Archive for January, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: “Garden” Fashion

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Last week, I posted on History Hoydens about the visual inspiration for The Garden Intrigue, the grounds of Malmaison.

On Facebook recently, I was asked to post about a different sort of visual inspiration: my heroine’s clothing. Emma, the heroine of The Garden Intrigue, is at the forefront of the Paris fashion scene. Like her role model, Josephine Bonaparte, her chosen color is white.

The white dress was to 1804 Paris what the little black dress is to modern New York. In this painting of a frolic in the gardens of Malmaison, you can see the overwhelming preponderance of white dresses among the ladies:

In Paris, unlike London, diaphanous and clingy were in. Emma’s dresses would have looked much like the one being modeled in this 1804 portrait of the wife of Napoleon’s foreign minister, Talleyrand:

To get a sense of just how fine the fabric was– and how beautiful the detail– you can click here to see a close-up of Betsy Patterson’s 1804 dress now in the Metropolitan Museum’s costume collection. (Personal side note: as a high school student, I interned in the Met’s costume collection and got to play with dresses very much like this one. The level of detail and the delicacy of the fabric are incredible. It amazes me that they’ve survived.)

Here’s the whole dress:

Emma doesn’t always wear all white. Sometimes, she wears a colored tunic over an embroidered underdress, as in this picture of her frenemy, Caroline Murat:

Being a small person, Emma likes to build up her height with feathered headdresses, like the one in this picture. And, like Josephine in this 1805 portrait, Emma is very fond of sparkly accessories:

The jewelry of the period tended to be large and gaudy– and Emma was all about that. This set of blue pressed glass cameos is exactly the sort of thing I could imagine her wearing for a weekend at Malmaison:

Although I searched, sadly, I couldn’t find a good picture of the scandalous French fashion for open sandals and diamond or cameo toe-rings. But I’m sure you can picture it!

Only two more weeks until The Garden Intrigue!

If You Like….

Monday, January 30th, 2012

If you like Downton Abbey, you’ll probably like….

— Eva Ibbotsen’s A Countess Below Stairs, about a Russian noblewoman who becomes a downstairs maid in an English manor house;

— Barbara Taylor Bradford’s A Woman of Substance, about a woman who rises from maid in an Edwardian house to mistress of a financial empire;

— Kate Morton’s The House at Riverton, following the intertwined destinies of maid and mistress at the great house at Riverton;

— Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love (one of my very favorite books) and Love in a Cold Climate— and, if you can, find a way to get your hands on the excellent BBC adaptation;

— Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, the famous novel told as a butler’s reminiscences about his days in service;

— Daisy Goodwin’s The American Heiress and Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers, novels about the American heiresses, like Cora, who married into the English aristocracy;

— On the non-fiction end, the Countess of Carnaervon’s Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle and Carol Wallace’s To Marry an English Lord, a look into the inspiration behind Downton;

— and speaking of Americans marrying Englishman, more modern, but very entertaining, there’s also Sarah Lyle’s The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British.

And, of course, you wouldn’t want to miss the excellent Red Nose Day spoof, Uptown Downstairs Abbey!

Which Downton-related reads would you recommend?

Laptop Lit Mag

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Huge congrats to Rosemary, whose new on-line magazine, Laptop Lit Mag, has just launched!

Here’s the magazine’s mission statement:

The laptop is a universal symbol of the up and coming generation. It is extremely rare to find a twenty-something without one. We used to go to the library to quench our thirst for a good story, we now power up our laptops.

Laptop Lit Mag is a place for young readers and writers to share their love of words from their laptops. We are a one of a kind generational publication, meaning we feature work written by people of the Millennials Generation for people of the Millennials Generation. Our authors are the up and coming writers of tomorrow, writing about what is important to them now. Their writing, from contemporary lit to fantasy, exemplifies what it means to be a part of the twenty-first century.

Our content speaks to a fresh audience. We are dedicated to giving emerging writers a voice and to providing young readers with a place to read work that is relevant to them. There is nothing more frustrating to a young writer than being unable to find somewhere that is open to your new style. There is nothing more aggravating to a young reader than drowning among stories that do not interest you. Laptop Lit Mag satisfies both these needs.

Head over there and check it out! All the content is entirely free.

If you’re a short story or poetry writer looking for a place to publish, you can find their submissions guidelines here.

Weekly Reading Round-Up

Friday, January 27th, 2012

This has been a rather eclectic book week for me, spanning a number of genres.

— Elizabeth Peters, The Night of Four Hundred Rabbits.

I remembered why this one doesn’t make it back into the re-read rotation very frequently. Not that it’s bad– it’s just not up to the level of her others.

— Patti Callahan Henry, Coming Up for Air.

A woman discovers truths about herself by delving into her mother’s past.

— Suzanne Collins, Catching Fire.

I know, I know, I’m only the last person in the continental U.S. to get around to reading the rest of the Hunger Games trilogy. There was a bit of deja vu in seeing the Games all over again, but it was still a compelling book.

— Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay.

