Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When and why did Knightley fall in love with Emma?

Emma (Penguin Classics)I have a post on Austen Authors today. The question of the day is: when, how, where, and why did Knightley fall in love with Emma Woodhouse? (Choose one; choose all.) Come join the discussion.

Plus, Cindy Jones has her launch of My Jane Austen Summer. She's giving away books at each stop on her blog tour. It's time to celebrate!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Answer to Word Game Question

Deus = God
Pater = Father
Deus + Pater = God the Father in Greek

Say "Deus" and "Pater" quickly enough and you will hear Jupiter, the supreme deity of the ancient Romans, who borrowed most of their gods from the Greeks. It may be easier to hear it if you change "Deus" to "Zeus." Now you know where that word came from.

Aren't I the life of the party? :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Word Game Question

I have been listening to a cassette tape. Yes, a cassette. I actually have to drive my husband's car because my Prius doesn't have a cassette player in it. It is The Teaching Company's Story of English, and it is just one etymological treasure after another, and I thought I would share one of my finds with you.

Here is the question: What do you get when you put "deus" and "pater" together? Both are Greek words. If you say the two words quickly, you should hear the answer. I will let you know on Saturday or you can put your answer in the comments. :)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dickens' Workhouse Saved from Wrecker's Ball

From the Guardian UK Online: The derelict Georgian building in Cleveland Street, London, which in Dickens's day was known as the Strand Union workhouse, has been given listed status by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. ... Built in 1775 as the workhouse for the parish of St Paul's church in Covent Garden, by the mid-1830s the building had been taken over under the New Poor Law legislation – the real target for Dickens's anger – to serve a number of poor central London parishes. Conditions there were notably harsh and it became a target for later Victorian reformers such as Louisa Twining and Joseph Rogers. The lintel over the entrance bore the message: "Avoid idleness and intemperance."


From Oliver Twist: [T]he parish authorities magnanimously and humanely resolved, that Oliver should be "farmed" ... or despatched to a branch-workhouse some three miles off, where twenty or thirty other juvenile offenders against the poor-laws, rolled about the floor all day, without the inconvenience of too much food or too much clothing, under the parental superintendence of an elderly female, who received the culprits at and for the consideration of sevenpence-halfpenny per small head per week. Sevenpence-halfpenny's worth per week is a good round diet for a child; a great deal may be got for sevenpence-halfpenny, quite enough to overload its stomach, and make it uncomfortable. The elderly female was a woman of wisdom and experience; she knew what was good for children; and she had a very accurate perception of what was good for herself.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reclining Figure from Cyclades Islands

I know that I have a tendency to be all over the place, and today is no exception. When I studied art history, I was very taken with the art of the Cyclades Islands,* and a fine example of Cycladic sculpture is this figure of a reclining woman. Looks very modern, doesn't she? But she was carved in 2400 B.C.!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Giveaways, Good Advice, and Geography

The Scandal of Lady Eleanor: A Regency Romance
Here are two opportunities for you to win Regina Jeffers' novel, The Scandal of Lady Eleanor. Visit Regina at Mia Marlowe and at Risky Regencies to double your chances.

Regina Jeffers is the author of several Jane Austen adaptations including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation,Vampire Darcy’s Desire, The Phantom of Pemberley, and Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion. She considers herself a Janeite and spends her free time with the Jane Austen Society of North America and AustenAuthors.com.

Charlotte Collins: A Continuation of Jane Austen's Pride and PrejudiceAre you the author of a good novel with an Austen tie-in and you want to send your manuscript to a traditional publisher? Jennifer Becton, the author of Charlotte Collins, has some excellent suggestions for you on her blog, Skidding in Sideways. I can tell you from personal experience that her conclusions are dead on.

Have you ever wondered where exactly Longbourn and Meryton were located? Dr. Kenneth Smith, a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Chilterns University College, High Wycombe, UK, may be able to help.

