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Monthly Archives: October 2009

I really think I shall have to sack my maid. She is not only a saucy piece who makes the humble yet necessary job of ironing into some sort of grand seduction, but she’s incompetent! You should see the wrinkles in my clothes and the evidence of hasty, last minute laundering. When we reach our destination later today I shall have to stand over her and supervise her every move. I am just grateful that there will be very few gentlemen attending the event.

I shall spend the better part of an hour discussing the neverending problem of servants to anyone who cares to attend.

As for me, I shall be most modestly and suitably attired for travel–note that my maid seems to have lost her kerchief again–it is an excessively tiresome habit.

I shall take the precaution of taking my apothecary chest lest any of my acquaintances suffer a fit of the vapors or appear crapulous following an evening of gossip and refreshment.

And of course my writing slope will accompany me, for although I am not in such dire straits as Miss Jewell or Miss McCabe regarding their literary obligations, I do have a great deal of work to do.

In translation: Yes, I shall be attending the New Jersey Romance Writers Conference, giving my workshop on servants, and signing at the Literacy Bookfair on Saturday. I hope I’ll see you there! Next week I shall have pictures.

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To distract you from the fact that I have no post (some of you may know that I have a book due November 1st) —

Note to Self: Arrange to post here on a day when Amanda doesn’t post the day before. She has an 11/1 deadline, too, and she has this factual, interesting totally awesome post. I have this. But I bet my deadline is much deader than hers. Or maybe it’s me that’s dead.

Here are some pretty pictures:

Picture of Honey Dijon Rose with Rain drops

Blogger making this smaller doesn’t do justice to the photo, I’m afraid. But this rose is called Honey Dijon.

OK, to make this go faster, I am now choosing random photos. Oh my God, this is so fun! What will show up?

Mystery Photo #1

Mystery Photo #2

Mystery Photo #3

Mystery Photo #4

Mystery Photo #5

Yeah. So guess what I like to take pictures of?

ETA: I think everyone should just guess what the pictures are of. Wackiness wins points. Hint: Plants.

P.S. I took all these pictures at my house.

P.P.S. The deadline is still killing me.

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Amanda’s Deadline Status–Moving forward! Two weeks to go! I’m still alive! I think!

And one more quote came through this week, too, I am so excited! (Can you tell I’m living on tea and chocolate? The caffeine/deadline diet!)

“COUNTESS OF SCANDAL captures your heart and won’t let go.”—Cathy Maxwell, New York Times bestselling author of The Earl Claims His Wife

As for today’s blog, I recently read Flora Fraser’s fascinating new biography Pauline Bonaparte: Venus of Empire. What a naughty woman that Pauline was! She might have to reform a bit to make a good romance novel heroine (and a story of that reform would be lots of fun to read…). And I found out today is her birthday–October 20, 1780.

Pauline was born in Ajaccio, Corsica to Marie-Letizia and Carlo Bonaparte, the third youngest of their many children. She received almost no formal education, and her young life was abruptly disrupted when she was 13 and had to flee with her family to the French mainland. She was a famous beauty even before she was 16, attracting legions of admirers (much to her strict mother’s dismay!). Around this time she fell passionately in love with a man named Stanislas Feron, a brave solider in her brother’s army but also a 40-year-old, syphilitic philanderer who never did much in his life. She ended up marrying Colonel Victor Emmanuel Leclerc on June 14, 1797 at Napoleon’s command (he had caught them in a compromising position, natch!). Young marriage proved no impediment to Pauline’s affaires.

In 1801, Leclerc was given command of the army in Haiti, where Pauline and their young son Dermide (who died at the age of 8) went to join him. Leclerc died of fever there in 1802, and Pauline hotfooted it back to Paris soon after. She married again within 8 months, in August 1803. Prince Camillo Borghese was one of the richest men in all of Italy, but money couldn’t keep Pauline at home (though she did love spending it!). The prince tried putting her under house arrest; that didn’t work, either. She shopped, gave big parties, had love affairs, and posed famously nude for the sculptor Canova. Her brother gifted her with the duchy of Guantalla, which she promptly sold to Parma for 6 million francs (but kept the title Princess of Guantalla), thus demonstrating a distinct lack of interest in ruling anything but herself.

When her brother was exiled to Elba, however, she liquidated her assets (including a wide array of jewels) and went to stay with him, the only sibling to even visit him. After his escape and final defeat, Pauline went to stay with her mother in Italy. When she tried to move back into the Palazzo Borghese, her estranged husband ended the marriage and she bought her own lavish estate near Rome. By this time she was suffering from ill health, though she tried to maintain her lavish lifestyle of lovers and parties until she died in 1825, age only 44, of cancer. She had become reconciled with Borghese near the end, and he allowed her to be buried in the family chapel among popes and saints (ha!)

Who are some of your favorite “bad girls” in history? Do you enjoy novels with naughty heroines? (I do!!)

And on Thursday I’ll be at the Pink Heart Society blog talking about favorite childhood reads and The Winter Queen! Be sure to pop in and see me there…

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I did it! I went to see Bright Star, the movie I blogged about a month ago, the movie about John Keats’s love affair with his neighbor, Fanny Brawne . It finally came to two local theaters so Sunday night I finally got to see it.

I liked it very much for many reasons.

It was wonderfully acted. Abbie Cornish as Fanny definitely should be nominated for an Oscar. She had the most expressive face; you could almost tell what she was thinking. Ben Whishaw as Keats was also very good, although I can’t figure out why he was always unshaven. Was that supposed to show he was poor? Anyway, he managed to be masculinely appealing while still sensitive and poetic and sick. Paul Schneider played Brown, Keats’s friend and roommate. He also is said to be Oscar worthy. I was surprised to discover he is an American actor, from South Carolina, no less. He spoke with a very authentic-sounding Scottish accent. In addition to these main characters, even the minor roles were very well done.

The costumes were spectacular, especially Fanny’s dresses. Fanny Brawne designed and sewed her own dresses, so her costumes were beautiful creations. All the costumes were well done, though. I loved the hats and lace caps! I think the costumes in this movie were the most beautiful depiction of Regency era fashion that I have ever seen. Even the shoes were fascinating.

In addition to the costumes, the settings were wonderful. The four seasons were beautifully represented. The snow really looked like snow; the rain, like rain. Details were attended to. Stacks of books in Keats and Brown’s rooms, tea cups and dishes at dinner, the kitchen pots.

I had not expected the movie to be as emotional as it was. It had me trying to hold in sobs!

I thought there were some weaknesses in the movie. It was sometimes difficult to tell what was going on, who some of the people were, and why the scenes skipped from one to the other. If I had not read up on this part of Keats’s life, I would not have understood as much as I did.

The pace was slow. (One of my friends said she started thinking, “Die already, Keats!”) But because the film was so beautiful to look at, I didn’t mind so much.

If I wanted someone who knew nothing about the Regency period to fall in love with it, I’d probably recommend the BBC/Colin Firth version of Pride & Prejudice. But if someone is already in love with the time period, I’d definitely recommend Bright Star.

Have you seen Bright Star? What did you think of it?
Of movies set in the Regency era, which do you think best would make someone new fall in love with it?

I’m hoping my December book, Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady, evokes a rich Regency setting, a great love story, and lots of emotion. The excerpt is now up on my website. And a new contest.

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