Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The King's Speech

Colin Firth is receiving excellent reviews for his performance in The King's Speech, the story of George VI, the father of Elizabeth II, and the man who sat on the throne during World War II, and his lifelong fight to overcome a debilitating stutter. Geoffrey Rush stars as the king's speech therapist and Helena Bonham Carter as the king's wife, Queen Elizabeth. Here is a link with Colin Firth's interview with Katie Couric. Thanks to Vic at Jane Austen's World for finding this.

At the end of the 30-minute interview, Firth briefly mentions that he is currently filming Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, one of my favorite PBS series. He plays Bill Haydon, who after the lead, George Smiley, is the most intriguing character in the book by John Le Carre. I'm looking forward to seeing both.

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Editor is on Austen Authors

I hope you will stop by Austen Authors today because Sharon Lathan's guest is Deb Werksman, the acquiring editor for Sourcebooks, and the editor to half the authors on the blog. Deb is a remarkable woman, and the person who gave me a my break into the world of publishing when she bought the rights to my self-published novel, Pemberley Remembered. With her help, PR became Searching for Pemberley. I would like to say right now that I think she is absolutely terrific, and I am  not just saying that because she is the one who decides whether my books get picked up by Sourcebooks or if I have to go the self-publishing route. Come on by Austen Authors today.

How Well Read Are You?

The BBC contends that most people will have read only six books from their list of 100. Do you agree? I got the list from Irena at This Miss Loves to Read. (It is meant to be posted on Facebook.)

•Copy this list.
•Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety.
•Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt.
•Tag other book nerds.
•Highlight the ones that you have but haven't read.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (In my top five greatest books)
The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien (I don't read fantasy.)
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (In my top five of greatest books)
The King James Bible
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) – George Orwell
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman (Never heard of it. Should I be embarrassed by that admission?)
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens (I have read every one of Dickens' completed novels.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Dog Feels Left Out

I have been getting nothing but grief from our dog since I posted Lucy's picture last week in connection with my post, Kitten Overboard, at Austen Authors. So in order to keep the peace around the Simonsen house, I am posting a photo of Irish in her Halloween costume. (She was a butterfly or an angel.) Irish was discovered by my daughter, Meg, at the pound, and eventually made her way to my house where she is the adored pet of my daughter, Kate. Irish is a Whippet/German Shepherd mix and is as neurotic as they come and the worst guard dog ever. But we love her. So may I present Irish.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Please visit Austen Authors to see our terrific Thanksgiving Day banner designed by Abigail Reynolds. Also, you will find a note of thanksgiving from many of the Austen authors featuring my favorite Mr. Darcy. For me personally, I want to thank all of my readers and new friends who make all the many hours I spend writing short stories and novels worth it. You are a treasure. So wherever you are, Happy Turkey Day!

Here is my contribution to Austen Authors:

Like most Americans, I am thankful for friends and family and for reaping the benefits of the fruits of my labor, among those benefits are forming new friendships with people from around the world. I now correspond with a college student in Slovenia, a professor in Australia, a retired school teacher in England, and a reviewer from South Philly. OMG, I cannot fail to mention my 16-year old friend from England who writes to me entirely in text speak.:) My peers include a talented punster from Nova Scotia and a lady from the Deep South who has published her first novel in her seventies. I could go on and on. But suffice it to say that writing Jane Austen fan fiction and publishing Austen re-imaginings has opened the world to me in ways I could never have imagined, and for that I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Americans Have Been Big Eaters at Thanksgiving for a Long Time*

Proclamation of Thanksgiving:  In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth. By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Although a proclamation of Thanksgiving was issued in 1863 by President Lincoln, it was not until December 26, 1941 that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill into law making the fourth Thursday of November a national day of Thanksgiving. But long before those dates, Americans had set aside a day in late November to give thanks for a multitude of blessings. The turkey and all the fixings, the visiting, and church attendance that we have come to associate with a modern Thanksgiving were already well established by the time of Federal Era in America, a time that corresponds to the Regency Era in England.

In 1834, the New Hampshire Patriot made note of the approaching holiday: A moderate rise in the price of molasses and spices—the increased demand for laces, ribbons, and dancing pumps—the hurrying of tailors, milliners, and mantua makers—frequent and important consultation of young gentlemen—whispering, flushed faces, and anxious looks among young ladies—and lastly, a string of proclamations announcing the 27th of November as a day of Thanksgiving in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont.”** Farmers harvested their pumpkins, gathered their eggs, fatted their pigs, and selected the best turkeys and chickens for slaughter, all in preparation for the biggest holiday of the year.

