Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shipboard Romance - and a Regency Continuity

Does anyone else wake up at 5am worrying about their characters? I'm working on a trilogy where the three books are linked by the wreck on the Isles of Scilly of an East Indiaman homeward-bound from Calcutta. The other morning, brooding on my heroine, I moved to the spare bedroom at so I could drink tea and mutter without disturbing my DH.

Still not getting anywhere, and restless, I got out of bed and looked at the bookcase.

There was a slim green volume with no dustjacket that I did not recognise: Sophie Cassmajor by Margery Sharp, published in 1934. I must have bought it second hand ages ago and never read it. When I opened it there was this enchanting sketch of a Regency lady leaning on a ship's rail. I dived back into bed and read avidly while my tea went cold.

Sophie - young, innocent and obedient - is on board ship - heading for India and an arranged marriage, just as the heroine on my second book was doing, but in the opposite direction. Her maid languishes from a broken heart, but Sophie, her emotions never touched by love, does not understand - until she meets one of the passengers, a handsome young man...

I won't give away any more of the plot of this beautifully written, atmospheric and enigmatic novella, although Sophie's story is still haunting me. I wish I could follow her to India and find out what happens to her. When I Googled Margery Sharp I discovered that she is the same person as the author of many children's books, including The Rescuers, as well as numerous novels for adults. The gorgeous drawings are by Anna Zinkeisen.

So now my East Indiaman has been wrecked and my cast of characters are - literally - all at sea and at the mercy of the fates and the Cornish rocks.

I should be writing but I am seriously distracted by the arrival of all eight volumes of the UK edition Regency Silk & Scandal, the continuity for which I wrote books one and seven (The Lord & the Wayward Lady and The Officer and the Proper Lady).

The Lord and the Wayward Lady is out in June and here is the full set, spine out, showing the lovely covers. The Uk edition is also special because each volume has additinal material from our researches - from the streets of fashionable Mayfair, to recipes for a Regency picnic on the eve of Waterloo to gypsy lore.

Louise Allen


A. said...

So, not a happy ending? :) The drawings were so prettily done that I immediately googled to find a copy. Thanks for leading me to Margery Sharp.

A from A + B in the Sea

Jan Jones said...

Lovely, lovely covers, Louise.

And Margery Sharp! What a find. I have just spent Far Too Much Time googling her.

Louise Allen said...

A - I don't want to create a spoiler because I hope everyone will want to read Sophie's story - but let's just say it isn't a RomCom

Jan - glad you like the covers: it really is a gorgeous edition with lots of extra goodies inside

sarah mallory said...

Darn it, Louise, now I will have to take even more time away from my writing to find out about Sophie!!! And how exciting to have a full set for the continuity - the covers look great, even spine out, and must look really super on the bookshelf!

Jane Odiwe said...

Gorgeous drawings!
The books look lovely too - congratulations!

Elizabeth Hawksley said...

I love Margery Sharp's novels. They are wittily observant and pereceptive, with a great variety of characters. 'The Nutmeg Tree', 'The Flowering Thorn' and 'Cluny Brown' are three of my favourite books.

I wish Persephone would re-publish them.

Julia Justiss said...

What a wonderful find at an unholy hour of the morning! The illustrations are truly beautiful; I hope you can use more of them in future blog posts.

The story sounds wonderful, too. Oh, dear...another author to search out.