If you love desserts, you should mosey on over to Austen Authors. Caitlen Rubino-Bradway has a recipe for scones. The picture alone will have you drooling.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Spring!

Flora by Titian


Flora by Elisabeth Vigree-LeBrun


Primavera by Botticelli


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Blessing - Happy St. Patrick's Week

Ireland's Oldest Harp
May those that love us, love us.
And those that don’t love us
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles,
So that we may know them by their limping.


Also, I am the featured blogger on Austen Authors today. I hope you will stop by and read my post, "Was Mr. Darcy Irish?" I present a lot of evidence in support of my hypothesis that he was.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Brigid of Kildare

Along with St. Patrick, St. Brigid of Kildare (450-520) is a patron saint of Ireland. Like Patrick and his shamrock, Brigid used rushes from the floor of a dying chieftain to explain another Christian doctrine, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. One version goes as follows:

A pagan chieftain from the neighborhood of Kildare was dying. Christians in his household sent for Brigid to talk to him about Christ. When she arrived the chieftain was raving. As it was impossible to instruct this delirious man, hopes for his conversion seemed doubtful. Brigid sat down at his bedside and began consoling him. As was customary, the dirt floor was strewn with rushes both for warmth and cleanliness. Brigid stooped down and started to weave them into a cross, fastening the points together. The sick man asked what she was doing. As she talked his delirium quieted, and he questioned her with growing interest. Through her weaving, he was converted and baptized at the point of death. Since then the cross of rushes has been venerated in Ireland.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

News Bulletin - This Just In - Da Vinci's Virgin of the Rocks Restored

Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks will go back on display in the National Gallery on July 14 after an 18-month restoration project.

The decision to restore the painting came after several years of intensive study of Leonardo’s work and that of his Milanese associates and assistants – the so-called leonardeschi – from within the Gallery’s collection. The experience gained from examining these pictures reinforced the view that 'The Virgin of the Rocks' could not be appreciated as originally intended. The cleaning process began because some varnish that was applied in 1948–9 was particularly unstable and prone to yellowing. Fine cracking in that varnish, and atmospheric dirt which had become absorbed in its waxy surface, meant that the ability of the varnish to fully saturate the picture had become seriously compromised. As a result the subtlety of shading and the sense of space were markedly reduced, and the impact of this great work significantly lessened....

Continue reading this article on-line at artdaily.com.

This Day in History - The Newburgh Conspiracy

In addition to today being the Ides of March when Julius Caesar was set upon by by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus, and 60 other co-conspirators in 44 B.C in the Roman Senate and stabbed to death, it is the 228th anniversary of the Newburgh Conspiracy.

In 1783, there was considerable unrest among the officers of the Continental Army. These veterans of the Revolution had been promised a lifetime pension of half pay, but, instead, Congress was promising to give them five years full pay. When Washington met with the officers in Newburgh, New York, he immediately noted a lack of deference and respect and that an aura of distrust and anger permeated the room.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dames A La Mode

Writing about Regency England, especially its history, comes pretty easy to me. However, the one thing I struggle with in every story is fashion. At home, I wear sweats in the winter and capris in the summer. My tops are solid and contrast with my pants. If I wear a striped shirt, my sisters email each other with a news bulletin.  I have always been like this, so when it comes time to describing what one of my characters is wearing, I have to scour the internet looking for fashion plates and descriptions of frou-frou stuff, and I have found the mother lode of Georgian Era fashion at Dames A La Mode.

Dames A La Mode has fashion plates that go on and on and on. She also has a Facebook page with a brief description of the dresses and a few men's fashion. This is an absolute treasure trove. I hope you will check it out. Be sure to click on "archive" way at the bottom of the home page to see the entire collection.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

St. Gregory's Day - Guest Post - Valentine's Day in Slovenia

Irena from This Miss Loves to Read shares a tradition from her country, Slovenia. I hope you will leave your comments. Thank you. Mary

St Gregory's Day on March 12th is the Slovene version of Valentine's Day on February 14th. Valentine's Day as we know it today is a very recent holiday in Slovenia, but this country has known St Valentine for a long time, only not in relation to romance. According to tradition, St Valentine comes on February 14th to bring keys to all the roots, meaning that nature begins to awaken. In some parts, people even begin to work in the fields on St Valentine's Day.

