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Picturing a World

What makes this book so happy (1): Food

In response to the appearance of Where the Light Falls on Prevention Magazine’s list of 55 Happy Books Proven To Boost Your Mood, I was invited to speak at my local public library on September 27th. It seemed a good idea to talk about the book in relation to the list—but that raised the question, just what is a happy book? I decided to tease out common threads among some of the titles and examine the extent to which I was conscious of each factor as I wrote. First topic: Food.  Read More 

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Sororis Club

Blog post tip: In Where the Light Falls, I invented a private supper club for my women artists. With my eye turned now toward New York City and woman’s suffrage, it is fascinating to read about the feminist Sorosis Club’s first lunch at public restaurant, Delmonico’s.

For a digitization of an 1893 article about the club in Cosmopolitan Magazine, click hereRead More 

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Man in the Moon tree house

In looking for images of medieval taverns this morning, I stumbled across this 18thC painting. It has nothing to do with my new story, but it instantly reminded me of the Swiss Family Robinson tree house restaurant in Where the Light Falls. Oh, yea! And doesn’t it just cry out for its own story? Read More 
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Female gaze

Blog tip: Sunday post at the always interesting Lines and Colors, sent me to Spanish painter Ramon Casas, who studied with
Carolus-Duran
at about the  Read More 
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Petit Honoré

It was great fun to invent the Petit Honoré where Robbie Dolson takes Jeanette and Effie instead of to Tortoni’s—so much fun that I made the café a favorite of Effie’s. (Generally speaking, if someone or something is important enough to  Read More 
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Happy New Year's Day

On this first day of January, would that we could all be sitting, smartly dressed, in a Parisian garden-café or brasserie!

When I first saw Manet’s painting early in my writing of Where the Light Falls, I did a joyous double-take. Here was  Read More 
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Hungaria Restaurant, 1908

Having read that Hungarian restaurants were among the first ethnic restaurants in New York to attract customers outside their own community, I’ve sent Mattie and her lover to one early in ANONYMITY. For the fun of it, I tried to find images of one in 1908. Lo and behold, this photograph! It shows  Read More 
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Back to a future restaurant

Oh, what fun! I thought when I saw a Public Domain Review post on Albert Robida’s Leaving the Opera in the Year 2000. I keep an eye out for cafés and restaurants and will cheerfully add this one to my directory of imaginary eating places. The verve and wit of Robida’s style carries well from Jeanette’s 19th C into Mattie’s 20th C—for that matter, as a chic French version of steampunk right into the 21st C.  Read More 
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Duval restaurant

To make a world real, it seems to me you have to know what people ate and where and when. When the Duval restaurants turned up early in my research I knew I could use them; and Renoir's painting of a Duval waitress became a touchstone image for me. Not only the quietly respectable young woman but the figured wallpaper and curtains suggested a feminine air that would be reassuring to Jeanette and Effie.

Pierre Louis Duval, a butcher, began selling servings of a meat cooked in broth to workers ca. 1855. From this venture grew a chain of restaurants. They were clean, well-run places where women on a budget could eat safely.  Read More 
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Women of the night

Degas’ pastel of two women sitting at a café table provided the image of a prostitute biting her thumb as a sign of availability. I didn’t think that Edward would be attracted to anyone in this picture, however, and so I imagined a younger, sadder example of a girl who had to  Read More 
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