Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Austen fan site


There's a new Austen fan site on the web at http://www.austenfans.com - to visit it, click here

The site will be growing, expanding and improving as time goes by, so if there's anything you'd like to see on the site, or any way you think it could be improved, leave a comment and we'll pass along your ideas and suggestions.








And don't forget, this is your last chance to enter the competition to win a copy of Lord Deverill's Secret - see below for details. The competition closes at midnight tonight, GMT.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Regency food

Cake was an important part of afternoon tea, and saved many a visitor from an awkward silence during a visit. In Pride and Prejudice, Georgiana Darcy discovered the value of having something to do when shyness prevented her from making much conversation:

"The next variation which their visit afforded was produced by the entrance of servants with cold meat, cake, and a variety of all the finest fruits in season; but this did not take place till after many a significant look and smile from Mrs. Annesley to Miss Darcy had been given, to remind her of her post. There was now employment for the whole party -- for though they could not all talk, they could all eat."

Jane Austen doesn't tell us what sort of cake it was, but it could well have been seed cake, as seed cake was very popular at the time. Here's a recipe for anyone who wants to try it:

125g / I stick butter
150g / 2/3 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp caraway seeds
150g plain flour / 1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
25g cornflour / 3 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Method
1. Cream the butter and sugar.
2. Stir in the caraway seeds.
3. Beat in the eggs, a bit at a time.
4. Stir together the remaining ingredients then fold them into the mixture with a metal spoon.
5. Transfer to a tin and bake at 350 F / 180 C / Gas Mark 4 for 50 mins, or until a skewer put into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Eat for afternoon tea at about 4 o'clock!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Praise for The Social Outcast


The Social Outcast is only my third novel and I still haven't got used to reading reviews, and accepting other people's opinions, about my books. That being the case I was delighted when the Red Roses for Authors Review said the following nice things about it.

Soliman has created a delightful character in Eloise Hamilton. The illegitimate daughter of a wealthy banker, Eloise has accepted that she can never marry a man of high birth. Therefore, she will not allow herself to repine over the fact that the man she loves has become engaged to a woman she cannot like.

Eloise concentrates her love on her beloved horse and dog, treating Harry Benson-Smythe as simply the friend he has always been. She is at first flattered by the attention of a duke's son, who comes calling on her father, though she soon learns to dislike and distrust Lord Craven. He is in business with her father, but believes himself cheated and his pride leads him to a foolish attempt at revenge on Eloise's father. This places Eloise in a dangerous situation, from which she is extricated by Harry - but only with serious consequences.

Will Harry finally wake up to the fact that he is in love with the scamp who is forever in some scrape - and will Sir Henry Benson-Smythe accept a girl who is so far beneath them socially? Find out by reading this enchanting book! I enjoyed it and award five red roses.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lord of Scandal


My new Regency historical, Lord of Scandal, is out in US book shops on Friday and is also available from Amazon!

Synopsis

Ben Hawksmoor is dangerous to know, a celebrity in the Regency firmament, a friend of Prinny, the lover of the most notorious courtesan in London and an all round scoundrel whose only aim in life is to make money and make sure he never returns to the gutters from which he came.

Catherine Fenton is an heiress, a nabob's daughter whose only aim is to keep her unhappy family together and save her stepmother from disgrace.
When Ben and Catherine meet the sensual attraction between them is explosive. But when Ben compromises Catherine's reputation and thinks to force her into marriage he discovers that the nabob's daughter - and her fortune - will not fall into his arms without a fight.

Can a man…
Who has always believed that everything has a price...
Who wantonly seduces a debutante for revenge...
Who will never risk his heart...
Ever find true love? And does he deserve the one woman who can show him that some things in life are worth more than money?


Review

"Nicola Cornick knows her period well, and in it she pairs a handsome, dangerous lord, well known for his scandalous reputation, with an innocent but not quite malleable heiress. Readers wil relish this sensual and emotional love story and its unexpected climax." Romantic Times BookClub Magazine

To read an extract and to enter the special Lord of Scandal Prize Draw, please visit my website!

Nicola

Monday, May 21, 2007

Chemical peels, Regency style

Miracle face creams have been in the news a lot recently, with the Boots face cream selling out almost instantly, but what did women do in the Regency era in order to preserve their beauty? Surprisingly, their beauty treatments were much the same as ours, in style if not in composition.

In Persuasion, Sir Walter Elliot encouraged Mrs Clay to use Gowland's lotion. Gowlands lotion was a commercial preparation that contained mercuric chloride, so in fact it acted as a chemical peel. No wonder Sir Walter thought the ladies' complexions were 'fresher' after they'd used it!

