Ladies of London Recap: Are We Fired?

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From this week’s Ladies of London, we learn that everything is not quite what it seems. The fate of Caroline Stanbury’s Gift Library is looking grim, but how much Caroline did (or did not) know up to this critical point about the inevitability of her failing business remains unclear. Meanwhile, Julie Montagu harnesses her endless supply of pluckiness to brainstorm ways to “save” her husband’s inherited Mapperton estate. Juliet Angus, still grasping at the flimsy threads of upwardly mobile friendship, visits Baroness Caroline Fleming for some cooking lessons, and invites the ladies out for a night of burgers-beer-n-bowling that is sure to cement even more “tacky American” stereotypes into the Brits’ heads once and for all. But for Caroline F, it’s only one American’s tacky comment that’s left ringing in her ears after bowling night: Marissa Hermer’s

God, I love the opening shots of London this show serves up! As we pan back from the montage, we settle at Juliet’s house, where she’s trying on outfits in front of her kids, Georgiana and Truman. As Georgiana tells her mom she’s “the best at bossing everyone around,” Juliet promptly decides she needs to do a little bit more o’ dat. She wants to get the ladies together for some bowling…with wigs. She’s hoping this bright idea brings the group together for some lighthearted silliness, sans drama. 

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Marissa is meeting Annabelle Neilson at a cafe to check out the latest Maison Margiela fashion show she’s been helping out with. Annabelle shares runway shots from her phone, which impress (and intimidate?) Marissa, who’s just excited to sit in the presence of greatness. Greatness that Marissa wants to rub off on her Top Dog venture. Marissa’s opening her new restaurant in a few weeks, but still deciding on the hat logos. They discuss Sophie Stanbury’s birthday party, which was less civilized than Annabelle would have liked. Marissa wants to sweep Julie away from the mess with Juliet because she knows first hand how quick Juliet can turn on her so-called “friends.”

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Over at Caroline’s Gift Library, she’s prepping for a big meeting with her board to let them know the business is running out of money, so they need to scale back in a big way. Her top loan is due on Jan 31, and she can’t pay it back. She knows there has to be a resolution to this, but the unknown future is terrifying her. Today, she’ll either find out that the business might last another two years, or that it could be closing its doors by the end of the month. She heads out in the rain to meet her destiny. 

After the meeting, Caroline calls her husband Cem to deliver the disastrous news: Gift Library is pretty much doomed. She rings up her assistant, Rania, to fill him in on the sad work ahead of them. Caroline will have to inform her employees that they’ll no longer have jobs. Her investors are unwilling to sink more money into a business whose sales have basically plateaued. Caroline admits she honestly doesn’t know what to do at this juncture. 

As she arrives home to her kids’ hugs, Caroline has to rally because she’s promised to host a couple of friends, Michael Sam (the first openly gay NFL player) and Vito, from America. Her guests arrive, and we get to witness the famed English stiff upper lip in all its admirable glory as Caroline cheerfully greets and introduces them to her adorable children. The guys entertain the kiddos before before bed while Caroline rallies in the next room.

Annabelle is at home Skyping with Astro, her children’s book illustrator, about the new characters he sent her for her collection. She’s signed a deal to publish her first book, a story of “different me’s” that represent children’s emotional challenges. Annabelle explains that the “Me” series will include titles like “Angry Me” (inspired by Annabelle), “Messy Me” (inspired by her sister) and “Dreamy Me” (inspired by her imagination, which she relied on heavily after her horseback riding accident). Ooh! This series is ripe for a LoL parody starring each lady of the cast! I’ll leave that good work to you, talented RT posters! <smiles>

Back at Caroline’s house, she’s allowing herself to fall apart a bit in the company of friend and makeup artist, Luke. She has to be honest with herself and admit the business is over, despite her best intentions. It might all actually be shut down by the end of next week, she tells Luke.

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Suddenly, we’re whisked away from London to Hampshire to visit the Beaulieu Estate (above). Julie’s husband, Luke, is next in line to inherit his family Mapperton Estate – and all its encumbrances. She’s invited Annabelle and Caroline F along for the day to Beaulieu in order to talk to Ralph Montagu (Luke’s cousin) about ideas to make Mapperton profitable, since he’s done so well with his own estate. Annabelle knows there’s a lot to learn about running an estate, whether you’re royalty or a girl from Chicago. 

Ralph greets the ladies, then gives them his short list of tips before anyone’s even gotten their coats off! He says making money off of an estate can involve more than your average touring gig. Wedding hosting and conference venues come to mind. He advises Julie to drag out pieces of historical interest from the vault, which she’s already got her wheels turning about. She dreams of something to do with Charles II coming out of exile thanks to Earl of Something or Other, and the fourth Earl of Something Else that invented THE SANDWICH. (Okay, I admit I thought the rumors of the sandwich actually being invented by these peeps were just that – rumors. #themoreyouknow) Take that, Top Dog! Just kidding. No shade to Marissa. Get it, girls! Anyway, Julie’s got #bigplanz. 

