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Picturing a World

Clothes in Books

Blog alert: While chasing around for links to Angela Thirkell and WWII, I came across a post on her pre-novel, Pomfret Towers at the blog, Clothes in Books. The site is new to me and what a find! Good for readers and authors alike. The photo shown here appears in the post to illustrate the apricot-silk-lined rabbit-fur cape given to shy Alice Barton by her mother to give her confidence on her first ever weekend away from home alone at a house party. To help visualize it from the front, click here. And for a write-up of the novel with images of various covers for it, click here.

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Joyce Dennys

Are you drawn to topics in fiction? I tend to like novels in which a house is a major character. I'm also drawn to fiction written by British women during the Second World War—not historical fiction set during the war, but novels written for the home front while the outcome of the war was very much in doubt (Angela Thirkell's Cheerfulness Breaks In ends with a major character at Dunkirk and his wife unsure whether he has survived). To my great joy, I've just discovered Henrietta's War and Henrietta Makes It Through by Joyce Dennys. What's more, Dennys is a female artist new to me. Almost too good to be true!

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California valley

Photographs like this one of a horse ranch in Ventura County can obviously be helpful to a fiction writer who wants to set a story in the present-day California countryside. When I saw it, though, my first reaction was: Strip away the vegetation and that could be a manned station on a harsh, alien planet. My second thought was: Or narrow the valley and fill it with greenery and it could be in Middle-Earth. Writing exercise, anyone?

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What can you say?

In his introduction to a collection of Talking Heads (Series 1), Alan Bennett writes that a television monologue is a "stripped down version of a short story, the style of its telling necessarily austere. 'Said' or 'says' is generally all that is required to introduce reported speech, because whereas the novelist or short story writer has a battery of expressions to chose from ('exclaimed', 'retorted', 'groaned' lisped'), in live narration such terms seem literary and self-conscious."

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Louise Jopling

Website alert: An article in the Guardian, Tate Britain acquires first painting by pioneering English female artist overlooked for a century, brought to my attention Louise Jopling again. As an artist and suffragist, she is definitely someone my Palmer characters, Jeanette and Mattie, would know about! And wouldn't the show at the Tate gratify them? For more of Jopling's work, click here.

Image in the Public Domain via Wikipedia

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Neanderthal woman

Website alert: A news item, Face of 75,000-year-old Neanderthal woman revealed, alerted me to a BBC documentary. If you subscribe to Netlfix and are interested in how paleo-archeologists work, it is well worth watching. I loved a reenactment near the end in which a fearful young Neanderthal woman in need of help approaches an equally wary group of Homo sapiens. Instead of the expected story of violence, it shows how the two species could have interacted peacefully—a happier thought than abduction and rape as the source of the Neanderthal DNA in most of us! A shortcut to the findings is a summary article at Science Direct: Archaeologists unveil face of Neanderthal woman.

 

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Golden fleece fresco

This photograph of a Flying Golden Fleece ram fresco found in Pompeii seems to me emblematic of all the excavations in the ash-and-rubble-buried city. Treasures keep emerging from darkness into the light. It can also create the optical illusion of a rough gravel road running back into a cave entrance. Lilliputians? Moles? A case where misreading may prompt new creativity!

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