Information courtesy of The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret Sullivan, editrix of Austenblog

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I have just got back from a wonderful weekend conference with the West Country Writers Association. I was born and brought up in Bristol, so I have very strong links with the West Country, and it is always great fun to go back and spend time in the area. This year's Congress was at Worcester, and took place at Fownes Hotel, which used to be a glove factory and has been beautifully converted into a very comfortable hotel. Worcester is probably stretching the West Country a little far north, but we were looked after very well and enjoyed a visit to the Cathedral and its library, where we were privileged to be able to look at some of their precious books and manuscripts. To see the beautiful script and ornate illumination in the medieval manuscripts was a real treat: as someone who loves Georgian history I particularly liked the first edition of Dr Johnson's Dixionary and a fascinating gardening book from the 1730's.

Of course the main purpose of the congress was to talk about writers and writing. Actor, director and writer George Baker gave the Christopher Fry Memorial Lecture. He had been a close friend and colleague of the dramatist and his talk was not only entertaining but very moving, too. Other luminaries of the West Country were on hand, including two speakers of especial interest to those of us interested in historical novels: Helen McCabe gave an insight into how she researches the historical figures that feature prominently in her books and John Wroughton described the pleasures of researching and publishing books on Bath that cover periods other than the well-documented Georgian and Roman periods.

Then there was plenty of time in the bar afterwards to discuss everything from literature to Landrovers. A fascinating weekend. As always I met up with old friends, made some new ones and came away refreshed and inspired. The West Country Writers Association is in the process of building a new website, so I am sure if you search for their name in a few weeks' time there will be plenty more information available.
Melinda Hammond

Monday, May 14, 2007

Covers - Lord Deverill's Secret

This has been an exciting year for me. Until recently my books only came out in the UK, but this year sees the release of four of my books in the US. Mr Darcy's Diary is already out, and the other three books will be out in the Autumn.



I've just seen the cover for the paperback of Lord Deverill's Secret, which is one of the three autumn releases. It will be out in November, published by Berkley.Cassandra appears to be in her town house in Bath, with the summer sun streaming in at the window. She has to sell the house, however, because her brother's death has left her with debts. Whilst clearing out the house she finds a disturbing letter, which her brother was prevented from posting by his sudden death, and the man who can answer her questions is Lord Deverill, who just happens to be devastatingly attractive and one of the most eligible bachelors in Brighton. It's available to preorder from Amazon now by clicking here






The hardback cover (left) forms a marked contrast to the paperback cover. It shows Cassandra outside the Pavilion in Brighton which, in 1804 when the book is set, looked more like an ordinary residence than the fantasy building it is today, as you can see from this illustration.

Cassandra's invitation to the Pavilion would have been a source of unalloyed pleasure were it not for one thing - someone was trying to kill her.






To celebrate the forthcoming release of the paperback, I thought I'd hold an impromptu competition. Just drop me an email by clicking here , letting me know which cover you prefer and why. I'll put all the names into a hat after the closing date of May 31st and pick a winner, who will receive a signed copy of the hardback of Lord Deverill's Secret.

And if you'd like a taster, you can read Chapter One by clicking here

Amanda Grange

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Fashion

Fashion collections are in the news at the moment, with Kate Moss's collection for Top Shop and Lily Allen's collection for New Look. But what would a late eighteenth century fashion collection have looked like?




After the French Revolution, evening dresses were in the new style. Out went heavy brocades and skirts so wide that women had to turn sideways to enter a room. In came simpler styles, with dresses being made of floaty material. They typically had short sleeves, high waists and low necklines. Feather headdresses were popular, and, to complete the ensemble, the fashionable woman would carry a fan.













Walking dresses also had the newly fashionable high waist, and were worn with pelisses (coats), hats and muffs.



Hats were one of a Georgian woman's passions. When hairstyles became less elaborate after the French Revolution, hats took over the role of decorative headware. They were usually large with tall plumes, but as the Grecian influence began to be felt, hats could also take the shape of helmets to match the new, toga-like gowns.























The changes in fashion had little influence on court dress, however. Hoops were still worn at court well into the nineteenth century.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Guest blogger of the month - Sarah Bower

We are delighted to welcome Sarah Bower to the blog as our guest blogger of the month. Sarah works as Literature Development Officer for Norfolk and teaches creative writing at the University of East Anglia. She was UK Editor of the Historical Novels Review for two years and remains a regular contributor.

