Rather to my surprise, people have been asking me to recommend books for lockdown reading. Virtual strangers, some of them. I suppose they think a writer reads more than other people. Well, to keep abreast of the competition, if nothing else.
Now, I like talking about books. And I am congenitally incapable of ignoring a request for help.
Finding a story that somebody else might like, especially someone I barely know (not to mention that someone’s son, daughter or grandchild) is hard. To be honest, it has left me with eyeballs swishing about, looking for the escape hatch.
So far I’ve blundered through, hauling up titles from the cellarage pretty much at random. Do people want books they can read together? Or are they trying to read to block out the effects of too much togetherness?
With a very uncertain Christmas coming, I thought I’d try to be a bit more disciplined.
New Lockdown Bookworms?
This week my eye was drawn to a couple of exchanges about Gone With the Wind on social media.
The book has always been controversial, even when it was first published. It was a huge, instant bestseller, so you couldn’t ignore it. But historians challenged its accuracy and many people were disturbed by its depiction of slave-owning as acceptable and the novel’s attitude to the slaves themselves.
It was published in the USA in 1936, between the end of the Great Depression and the start of the Second World War. It was a debut novel, written by Margaret Mitchell, a 35-year-old woman, and set in her native Georgia.
And it was enormous, a five-part tome covering the whole of the Civil War in the South and its aftermath.
In spite of that, it sold 1 million copies in its first year and won her the National Book Award in 1936 and the Pulitzer Prize in 1937.
It won ten Academy Awards, including Hattie McDaniel’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar, the first award ever to an African American. Though her treatment at the ceremony was shameful, as Queen Latifah is the most recent to point out. It’s all part of the long controversy, social, artistic and academic, that the work has inspired.
Gone With the Wind – the Reader’s Dilemma
A couple of weeks ago, Sarah and Joanna took you on a virtual tour of some of their favourite places. We hope you enjoyed the ruins — from all around Britain — and the other inspirational locations they took you to.
Now, since we’re still in lockdown, Liz and Sophie are going to be your guides for a second instalment.
Ready? Your trip starts here…
Libertà’s Favourite Places #3 : Standen House & Garden (Liz)
At the first sniff of spring, the DD and I usually head off to our nearest National Trust property,
Welcome to Dawn Chorus Day. Yes, it’s a thing. It’s been a thing since the 1980s apparently, Started in Birmingham. Now it’s international. Makes me feel sort of proud and very grateful.
I was talking about birds with my friend Susan last week, We hear them so much more clearly during lockdown. We both bemoaned the fact that they’re yelling their heads off and yet we can’t identify them.
BBC Radio and the Lockdown Effect
While we’re in lockdown, we can’t travel to favourite places, the kind that inspire us (and sometimes comfort us, too).
At Libertà, we’ve been reflecting on that. So we’ve been digging out both images and memories of some of our favourite places to share.
Pack your bag and enjoy our virtual tour 😉 Continue reading
A lot of you, like us, won’t be going out much or doing much shopping right now. When the family is cooped up together, food becomes extra important. And treats are even more special.
So we’ve asked members of the Libertà hive to share the kind of recipes that are easy to make and, preferably, can be made with ingredients you may already have.
Feel free to experiment.
And enjoy 😉
Libertà Recipes: #1 Joanna’s Tea Bread
The Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) reaches its Diamond Jubilee in 2020. Wow! That makes the RNA more venerable than pretty much all the other writers’ organisations. All the ones that we know of, anyway.
So the writers in the Libertà hive started reminiscing — as you do — about what the RNA has meant to each of us. We’re all long-standing members. And it’s an organisation that we revere.
But why? What’s so special about the RNA?
Basically, it’s the people in the RNA and the values they stand for. And the support and friendship that the association provides. Don’t believe any rubbish you hear about romance writers stabbing each other in the back. That was a bad joke from a writer in a non-romance genre — who honestly should have known better.
Writers in the RNA are the most helpful, supportive, loving bunch you could ever meet. They know the romance market is vast. No single romance writer can satisfy all those readers out there. So it’s in all our interests to grow the market and help each other.
Which is what we do. What’s not to like? Continue reading
I remember watching the last Royal Wedding on television (well, bits of it) in April 2011. To be honest, I was surprised at how moved I was.
There is something heroic about that promise, “Until Death us do Part.” Especially so, when the two people making it have actually chosen each other.
After all, in the past, many royal weddings took place between people who were not much more than pieces on someone else’s chess board.
In 1922 my grandmother went to see the procession for the wedding of the Queen’s aunt to Viscount Lascelles. She came home, shocked, and told her sister that the young princess’s eyes were red with crying. Princess Mary was 24, her bridegroom 39. He looks grim in the wedding photograph. Continue reading
A few days ago, on 4th September 2017 to be exact, the Queen opened the #3 crossing of the River Forth, at Queensferry. The date was chosen, I assume, because it was 53 years to the day since she had opened the #2 crossing, the original Forth Road Bridge, back in 1964 (shown below with the Queensferry Crossing beyond).
The Queen did not, of course, open the original Forth Bridge; that was done by her great-grandfather, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) in 1890. Continue reading