I liked the way it eventually ended, but had mixed feelings about the way it got there.

— Michelle Moran, Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution.

I’ve only just started this one, so more on Madame Tussaud next week.

What have you been reading?

Guest Appearances

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

I am so very lucky to be joined on book tour by two of my favorite author friends, Deanna Raybourn and Tasha Alexander.

Come see Deanna at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale on Thursday, February 16th– we’ll have champagne and chocolates and lots of copies of both of our books. (If you can’t be there, you can order signed books here.)

Then Tasha Alexander and I will reprise our “oh my goodness, how caffeinated can two authors get?” routine on Wednesday, February 22nd at the Barrington Area Library in Illinois. There’ll be tea and cookies and two ridiculously perky authors. (Things got a little silly in Houston back in November when Tasha and I took the stage after consuming a few liters of Diet Coke. It took us about thirty minutes to pause for breath. There may have been some discussion of doing an interpretive dance routine on the table.)

Deanna will be signing The Dark Enquiry and the rest of her Lady Julia books, and Tasha will be signing A Crimson Warning, the latest in her Lady Emily series.

Both events are entirely free and open to the public. Hope to see you there!

Contest Winners!

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Thanks so much to everyone for the wonderful “Very Dorrington Valentine’s Day” titles! Miles and Henrietta would have been thrilled.

This wound up being a very tough contest to tally, since almost every title had its partisans, leading to a three way tie for third place. Without further ado, in fourth place we have:

— #30, The Ruse of the Ginger Root, by Robyn.

Tied for third are:

— #10, Honeysuckle & Hijinks, by Ashley.
— #17, After the Tulip, by Angel B.
— #64: Dalliance in the Daffodils, by Melanie.

Pulling ahead for second place, we have:

— #24, The Lure of the Ginger Blossom, by Vanessa.

In first place, with more than double the nearest number of votes…

(drum roll, please)

— #3, Bunny & Biscuits, by Miss Eliza!

The Dorrington Valentine’s Day story will henceforth be known as Bunny & Biscuits: A Very Dorrington Valentine’s Day.

Our winning judge, chosen at random is… Aniko, of Comment #45.

You know the drill, folks. Email me with your snail mail address and I’ll pop your prize in the mail for you.

Huge thanks to everyone who entered and who judged! I was blown away by all of these titles.

Bunny & Biscuits: A Very Dorrington Valentine’s Day will be posted here on the site on Valentine’s Day. (Seems appropriate, no?)

Now I just have to write it!

Website Updates

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

In addition to the new contest on the Contest page (check it out!), there are some other new features up on the website:

— You can find some of the background works that went into creating The Garden Intrigue on the Bibliography page;

— the Book Club page has been updated with discussion questions for Night Jasmine, Blood Lily, Orchid Affair, and Garden Intrigue, as well as Q&A and some little essays for all those books and Mistletoe (as always, if you’d like me to phone in to your book club meeting, just email and let me know!);

— and reviews have been added to the Reviews section of the Garden Intrigue page.

If there are other things you’d like to see on the website, just let me know!

New Contest!

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Inspired by some comments on my Facebook author page, there’s a new contest up on the Contest page.

I’m rather pleased with this one…. It combines both Pink and Jane Austen!


Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

As the publication date of The Garden Intrigue
creeps closer, there have been some lovely reviews popping up around the web, from Sassymonkey, the Girls in the Stacks (Stacy, I heart that you heart Emma!), and Once Upon a Romance.

Thanks, all! And stay tuned for a “Day in the Life” post on Stitch-Read-Cook next Wednesday.

If You Like….

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

If you like stories based on fairy tales, you’ll probably like….

— Robin McKinley’s fairy tale remakes, in particular her Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite books of all time. She revisited Beauty and the Beast in a later book, Rose Daughter, as well as tackling Sleeping Beauty (Spindle’s End), Donkey-Skin (which she changed to Deerskin) and others.

— Some of my favorite novels come out of Tor Books’ long ago Fairy Tale Series, in which contemporary authors were invited to revisit old stories. My two top picks of the series were Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin, set on a college campus in the 1970s, and Patricia C. Wrede’s Elizabethan-set Snow White and Rose Red.

— More recently, Eloisa James took on a bunch of familiar fairy tales, revisiting Cinderella in A Kiss at Midnight and Beauty and the Beast in When Beauty Tamed the Beast.

— Beauty and the Beast appears to be a popular theme. Elizabeth Hoyt’s To Beguile A Beast and Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’ A Rose in Winter (a book I adored as a teenager) both make use of the Beauty and the Beast frame.

— I’ve always liked the fairy tales less traveled. Kate Holmes’ The Wild Swans does a great job with that tale (I’d wondered how someone would cope with a heroine who isn’t allowed to speak for the bulk of the story) and features a rather Miles-like hero.

— There was a novel that came out last year or thereabouts based on the Twelve Dancing Princesses– and it’s driving me nuts that I can’t recall the title (especially since I’d meant to read it, then never got around to it). Anyone else remember?

What are your favorite fairy tale based novels?