which she’d been carrying around in her handbag.
The handbag, although never fully described, was undoubtedly made of brown leather, soft and worn, double-stitched and strong. Olivia would have had it for years. It had a snap-catch, probably made from brass or steel. 

Grandma went on. “My mother left a letter for you and directed me to give it to you as soon as possible after you turned sixteen which I judge was at the very least a couple of days ago.” She bent to pick up her handbag and opened it with a snap. “Here.” Typical Grandma, she pulled out four different items; a post card, a charity recipe booklet, a funeral program and an envelope made of thick yellowish paper. She sorted the first three back into her bag and handed me the envelope.
I looked down at it.
It was addressed in a clear sloping hand to
The Seventh Daughter Down

Cat read the letter, which opened a lot more questions.
I expected Grandma to go into another long explanation, or to produce a safety deposit key or a mysterious code or another bit of rhyming doggerel.
Instead, she picked up her handbag from beside the chair and opened it with a snap.
“Now, where did I put it?”
Out came, in typical Grandma fashion, a handful of oddments.
 There was a gothic romance with a girl dressed in white (but with a 1970s hairstyle) fleeing from a castle.
There was a ticket stub from a film, a program for an art exhibition, an advertising flyer for a quilting workshop, a bottle of herbal cat tonic, a tiny phial of violet oil and a paper with five floral buttons attached.
Grandma muttered crossly and turned the bag upside down.
“Out with you!”
A bubble appeared in the brown leather lining of the bag.
It burst, and out popped a pink sphere the size of a marble.
It didn’t look like a pink bubble gum ball in the least. It didn’t look cheap, or ugly or vulgar and there wasn’t the faintest hint of kicking giant-chicken claws.
The Peacock’s Pearl glowed with an unearthly shine I could classify only as pearly. The layers of colour were as perfect as the pink of a sunrise.
The Peacock’s Pearl was beautiful. And Grandma had been carting it about in the lining of her bag for years.

The bag was as much a part of Olivia’s persona as her familiar Tabbita and her beautifully coiffed hair. Indeed, Cat used it when she produced a brief potted description of her grandmother in The Drake’s Diamond as part of the list of witches currently inhabiting the family kitchen.
Witch 3: Olivia Petros; Mum’s mother. My grandma. Calm, easy to underestimate, loves gothic romances and operates her life on a need to know basis. Does not approve of secrets but manages to keep some pretty monumental ones. Kindly and tolerant and handy with the hexes. Has a particular handbag that may, or may not, be an IA.

An IA, by the way, was Cat’s name for an interesting artefact or intelligent artefact. She had a bit more to say on the subject when she compiled a list of the IAs in the kitchen.
(6) Grandma’s handbag, which seemed (like the Tardis and Mary Poppins’ carpet bag) to hold a lot more things than seemed possible…
…She swept the odds and ends back into her handbag (yes, that apparently-bottomless handbag) and snapped it closed.

Olivia Petros and her handbag appear in The Peacock’s Pearl and The Drake’s Diamond


Sally is Sally Odgers; author, anthologist and reader. You can find you way into her maze of websites and blogs via the portal here.(Sally is me, by the way.)

The goal for 2017 was to write a post a day profiling the background behind one of my books; how it came to be written, what it's about, and any things of note that happened along the way. 2017 is well behind us, but I ran out of year before running out of books. As of June 2018 I STILL hadn't run out of books, but many of those still to come are MIA by which I mean I don't have copies and remember little about them. There are more new books in the pipeline, and I'm certainly showcasing those, but in between times, I'm profiling some of my characters, places and objects. Thank you so much to everyone who's come along on this journey so far!

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