The copy of India Black will go to: Leya of Wandeca Reads
The copy of The Crimson Rooms will go to: Connie Jensen of Get It Written [updated, as the original winner snagged her own copy]
Please email me at sarah(at)readingthepast.com with your mailing addresses, and the books will be heading your way. Congratulations and enjoy!
Back in September I mentioned a survey of historical fiction readers undertaken by Jerome de Groot's third-year English students at the University of Manchester. I filled out their form, and some of you may have also. The students' essays are in and have been posted online. There were 116 responses, which covered demographic data, the reasons why people read historical novels, and whether historical accuracy was necessary. Some students also interviewed readers and authors to see whether they agreed with the majority opinions. Check out their reports for insight into historical fiction fans' reading habits. Most of the respondents were "middle-aged women," that is, women over 40. I confess I never thought of myself as fitting this label until now, so pardon me while I go crawl under a rock.
This next bit is apropos of nothing, other than I thought it was pretty cool. I spent the better part of today on reference desk duty at the library, though because I had an enormous headache, few of the projects I'd planned got done. Having gone through my Google Reader feeds, I started catching up with my genealogy research, combing through relevant documents on Rootsweb and Google to see if anything new came up.
Was I ever surprised to discover that one of my female ancestors, ten generations back, kept a diary. Her name was Zerviah (Sanger) Chapman, born in Woodstock, Connecticut in 1718. She gave birth to 21 children, nearly half of whom died young, and lived to be 93. A random Google search for her name revealed that she wrote short daily entries in a book between 1775 and 1784, when she was in her fifties and sixties. She recorded household matters (the time she spent weaving, the meals she prepared, whether she attended meeting), the births of grandchildren and neighbors, and news about the Revolutionary War. One accompanying letter she wrote warns the recipient about one family who was apparently to blame for falsely accusing her husband Stephen of forgery in Newport, Nova Scotia, a planters' colony established by Rhode Islanders after the Acadians were forced to leave. Stephen died in Nova Scotia, and afterwards, Zerviah moved back to Warwick, RI, to live with her daughter's family.
The diary and letters now belong to the Rhode Island Historical Society in Providence; it's the earliest woman's diary in their manuscript collections. For me, it's history made personal. Next time I'm out East I plan to pay them a visit and read a part of my family's own past for myself.