Monday, September 22, 2008

An interview with Andromeda Romano-Lax

Andromeda Romano-Lax's The Spanish Bow depicts, through the personal stories of two musicians, the complex, fraught relationship between politics and the arts over half a century of Spanish history. In 1898, when five-year-old Feliu Delargo chooses a cello bow from among the belongings of his late father, his life's path is set. His musical talent propels him from the small Catalan village of Campo Seco to Barcelona, where anarchist sentiments are in full swing, and later to the royal court in Madrid, where he becomes a favored musician of the queen.

Feliu forms a professional partnership with Justo Al-Cerraz, a flamboyant Spanish pianist who becomes his good friend and occasional rival. As they go on tour throughout Europe, their brilliant performances and associated fame bring them into the company of numerous famous names, from Pablo Picasso, Kurt Weill, and Manuel de Falla to Francisco Franco and Adolf Hitler. Their lives also become intertwined with that of Aviva, an Italian-Jewish violinist with a heartbreaking personal history.

A travel writer and serious amateur cellist, Andromeda writes in her Author's Note that she conceptualized this novel in the wake of 9/11, partly as a way of addressing the question on the value of art during difficult times. In this time of political strife, as artists of all types are motivated to make their political stances known (and weigh whether to do so at all), the themes of The Spanish Bow resonated strongly with me, and I expect others will feel the same. I enjoyed this absorbing, thought-provoking novel immensely and highly recommend it.

The Spanish Bow is newly out in paperback (Harcourt, $15.00, 560pp, ISBN 978-0156034098). The author's website is, and her blog touches on the topics of writing, reading, publishing, and politics from the viewpoint of an Alaska-based writer.

What made you decide to write a large-scale epic, one spanning over fifty years of Spanish history, as opposed to focusing on a single historical event?

Naivete, what else? But seriously, I always knew it would cover the lifespan of the main character, Feliu, beginning in 1898, when the Spanish Empire was crumbling, until at least the 1930s. The first image that came to mind was the image of an innocent boy running through the streets of his Catalan village, and the first voice was the melancholic voice of the elder narrator; I knew the story would bridge the two and contain the story of a musician’s life as well as a country’s passage through sometimes beautiful, often difficult times.

There's a theme running through the novel about the myth vs. the truth about Spanish history and culture (or cultures, I should say). For example, critics abroad ironically complain that Al-Cerraz's music and performances aren't "Spanish enough." Also, during his and Feliu's visit to Granada, he's disappointed to learn from Manuel de Falla that his Andalucian-influenced "Nights in the Gardens of Spain" was inspired by a brochure he read while in Paris. Was this one of your own goals in writing, to bring the real Spain and its history alive for those who don't know it, or who might have the wrong impression about it?

Thank you for pointing out what many reviewers missed, this thread about the stereotyping of Spanish culture and the impossibility of defining a single Spain. I wanted to help the reader unravel the images of “sunny Spain,” the Carmen-opera stereotypes (Carmen being written by a Frenchman, Bizet) and many other ironies and absurdities.

The cellist, Feliu (who is Catalan), is a small, somber man from a proud region that had a long history before a unified Spain existed. His friend and rival, the pianist Al-Cerraz, may be closer to what Americans expect of a Spaniard, being passionate and loud and funny. But he is also cursed by Spanish typecasting, and burdened by a commission to write an opera based on Don Quixote. In the end, Al-Cerraz succeeds as a composer by embracing the diversity of sounds and themes he has absorbed in his travels.

There is a lot more that could be said here, including the fact that the Spanish Queen in the novel, Queen Ena, is actually British-born, which doesn’t help her in winning the hearts of her people. Most of the characters in my novel aren’t “Spanish enough,” in one way or another. Among the Spanish Civil War’s many causes was the confusion Spaniards felt in their search for a strong national identity after their empire crumpled.

What were some interesting or surprising things you discovered during the research process?

Queen Ena’s story was one. She was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and she married King Alfonso XIII, an immature, playboy king who did little to stop Spain’s slide into chaos. The Queen Ena portrayed in the book (based on what I learned about her) is a sympathetic, stoic figure. I compare her to the sounding post (a wooden rod you find in a cello or violin): “Everything else could move, could vibrate, because she stayed in place.” In the novel, Feliu becomes her private musician, the one person who is allowed to glimpse her passions and her vulnerabilities.

