I devoted chapter seven of my novel, The Secrets of Dr. John Welles, to developing the character of Prudence Welles Mayfield. Unfortunately, her interesting backstory didn’t move the rest of the plot forward. I struggled with cutting what became known as Chapter Prudence because I really like her, and the writing was good. In the end, I discarded it in favor of keeping the story focused on my protagonist alone.
The following account details Prudence as a child and young woman. There are a few references to things that occur later in my novel, tidbits that I dealt with in others ways upon removal of this chapter, but nothing so confusing that you won’t be able to understand what’s going on.
Although her backstory went by the wayside, Prudence herself did not. She is very much an influential presence in the life of the nephew, John Welles. I hope reading about her youthful adventures, and the following character sketch, give you a better perspective into the personality of Prudence.
You believe you already know Prudence; she’s the stunning woman with an expensive, tailored wardrobe you would give your eye teeth to own. You would probably label her an arm ornament until she opens her mouth, and you realize an intelligent, well-spoken woman resides in the beautiful package. Suddenly, you want her as your friend.
You will find Prudence with drink in hand at the center of every social engagement, commanding her audience with a stellar personality, smoking long before it was fashionable for women to do so. She’s a lady to the core, despite what society may think about her, and would sooner burn her shoe collection than be caught drunk in public.
Don’t be fooled by Prudence, though. The petit woman isn’t afraid to speak her mind and can back down the most assertive man. Other women, especially those vying for a place in her beloved nephew’s life, are her particular kryptonite.
From the outside, it looks as if Prudence has a charmed life. She has plenty of money, secured by a good head for business, so she and John want for nothing. Her life is full of quality items from the home she lives in, the car she drives, the vacations she takes. Yet closer inspection would reveal sadness in Prudence kept hidden from the world. Her care of John, while altruistic on the surface, also services to satisfy her need for penance and motherhood.
Still, she isn’t the type to sit around mourning an unfortunate circumstance. She is proactive in her own restless life and will seek satisfaction until she has secured it instead of waiting around for a man to provide it.
For all her forthrightness, Prudence can still be wounded at heart. As much as she loves John, it is he who most often draws the line on her outrageous behavior especially in regards to her creative honesty. She’ll never let on that she feels the sting of his rebuke, and if pressed, Prudence would admit that her nephew is a positive influence in her life.
The pictures of Joan Crawford and Coco Chanel capture the essence of Prudence as I envisioned her.