Author Interview: Emily Murdoch

 

Ladies and Gents, I’m thrilled to be conducting my first author interview with Emily Murdoch.  I am lucky to call this great woman a friend, and honored to be her beta reader.

Ms. Murdoch’s first novel, If You Find Me (formerly:  The Patron Saint of Beans) will be published on April 2, 2013 by St Martin’s Griffin.  It has also sold overseas to Germany and the Netherlands.  More overseas sales are in the works.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Taylor Hendrix’s Christmas Project. Seventeen-year-old Taylor, battling osteosarcoma, gathers gifts in backpacks to brighten the spirits of cancer teens in hospital during the Christmas holidays.  

For more information about Ms. Murdoch, her writing, and her charity project, please visit her blog at:  http://emilymurdoch.wordpress.com

Also, Ms. Murdoch will be giving away a free, signed ARC.  Entrants for the drawing only have to tweet this post link and mention so in the comments.  The winner of the free advanced reader copy will be selected by random drawing in one week.

Now, without further ado, let’s hear from Ms. Murdoch, herself.

1. If You Find Me is a realistic YA novel with adult crossover appeal.   Could you please tell my blog readers a little about it?

Sure! Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

A broken-down camper at the Obed Scenic and Wild River National Park – dubbed the Hundred Acre Wood – is the only home fifteen-year-old Carey has ever known.

Sure, coping with a bipolar mother on meth is no picnic, but beneath the sun-dazzled canopies of Hickory and Walnut, Carey’s violin transports her from their bare-bones existence in the same way her little sister, Jenessa, finds comfort in her stash of second-hand Pooh books.

Life is dependable that way, until Mama goes into town for supplies and vanishes off the face of Tennessee, sending social services in her wake with a one-way ticket back to their father – a stranger in an even stranger world.

2. What inspired you, or drew you to writing this novel?

I happened to watch two news magazine stories back-to-back on parental abduction and alienation, one being the story of Sean Goldman, abducted by his mother at age four and taken to Brazil, leading to an international custody battle.

I remember aching for his father, David, left behind in America and fighting to get his son back. He did — five years later — but neither of them would ever be able to recapture the time they’d lost.

The level of betrayal, in my mind, was stunning. Not to mention the constant worry about that child’s welfare, and how it couldn’t help but impact *everything*. Life freezes; time stops, or, in the case of the children, resumes, built on lies and deceit.

I couldn’t shake the stories from my mind or heart.

3. How would you describe the main character, Carey?

Strong, resilient, loving, earnest. Fiercely protective of her younger sister, Jenessa … while also flawed, damaged, confused.

What I love about Carey is how she knows when to fight, and when to let life just wash over her, like a pebble in a stream. She’s determined to find light in the darkness, and always holds on to the hope that her life will get better.

She’s magnificently human.

4. Readers sometimes mistake characters, especially those written in first person, with the author.  How does Carey differ from you?  And in what ways are you similar?

Great question, and so true!

I was not abducted as a child, nor did I grow up in the woods. But I did experience a tougher childhood than some, and spent a lifetime overcoming my experiences.

Like Carey, I always searched for the light in the darkness. I always believed that the hard times contained lessons meant to stretch us, to grow our hearts, to teach us things we could pass on to those who needed them the most — those people in the places we used to be.

If not us, than who?

5. Did Carey come to you fully-formed, or did she emerge slowly throughout the writing of the novel?   Without spoilers, in what ways did she end up surprising you?

 

I guess you could say she did come to me fully formed. I’d liken it to a sculptor finding the image in the blob of clay, or chunk of marble. Wasn’t it there already, just waiting to be found?

Carey surprised me, by being that pebble in the stream. By not running away. At one point I thought she would. She decided otherwise.

 

 

6. If you could cast anyone as Carey (current actress or from days past, who would it be?

 

I LOVE this question!

I think Dakota Fanning would make a wonderful Carey. She has the talent and emotional depth to bring all facets of Carey to life, including the said and unsaid.

She’s an amazing actress; truly gifted. I knew since first seeing her in Taken and I Am Sam that she had God-given talent.

 

7. Did Carey or the story come to you first?

 

Carey. I knew she was a fighter with emotional depth and a wealth of wisdom learned the hard way.

Right from the start, I admired her heart and the fight in her and felt she chose me to tell her story.

8. Now let’s chat more about you and writing in general.   The writing process is fascinating, and I’m sure many would love to know about how you go about it.  First, are you a plotter or a pantser?

