His Lordship’s Filly by Nina Porter

His Lordship’s Filly

By Nina Porter

224 pages

Published by Kensington Publishing Corp. (1993)

The follies of the London ton during the Regency era took centre stage in this short novel of 224 pages – and even taking over the limelight from the love story between the main subjects! However, I considered it a very informative read because I get to learn a lot about the workings of Regency England.

Bridget Durabian was a countryside girl, born to an Irishman who worked a horse stable business for a living. Bridget’s mother died giving birth to her, and her father had lovingly raised her alone ever since. However, due to the lack of a female role model in her life, Bridget was used to the ways of a man. She loved the horses, trained them and she wore breeches to ride the horses astride – something a proper lady would never do then. But Bridget never did care about society: the stable was her world and she never saw herself getting married at all.

Bridget’s horse, Waterloo, was a great horse with a beautiful build. Many customers who came to Durabian’s stable had been interested with Waterloo, but unfortunately the stallion was not for sale. Waterloo meant too much for Bridget that Durabian agreed that it will never be sold or separated from her.

Meanwhile, Durabian had a bad habit: he liked to wager during races and then he would be collecting debts all around. One day, despicable creditor named Wichersham drew Durabian into a tight spot. He wanted Durabian to pay his debts or he would be sent to the nasty debtor’s jail. Alternatively, Wichersham gave Durabian two other options: to hand over Waterloo to him, or hand over Bridget for him to keep as his paramour.


Durabian was desperate, but he loved his daughter so much that he would never let the evil Wichersham to get his hands on her, or her favourite horse either. But at the same time Durabian’s business were not doing quite well at the time that he could not pay his debts either.

Eventually Durabian decided to reluctantly agree to be sent to the debtor’s jail. However, he must make sure to get Bridget to safety first. So Durabian arranged (or practically forced) Bridget to marry one of his most recent customers, who seemed to be quite a good gentleman. Andrew, Marquess of Haverly, was also taken aback by the hasty arrangement. Although Andrew did feel some kind of attraction towards Bridget, he had his own concern too: Andrew was uncertain if Bridget could fit into the ways of London society once they were married.

However, Andrew did marry Bridget eventually. He even helped settle Durabian’s debts with Wichersham to prevent the old man from being sent to debtor’s jail.

And true to expectations, Bridget struggled to fit into London society. She found the ways of the London ton trifling. She was more confused rather than scornful, and she did not understand a lot of things especially why certain ways were considered appropriate. The ton indulged in gossip-mongering, the nobilities did not work but live lavishly, and the lives of the ladies were extremely idle. As the Marchioness of Haverly, Bridget was to be subjected to wearing gowns, ride a horse side-saddle, and spend her days doing painting, needlework, or the likes. And Bridget never understand the society’s obsession on being seen – in parties, in public – despite the impracticality of it.

Bridget had difficulty fitting in, and before long she became the talk of the ton due to her pedigree as well as her failing to properly embrace the ways of the London society. Gossip-mongers spread nasty stories about Bridget, that she was married off to Andrew because of money, and that she will become “His Lordship’s Filly” – a derogatory nickname to cast Bridget as a wild filly which would soon be tamed by the powerful Lord Haverly.

And Bridget’s passion for horse never failed to drag her into the muck called scandal. A lady was not supposed to talk about horses so passionately with other women, but she did so and became the laughingstock of society. She even wore her breeches and rode Waterloo astride during her morning rides. She got involved in racing Waterloo; but the worst part of it was that she herself became the jockey in the race when the most appropriate action was to get another jockey to ride for her. She came for the race in her breeches, making a display of herself in front of the whole audience who came to watch.

Andrew bore the brunt of the embarrassment with admirable patience. He did try to teach Bridget the ways of the ton, but some things were harder to change – or may not be able to be changed at all. However, Bridget did try her best to please Andrew. She wanted to please him because she had fallen in love with him.

Bridget got engaged in needlework and tried her best to behave in society and not lost her temper when provoked by the gossip-mongers. After the horse-racing fiasco, Bridget even promised Andrew that she will never race again. However, she could never do without riding her horse astride during her morning rides.

Andrew and Bridget eventually learnt to understand each other’s upbringing and practice a lot of give-and-take in their relationship. Andrew would not expect Bridget to conform to all the ton’s expectations of a lady, and on the other hand Bridget would try her best to fit in and do some of the more enjoyable things that the society do. Despite the many contrasts of their lives, the love between Andrew and Bridget became the seal that kept them determined to weave their way through the London ton together.


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