Tuesday, May 31, 2011

RULES MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME (she never mentioned Richard Armitage though)

Ok, we come into this world as formless blobs (except for this crowd pictured here) with nothing much to recommend us but our mother's love and our father's good name.  (As an aside I must say that when born I was actually quite adorable.  My mother did mention, however, that I had a faint covering of hair over my face - yes, hair.  Black hair which seemed to fall off during the hours after my birth. A bit like Colin here.  For the first few hours of my life my name was Edgar. This is true, I kid you not.  Then there was my brother.  My brother was born with a little tail, the end of his spine evidently had continued growing for a quarter of an inch but the doctors cut it off right away.  Still, that wasn't as bad as having HAIR all over your damn face.  We were like a petting zoo.  So precious. When my mother would get angry at my dad she would announce that the reason for our little idiosyncracies of birth was that my father was Swedish.)

Our first several years were completely dependent upon them, they taught us by word and deed, led by example.  We were lucky in that both of our parents were fairly normal, honest and hardworking.  Neither had any experience of college so they kind of blew that for me to tell you the truth.  I had to go back as an adult to Loyola weekend college to get my degree.  I finally figured out what counselors were for in my early thirties, but I digress...

LESSONS OF A LIFETIME from my mother's lips to God's ears
1.  A no brainer.  Always, always wear clean underwear when you leave the house.  In the house it's pretty much every woman for herself, raggedly cotton with holes and loose elastic.  You go for a trip you whip out the good stuff.  My mother would never live long enough to see thongs become the rage - in fact, even the thought I owned one of those babies would have killed the poor woman.  Thongs look like hell on me anyway, like a Sumo wrestler in a jock strap, so I've avoided them for most of my life.

2.   Always, always, ALWAYS put toilet paper on a public toilet seat before you sit down.  This one is a constant source of wonder to my husband who would sit on a nuclear wastedump if he had to go outside the house.  I on the other hand have been known to hop around moaning and screaming as I unwrap the paper from the roll, then fold each length in half and then place it strategically in patches across the seat until the entire area is covered completely.  Then, and only then, do I actually sit and sometimes I STILL CAN FEEL MOISTURE.  God I hate that!  What the hell is it with some women - wipe the seat if you're a hoverer would you!  Please!  I can take care of the rest with my toilet paper upholstery job, just do your part and leave me a dry surface on which to work.  You never know who's been in there before you - hookers, lepers, Lady Gaga - could be anyone.  Creepy.  Whenever I think of this I remember that movie with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant - Two Weeks Notice.  Sandra does the merde dance when she finds herself in a stranger's RV toilet and she has to cover the entire surface before she can relieve herself.  I laughed myself silly at that scene.  My mother would have loved Sandra Bullock.

3.   Never, never, never throw away your mail in a strange place.  You mail has your ADDRESS on it.  There are roaming groups of homeless homicidal maniacs who check the trash of Boston Market just to get their hands on addresses.  Then they come to your home and poop on your driveway.  Or they kill you.  Either way it's really bad.  This rule came to mind today when we got to Boston Market and Rich wanted to throw out an envelope that my newest Carla Kelly book came in.  I stopped him, grabbed his wrist.  "It has our home address on it.  Don't be insane, man."  He said, "All of our mail has our home address on it."  There is no reasoning with this guy.  Then he said, "You throw away envelopes at home all the time - junk mail, envelopes from bills...don't you?"  He lives in another world from me entirely.  We'll never see eye to eye on this. 

Well, enough of these, I'll think of more later.  Right now it's time for my boys to come out and play...Flowers for a Ghost - Pride and Prejudice and North and South

Monday, May 30, 2011


Debra Brown is the author of "The Companion of Lady Holmeshire"
to be published in 2011 by World Castle Publications

1. What aspects of being an author do you most enjoy?

I love how the story churns out in my mind. If I can just get the first pages started, the rest of it pours out. It becomes an exciting part of my life during that creative part of the project.

2. What aspects of being an author do you least enjoy?

I hate that I cannot get it all down on paper the first day. A writer can only do so much at a time, and it seems to take forever. And after it is written, it seems to take forever to get the book out there for the public.