 

Pantser all the way! When I begin a novel, even I don’t know the full story or what’s going to happen. I find it out just like my readers will — paragraph by paragraph, page by page.

 

9. When did you first begin writing, and when did you begin serious attempts at being published?  Could you tell us about your journey?

 

I wrote short stories and poetry from Kindergarten on. I was obsessed with books, both reading and owning them, and loved those tiny little books you used to get in bubble gum machines as prizes. I even used to cut construction paper into small pages, staple the middle, and make my own “books”.

I wrote my first real book (all 265 passionate pages!) at eleven-years-old. I used loose notebook pages held together with a binder clip. One afternoon in sixth grade, I left the manuscript behind in the school library. Our librarian, Mrs. Mills, found it and read it in full. The next morning, I made a mad dash to the library, hoping it was still there, and she held it up, raving. “Would you mind if I typed it up and sent it to a few publishers?” I remember nodding my consent, because I was speechless!

It took Mrs. Mills about a week to type it up, and we sent it off. It went out to three children’s publishers, along with a cover letter. I don’t remember who the other publishers were, but an editor at Random House, the signature illegible, wrote: “She’s got something. Tell her to try us again in ten or twenty years.”

 

Flash forward to now, and I’ve written five manuscripts. If You Find Me was my third queried manuscript. I do believe I’m here today because of all the effort that went before. However, I began writing with an eye toward publication in May of 2008.

 

 

10.    What authors inspired your dreams of being a writer?  Favorite books?

The answer is those favorite books: Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery; Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; any novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, but especially A Little Princess and The Secret Garden; The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden; and A Wrinkle in Time By Madeleine L’Engle.

11.    Besides other books, what feeds your creative muse?

It’s always art; books, movies, paintings. I like to be moved, and I aspire to move others through my writing.

We live in a fast society, often steely and hard. Anything that brings us back to our hearts, is golden.

12.    Do you prefer writing in long spurts or during short periods throughout the day?  Are your creative juices better at certain hours?

 

I like to write at night, but I write throughout the day, also, whenever I can, and whether I feel like it or not.

I sit down and enter a state of “flow”, where hours fly by, I forget my physical self, and the words stream through me, oftentimes faster than I can type. I’ve always had a knack for this almost dissociative state I can’t quite explain, even to myself.

I feel like a conduit for the stories. All I have to do is sit down, let go, and believe.

13.   Do you listen to music whilst writing?  If so, what was this novel’s soundtrack?  Do your characters have different theme songs?

 

I always listen to music. I either listen to zen or classical. I write better with music, but it has to be music without words, and something that loops in the background.

For me, that is our satellite television’s classical and zen/new age music channels. I wouldn’t be surprised to get a call from the company one day telling me it’s on so much, I broke their stations!

 

 

14.    Do you have any writing rituals to help you get into the mood?

When I was younger, I would’ve said I wrote best by candlelight or by the fireplace. I wrote in notebooks, with a specific pen, (still the pen I prefer — Pilot Precise V5 rolling ball, extra fine point, black ink) and always with coffee nearby.

While some of those things could still be true, (the candlelight, to get my Louisa May Alcott on, the certain pen and the coffee, although now I write on my laptop) the whimsy of having writing rituals has taken a back seat to the reality of writing, especially for publication, where deadlines and paychecks are involved.

15.     Do you visualize the story as you write it, or do you hear it?

 

Wow. I never thought about that.

 

I’d say both. When writing in scene-mode, I visualize the scene. When writing dialogue, I hear it.

 

 

16.    While you are writing,  would you compare yourself to a Method actor who uses their own experiences and emotions to become the characters, or are you more akin to the external and objective methods of a classically trained actor?

 

God you’re good!  Awesome questions!

Since I write in flow, it’s almost like I’m taking dictation, of sorts. However, when I read back over material I wrote and it makes *me* cry, that’s when I know I nailed it.

To quote Beethoven, “What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.”

 

17.   The process of getting a novel published can be a very long one filled with incredible ups and downs.   What helped you stay grounded throughout?

 

YOU! Huge hugs! And all my writing friends. Without people who really, REALLY understand, I’d be in a straightjacket — and everyone knows how impossible it is to type in a straightjacket!

 

18.   Favorite quote from another author?

Does Beethoven count?

19.   What is your life motto?

Believe. Believe!

It’s the seed of all that could be.

20.    What stories are in the works for you?

I’m currently finishing up revisions for my next novel, D22go (dah-go).  I’m a week or two away from turning it in, and hopefully it will become my option book, and next crossover novel!