Out of all the historical characters who make appearances - Queen Ena, Picasso, Kurt Weill, Franco, and others - who did you enjoy writing about the most?

I’ve mentioned Ena already, so let me say that I also had fun with some episodes involving Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, who in the novel (as in life) put on a strange little German opera called “Der Jasager,” or “The Yea-Sayer.” It was a “teaching play” that toured German schools in the 1930s, with a story that was meant to make a very particular and somewhat confusing political point. When that point was misunderstood, there was talk of putting on a parallel production, “The Nay-Sayer,” to make the point more clear.

In the novel, I poke gentle fun at this idea of using music or art for such direct propagandistic ends, even though Weill and Brecht had the best of intentions. I think many readers probably thought I made up this minor storyline, but it was based strongly in fact and says quite a bit, I think, about how musicians and artists scrambled to come up with ways to fight Nazi ideology.

Although I'm not a musician, one of the aspects I appreciated most about The Spanish Bow was the vivid imagery with which you describe both listening to music and playing an instrument. The exuberance of the characters' performances come through; I especially enjoyed the scene in which Justo/El Nene and his trio perform at the young Feliu's school. Did you find it to be a challenge to write a novel about classical musicians that could appeal to all types of readers, regardless of their musical training?

There was always the danger of explaining too much or too little, of course. Throughout the novel, I describe music through Feliu’s sensibilities, so when he is a young boy, he can only compare the sound of the cello to things he knows, like tart lemons or bitter chocolate. Later, he can talk more knowledgably about techniques, composers, and so on.

But of course, all writers worry about whether they get things “right.” One happy moment for me was when a pianist who had just finished reading my book said, “How did you know?” She was referring not to how I described music in a technical sense, but how I captured the anxieties that professional musicians feel. Those emotions interested me the most.

In one scene, after observing American tourists' reaction to Picasso's Guernica, followed by his playing of Bach, Feliu concludes that visual art and music both have the power to influence public opinion, but in different ways. Do you feel that, at the time, musicians bore a different type of burden than other artists?

No, I think they all had the same burden. Artists had to decide whether their visual art would have political imagery that might send a particular message. (Picasso resisted this at first, then embraced it with his painting, Guernica.) Musicians, even if they played politically neutral music (if there is such a thing – actually, most music has a national character of some kind), still had to decide whom they played for. It just so happens that many dictators of the 1930s really loved the arts (can we imagine this now?) and wanted specific composers and musicians to play for them personally.

You've written that the character of Feliu was loosely based on Spanish cellist Pablo Casals, and Justo Al-Cerraz on pianist/composer Isaac Albéniz. Was there a similar historical inspiration for Aviva?

Aviva is a completely imaginary character, though one thing about her is based on fact: the idea that she did not want to leave Germany in the 1930s because, for a time, it was a very competitive and rewarding place for Jewish musicians to be, and if you left your German job you might not get it back. Even as the Nazis were gaining power, Jewish musicians were moving to Germany to take advantage of the opportunities there, and Nazi propagandists were delighting in showing them off, as proof of their own tolerance (a temporary tolerance, of course). It’s a frightening thought.

Spanish settings are seeing a renaissance in historical fiction now, but when The Spanish Bow was first published last year, they weren't quite so common. When you were trying to get published, how did agents and editors initially react to the setting and scope of your novel? Do you have a feel for why other writers might be turning to Spain for inspiration at this point in time, and why publishers are following suit?

I’ll make a few guesses. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón was published before The Spanish Bow, and that may have helped. But more significantly, I think this is just the right time to take a look at Spanish history, which was veiled until recently by a national desire to forgive and forget the bloody, fascist past. Franco outlived all the other European dictators, and cast a long shadow. I don’t think Spaniards have had the same national reckoning that countries like Germany had, post-Hitler.

Having said all that, I think my publisher was less interested in the specific setting than in the book’s emotional arc, and its celebration of music and art during difficult times. I personally hope that readers interpret it as a story with modern relevance, almost eerily so. Struggling, confused countries – especially ones losing international power or embroiled in unpopular wars – often resemble each other, regardless of the time period. And people everywhere face the difficult choice of whether to face or hide from the turmoil around them.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Roundup of various things

It's been a quiet Sunday in central Illinois - Ike has come and gone, scattering leaves and branches all over the front yard and splitting two more of our trees in half. There's nothing else really significant to report here, though I figured it was time I posted some more deals and other news.