3. What moment as an author have you experienced that you are likely to remember 20 years from now (good or bad)?

I would have to say that it was the "Wow, I can write!" moment. And the shock of being accepted by a publisher. I will remember my writing time; the solitude and the being with my characters, whom nobody else even knew.

4. How many hours a week do you spend writing?

I hate to answer that question. I'm a complete workaholic. Of course, a lot of that time goes into other related efforts. But yes, I write a lot.

5. How much research do you do?

With my first book, I spent a lot of time researching the time period. There was so much to learn, because it was a time of great change and I had to get the decade down. It was Victoria's first years on the throne, following the Empire times and the Regency. Victoria was the first young monarch in a while and the first woman for some time. Industry was changing everything. Agriculture was fading out and people were moving to the cities. The telegraph was just coming in, and the railroads. Fashions changed. Attitudes changed. My first book involved a lot of variety: a country home, a village and then London during the Season. There was so much to learn, and I fear having missed something that was important. My second book did not require much, because the exact date, styles, and even social customs do not matter. It is a setting that could occur at any time in history. I am keeping it in the early Victorian times just because I am familiar with that now, but it really doesn't matter.

6. Tell us about your latest book.

Thank you for asking! I am soooo excited about this book! If you read the first chapter, which is on my website, you see that it is about a mother and her young adult twins, a young man and lady. The two are very close, and the mother is very strange, keeping herself seated up in an attic-like area most of the day. The room is full of years worth of her diaries and a locked chest that is labeled "For the Skylark." She goes over house rules with the young ones weekly, and it becomes apparent that their lives take place entirely within the enclosure of their estate. They are not even allowed to talk to the servants. Over the period of the book, changes develop in their thinking and then the big shock. I'd love to tell you the whole story here and now, but I really ought not!

7. How long did it take to write?

I am still writing it. Maybe I should have been talking about the first book. The first took me five months. During that time, I also had to restudy grammar and punctuation rules, so it was a full time effort.

8. What was your inspiration?

Running out of period movies. During the years that I made jewelry, I watched all the period movies I could get my hands on. The economy took out my business at the same time that I ran out of movies, leaving me free to write my own, initially just for the fun of it.

9. If you could spend one week with one of your characters who would you choose? What would you do?

I think maybe that I would spend it with Genevieve from The Companion of Lady Holmeshire. She was a strong young woman who knew what she wanted in life, and I like the way she took control of it. I feel like she and I could go have fun and feel a lot of freedom. I suppose we would shop a lot. With her money.

10. What has surprised you the most about your experience of being published?

I was so sure that there was no chance of that happening that I did not even intend to try. I was going to self-publish. However, someone convinced me to submit my manuscript, and it was accepted! I guess that I am as surprised that I submitted it as anything!

11. How much social networking are you into?

I really only do social networking online in relation to my book and blogs. While I do not chat with my personal friends online much, I have gotten to know many wonderful people in the book industry. What a supportive group of people! But that is time consuming. Between promoting myself by blogging and tweeting and supporting others, as they do for me, it can take hours a day.

12. Who is your favorite author? Favorite book?

It is a real toss up. I love Jane Austen and her Pride and Prejudice, but I also love Charles Dickens with his humor and strange characters. I loved Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. That is who I modeled "Her Ladyship" after in For the Skylark.

13. Give us your Website address.

It is http://authordebrabrown.blogspot.com/. Thank you so much for the interview

Saturday, May 28, 2011

THIS AND THAT (and the boys)

Unflattering pictures of actors we love.

Orlando Bloom
Have no idea
I think I worked for this guy

If he doesn't look like a CPA in this ...

Hard to find a bad picture of Colin

Robert Downey looks to much like my nephew Matt for comfortReally don't like Al Pacino
My darling Matthew, bench pressing his hot dog.

I am not a big big fan of series books.  I hate it when you have to wade through pages and pages of prior plots and characters.  The author incorporates people in a way that lets you know there was a previous book you could be reading.  These peripheral characters have all had some horrible experience that they have just lived through, but are now fine, experiences that are always bizarre -  a kidnapping or dead Russian gangsters, the odd serial killer...