St Gregory's Day, however, is the day when the birds make merry and prepare to be "wed", as we say. Spring is here and love is in the air. Up until Word War II, people would dress as brides, grooms and wedding guests on this particular day and go from house to house, collecting gifts.

This day was not only about love, however. By this time, days became longer and shoemakers and tailors who depended upon light and had to light candles when darkness fell, could now work by the light of day. They did not need candles - light - anymore, so there came to be a tradition of people putting "light" into water. They made lampoon-like lights and put them into water - brooks and rivers - watching the lights float away. When World War II came, the tradition was forgotten, but it's starting to come to life again in some parts of the country.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What Shall I Call You, Mr. Darcy - Vignette

Note and Spoiler Alert: For those who have read The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, you will be familiar with the character of Mr. Nesbitt. If you have not read the story, but plan to do so, you might want to delay reading this vignette as it contains a spoiler.

What Shall I Call You, Mr. Darcy

On a summer’s day with temperatures perfect for walking and wispy clouds skirting the treetops, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth were strolling along the wagon road between the Bennet and Lucas properties. Joining them were Mary and her suitor, Mr. Nesbitt, who had become a regular fixture at Longbourn, as he often chose to work from the Meryton office of Mr. Philips, Mary’s uncle and fellow solicitor, so that he might be nearer to his sweetheart.

Even though Elizabeth and Darcy’s wedding was just three weeks hence, Darcy had grown restless waiting for the actual day to arrive, especially since his friend, Charles Bingley, had exchanged vows in the village church with Jane Bennet a month earlier. Being a witness to their domestic felicity at Netherfield Park had only served to increase his eagerness to wed. If he had had his way, Elizabeth and he would have married as soon as she had accepted his proposal as he had been prepared to purchase a special license allowing them to marry immediately. But when Elizabeth had rejected that idea, he had hoped to stand before the vicar as soon as the three weeks of announced banns had passed. Once again, his hopes were dashed as Elizabeth had insisted on a longer courtship. She pointed out that for most of their acquaintance they had been more like sparring partners than lovers. With no rebuttal to her argument, he had agreed to a six-week courtship, and this walk, along with the accompanying chaperones, was part of that bargain.

As a celebration of their impending nuptials, Darcy had been prepared to order a new carriage for their wedding and to shower his betrothed jewels and flowers, but Elizabeth being Elizabeth had thanked him for his offer but had said that she would prefer love letters and poetry to pearls and bouquets.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fan Fiction Debut - Part 2

After finishing Mr. Darcy Regrets (see post below), I decided to write the same scene, but from Elizabeth's point of view.

Elizabeth Bennet Regrets?

The morning after Mr. Darcy’s proposal, Elizabeth was able to leave Hunsford Lodge only after satisfying the Collinses that she was well enough to go on her morning walk. She was eager to get out of the house and away from Charlotte’s probing looks. Charlotte had seen Mr. Darcy leaving the parsonage the previous afternoon, but Lizzy had said nothing about his visit and had kept to her room after dinner. To silence Mr. Collins and hasten her escape, Lizzy had mentioned that she wished to begin a study of Fordyce’s Sermons. Mr. Collins had presented the book to her earlier in the week when he had come upon her reading a novel, a book he considered inappropriate for an unmarried woman to be reading without the supervision and guidance of her father. He would have been horrified to learn that she had read Tom Jones and Tristram Shandy in the library at Longbourn without any supervision and at the recommendation of her father. Finally, after multiple assurances regarding her health, the weather, distances, etc., she had been allowed to leave the parsonage and immediately went in search of a place where she could reflect upon the events of the previous day.

