Saturday, January 30, 2010

Circulating Libraries in the Regency Era

During the Regency Era, books were very expensive, and few families, other than the very rich, were able to afford the cost of an extensive library. A solution to this problem was the circulating library. The first known lending library was established in the Strand in London in 1730 and was run by Mr. Wright, a bookseller. The idea was very popular, and by the beginning of the 19th Century, the number of libraries had grown to 26 . With an increase in literacy, these lending libraries proved to be an affordable way for people to read books. There was a flat charge for the initial subscription, and then a small fee would be charged for each book checked out. One of the more popular books of the Regency Era was Maria Edgeworth’s Tales of Fashionable Life and, I’m sure, The Complete Works of Jane Austen. The drawing shows such a library in Scarborough.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Recycling Fashion in Costume Dramas

Jane Austen World has a post on some of the clothes worn in the latest PBS Emma adaptation. Many of them were recycled from other period dramas. I'm big on recycling, but there are times when recycling doesn't  work. The 1940 Pride and Prejudice with Greer Garson used costumes that had been made for Gone With the Wind the previous year. I just can't picture Elizabeth Bennet walking around in a hooped skirt.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Review of Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Before I became an author, I reviewed books for a review website. This was before the book blog explosion. One of the novels I reviewed was the hardback edition of  Nefertiti by Michelle Moran. I really enjoyed this book, so here is my review:

As a woman from the ancient world, only Cleopatra surpasses Nefertiti in name recognition. Her bust has become one of the most easily identifiable objects from the reigns of the Pharaohs in Egypt. Michelle Moran’s Nefertiti is the story of the daughter of Vizier Ay, who became the Chief Wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten, co-regent with her husband, and as some have speculated, the successor pharaoh to Akhenaten.

Most parents of a teenager have said at least one time, “The world does not revolve around you.” However, in the case of Nefertiti and Akhenaten, it actually did. At the ages of 15 and 17, these two young people rose to the highest position in Lower Egypt (nearest the Mediterranean) and eventually ruled all of Egypt and its far-reaching empire. The phrase, “palace intrigue,” might very well have been invented in their court.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Great Review from Jenny Loves to Read for The Second Date

I was particularly pleased with this review b/c Jenny is an Italian-American from South Philly, so to receive her stamp of approval was very gratifying. Jenny Loves to Read is also having a giveaway. So why don't you go over to her blog and have a look. It's one of my favorite blogs.

This book is much more than Sonia having trouble finding a good guy. This book perfectly describes the Italian-American community of first and second generation immigrants. I should know since I am Italian and grew up in such a neighborhood.

My Grandmom had the plastic furniture covers, parties were held at the Knights of Columbus club, and although other ethnicity's were eventually welcomed, it was hoped Italians married Italians. That's just way it was, and it was the same in the Irish neighborhoods too. As the generations pass, these ways of life have changed, and you won't find too many people with kitchens and living rooms in the basements any more. As matter of fact, the feeling of community that is so prevalent in this book, is starting to disappear as well. Times change.

As she did with Searching for Pemberley, Simonsen seamlessly weaves the characters back stories and other fascinating tidbits into the story. Yes, Italian families still have tons of drama and are emotional, but the core value of family is always there. Your family may not approve of your private life, but they will always love you and do anything for you. Most Italians never forget where they came from either, and maybe that's why we still have our festivals and make big pots of gravy and meatballs every Sunday. (Gravy=sauce in my part of town.)

This was a wonderful little story, and the 1980s setting made me laugh at times. Sonia and the rest of the characters in the story are all sweet in their own way. They may even remind you of people you know yourself. Simonsen is quite good at making the reader feel like a part of the story. You tend to forget where you are, or at least I did. Overall this was a fun and engaging read which brought back a lot of memories for me, including flocked wallpaper and crushed velvet furniture. Oh, don't ask.