Thank you so much, Emily!

 

Thank you, Tasha, for hosting my cover reveal, for being such an amazing friend, beta reader and supporter.

One day soon I’ll be hosting your cover reveal. I can’t wait!

Until then, I’ll just keep counting my blessings, with you being one of the biggest ones!

Thank you So much, Emily!  

Besides the website above, one may also find out more about Ms. Murdoch and If You Find Me at these links:

On Goodreads:

http://goodreads.com/book/show/13411689-the-patron-saint-of-beans

on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/#!/LeftyWritey

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Book Review: Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

translation from the Swedish to English by Ebba Segerberg

“Can I come in?”

Oskar whispered, “Ye-es…”

“Say that I can come in.”

“You can come in.”

Set in 1981 in  a lower working-class town called Vällingsby, Let The Right One In centers on twelve-year-old Oskar who lives with his loving and over-protective mother.   Away from school he listens to Kiss and collects articles about murders for his scrapbook.  During school, he is mercilessly tormented by a group of bullies.   The emotional and physical abuse he suffers at their hands is described in realistic and heartbreaking fashion.  It is little wonder he jumps at the chance of befriending a solitary girl he meets in the park. 

Trouble is, her arrival coincides with a string of recent murders.

Oskar quickly grows close to Eli, who encourages him to stand up to his bullies.

His friendship with her is set parallel to the relationship between the fifty something year-olds Lacke and Virginia.  Lacke just wants to stay sober and save enough money to buy a little retirement cottage for the two of them.

Unfortunately, their paths cross with Eli and Oskar.

Lacke suspects the young girl of being responsible for murdering a friend of his though most people won’t listen to him.   And Virginia comes into direct contact with the Eli…

One of the major pluses of this coming-of-age novel is the characters.  There are no stereotypes here.  No one-dimensionl cliches.  They’re all incredibly real people- most of them are basically good folks who just want to live their lives the best they can.

The negative side of the novel, sadly- is again, the characters.  Or, more specifically, that there are too many of them.  While Lacke’s and Virginia’s relationship was a beautiful contrast to the one between Oskar and Eli,  there was another subplot revolving  another  young boy which, while also well-written, seemed entirely unnecessary.  And with less time spent on Oskar, I found my interest in his outcome waning by the end.    The fact that the book was at least 100 pages longer than it should have been, didn’t help in that matter.

Regardless of those few negative aspects, the novel is a gripping and richly told story.  Not quite horror in the truest sense of the word, it is more of a  look into the lives of a group of people trying to survive in their gritty town.    And of a young girl who needs their blood if she is to survive.

Published in: on November 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm  Comments (26)  
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Marginalia and the Heart of Writing Inside Books

A few years ago, I picked up an old copy of a biography on Emily Bronte.   Inside the front cover, a woman had inscribed her name and dated it over thirty years ago.  And throughout the book, she’d underlined her favorite passages.   I don’t know anything about this woman except she shared a love for the Brontes.

Books of mine are filled with my own underlines, and flashes of ideas that have come to me when I didn’t have any other paper on hand.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines marginalia as,  “marginal notes or embellishments (as inside a book) “.

However, this succinct description does not dwell into the heart of the practice.

Coined by Samuel Coleridge,  the first known use of the term is found in a 1819 edition of Blackwood’s Magazine.   He wrote once, “”A book, I value.   I reason & quarrel with as with myself when I am reasoning.”

At times, Coleridge even  drolly criticized his own, earlier lines he came across.  “Hang me, if I know or ever did know the meaning of them.”

  Years later, Edgar Allen Poe titled many of his own articles, Marginalia.

However, the practice of scribbling comments inside books goes back much further.  Arguably, the most famous example is Fermat’s last theorem.  

The most common form of marginalia are the underlines, scribbles, and comments a reader makes.  While marking the book, they inadvertently reveal little aspects of themselves.  What lines of dialogue made them laugh, what bits of prose affected them emotionally, or made them think.

Other readers debate the writer’s theories with their own points of view on a subject.

Besides commentary,  the sides of pages have been used by writers to scribble their own works.  Whilst in prison, Voltaire used the margins of a book to pen his play, Oedipus.  