Rosings Park had beautiful vistas at every turn, but Lizzy’s favorite was where woods and pastureland met. The contrast of the dark greens of the forest and the lush bright greens of the pastures made it a favorite stop, and at this slice of Eden, the De Bourghs had placed stone benches paralleling the path. It was the perfect place for reflection. But she was not to be alone this morning as sitting on one of the benches was Mr. Darcy. It was too late to turn away because he had already seen her, so she pretended to be engrossed in her book so that he might pretend not to have noticed her. She soon realized that his being in this particular spot was no accident. On several occasions he had come across her at this very place, looking with awe at the overwhelming beauty of an English autumn. He quickly approached, and after asking her to do him the honor of reading his letter, he had just as quickly departed.

After seeing Mr. Darcy well down the lane, Lizzy turned her full attention to his letter, and after having finished it, had to restrain herself from tearing it to shreds and scattering it to the winds. What pride and insolence! The purpose of his writing the letter was clear. He wished to put behind him forever all memories of the scene at Hunsford Lodge. In this, they were in complete agreement. His words still echoed in her mind: how he had struggled to overcome his feelings for her, the inferiority of her connections, rejoicing in his success in separating Bingley from Jane, her pride, his shame. But before he could truly conclude this chapter of his life, he demanded her attention one last time in order to justify his actions and to refute her assertions.

Monday, March 7, 2011

How It All Started - My First Fan Fiction Piece

While I was writing my first novel, Searching for Pemberley, I had no idea that such a thing as fan fiction existed. It wasn't until my novel was already out that I found A Happy Assembly, and I thought I would try my hand at writing fan fiction. I decided to start with a vignette, Mr. Darcy Regrets, and to see if anyone was interested in my writing. The response was more than I could have ever hoped for, and people wanted the story to continue. So I wrote a second vignette, Elizabeth Bennet Regrets? I will post that piece tomorrow. So here it is. My very first work of fan fiction that lead to so much more. I hope you enjoy it.

Mr. Darcy Regrets?

Mr. Darcy stood by the tall window of the second-floor library of Rosings Park. From this view, he could see the cream-colored stucco of Hunsford Lodge with its rust colored roof and flower-lined walk. This was the only room in the manor house from which the front door of the parsonage could be seen, and Darcy was waiting for Elizabeth Bennet to go through it.

After Miss Elizabeth’s refusal of his offer of marriage, Darcy had gone directly to the stables and had told the groom to have his carriage ready at first light. But after a restless night, he had awoken knowing that Elizabeth’s accusations could not go unanswered. The whole of the morning had been spent writing his rebuttal to her charges, and his ink-stained fingers were proof of the urgency with which he set down his words.

He was angry with himself for the unfortunate situation he now found himself in. What had possessed him to make an offer to someone whose situation in life was so decidedly beneath his own? As soon as he saw Elizabeth return from her walk, he would know that she had read the letter, and his reputation, at least with regards to Wickham, would be restored. How could it be otherwise? Her charges were not only wrong, but they were unjust.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Writer's Block on Austen Authors

As most of you know, I am a member of Austen Authors. We recently set up a separate website for some of our writings called The Writer's Block. These are my contributions to date:

Exquisite Excerpts: Entire first chapter of Anne Elliot, A New Beginning

Notable Novellas (actually short stories):
Changed Hearts at Rosings Park
Elinor and Edward
Mary Bennet Assists Elizabeth

Susan Adriani, Susan Kaye, Jack Caldwell, Heather Lynn Riguad, Vera Nazarian, Abigail Reynolds, Sharon Lathan, Carolyn Eberhart, Marilyn Brant, Kara Louise, and Regina Jeffers are some of the other contributors. I hope you will check out the site and let us know what you think.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A New Blog and Two Reviews of Fan Fiction