As you might expect from Sarah's background, her first novel 'The Needle in the Blood', is absolutely steeped in the sights, sounds and smells of the middle ages. This is no wallpaper history but the real thing, full of the pleasures, horrors, obsessions and passions of the era - an eleventh century tale of sex, lies and embroidery.


And now, over to Sarah.


"Thank you!
The Bayeux Tapestry is so familiar to most of us we might almost think of it as our history's wallpaper. Yet how much to we actually know about it? Who had it made, and why? Who made it, how and where did they work? Why are its margins full of mythological beasts and rampant naked men, and who were Aelfgytha and her unnamed cleric? Nearly a thousand years after the event, it's unlikely we shall ever know the answers to such questions for sure, but in The Needle in the Blood, I have tried to imagine what they might be and how this great and unique work of art might have changed the lives of the people who brought it into being.

It's January 1067. Charismatic Bishop Odo of Bayeux commissions a wall hanging, on a scale never seen before, to celebrate his role in the conquest of Britain by his brother William, Duke of Normandy. What he cannot anticipate is how this will change his life even more than the invasion itself. His life becomes entangled with those of the women who embroider the hanging, especially that of Gytha, once a waiting woman to the mistress of the fallen Saxon king and Odo's sworn enemy. Against either of their intentions, they fall passionately in love, bringing Odo into conflict with his king and his God. Odo's friends mistrust Gytha's hold over him, and his enemies exploit it. Friends and family become enemies, enemies become lovers. Nothing in life or in the hanging is what it seems."


This is an area of history which is often overlooked in fiction, and anyone who loves unusual time periods, as well as authentic history, is going to love it! Reviewers certainly did.


'Truly compelling...vivid, intriguing and masterfully portrayed' Susan Fletcher, author of 'Eve Green', winner of the 2004 Whitbread First Novel Award

'The author is brilliant at evoking all the senses, from the stench of blood on the battlefield, the taste of someone’s perfumed skin, the rasp of a needle against the finger.' Sally Zigmond, 'The Historical Novels Review'

'The Bayeux Tapestry will never look the same again.' Patricia Duncker, author of 'Hallucinating Foucault'


To find out more, visit Sarah Bower's website by clicking here

You can buy it from bookshops in the UK - here are the useful details:

Book Title: 'The Needle in the Blood'
Publisher: Snowbooks www.snowbooks.com
Publication date: 1st May 2007
Paperback original RRP £7.99
ISBN: 9781905005390


Or of course you can buy The Needle in the Blood online at Amazon or your favourite online seller.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A DISSEMBLER OUT IN LARGE PRINT


I love the covers that Ulverscoft use for my Large Print books - they even got the hair colour correct for the heroine. The hero also has blond hair, so the male figure must be one of the other characters.
I went to speak at Norwich Writer's Circle last week and shared with them my experiences of being a writer, both good and bad. I even read out a couple of bad reviews just to show that being published has its down side. Of course I also read them a couple of brilliant reviews from another source for the same book.
It was a pleasure to meet with so many well informed people - it's much more fun to talk to a group of writers - when I spoke at a WI meeting they had one eye on the cakes and tea-urn all night!!
Don't forget all my books are available from Amazon and to borrow at any UK library.
I'm not sure if they are to be found in a library anywhere else in the world, but a recent review of 'The Mesalliance' told readers to buy it, or borrow it, and that was in the States.
Maybe someone could let me know?
Fenella Miller

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

New Loveday Publication



THE LOVEDAY REVENGE

Published in hardback by Headline
3rd May 2007

It is always a thrill to announce the publication of a new novel. THE LOVEDAY REVENGE is the eighth in the Loveday series and has been described as the most suspenseful and emotionally intensive.

Can this be the end of the Loveday family?
Wild blood courses through the Loveday veins, as romance and danger continue to colour their lives.
Blighted by a series of tragedies, the Loveday family is on the edge of ruin. It would seem these cruel events have been instigated by Harry Sawle – an evil and corrupt smuggler who has sworn to destroy them. If the family is to survive, the time has come for brothers Adam and St John to exact their revenge.
Meanwhile their stepbrother, Richard Allbright, returns from the war with France, with sinister consequences. And in Australia vengeance is also on Japhet Loveday’s mind. He must triumph over his adversaries or fail to achieve his dream of returning to England with pride and honour…



Reviews for the series

‘A fast-moving and exciting read’ Historical Novels Review

‘This sweeping saga has the lot: colour, intensity and pace’ Northern Echo

‘Rich in drama and passion, with the atmosphere and flavour of eighteenth-century Cornwall’ North Cornwall Advertiser

Read an extract on my website click here


Kate Tremayne




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