Occasionally I get comments on older posts. Recently, someone left a comment on my review of Diana Norman's Fitzempress' Law (from 11/06) asking about the meaning of the book's last line. I gave it a shot, but if you've read the novel and have a better answer, please reply at the end of the earlier post. I'm amused that when you google for Diana Norman, that review comes up #2, even before Wikipedia. Per my blog stats, there are an awful lot of people looking for reviews of her books.

Also, my post about novelist Alice Borchardt seems to have become a virtual guest book for some of her fans, who hadn't heard of her passing.

Fountain City Publishing will be reissuing nine classic historical novels by Lawrence Schoonover, beginning with The Queen's Cross, a novel about Isabella of Castile (out this month). Publisher George Scott is Schoonover’s great-nephew.

The Jewel of Medina, to be published next month in the US by Beaufort Books, has an official website. Not much is there yet.

And three recent historical novel deals, as reported by Publishers Marketplace. My comments in brackets.

Brandy Purdy's VENGEANCE: A NOVEL OF JANE BOLEYN, the fictional retelling of the Boleyn saga by Jane, the other, "other Boleyn girl," as she sits in the Tower of London awaiting her execution at the command of Henry VIII for her jealousy-driven betrayal against family and country, to John Scognamiglio at Kensington, in a nice deal, by Nicholas Croce at The Croce Agency (World). [Previously published by iUniverse as Vengeance is Mine.]

Tracy Barrett's KING OF ITHAKA, the events of Homer's Odyssey as seen from the perspective of Telemachos, who, with his two best friends - one of whom is a centaur - undertakes a quest to find his father Odysseus and, in the process, moves from indolent, privileged youth to the beginnings of responsible adulthood, to Reka Simonsen at Holt, in a nice deal, by Laura Rennert at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (World).

Cecelia Holland's THE SECRET HISTORY OF ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE, the intriguing and sensual life of one of history's most fascinating queens, to Susan Allison at Berkley, for publication in Spring 2010, in a two-book deal, by Susanna Einstein at LJK Literary Management (NA). [Wow. The choice of subject took me by surprise, and with the switch to a new publisher, this means we'll be seeing her books in stores once again. All good.]

Friday, September 12, 2008

And the giveaway winners are...

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon, Laura from Alabama, and Gwendolyn from Rhode Island!

Drop me an email with your mailing addresses if you haven't already sent them in, and I'll send the information off to Christine. Hope you enjoy the books and goodies. Thanks to everyone who entered the contest!

Monday, September 08, 2008

An interview with Christine Blevins

I'm pleased to present this interview with debut historical novelist Christine Blevins. We have a giveaway this time, too; more details at the end of the post.

Christine Blevins's Midwife of the Blue Ridge follows Maggie Duncan, a midwife and healer, from her youth and apprenticeship in the Scottish Highlands through her adventures in the American colonies. In 1763, shortly after the ship carrying Maggie and her fellow immigrants arrives in Richmond, Virginia, she becomes the indentured servant of Seth Martin, a backwoodsman living with his family at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Seth sorely needs her assistance in caring for his pregnant wife, Naomi, whose health is fragile.

Maggie's journey brings her into contact with people from many different backgrounds: Palatine Protestant immigrants, native Virginians, Shawnee Indians, African American slaves, and a nasty English nobleman, among others. As Maggie struggles to survive in the dangerous, primitive land she now calls home, her growing romance with rugged longhunter Tom Roberts is complicated by his reluctance to settle down. One of the aspects I enjoyed most about Midwife was how it conveyed the precariousness and occasional brutality of life on the frontier. Although it's not a military novel, the shadow of war – the recent French and Indian War in the colonies, and the Battle of Culloden years earlier in Scotland – informs all of the characters' experiences.

Readers of this blog know how much I enjoy colonial American settings, so I couldn't resist asking Christine if she'd like to do an interview. Midwife of the Blue Ridge was published in paperback this August by Berkley ($14.00, 414pp, 978-0-425-22168-6). Her website is

The novel has Maggie set out with her new master from Richmond over a seven days' journey to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and I'm wondering where, approximately, that would be on one of today's maps. Is Roundabout Station based on a real-life fort of the time?