As the ladies head out, they chat about Mapperton’s gardens, which are its main draw. Caroline F’s brainchild is to make Mapperton the premiere place “in the whole of Great Britain that people come to have the best afternoon tea – and sandwiches!” Annabelle barely conceals a giggle as the Baroness waxes sandwhich-y about her idea. The whole scene is lovely, though, and this sort of storyline and stunning scenery is what I love about LoL. More of this, please! (Less drunken bickering about unicorns in onesies.)

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In a hilarious downwardly mobile moment, Caroline S boards a double-decker tour duck to troll the streets of London with her American guests. Michael and Vito have never been to London, so Caroline must do her duty to show them the town from a proper perch. They have a ball, but Caroline knows she’s avoiding real life – and real problems – back at the Gift Library. 

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Back at Beaulieu, Annabelle, Julie, and Caroline F walk the gardens and discuss the aftermath of Sophie’s birthday party. They grab lunch, where Annabelle tells Julie that she basically thinks Juliet is an unsafe person (emotionally) to be around, especially if you’re an HSP personality type, because you never know what sort of outburst is coming next with Juliet. Caroline tries the more poetic approach, wondering if they could get Juliet more connected to her heart and her sensitivity and her feelings (ah, but isn’t that Juliet’s main issue? too many feeeeelings!?!?). Annabelle is the realist here, though, and circles back to why Julie needs to protect herself from Juliet’s drama: because Juliet is volatile. Period. 

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Speaking of Juliet, she’s popping by Caroline F’s home to pay a visit…and to get a cooking lesson from a real Baroness so she can tweet about it later. Caroline F wants to help Juliet by teaching her the fine art of being quirky without being obnoxious. She schleps out a cookbook she’s written, forces Juliet to swallow straight almond butter, then preaches about the virtue of cooking real food (rather than Kraft Mac-n-Cheese) before launching into social advice on how to clean up the mess Juliet made at Sophie’s party. She advises Juliet to smooth things over by using a less-is-more, lighter touch in the future. And Ms. Angus would do well to swallow her almond butter, sit down, and listen up in this here moment. Conversation turns to the Baroness’s love life, which is blooming these days after having met a 30-year old man (big heart, old soul, yadda yadda…code for: he’s ripped and hot, no doubt!). 

Flash forward to Juliet’s bowling party, where she’s laying out neon wigs and bowling shirts – freshly printed with each lady’s assigned nickname on back – “to have a laugh,” she says. Juliet’s is “Bam Bam” – because she likes to smash up relationships with blunt force? Marissa loves the joke and takes her “Ain’t No Mother Teresa” shirt with a smile. Julie – dubbed “Loose Lips” – sheepishly enters, but bonds with Juliet over their shared American love of bowling. She hopes fences are on the mend. 

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Caroline S is happy to engage in Juliet’s attempt to “make Juliet feel better” (snort!) while Caroline F is less than thrilled with the “Cougar” shirt presented to her. Marissa interviews that she’s met Caroline F’s boyfriend before and he comes across a little bit…douchey. Uh oh. Sophie “Frank the Tank” arrives, but Annabelle is opting out of this fiasco, citing illness at Juliet’s charade as her reason.

The ladies get their bowling, beer, and burgers on, and all is lighthearted fun. Until Marissa snarks, “Lock up your children, she’s coming back!” as Caroline F takes her turn. Caroline F, still smarting from the hideous polyester shirt she’s being forced to wear, thinks Marissa’s comment is disgusting and highly inappropriate. Adding insult to injury, as the gals gather for a group photo, someone (Caroline S?) comments that Caroline F looks like a little boy in her getup. Marissa snaps, “No, she likes little boys.” Because she’s a Baroness with proper training in how to ice out one’s enemy, Caroline F goes radio silent after Marissa’s comment. Caroline S notes that with Caroline F, silence is deadly. 

In a moment of reconciliation, Juliet takes Julie to the side to talk about their beef at Sophie’s party. Julie strangely likes something about her friendship with Juliet, so she doesn’t want to lose it. Juliet apologizes for her poor communication, and the two ladies agree that they want to be there for each other in the future. They hug it out and head back to the storm a’brewin back at the lanes, where it’s just now dawning on Marissa that her comments to Caroline F might have taken a left turn. 

But we’ll have to wait until next week to see how that all shakes out!

TELL US: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF CAROLINE’S HANDLING OF THE GIFT LIBRARY NEWS? IS THERE MORE TO THIS STORY? WILL JULIE ‘SAVE’ MAPPERTON? DID MARISSA GO TOO FAR IN HER COMMENTS TO THE BARONESS?  

Photo Credit: Bravo