There's a new blog out there with an Austen twist: Gioia of Gioia Recs is reviewing fan fiction pieces, among other things. Considering the volume of fan fiction work produced every day, this blog will be very helpful to those who are trying to find the best FF stories. Gioia was nice enough to review two of my own stories, Mr. Darcy's Angel of Mercy and A Walk in the Meadows in Rosings Park. I hope you will visit and say hello.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thank You King James’s Version of the Bible

The following are extracts from the King James Version of St. Matthew’s Gospel from which some of our most beloved expressions have derived:

Man shall not live by bread alone. (4:4)
The salt of the earth (5:13)
The light of the world (5:14)
Turn the other cheek. (5:39)
No man can serve two masters. (6:24)
O ye of little faith (6:30)
Seek and ye shall find. (7:7)
Straight and narrow (7:14)*
Wolves in sheep’s clothing (7:15)
Built his house upon the sand. (7:27)
New wine into old bottles (9:17)
Lost sheep (10:6)

*In the 1960s, there was a rehab center for alcoholics located at the corner of Straight and Narrow Streets in Paterson, NJ.

Scholars may argue about the accuracy of the translation of the King James's Version, but it would be hard to find a more beautiful one.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

British, Australian, and American Idioms Quiz

I love English. I most particularly enjoy idiomatic English and colloquialisms. So I was pleased as punch, over the moon, and walking on water when I stumbled across a quiz for the new Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, and I thought I would share it with you.

Where would you expect to hear the following? In American, Australian or British English?

Cambridge Idioms Dictionary1. They’ve been coining it in since they opened the shop on the corner.

2. I hear you’re a dab hand with a paintbrush.

3. He’s as daft as a brush. Don’t believe a word he says.

4. I tried to make a cupboard for my bedroom, and I made a real dog’s breakfast of it.

5. She said that her job was as easy as rolling off a log.

6. He hemmed and hawed and then agreed to come with us.

And here are the answers:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Nazi Loot - What Might Have Been Lost

Rescuing Da Vinci: Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe's Great Art - America and Her Allies Recovered It
After posting yesterday's review of The Venus Fixers, I found another work on the same subject:  Saving DaVinci. On its cover, the piece of artwork being held by the American soldier is Da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine. "In 1939, almost immediately after the German occupation of Poland, it was seized by the Nazis and sent to the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin. In 1940 Hans Frank, the Governor General of Poland, requested that it be returned to Kraków, where it hung in his suite of offices. At the end of the Second World War it was discovered by Allied troops in Frank's country home in Bavaria. It has since returned to Poland and is once more on display at the Czartoryski Museum in Kraków." (Wikipedia)


American GI admiring a triptyck propped up against a wall above a bathroom sink! Note the painting resting near the pipe! I hope it didn't leak.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Venus Fixers by Ilaria Dagnini Brey - A Review

In 1943, the Allies appointed the Monuments Officers, a group of art historians, curators, architects, and artists, to ensure that the masterpieces of European art and architecture were not looted or bombed into oblivion. The officers of Italy shored up tottering palaces and cathedrals, safeguarded Michangelos and Giottos, and even blocked a Nazi convoy of stolen paintings bound for Goring’s birthday celebration. Sometimes they failed, but to an astonishing degree they succeeded. (from the back jacket)


The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Soldiers Who Saved Italy's Art During World War IIThe Venus Fixers by Ilaria Dagnini Brey is the remarkable tale of a small group of men who were attached to the British and American Armies for the purpose of preserving and restoring the art and monuments of Sicily and Italy. The task was daunting. Every village had a church or monument or piazza in need of preservation. The cities of Naples and Florence were mother lodes of artwork and monuments sitting in the midst of an active theater of operations. But in some cases, before they could make damage assessments, the Venus Fixers had to find the artwork first.

To protect the artwork, paintings and sculptures were taken out of the cities and moved into the country to thickly walled churches or medieval fortresses where they would be safe. Or would they?