"Jane and Harry arrived late, their work as CIA assassins on hold now that their twins, who had been abducted by the South African dictator and discovered when Jane's car exploded in the middle of a Kansas cornfield after she and Harry had pretended to make love while being videotaped through..."

Well, you get the idea.  Then there are the make believe towns in upstate New York.  There must be several thousand of these idyllic little hamlets and they are all in some sort of woodsy atmosphere where you are expected to follow the stories of at least eighty-four people.  Old Mrs. Peters whose daughter Louisa married Jim the mailman whose brother just returned from the Gulf War.  Yada yada yada.  We've all seen the Debbie Macomber series - '23 Beaker Street', '18 Frontage Road', '43rd and Wentworth, just south of the off ramp in LaJolla' - well the list of her books will be never ending.  She's writing one for each house, apartment and condo in America. 

Here's the Florida preview.

14 and 1/3 Palm Coast Trailer Park.  The story of Thelma Pettiegrew and the brothers who loved her.

I do like one set of sequels very much though.  The books by Julia Spencer-Fleming are excellent.  They are about an Episcopal minister, Claire Fergusson and the town sheriff Russ Van Alstyne.  The first book is In The Bleak Midwinter.  Claire comes to Miller's Kill to her first church.  Russ is the unhappily married sheriff who befriends her.  Along with murders and mayhem there is a lot of romance in the book, subtle and sweet.  Not gynecological positions - those come in later books.  I do love romance more than murder.  A sentiment I truly hope my husband shares with me, especially when we discuss the monthly bills.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Please forgive me if I do not respond to your comments.  Blogger is locking me out of commenting.  Ok, first I was SPAM with Facebook, then I was locked out of sending a few thousand harmless e-mails to Book club sites and now this!!! 

"What would Nora Roberts do", she asked, her full moist lips smacking against each other like seal paws - flippers - whatever.

There, mummy feels so much better.

Just watched Pride and Prejudice 2005 for the four hundredth time, each time making me more aggravated than the first.  Among my list of complaints - I keep a pad next to the sofa so I can jot these things down - among my complaints is Matthew Macfadyen's hair.  It seems to move about, the length I mean not the actual head.  There must have been scenes shot out of sequence because you can see there are hair extensions in one scene and then it looks real nice in another, it's long its short. 

Another thing, I am tired of translating the movie to my husband.  "What did she say?"  "She said she hoped Mr. Collins had  a cousin."  "Oh".  "What did he say?"  "He said the lake was stocked with fish."  "Oh".  This goes on throughout the whole movie.  The only one who doesn't mumble is Judy Densch.  Bow your heads at her name, people.  She is my generation's Helen Mirren. 

No I don't know what that means either.  Moving on....

Of course my favorite scene is when Darcy and Bingley make their surprise visit and the girls and Mrs. Bennet start screaming and throwing pillows and stashing dishes in cabinets.  I remember doing that with my own mom when someone would drop by unexpectedly.  Everything was stuffed under the sofa or behind a chair.  Food items are tricky because they can emit an odor after a few hours, but I digress...

The version we just watched ended the way it was originally intended to, with Mr. Bennet in his library, saying something stupid about other men wanting the Kazotsky sisters that remained - Mary and Frederica.  Joe Wright, the surly looking fellow who directed this version believed that American audiences are Jane Austen stupid, are heathens, would need a kissing scene so he tacked that bit of nonsense on the end.


Only thing I don't understand is what in the world are they sitting on? Apparently a sacrificial altar or some sorts...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

VISIT FROM AN OLD FRIEND (and Richard Armitage, Matthew Macfadyen and Colin Firth)

A few months ago I wrote about a dear friend of mine, Sister Nora Brick, an 82 year old Franciscan nun who is regarded as pretty much a living saint in my area of Florida. On Valentine's day of this year she was beaten senseless by one of the men she had been helping for so many years. He's a crackhead. He burst into her trailer, grabbed her around her head and must pulverized her face. She's 82 years old and a native of Ireland. She's about five foot two inches. He is well over six feet.

