Monday, November 03, 2014

November Newsletter

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness! And of my summer holiday!
My daughter and I planned to go to Florence in the summer, but we looked at the projected temperatures and thought – Nope! – so we’re going later this month.
I can’t wait. Florence is one of my favourite cities in the world. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, and small enough to walk around. I’ve also been looking at flights to the States for RT next year, but they’re sky-high. At least I hope they are, because if they’re not, I’m in trouble!
Travel is an important part of my life, but in the Georgian era, it was far more difficult and took a lot longer. It could take five days to get from York to London, for instance! A lot depended on how much you could afford, if you had your private vehicle and the pace you were prepared to go.
Even my characters in this month’s release, “Mad For Love,” were subject to the travel restrictions of the time. Unless they could fly, and we haven’t seen that one yet.
This book is all about Bacchus, a character who has fascinated me for most of my life. Bacchus is a god of opposites, and of the world turned upside down. So he is king when the mad rule the world, he is the man who drives people to a trance-like frenzy with wine and dance and song.
My favourite painting is Titian’s “Bacchus and Ariadne.” It’s a revolutionary painting, from a history of art point of view, with terrifying risks taken with colour and a geometry that a younger artist wouldn’t even attempt. If you’re in the mood, try drawing the triangles in the painting, following the obvious points.
But apart from the technical brilliance of the work, it’s a painting about falling in love. Ariadne’s lover, Theseus, has just sailed off and abandoned her (you can see the sails of his ship in the distance) and Bacchus, leading a procession of his Bacchantes, sees her and falls instantly in love with her. In the sky you can see the constellation he created for her crown.
Their eyes are meeting for the first time, and they’re in love.
How could I resist? So writing this book is even more exciting for me. In this, Bacchus is an eighteenth century nobleman, and he finds his love in the daughter of one of his enemies. He knows her mother is his enemy, but in order to defeat her, he has to find out who she is, to discover her attributes and defeat her with them. And he has to rescue his lady from her mother’s schemes. But in doing so, he unwittingly repeats some of the motifs from his own legend.
(It’s a dollar cheaper at Samhain!)
I went to the Imperial War Museum this summer, which has just reopened after a 4 year facelift. Originally, the museum was the Bethlem Hospital, better known as Bedlam. So I could have a good look at the building, and talk to the curators about the restoration. They have discovered a lot of features of the original building, like some places in the stone where chains had been driven, and bars at the windows. Grim. But from a research point of view, fascinating.
And let’s not forget the reason the War Museum was built. Britain has been commemorating the First World War all year. It began a hundred years ago this year, and resulted in the death of a generation of young men. On November 11th we have Armistice day, and the second Sunday in November is Remembrance Sunday. On the 11th hour of the 11th day every year there is a minute’s silence for the fallen. This year it will be even more poignant.