On the eve of his execution, Sir Walter Raleigh wrote this poem inside his bible:

“Even such is time, which takes in trust
    Our youth, our joys, and all we have,
And pays us nought but age and dust;
    Which in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wandered all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days!
And from which grave, and earth, and dust,
The Lord shall raise me up, I trust.’
Many are aghast at the thought of writing inside a book.  It’s almost an unsaid taboo.  Yet for others, it is a way to collect their thoughts, to share, and to express. 
  Voltaire

Update: German book reading list

Just a quick note that my German book reading list page has been updated.

Published in: on February 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Plans for a Victorian in the New Year

 

So, it’s the new year.  A new decade, okay not technically a new decade, but it still begs the question:  what is a half-luddite, Victorian-obsessed gal doing in the year 2010?   Since I have lots of other things to do today, I won’t even attempt to try to answer that.

Regarding the new year, I’ve never been one for resolutions.   Kelly over at Mysterious Musings recently wrote about concentrating on progress rather than goals.   That is something I strongly agree with, as too many people who make firm goals tend to criticize themselves too harshly at the end of the year if they weren’t able to achieve said goal, rather than looking at how far they may have come.  This does not mean that I think having goals is a bad thing.  Certainly not.   Just don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t accomplish the goal in its entirety.   If you strove and made progress, that counts for a lot.

 So I’ve simply been musing on things I want to work on.  It comes down to continuing growing as a writer, and improving my German.

So, the plan is:

1. continue  daily writing on my WIP

2. Along with my normal studies, read twelve novels in German to increase my reading comprehension.  I’ll be making a page highlighting which books I’m reading in that language.   Surely of little interest to anyone else, but it will be there if you do happen to be curious, or well, just bored or procrastinating.

There it is.  Nothing fancy.  Really nothing I’m not already doing.  (except increasing the quantity of my German reading).   But it’s all about continued progress, learning, and growth.

And, lest I  forget:

3. Find Sput a hobby so she gets over this rather peculiar obsession with regaling me non-stop about the wonders of her city.  (not that it bothers me, I just worry about the poor dear)

Published in: on January 4, 2010 at 8:23 pm  Comments (19)  
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Meme: Seven Degrees of Separation

In my short time having this blog,   I’ve discovered my Astro Sis (waves hello to  Digital Dame).  And now, in the wee hours of the morn, I have learnt of my Telepath Sis: LeftyWritey.

This afternoon, while I was procrastinating  taking a break from writing, I went over to Ms. Uppington’s Blog. (All  Things Good) Scrolling down, I came across a post that somehow I’d missed.  She’d written a Meme back at the end of January, and further, she’d Memed me.

So, today I spent some time wondering what little  tidbits to reveal. And just short moments ago,  at 2 a.m. in the morning, I received an email from Ms. Lefty.  Out of the friggin blue, she asks if I know I was Memed a month ago, and am I going to write one?

Um.  Yeah.  I am.

Let’s see…

1.   If I wasn’t aiming to be a full-time writer, I’d want to be a professional researcher of some sort.  Whether it be anthropologist, archeologist, historian, or parapsychologist.  The wonderful thing about writing fiction is I can combine my never-exhausted imagination with my interest in these fields of study.  

2.  I love chess.     Bring it on.

3.   I collect Agatha Christie novels.   Didn’t intentionally set out to, but having discovered  I owned almost all hers in English, and a few in German,  I figured I should get them all.   And that older pulp covers would be fun to get too…

4.  I never go anywhere without a book in my purse.  (except like last week when I ran to Customs to pick up a package and ended up in the waiting room for two hours)

5.  I’m superstitious.  Never open an umbrella inside or walk under ladders.   I figure people must have had some reason for these warnings; and hey, better safe than sorry.

On that same note: I believe in the Sock Fairy and the Pen Fairy.  Really.  They exist.  Buy a new package of socks and see how long it takes before half of ’em disappear.   Now, the Pen Fairy, rather than being an all-out thief like her cousin, always returns the pens.   She just likes to put them back where they never were.  Or, hours later, where they were supposed to be, but weren’t.  

6.   I love Farscape.   Otherwise known as “Crack TV”.   And, like any self-respecting addict, try to hook others.   You want rich storylines filled with complex, realistic characters?  TV episodes filled with drama, laughs, romance, adventure, goofiness all rolled in one?  Just start watc…

7.    I much prefer  old black and white films to modern.   Often feel as though I were born in the wrong time, except I want today’s conveniences and Rights.   So, basically I belong in some alternative historySteampunk novel.

 So.  There.  Done.