Well her Provincial mother house in New Jersey decided Nora needed to retire already. She lived in a run down old trailer in the middle of one of the worst streets in our city, she is alone, she is forgetting things. It's time.

As you can see from these pictures she is doing very well, recovering from the attack, gaining weight (don't tell her I said that) Sister Carla and Sister Dona are her 'bosses' in the Franciscan Order. They are two of the gentlest, sweetest people I have ever met. Not the picture of nuns that Hollywood has provided us, but much more truthful.

There was a big farewell for her held at a nearby church. Hundreds of people attended, the media was there. Oh, that was a treat. Richie and I ended up on the news, crossing behind as a cameraman filmed some woman's teary eyed blathering. We blocked out the sun. We looked like two floats from the Macy parade. Children screamed in terror. But I digress...to continue...

We watched the singer at the restaurant last night, then the sun set. Sister will be going to her retirement now. But first she's flying home for her annual visit to Ireland - to see her own two real life sisters. They are very strict with her indeed whenever she visits. She's their baby sister you see.

Some things never change.

Absolutely no reason for these pictures aside from the fact they are all beautiful.

As you can all see, I show no favoritism.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

THE RAPTURE (With Richard Armitage as The Beaver)

Alrighty then. Evidently the Rapture has officially 'wrapped'; the only ones left waiting to leave are a few Canadians whose Winnebago had radiator trouble and Billy Graham. It appears that every one of the other good people in the world have been taken up to somewhere with the Lord and what we are left with is Charlie Sheen and Twitter. And I think Charlie Rose is on later.

It just doesn't seem to be much different, does it?

Now we have the Mayan Calendar to worry about and that whole 'end of life as we know it thing' they have going. That will be December 21, 2012. That will ruin last minute Christmas shopping for me.

I think it's time for a Richard Armitage fun fact: His middle name is Antoine.

I continue my adoration of Youtube with Corpsing - the problem of performers unable to continue a scene due to uncontrollable laughter. This usually happens to me in church or during funerals.

Here are Ricky Gervais (the greatest laugher in the world) and Steven Merchant (one of the funniest people in the world)co-creators and writers of the great EXTRAS on Corpsing:

This is actually very sweet...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

PROPOSALS and Richard Armitage

The recent wedding of William and Katherine was lovely, romantic, elegant. It brought to mind, among other things, the tale of Cinderella, finding her handsome prince, defeating the evil step-family, living happily ever after. One would hope, anyway.

His long awaited proposal was really very lovely. They were staying at the Lewa Downs Wildlife Conservancy and he popped the question by a lake next to the slopes of Africa's second-highest peak, Mount Kenya. Only accessible by helicopter, the RAF pilot flew his bride-to-be to the lakeside in a borrowed helicopter.

Very nice. To put this into the perspective of the average person, my own proposal was in a church after mornng mass. My future husband knew I was upset. I had hoped Rich would propose at Christmas, but he didn't and this was a few weeks later. He knelt beside me in a little church in Skokie, Illinois, held out the ring and asked me to marry him. It was wonderful and a surprise and I cried (with relief - he HAD finally asked me and I would not starve. He bought pizza later.)

Kenya would have been nice, though. But I digress.

How likely is their marriage to survive? Who knows. Richie and I have been married eighteen years now; it feels like eight months. My life began with him. No one can really predict who will be happy and who won't. I wonder about other proposals, other marriages.


According to some sources, Charles proposed to Diana in January 1981 while they were drinking champagne at his home, Highgrove. But Diana in her own words as professed to the biographer Andrew Morton said that the Prince of Wales proposed to her on the evening of February 6, 1981 in the nursery of Windsor Castle. The book stated Diana's words something like this: "He said, 'Will you marry me?' and I laughed. I remember thinking, 'This is a joke,' and I said, 'Yeah, okay,' and laughed. He was deadly serious. He said, 'You do realize that one day you will be queen.' And a voice said to me inside, 'You won't be queen, but you'll have a tough role.' So I said, 'Yes.' I said, 'I love you so much, I love you so much.' He said, 'Whatever love means.'"