I recently completed a story at A Happy Assembly, Mr. Darcy in Old New York, where Mr. Darcy, Georgiana, and Mr. Bingley travel to Tarrytown in the Hudson River Valley to visit Charles Bingley’s Uncle Richard, who has been living in America for twenty-five years. Of course, Darcy falls in love with American, Elizabeth Bennet, but a lot of the history of the region, including the Thanksgiving traditions, is included. Here are three excerpts:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mining P&P Nuggets

Although I love to write Jane Austen fan fiction and novels with Austen tie-ins, I do not profess to be an Austen scholar. But because so many people out there DO know a lot about Austen and her works, I am learning something all the time. At present, I am reading the annotated edition of Pride and Prejudice, edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks. In her notes, Ms. Spacks states that when Mr. Darcy tells Bingley that "I am in no humour at present to give consequece to young ladies who are slighted by other men," there is more there than I thought. When Darcy declares that he will not give consequence to Elizabeth, what he is actually saying is that because of his rank in society, by dancing with Elizabeth, he would have elevated her status. So not only did Darcy insult Elizabeth by saying she is merely tolerable, he knowingly refused to confer status on her. No wonder she disliked him!

Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated EditionThe second nugget I mined was when Mrs. Bennet was recapping the night of the assembly for her husband. "Only think of that my dear; [Mr. Bingley] actually danced with [Jane] twice, and she was the only creature in the room that he asked a second time." Again, according to Ms. Spacks, when "a man asked a lady to dance, he would be expected to remain her partner for two dances. If he invited her a second time, they would share two more dances," i.e., four dances. That's a nice chunk of time to spend with one partner. So Jane truly was honored by Mr. Bingley's attentions.

Stay tuned for more nuggets or share your own. Mary

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kitten Overboard

I have a post on Austen Authors today about an 18th Century kitten who fell overboard from one of those great wooden sailing ships. It's an amazing story. Better yet, it's true. And this provides me with an excuse to introduce you to the newest member of the Simonsen household, our cat, Lucy, who showed up at our house every day for a month. Her persistence paid off. I relented and now she runs the house.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What to wear to the Pemberley ball?

I can whip out a blog post in a fairly short amount of time, but yesterday I spent an hour looking for a dress to wear to the Pemberley ball. Being a woman of a certain age, I wanted to wear something elegant, but nothing that would steal the limelight away from the younger girls who had just come out. I chose the dress at left. What do you think? Did I choose well?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Come One, Come All, To the Pemberley Ball

Velvet at vv32reads is hosting her Second Annual Pemberley Ball. (Please see invitation in the sidebar.) You may know one of the surprise guests. (That's a hint.) I hope you will join Velvet starting tomorrow. Let the dancing begin.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pictures and Text to Supplement Mr. Darcy's Angel of Mercy

Hospital at Le Touquet
w/covered chandeliers in casino
Here are a few pictures that might help people visualize some of the people and places mentioned in my story. (Click on title, Mr. Darcy's Angel of Mercy, in the sidebar to read the story.)

One of the most famous of the Voluntary Aid Detachments (VAD) of World War I was Vera Brittain, who wrote Testament of Youth. As Paul Delany wrote in Literature Criticism: When Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth was published in 1933 it struck a deep chord among those in England who felt, as she did, that their youth had been 'smashed up' by the Great War. Nearly a million men of their generation lay buried in Flanders and Gallipoli; many of those who remained felt condemned to hollow lives, haunted by loss and grief. They believed that those sacrificed had been men of special grace, the irreplaceable flower of the nation's youth; and they blamed the post-war decline of Britain on their absence. The survivors—guilty, perhaps, simply of having survived—were left to bear the burden of a disappointing and mediocre peace.

In the early days of the war, the Duchess of Westminster, who was married to the wealthiest peer in the realm, the Duke of Westminster, Bendor Grosvenor, outfitted a hospital in the casino at LeTouquet. She is pictured below with her Irish wolfhound and is surrounded by her nurses and VADs.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Thanks to Veterans Everywhere

The Solider by Rupert Brooke

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dancing with Jane Austen

While compiling a list of songs for my sister's birthday, I found myself thinking of how each song applied to one of Jane Austen's novels or their adaptations, so I thought I would share them with you. Keep in mind my sister was listening to these songs in the fifties and sixties.*

Why Must I Be a Teenager in Love? by Dion and the Belmonts – Catherine Morland falling in love with Henry Tilney

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Interview with Mary Lydon Simonsen

Author, Joanne Croft, has posted an interview with Mary Lydon Simonsen today at Austen Authors. Oh, that's me!

I hope you will read the interview, and you might discover how I come up with most of my ideas. It involves my dog, Irish, and my cat, Lucy. :)