I imagined the station was around or about where the present day town of Wytheville, Virginia, is located. Roundabout Station is a fictional fort, but it is based on typical frontier forts in structure and use.

On your website, you mention that Tom Roberts was inspired by two of your husband's ancestors who were longhunters on the Blue Ridge. How did you go about researching them, and him?

When my husband Brian and I were researching the Blevins line – trying to find the first Blevins who came over the water – we proceeding in the standard way of finding birth, marriage and death records. Of course the farther back you go, the trickier it gets – especially once you venture into places and times without formal government structure or established churches, and we ended up getting stuck six generations back, with Elisha Blevins, born in Virginia colony, 1752.

While researching census records at the Newberry Library here in Chicago, we stumbled upon mentions of Jack and William Blevins in a few history texts. Jack and William were a father and son team of hunters, who were among the first white men to venture through the Cumberland Gap. Though we were never able to solidly connect our Elisha Blevins with these two longhunting Blevi, genealogically, I became intrigued by and connected to this time and place in colonial American history that I did not know much about.

In further research on the longhunter lifestyle, I was captivated by a memoir originally published in 1799 titled An Account of the Remarkable Occurrences in the Life and Travels of Col. James Smith During his Captivity with the Indians, and by a lot of the biographical information on Daniel Boone (the most famous longhunter). The Tom Roberts character ended up being a composite of William Blevins, James Smith and Daniel Boone.

How did you develop Maggie's character? For example, why did you decide to make her an indentured servant from the Scottish Highlands?

As I researched the longhunters, I learned Will Blevins had a sister named Susannah, who was married to a longhunter named Elisha Walden. A longhunter might be gone for a year, sometimes two years at a time, and I began to imagine what it must have been like for a woman like Susannah Blevins, left alone with children and a farm to tend, out in the middle of nowhere. The longhunters drew me onto the frontier, but their women kept me there.

In order to be able to cultivate the love story I had in mind, my female character needed to be a single woman, living out on the frontier – which limited me to a frontiersman’s daughter, widow, or servant. For me it was an easy choice – an indentured servant is by definition a most desperate character, and the stuff of good fiction.

Making Maggie an immigrant was also a way for me to insert a bit of my own family history into the story. As a first generation American, I have an understanding of the forces that move people to migrate over great distances – war, poverty, persecution – and I know living through the horror of war, losing family, disconnecting from the familiar and traveling into uncertainty – these things build independence, strength and determination, qualities Maggie needed to survive.

As for Maggie Duncan coming from Scotland – that happened to fit the immigration pattern for the time, and also my penchant for things Scottish. My husband calls me a wannabe WASP.

Given the subjects of Midwife and the forthcoming The Tory Widow, do you have a special interest in women's lives in American history?

I have a special interest in both men’s and women’s lives in history, which is why I love to read historical fiction, set in most any time and place. My strong affinity for American history was developed through childhood – a quest to find American roots of my own. I find knowing and understanding America’s past connects me to my country.

And I guess because I am a woman, I more drawn to the lives of women – especially average women – a frontier wife like Susannah Blevins, or a printer’s widow who carries on with business during the Revolution – the kind of women whose stories tend to get lost in history.

What is it about life on the early American frontier that attracts you?

The adventure and desperation of living on the edge.

The novel takes place in a few different settings: Scotland, a backwoods settlement in Virginia, a stockade fort, and a Shawnee village. Which locales (or scenes) did you find the most enjoyable to research? The most challenging?

I find the research is always enjoyable – but I would say researching the information to write the Shawnee portion of the story was the most challenging.

I expect readers will absorb a lot about frontier medicine from Maggie's experiences as healer. Did you have interest or expertise in herbalism before beginning your novel?

No, I didn’t have any special expertise, or interest in herbalism until I decided to make Maggie a midwife. 18th century midwives were akin to physicians, especially on the frontier, where doctors were few and far between. These women were called upon to do much more than deliver babies – they were vital members of the community. Once I dove in, I was hooked – herbal birth control, painkillers, anesthesia – dealing with fevers and infection before the advent of antibiotics –surgical methods – it became a challenge to fit it all into the story.