This famous actor- turned-governor proposed to the vivacious journalist Maria Shiver after eight years of dating. In the summer of 1986, Arnold took Maria home with him to Thal, Austria. While they were in a rowboat on the lake where Arnold swam as a child; amidst the childhood memories and things, which mattered most, he popped the question to Maria. Recalls Maria in an interview, her first reaction was "'Are you serious?'. Arnold presented her with a diamond engagement ring. He was serious. 'We'd been together eight years, so naturally I said, 'Yes!'


He's one of Hollywood's biggest sex symbols, but Denzel Washington's marriage proposal to his wife, Pauletta, wasn’t exactly the stuff of a fairy-tale romance. He proposed to her over the phone while he was on location filming the TV series "St. Elsewhere." The couple tied the knot on June 25, 1983, and they have four kids together. In 1995, the couple renewed their wedding vows, in a ceremony presided over by South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

What is the moral to this - I suppose nothing, other than it really doesn't matter how impressive the ring, or how exotic the location for a proposal. What matters is the people involved, do they share the same beliefs, the same goals? Is there a commitment to go the distance, no matter what? Are they loyal?

No one but the people involved really know what is in their hearts. You can just wish them the best and say a prayer. Marriage is the most importan decision you will ever make, your choice of partner will effect your entire life.

That and if you both love Italian food.


Did you know?
At the age of 17, Richard ran away to Budapest to join the circus and become a clown in order to gain his Equity card

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Anyone who knows me knows I love Chicago. I was raised there, went to school there, my parents, grandpapers, uncles and aunts are buried there. I would go back in a minute if my husband would just say the word, but he loves Florida, so here we stay. And, truthfully, I don't think I could take the fast pace any longer. Florida has definitely calmed me down and mellowed me out. But I miss being a Chicagoan.

Before today's Mega Theme Parks, there was Riverview Park in Chicago, Date Opened: 1904, Date Closed: 1967. This was where we went as kids - here and Kiddieland. We may have dreamed of Disney but we all went to Riverview. It was located at Western and Belmont Ave 's, (from Western Ave. to the Chicago River; from Belmont to Lane Tech High School , the high school my husband attended, which still remains. I went to St. Scholastica Academy for Girls. SSA girls drooled over Lane boys - and I got one.)

This was the "Silver Flash"... a small train traveling on a wooden track trellis. No safety belts or padding, just a "grab bar" ....and you did!!!

Note: not even a fence between the River and the Park grounds.

From the top of the "Shoot the Chutes"... a twenty foot wooden boat that went down a forty foot high slide into a small lake! Again, just a grab bar for safety.

This was the ride up on the "Pair-O-Chutes"... the seat was a single plank of wood with chains to keep you in place. You rose 65 feet in the air and then dropped until the chute filled and brought you down to the ground. To this day, the single scariest ride I ever went on.

I remember vividly going on this ride with my mom and when we reached the bottom she discovered someone had stolen her wallet. She had no money to call my dad to pick us up and I was about ten years old. We panicked. Wonderful people helped us that day. Chicago was a huge group of small communities, there was no big city mentality then.

A walk along the midway... the "Flying Turns" in the background. The roller coaster car went free rolling in an open topped chute. Again, gravity was your safety harness.

The Merry-Go-Round (my favorite still) is the only ride that still exists. It now is at Six-Flags in Atlanta , Georgia .

Aladdin's Castle (Fun House). Anyone from Chicago who remembers Riverview has this face in their head, for good or for bad, as the symbol of our old park. I never, never went into Alladin's Castle - tooo spooky.

You Might Be From Chicago If:

1. The 'living room' is called the 'front room'.
2. You don't pronounce the 's' at the end of Illinois . And, you become irate at people who do.
3. You measure distance in minutes (especially 'from the city'). And you swear everything is pretty much 1/2 hour away.
4. You have no problem spelling or pronouncing ' Des Plaines '.
5. You go to visit friends, or family, down south and laugh when they complain about the traffic.

