Happy Valentine's Day! Over at Austen Authors we've been celebrating the whole weekend with lots of fun stuff - on Saturday I compiled excerpts from everyone's books - lovely romantic passages, of course - do have a look.
I am thrilled to bits with this review from Suite 101 I don't think if I'd written it myself I could have done it better-thank you so much, Jessica Hastings!
I've been over at Love, Romance, Passion talking about writing styles. Here's the interview I had with Keira.
And here's a guest blog from Read All Over Reviews - suitably romantic for today!
Thank you, Teresa, for inviting me to your blog to talk about my book, Mr. Darcy’s Secret, and as we are so close to Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be lovely to tell you about how some of my research was connected with the sending of flowers and love letters.
In Georgian times it was customary to send love letters and tokens, cards cut and pricked with a design to look like lace or flowers for Valentine’s Day. This was the age of the Romantic poet, and so poems were popular, they might be in the form of a riddle, such as the letter that Emma receives when Mr. Elton wishes to court her or an acrostic where the first letter of every line gives the lover’s name. Again, in Emma, Jane Austen has Frank Churchill send Jane Fairfax a very expensive valentine in the form of a pianoforte. Of course, she leaves us guessing from whom this gift has come, and I suppose that’s what makes valentines then and now, so much fun. Part of their charm is that we do not know always know the identity of the sender.
When I was writing Mr. Darcy’s Secret, I wished for Georgiana Darcy, Mr. Darcy’s sister, to receive such a gift. There are two gentlemen pursuing her, and though I wanted to give the scene an air of mystery, I also wanted her to guess which particular gentleman had sent the tussie mussie, (a country word for a bouquet). Flowers were often sent as love tokens in this time period and every flower had a special meaning, so that if you were a shy suitor you would let your lady know how you felt by sending a particular flower. I chose violets, partly because they are associated with faithfulness and modesty, but also because they are February’s flower. Georgiana’s suitor wants her to know that he is steadfast and will never forget her, and is also illustrating what he feels she represents as a lovely, modest young woman. Here’s a sneak peek from the scene. Georgiana’s maid has entered her room on a spring-like February day.
“Oh, Miss Darcy, look what we have here,” Mary said, as she returned to the bedside fussing about her charge, pummelling pillows and straightening the bedclothes. Georgiana sat up rubbing her eyes but smiling at the sight of Mary who looked most excited. “There’s no note with them, Miss,” she began, “but I expect these beauties are from Mr Calladine.”
A bunch of blue violets, their delicate heads nodding against the glossy green leaves that bound them were wrapped in waxed paper and tied with a purple ribbon. “That’s so romantic, Miss,” Mary continued. “My dear old mum says there’s hardly such a romantic flower for lovers. Faithfulness, I’ll always be true is what a violet says, and a bunch as big as this—he must have been up for hours picking them. Ooh, Miss Darcy, smell them! Just a moment, I’ll fetch a vase of water.”
Georgiana held the posy to her nose and breathed in the sweetest perfume redolent of the scents of woodland in early spring. Hugh Calladine could not be responsible for such a delightful gift, she thought. The only flowers she had received from him were a bunch of hothouse blooms forced from one of his greenhouses on the day after the announcement of their engagement. The only person who really understood flowers and would be aware of their symbolism and meaning was the only man who truly empathised with Georgiana, she knew, and, as she buried her nose deep into the tussie mussie, her happiness at the idea knew no bounds. To think of Tom wandering through the woods collecting the tiny flowers, to know that she must have been in his thoughts at such an early hour was to render her almost delirious with elation. But whilst the sense of euphoria was almost intoxicating, the antithesis of feelings in desolation and despondency soon took hold. Knowing that their love, however sweet, was forbidden and could never be gave rise to feelings of despair.
Have a fantastic Valentine's Day with those you love!
Just a reminder that the competitions for a signed copy of Mr. Darcy's Secret close today. Winners announced tomorrow!