The characters' backgrounds are readily identifiable by their speech patterns and vocabulary. (For example, I hear "warsh" for "wash" often in downstate Illinois, too.) How difficult was it to re-create their dialects on the page?

The dialects and speech patterns kind of sprout up from each individual character, based on his or her back story. I do read a lot of letters, narratives, poetry, and song lyrics, from the time, which helps me to get a certain rhythm. Maybe being bilingual and growing up around people with accents helps me in determining the speech patterns – I don’t know. I will not claim to have re-created how an 18th century Scotsman or Virginian actually spoke – but I did my best to convey the differences in backgrounds. In truth, if I wanted to be historically accurate, Maggie should have been a Gaelic speaker with little or no English, but I was afraid her having to learn English would bog the pace of the story, so I used a little literary license in that instance.

Midwife of the Blue Ridge contains many vivid descriptions of day-to-day life on the American frontier; all of the little details gave me a good mental picture of what the characters were seeing and experiencing. Do you feel that your background as a graphic designer influences your writing in this respect?

I think the ability to visualize helps me as much in graphic design as it does in my writing.

What other historical novels are your favorites? Are there any authors whose work you admire above others?

Oy, this question is so difficult… A very brief listing:

As a kid, some of my favorite books were the Little House series, and books by Louisa May Alcott. I graduated to Bronte, Dickens, Dumas and Sabatini. Fraser’s Flashman books are fun and Clavell’s Shogun is a huge all-time favorite of mine.

To include some authors who are still among the living, I can say I very much enjoy and admire the writing and storytelling in Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd, The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman, The First Man in Rome, by Colleen McCullough, The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Steven Saylor’s mystery series featuring Gordianus the Finder, and I love Bernard Cornwell’s work, especially the Arthur Trilogy, and the Starbuck Chronicles.

There are many, many more, but I don’t want to hog up your blog.

At the last HNS conference, several agents reported (to my regret!) that American settings don't sell, yet you've been successful with not only one but two novels fitting this description. What advice, if any, would you give other historical novelists interested in so-called unfashionable locales, either in early America or elsewhere?

I attended the conference having just signed my two-book deal with Berkley a few weeks before, and since the agent who made that pronouncement in her speech was the author of one of the rejection letters in my ginormous pile of agent rejection letters. I’ll admit to feeling a little smug at first.

But really, I so dislike these kinds of general and inaccurate statements. I know stories with British settings are doing quite well, but Water for Elephants, The 19th Wife, The Lace Reader, The Heretic’s Daughter – to name a few recently published examples – are proof that some editors are not only buying books with American settings, they are realizing great success as well.

Over the course of the HNS conference, I met quite a few writers disheartened by this agent’s pronouncement, and I was happy to be able to act as the poster child for American settings, and offer encouragement and hope. I can’t imagine writing to a trend – though I know people do – but since I feel the market will support great storytelling and strong writing, no matter the time, place or culture, the only advice I can give is this: write the story you have a passion for writing, and then find an agent who loves it and believes in it as much as you do. It’s not easy, but it is possible.

And from Sarah, again: Thanks, Christine, for taking the time to do this interview!

We also have a special giveaway contest. Christine will be providing signed copies of Midwife of the Blue Ridge, along with some related goodies, to three randomly selected blog readers. To enter, either leave a comment on this post, or email me at with "Midwife" as the subject. This contest is open to everyone regardless of location. Deadline is the end of the day this Thursday, Sept. 11th, with winners to be announced on Friday.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Reviews of obscure books:
Brigid Knight's The Cloister and the Citadel

Knight, Brigid. The Cloister and the Citadel. London: Hutchinson, 1958. 236pp. Hardbound.

Charlotte de Bourbon’s short, dramatic life seems ideally suited to fiction. A French princess pledged to the convent from childhood, she became a reluctant abbess at age twelve, converted to Calvinism, fled to Germany, married a man who became a national hero, bore him six daughters in seven years, and died of exhaustion after nursing him back to health after a failed assassination attempt. So why has hardly anyone heard of her?