I’m not going to Meme people as I’m not sure who’s been tagged already.  But if you feel like procastinating, this is a fun way to do it.   So carry on…

The House of Seven Gables

The oldest surviving mansion in the United States was built in 1668 for Captain John Turner in the historic seaport of Salem, Massachusetts.   This house inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne to pen his 1851 classic novel.

Hawthorne’s relatives, the Ingersolls, acquired the house after John Turner III lost the family fortune.  During several visits, Hawthorne’s reclusive cousin, Susannah Ingersoll, entranced him with stories of its lore.  According to papers, the impressive dwelling once boasted seven gables.  This seemingly innocent fact stirred Hawthorne’s imagination.

When creating the novel’s villian, Nathaniel  had only to turn to his own family ancestry.  One infamous ancestor was Colonel John Hathorne, a judge at the Salem Witch trials.   He presided at the trial in which  Sarah Good swore: “I’m no more a witch than you’re a wizard!  And if you take my life God will give you blood to drink!”  In the novel, the character, Matthew Maule, sentenced to death as a wizard, hurls similar words to Judge Pyncheon who falsely accused him in order to steal his land.  After Judge Pyncheon’s sudden and mysterious death, his descendants move into the house.    His evil deed holds a subtle but affective hold on each passing generation.

When the novel opens, the current inhabitant, spinster Hepzibah Pyncheon, has been reduced to opening a shop to make ends meet.  Reclusive, she has become as lifeless as the faded curtains and darkened timber.  Her only real companion is Holgrave, the radical daguerreotypist who rents a room in the house.

Into Hepzibah’s carefully guarded world comes bright, country cousin Phoebe (less of a person than symbolic of the free world beyond Seven Gables). Not long after Phoebe’s arrival, Hepzibah’s feeble-minded brother, Clifford returns home after being released from prison.   Clifford had been falsely accused of a crime by their cousin, Judge Pyncheon, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the Puritanical judge of long ago. Things come to a climax when Judge Pyncheon threatens to send Clifford back to jail unless he discloses the whereabouts of hidden wealth.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was a member of the literary movement, Dark Romanticism, which included  Byron, Mary Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe,  Emily Dickinson, and Herman Melville.  As with Gothic fiction before, their stories often involved vampires, ghouls, and haunted houses.  While the earlier Gothic writers concentrated on sheer terror, the Dark Romantics explored the dark nature of man and universe.

Nathaniel Hawthorne told his publisher he wished to write passages, “with the minuteness of a Dutch picture.”   Indeed, the house and shop are so finely described that one can hear the old stairs creaking, the window shutters banging, the shop door opening.   Readers see poor Hepzibah, frightened, out of her depth, yet determined as she meets her first customer  (a little boy who wants a gingerbread).  They watch as  Phoebe reads to the child-like Clifford and walks in the garden with Holgrave as they quietly fall in love.

The chapter, “Judge Pyncheon” is a poetic tour de force on death.  “The shadows of the tall furniture grow deeper, and at first become more definite; and then, spreading wider, they lose their distinctiveness of outline in the dark gray tide of oblivion, as it were, that creeps slowly over the various objects, and the one human figure sitting in the midst of them.  The gloom has not entered from without; it has brooded here all day, and now, taking its own inevitable time, will possess itself of everything.  The Judge’s face, indeed, rigid, and singularly white, refuses to melt into this universal solvent.  Fainter and fainter grows the light.”

The novel is not without its flaws.   The conclusion comes too quickly and easily.  Also, while Hawthorne richly describes the characters of Seven Gables, the reader is still kept at an emotional distance.  The camera lens zooms in to study them like an impassive scientist.  One explanation for this is Hawthorne struggled with his desire to be a writer, considering it “unmanly”.  Throughout the novel he keeps himself tightly leashed, afraid to reveal any part of his inner being.

The House of Seven Gables is not a frightening tale of any kind.  In fact,  it has sprinkles of quiet, macabre humor throughout.  It is not a passionate novel.  It won’t raise anyone’s temperature.  Yet the house and its inhabitants linger in the mind of the reader long after they’ve turned the last page.

Agatha Christie-Books

In my previous post- I listed a few of my favorite novels.  I decided to give the Queen of Mystery her own space.  After all this time, no one has surpassed her intricate plots or  stunning conclusions.  No matter how surprising the ending may be- she never cheats.  One can always look back and say,  “Oh, yes!  How did I miss that?”

And even after you’ve gotten good at figuring out, “whodunnit”- they’re always fun to read.

Ms. Christie wrote over 80 novels.