6. You understand that no person from Chicago can be a Cub fan AND a White Sox fan.
7. It's 'Kitty corner' not 'Katty corner'.
8. You know the difference between The Loop and Downtown
9. You eat your pizza in squares, not triangles, and you never refer to it as 'pie'.
10. You own celery salt.

11. You understand that the primary is the official local election.
12. You have drunk green beer on St. Paddy's Day.
13. Stores don't have sacks, they have bags.
14. You end your sentences with an unnecessary preposition. Example: 'Where's my coat at?' or 'Can I go with?' My English teacher had fits with this one.
15. Your idea of a great tenderloin is when the meat is twice as big as the bun, 'everything' is on it and a slice of dill pickle is on the side.

16. You carry jumper cables in your car.
17. You drink 'pop', not soda.
18.. You understand that I-290, I-90, I-94, and I-294 are all different roads.
19. You know the names of the interstates: Steve nson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Dan Ryan, and the Eden's.
20. You call the interstates 'expressways'.

21. You refer to anything South of I-80 as 'Southern or Central Illinois '.
22. You refer to Lake Michigan as 'The Lake '.
23. You refer to Chicago as 'The City'.
24. 'The Super Bowl' refers to one specific game in January 1986..
25. You have two favorite football teams: The Bears, and anyone who beats the Packers.

26. You buy the 'Trib', not the 'Tribune' or the 'Times', not the 'Sun Times'.
27. You know that despite being on the lake, there is no such place as the Waterfront.
28. You think 45 degrees is great weather to wash your car.
29. You picnic or ride your bike in the 'forest preserve'..
30. You cried when Bozo was canceled on WGN.

31. You know what goes on a Chicago style hot dog.
32. You know what Chicago Style Pizza REALLY is.
33. You know why they call Chicago 'The Windy City '.
34. You understand what 'lake-effect' means.
35. You know the difference between Amtrak and Metra, and know which station they end up at.

37. You have ridden the 'L'.
38. You think your next door neighbor is a cousin toTony Soprano.
39. You can distinguish between the following area codes: 847, 630, 773, 708, 312, & 815.
40. You have, at some time in your life, used your furniture...or a friend's body, to guard your parking spot in winter.

41. You respond to the question 'Where are you from?' with a 'side'. Example: 'Westside,' 'Southside or 'North Side.
42. You know the phone number to 'Empire Carpet'!
43. You know what a 'garache key' is!

Da Bears

Thursday, May 12, 2011

George Cruikshank (and Richard Armitage)

by Karen V. Wasylowski

As you all can easily understand, writing, especially writing about an era long gone, requires a good deal of research. Mistakes are made, discovered, denied. But, somewhere during this journey of discovery, through books and Google and the heaven sent Wikipedia, there are things discovered that can startle. Hidden treasures, they are the precious finds that you never would have known about if not for your book.

One of those finds, for me, were the illustrations of George Cruikshank. (He's the second picture)

Geroge Cruikshnk was born in 1792 and lived to be a ripe old eighty five years. During his lifetime he witnessed the madness of King George III, the debauchery of George IV, the Industrial Revolution, the crowning of Victoria, the suffucating morality of the Victorian Age - in short, the best and worst of nineteeth century Britain. He recorded life as he saw it from coal miners to the Royal Court, he was a sort of record keeper of his day, the founder of pictorial journalism. Without his sketches we would not have as clear a picture of the era we write about so lovingly. He could be brutally honest or annoyingly preachy, but he was never dull.

Here are a few examples of his great work...

This was a caricature of the future George IV, one of many unflattering ones made by Cruikshank, dancing with the wife of a friend. It shows the abandon of the times, the lack of restraint among the aristocracy. It is dated 1812 and was entitled 'Merrymaking on the Regent's Birthday'

By 1820 he was given a royal bribe of 100 pounds to never again portray the King in any immoral situation. (Censorship of the press has a long and illustrious history.)