I picked up this book because I’ve enjoyed some of the author’s previous novels about Dutch history, and because it was on a subject I knew next to nothing about. Brigid Knight is or was, I believe, a British novelist, the pseudonym of Kathleen Henrietta Eve Sinclair. During the mid-20th century, she wrote a collection of novels set at various points in the history of the Netherlands, from the time of the Reformation through the later years of its South African colony. The Cloister and the Citadel centers on a little-known Renaissance princess, Charlotte de Bourbon-Montpensier (abt. 1546-1582), and her marriage to William “the Silent,” Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau. Known today as the founding father of the modern Netherlands, William had the dubious distinction of being the first head of state to be assassinated by a handgun, an event recounted in Lisa Jardine’s The Awful End of Prince William the Silent (2006). Through their eldest daughter, Louise Juliana of Nassau, Charlotte and William became the great-grandparents of Sophia, Electress of Hanover, mother of George I of England and ancestress of the British royal family.

Charlotte was the daughter of Louis de Bourbon, Duc de Montpensier, and Jacqueline de Longvic (Longwy). I’ve been trying to determine Charlotte’s exact relationship to the French monarchs of her era, though haven’t yet found a family tree that shows the complete Bourbon genealogy. Knight’s version of her life story begins in 1559, when twelve-year-old Charlotte, raised in the convent since infancy, is forced by her parents to become Abbess of Jouarre after the death of its previous abbess, her aunt Louise. Denied a dowry and seeing no other choice, Charlotte accepts the formal ring of office, despite her insistence that she has no vocation. Still, she holds back from taking formal vows. Thus begins the most fascinating part of the novel. Charlotte successfully governs her flock, despite her reluctance to play the role of abbess. Many times she attempts to obtain a dispensation to release her from the convent, though they all fail. Over time, she comes to accept Calvinist doctrine as the one true religion, which leads to her boldest act. At age eighteen, after considerable planning to ensure her safety and that of her flock, she flees Jouarre for Heidelberg, where she takes sanctuary with Frederick, Elector Palatine, and his wife. It’s in Germany where she meets William of Orange and becomes his third wife. This creates an enormous scandal not only because of Charlotte’s status as a “runaway nun,” but because of William’s own marital woes. His second wife, Anna of Saxony, is a mentally unstable woman who had an extramarital liaison and illegitimate child with Jan Rubens, her lawyer. (After his release from prison, Rubens returned to his faithful wife, which resulted in the birth of Peter Paul Rubens.) William’s marriage to Anna is soon annulled, a fact that Anna’s relatives refuse to accept.

The novel proceeds in measured fashion, recounting Charlotte and William’s brief courtship, their long separations while he leads the Dutch uprising against the Spanish, his negotiations with France in support of his goal, and the births of their six daughters. Although we never see any military action firsthand, Knight goes into considerable detail on the historical backdrop, such as the growing Huguenot influence in France, the Sea Beggars’ raids against Spanish squadrons along the Dutch coast, and William’s dogged pursuit of a united Netherlands. Many Renaissance-era notables play significant roles, from Jeanne of Navarre, a confidante and mother figure for Charlotte in matters of religion, to Catherine de Medici, Queen Mother of France, whose respect Charlotte earns after she stands up to her parents. Knight is particularly good at explaining the complex relationships between France, the Netherlands, and their respective leaders. She drifts back and forth from fiction to nonfiction and back again, sometimes relating typical scenes with characters and dialogue, other times recounting the history straightforwardly. She shifts from close third person to omniscient viewpoint with increasing regularity as the novel continues, though occasionally swoops back in to recount emotional scenes more intimately. Some of the characters' actual letters, in English translation, are reproduced verbatim, in a way that enhances their fictional personalities. Per the author's notes, the archives at l’Abbaye de Jouarre proved a gold mine in terms of primary research sources.

Despite the odd stylistic changes, the strangest thing about it is how readable the novel is anyway, and I credit the history itself for that. Although Charlotte and William’s relationship is highly romanticized, and their personalities grow steadily more idealized, I can’t say I was ever bored. Their personal and political stories are gripping in themselves. To readers today, its style may seem old-fashioned, but I came away from it enlightened about a historical period underutilized in fiction, and in nonfiction for that matter.

For more reviews in the "obscure books" series, click on the tag below.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

An interesting UPS delivery

No, this isn't directly book-related, but...

I keep a large bin by the front door for UPS and FedEx to leave packages in. It's used mostly for review book shipments. This morning, two of the neighborhood kittens decided to use it as a napping place.

And that's our cat Callie, peeking out the front door at them, looking very annoyed and jealous.