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Picturing a World

Monet’s Gare Saint-Lazare

A tip from James Gurney on the release of high-resolution images by the Chicago Art Institute led me back to this 1877 painting by Monet. It was in my mind when I wrote Jeanette and Effie’s arrival in  Read More 

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Grand Central Station

When I saw this image of Colin Campbell Cooper’s Grand Central Station, my first thought was not that it might be helpful for ANONMITY, despite the 1909 date. Instead, the picture instantly recalled Claude Monet’s paintings of the Gare Saint-Lazare, which did inform Where the Light Falls.  Read More 
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Diligence

My husband is transcribing 19th C correspondence at the American Antiquarian Society as a volunteer project. In his last batch of letters, he found two from Frederick Arthur Bridgman to one of the lenders who helped  Read More 
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Winter in New York

Given the recent snow and ice here in the Northeast, I’ve been thinking about why books set in winter appeal. Even though the action of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is directed toward delivering Narnia from the grip of the White Witch, it’s the snow you remember, the  Read More 
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Women on an omnibus

It’s hard to know why some topics fascinate us. I ride public transportation whenever I can; maybe that's why depictions of riders in a train or on an omnibus always catch my eye. For my fiction, moreover, it just seems part of world-building to know how my characters get from one place to another and how long it takes them. Mary Cassatt's In the Omnibus" reminds me of crossing the Charles River on the Red Line in Boston during the day when the cars are sometimes uncrowded. For Daumier's more typically crowded omnibus, click here.  Read More 
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Newsstand

One of the gee-whiz pleasures for me in researching New York City at the turn of the 20th C is gawking at high-resolution photos on line. In the full view of this one at the Shorpy site, you can read ads on the El staircase and titles on the newsstand. I'm delighted with the  Read More 
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Banlieues

By the time her train reaches Paris, Jeanette is feeling scared, and this moody photograph helped me think about what was outside the window as the day darkened. Baron Haussmann’s remaking of Paris not only changed the physical look of the city, but also distorted  Read More 
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Advertising placards

This summer, my husband and I went to an exhibition, The Unknown Hopper: Edward Hopper as Illustrator on view at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, through October 26, 2014. Night on the El Train was not among the work we saw. It is, in fact, one of the freestanding etchings that Edward Hopper made in an effort to support himself beyond magazine illustrationat the start of his career. The Rockwell show, however, demonstrates how much drama and focus he brought to his commercial drawings.

And don’t we all wish it was still the custom to commission illustrations for books and magazine stories! It happens, of course, for children’s picture books and deluxe editions of books some fiction for adults (For two examples, click here and here.)  Read More 
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Podoscaphe

Website tip: One last day on the water before summer's end? Howzabout this Ms. Fowler in 1878? The craft is a podoscaphe, a new word for me. For more, click here.
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Learning by blogging

To complement Bellows’ Steaming Trains, I was looking for one of Hassam’s American urban landscapes when I came across this image of Paris. Aha! One of the Wallace water fountains I didn’t know about until this summer. Well, well.

My experience is that you don't leave a fictional world behind even after you finish a story. Things keep reminding you of it and adding to your understanding of characters, setting, and motives. And there’s nothing like blogging to make you bring together bits of this and that! Read More 
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