The 'Peterloo Masacre' depicted here took place on St. Peter's Field, Manchester, 16 August, 1819. The end of the Napoleanic Wars had resulted in famine, massive unemployment, the hated Corn Laws - all of which fueled a new sort of Political Radicalism. A meeting to voice the people's anger resulted in an attack by soldiers upon the 60,000 to 80,000 participants. As many as seventeen were killed, with 400 to 700 wounded. The caricature by George Cruikshank reads: "Down with 'em! Chop em down my brave boys: give them no quarter they want to take our Beef & Pudding from us! ---- & remember the more you kill the less poor rates you'll have to pay so go at it Lads show your courage & your Loyalty!"

Besides recording in picture form the news events Cruikshank provided us with the visual impressions we have of balls, Vauxhall...

great ladies and earnest suitors...

Nice clothes... this is entitled 'Monstrosity' - wonder if it's for the hats. If he thought these were bizzare he should have seen the William and Catherine's Royal Wedding guests.

He contributed illustrations to many books, including Charles Dickens' work such as Sketches by Boz, the Mudfog Papers and the wonderful Oliver Twist - here we show the Artful Dodger and Fagin.

On 30, December 1871, in a letter to the Times, Cruikshank even claimed credit for much of the plot of Oliver Twist and caused a great controversy.

In the 1840's George decided to mend his ways, he became obsessed with temperance and anti-smoking, contributed the illustrations for the National Temperance Society. He had developed a very keen sense of morality, along with the rest of England under the new rule of Queen Victoria and her very serious husband, Prince Albert. His fanatical change caused a rift between himself and Dickens, who preferred the concept of moderation.

George Cruikshank passed on 1, February, 1878 and was eventually buried in St. Paul's Cathedral. His works are national treasures now, many can be found in the Tate Gallery and both the British and Victoria and Albert Museums. He was a man of strong convictions and great talent leaving behind a monumental legacy of over 10,000illustrations and prints.

Punch magazine, which presumably did not know he also left behind a large illegitimate family, said in its obituary: "There never was a purer, simpler, more straightforward or altogether more blameless man. His nature had something childlike in its transparency."

George, we hardly knew ye...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Our New Blog Button


The story behind Darcy and Fitzwilliam began years ago when I first saw Laurence Olivier as Fitzwilliam Darcy. This man was chic. The character was a stylish alpha male without being a bully, sophisticated without losing a sense of humor. He was arrogant at first then humbled before a master of the cutting word – his Elizabeth. Why is it all women love to see a haughty man made weak at the knees with love? Who am I kidding?
My adoration for Darcy had begun.

Then there was Colin Firth in 1995 in all his beautiful Firthiness - exquisite smile, gorgeous hair, just enough masculinity to dazzle with a touch of vulnerability to make him loveable. He was a more aggressive Darcy, more in your face (hubba hubba). And love him we did. Most fervently.

But…it was not until the 2005 movie that I could no longer hold back my true Darcy feelings. It was Matthew Macfadyen, in all his Macfadyness that pushed me over the brink. He is a very big man that somehow comes across as elegant. He brought shyness to Darcy (never saw that coming) and a reason for his reticence to dance with Lizzy at the Assembly was suddenly more than mere snobbishness. When he batted his lashes at the end, muttering, “I l-l-love you – most ardently,” a few hundred thousand hearts were added to the Darcy heap. Mine among them.

I kept zeroing in on one scene, however, in the movie. The scene at Aunt Catherine’s when she grills and grills Lizzy about her mother, her sisters, her accomplishments, or lack thereof. Darcy is clearly mortified – his eyes glance at his Aunt’s face. She must appear to him to be a modified form of Mrs. Bennet, with better style sense.

He then glances at his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Fitzwilliam glances at him.

That was the birthplace of my book - a shared look by two young men, one uncomfortable and one snickering, one bemused and another embarrassed by an older cranky relative. My mind whirled with the associations, their secret look told me more than even the director had intended. They had a history with this old bat, as we all have a history with our crazy aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers. I identified completely.

I began to write.

Darcy and Fitzwilliam is mine. I know I owe Jane Austen a great deal but in the end, this book is my baby, my one and only child, the object that will exist in the world after I have left. It carries my name and my husband's name and my expression of love for that man (my husband, not Darcy) is bold and plain for all to see in my dedication.

This is my mother's day.