Monday, 30 November 2009

National Novel Writing Month productive, but rain, rain, please go away...

I've been trying to catch up on my writing, so I haven't been here as often as I like. As NaNoWriMo winds down, though I haven't met my goal of 50,000 words in a month, I'm satisfied that it's been a productive experience. My emotional pendulum swings between disappointment and a sense of achievement.

There's always next year.

In the meantime, I haven't been visiting any National Trust or historical properties for a long time because the weather has been so atrocious. I really jinxed myself (and the whole of England with me) when I wrote that piece a while ago about the myth of rain here in England. Just to prove me wrong, it's been pouring almost continuously for what seems like months now, though I know it must only have been a couple of weeks. Everything is growing damp and moldy, though the famed English verdure is magnificent -- the grass looks almost edible, it's so crisp and fresh. The sheep must be grazing very happily. I wonder if they're bothered by the rain?

I can afford to joke about it, because it's just been an inconvience for me. But for people in Cumbria, the rain is far from just an inconvenience. The flooding has been devastating, destroying many traditional businesses in hard-hit Cockermouth as bridges collapsed and water took over the streets.

I was particularly heartbroken by the plight of a bookshop owner in Cumbria, Catherine Hetherington, who returned after being evacuted because of the flooding, only to find all her books completely destroyed.

Despite its name, the New Bookshop has been in Catherine's family for 40 years, and was just renovated last year.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Men in (Casual) Regency Regimentals, and news snippets

For a fun thing today, I thought I'd redirect you to Regency historical writer Jo Beverley's website, where she has photos with young men in (admittedly casual) Regency-era Regimentals, just to give you a sense of what Lydia Bennet was ogling when she was chasing after the officers in Meryton. Can't blame Lydia, really.

Some news items
I'm very pleased to let you know that The Other Mr Darcy was number one in the category Regency Romance on yesterday. I should add that Amazon represents a very small share in book sales, but still, I'm really amazed (no pun intended)! (Please wait as I do a little jig)

There is still a chance to win a copy of The Other Mr Darcy out there at Mary Simonsen's blog. Mary Simonsen is a long term Jane Austen fan fiction writer whose Austen inspired novel Searching for Pemberley will be published by Sourcebooks in December 2009. I encountered Mary several times here on my blog during the Jane Austen discussions last month.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Meaning of a Jane Austen Quotation

"Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way." Emma

I was looking at this quotation yesterday, wondering what it means, and thought I'd put in up for people to share their thoughts about it. I rather think of it as a tongue twister but for the brain -- a brain twister. You have to slow down and think about it for your mind to be able to follow its twists and turns.

So what do you think it means? Is Jane Austen supporting impudence, and saying that if you're impudent you can carry off anything, and she admires impudent people for it? Or is it the opposite? That silly things are still silly, even if it's sensible people do them? Or is she condemning the fact that sensible people can get away with silly things because of people's perceptions that they are sensible? Or is she laughing at us and talking about herself?

Let me know what you think Jane Austen is saying here.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Newsflash! The Other Mr Darcy is a Desert Isle Keeper on All About Romance!

Just wanted to share this exhilerating news with everyone:

The Other Mr Darcy was given the much coveted title of DIK (Desert Isle Keeper) on the romance site All About Romance, along with a super-great review.

If you want to see one reader's visual interpretation of Robert Darcy, check out Laura's at The Calico Critic. I love it!

Her blog is also one of the few remaining opportunities to win a free copy of The Other Mr Darcy. Only three days left!

I'd also like to thank Laura for the Creativ Blogger award she gave me (on the right) for the Pride and Prejudice month-long questions. I'm very flattered.

Monday, 9 November 2009

London Fog?

Today we woke up to find a thin mist spreading over everything. It's the first "fog" we've had here in southeast London this autumn. Fog is unfamiliar enough that my daughter looked out of the window with shining eyes: "Jack Frost is here!" she exclaimed. "It means it's almost Christmas!" There wasn't a trace of frost anywhere, so clearly this strange weather event is very unfamiliar.

Which got me thinking about the famed London fogs. What happened to them? My father described fogs in the fifties so thick that you would lose your way home, wondering around and around for hours without being able to see further than your hand. Even allowing for some exaggeration, we know London is notorious for its fogs. Jack the Ripper would not be the same without the swirling fog, and where would Sherlock Holmes be without the London fog? What of the famous pea-soup fog or pea souper? Or, as it was called in the 19th century, the London Particular?  There are so many descriptions of yellow-green fog in literature that I can only puzzle over the current day absence of this natural phenomena.

A little research reveals that, far from being an exaggeration, my father's description of the fog was in fact understated. In December 1952, over a period of four days, the fog was so thick that people claimed that they could not see their shoes. It was virtually impossible to go anywhere. People abandoned their cars on the road. Not only that, but thousands of people who suffered from respiratory diseases died, their lips turning blue from lack of oxygen.

But far from being a natural phenomenon, the yellow London fog was made up of sulpher compounds resulting from the burning of coal in factories and households. After the Clean Air Act of 1956, which introduced smokeless zones and limited the use of coal particularly for domestic purposes, the pea soupers disappeared.

Which is why my daughter, a couple of generations later, can look out of the window in south east London and fail to recognize the real natural phenomenon called fog.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Pride and Prejudice Contest Winners!!!

Just an update on two more suggestions for actors to play Darcy and Elizabeth:
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison when they're older

and Audrey Hepburn with Richard Harris when they were younger

Well, all good things must come to an end (sniff).

I've very much enjoyed our month-long exploration of Pride and Prejudice, and was delighted that we had so many diverse opinions. I got to know some of you pretty well after a month of reading your posts (the extra long posts, complaints about Friday mornings, NN (who shall remain unnamed) who liked to come in right at the end) and I have to say it was a pleasure. Amazingly, some of you posted almost every time. Big applause to you!

For those of you who added your opinions later when you discovered the blog or found the time, glad to see you here! For newcomers, there's always time to go back and voice your thoughts. The questions are in the archives, and you can add to them any time if the mood strikes you. Alas, no prize as a reward, however.

Now for the moment you've been waiting for. I wish I could send you all copies of the book, especially those who faithfully came in almost daily to answer questions.

I need to thank Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks for very generously agreeing to support this contest. I also need to thank you all for making it really fun and worthwhile.

I did the draw the old fashioned way. I put the name for each seperate entry on a piece of paper, and put it in a box. I then gave the box to my daughter who had a lot of fun pulling out the names and reading them out to me.

The four runners up receive a copy of The Other Mr Darcy:

The winners are:

Elizabeth B
Laura's Reviews

The lucky Grand Prize Winner receives a copy of The Other Mr Darcy plus a box of chocolates:

The Grand Prize goes to

Congratulations to all the winners! I hope you enjoy reading the novel. For everyone else, The Other Mr Darcy is available here. And don't forget to come back and let me know what you think.

Please make sure to contact me at monica dot fairview at googlemail dot com to let me know your e-mail and address.