Here are a few of my favorite ones:

1. And Then There Were None- 10 strangers all accused of murder are killed one by one on a remote island

2.  The Hollow

3. A Holiday for Murder

4.  After the Funeral

5. Cards on the Table

6. Murder at Hazelmoor

7. Crooked House

8. Towards Zero

9. Ordeal by Innocence

10. Five Little Pigs

11. Easy to Kill- the killer is quite easy to spot, but this is one of her creepiest reads

12. Hickory Dickory Dock- a sentimental favorite since it was the first I read

13. Seven Dials Mystery- change-of-pace comedic mystery

14. A Murder is Announced

15. Death on the Nile

Published in: on July 23, 2008 at 11:03 am  Comments (2)  
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My favorite BOOKS

I am an eclectic reader who enjoys books in several different genres.  They’re are so many wonderful books to be discovered- I will never understand why so many people limit themselves! 

Here are some of my faves.  (couldn’t possibly name them all!) Perhaps one will also be your cuppa tea.

1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

3 Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint (urban fantasy)

4. Memory and Dreams by Charles de Lint (urban fantasy)

5. Widdershins by Charles de Lint (urban fantasy)

6.  Little Big by John Crowley (fantastical, surreal novel about a family connected with fairies)

7. Watership Down by Richard Adams- classic novel about rabbits searching for a new home.  Beloved by children and adults

8.  Fingersmith by Sarah Waters- set in 19th century England.  orphaned girls, mistaken identities, prisons, and lunatic asylums, love and betrayal.

9. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson- eerie, ambiguous haunted house tale

10. We’ve Always Lived in the Castle- by Shirley Jackson- Merricat is interested in witchcraft.  Her older sister recently returned from prison after poisoning several members of their family.  Or did she?  A gothic novel filled with macabre humor

Published in: on July 23, 2008 at 10:36 am  Comments (2)  
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Victorian History Library

To write my novel which is set in 19th century New England, I immersed myself into that world of red damask curtains, lace, and crinoline.  I’d always been fascinated with the Victorian era and the more I read about how life was really like back then- the more I fell in love with it. (warts and all)  How different  people were from  the moralistic novels written back then.  I won’t dwell much on the subject now.  That’s for a future post.   I’ll just give you an example:  a large number of babies were born prematurely.  (read between the lines, folks) 
For those interested in Victorian History, here are some book recommendations:
1. Inside the Victorian Home by Judith Flanders.
covers everything from interior design, occupations, eating habits, fancywork, hygiene, fashion, funerals, servants, dating rituals, and marriage. 
2. Victorian London by Liza Picard
Topics include: smells, streets, education, amusement, religion, crimes and punishment, and much more…
Here is a quote from Chapter 1. Smells:  “Imagine the worst smell you have ever met.  Now imagine what it was like to have that in your nostrils all day and all night, all over London.  But it was worse than that.”
 Another quote: “The Thames stank.  The main ingredient was human waste.”
Ah, it gets even better!  “Sometimes chamber pots were upended out of windows on to the luckless passers-by, or on to the streets, their contents adding to the rich mix of dead dogs, horse and cattle manure, rotting vegetables.”  (So next time someone rear ends your car- remember things could always be worse!)
3.Victorian and Edwardian Fashion A Photographic Survey by Alison Gernsheim
Detailed descriptions of the changing fashions for men and women throughout the era.  Beards were a much bigger issue than I’d ever have thought.  Fabulous photos of everyday people.
4.Inventing the Victorians by Matthew Sweet
read about real-life daredevils Blondin, Madame Genieve, and Selina Young.
picture shows and freak shows
chamber of horrors and drug use
(you’ll never look at the 19th century the same way again)
5. The Worm in the Bud by Ronald Pearsall
premarital sex, birth control, pornography, homosexuality, bondage and discipline.  (much of it enjoyed by the middle and upper classes)
6. The Darkened Room by Alex Owen
interesting study on Spiritualism in the late 19th century
7. Daughter of Boston: The Extraordinary Diary of a Nineteenth-century Woman by Caroline Healey Dall
I’d been having horrible luck finding books on 19th century America.  Oh, there were plenty of books on the Civil War, of course…but I needed books about how average people lived from day to day.  Then, I stumbled upon this gem.  Written from 1840 to 1865, it covers everything from her views on feminism, religion, abolition, and marriage.  It also chronicles her meetings with famous members of the Transcendentalist Circle including: Elizabeth Peabody, Margaret Fuller, Emerson, and Theodore Parker.
Published in: on July 20, 2008 at 7:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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