Gifts Ideas for Book Lovers

It’s December and I’m in full shopping mode as I get ready for Christmas.

Shopping for the right gift for the right person is one of my favorite things to do. Luckily, many of my friends and family members are book lovers, so when I shop for them, it’s almost like shopping for myself!

So here are a few gift ideas I’ve got my eye on . . . maybe they’ll help you find the perfect gift for the book lover in your life, too. Just click on any of the images to learn more about each item.

Sorry, My Night is All Booked. Order it as a tee-shirt, sweatshirt, or comfy nightshirt.

 

Felted Wool Animal Bookmarks. Choose from six different animals, all avid book readers. Each one is about 3″ high.

Keep Calm and … oooooohh, a New Book! This tee-shirt comes in a nice variety of colors.

Bookmarks are for Quitters. Choose a coffee mug . . .

. . . or a shirt in a variety of styles and colors.

Stained glass hanging of books on a shelf. Wouldn’t this be a lovely addition to a favorite sunny window?

I wouldn’t mind at all if Santa brought me any of these gifts on Christmas morning (hint, hint); but in the meantime, I’m snagging some of them for my favorite book lovers. Happy shopping to you!

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Scenes from Cheapside

I’m working on a new story; it’s a variation on Pride and Prejudice that centers on the mayhem caused by Lydia’s elopement with Wickham.

Some of the scenes will take place in the London home of the Gardiners in Cheapside.

Since my memory and imagination are sparked by visual cues, I’ve collected quite a few images of Cheapside for inspiration. Today I’ll share some of those images with you..

A map of the City of London in 1799, bounded in red, bordering the River Thames.

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For orientation, Cheapside is located in the City of London (not to be confused with London. Yes, London and the City of London are two different places.).

A close-up view of the 1799 map showing Cheapside and Gracechurch streets (in rectangles). St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London are highlighted in circles.

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Cheapside is located in the heart of The City. For hundreds of years it’s been the country’s main center of commerce and trade. In fact, it gained its name from the old Saxon word Chepe, meaning market or bargain.

A 1911 postcard showing bustling Cheapside; Mansion House is the structure with columns on the left

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Street names like Poultry, Milk, Pudding, Ironmonger, Bread, and Shoemaker serve as reminders of the area’s old market origins.

The gateway to Cheapside as it appeared in 1903. Mansion House is the building with columns on the left. The road that angles off to the right is Cheapside, with the church spire of St. Mary-le-Bow.

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Geographically, Cheapside covers less than a mile but more tradesmen were packed into the length of this street than any other avenue in the City of London.

A view of Mansion House, residence of the Lord Mayor of London, as it appeared in 1837.

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Mr. Gardiner was engaged in trade in Cheapside, while his home was located on Gracechurch Street. The Gardiners lived within blocks of London Bridge on the east end of The City. I like to imagine they may have had a very good view of the Tower of London from their windows.

Cheapside, looking east down the street. The Church of St Mary-le-Bow is on the right. circa 1760.

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The Gardiner home would have been within walking distance of the center of England’s economic power.

The Bank of England (building on the right with columns) and Royal Exchange (on the left) as they appeared in 1907.

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Nearby was Mansion House (the residence of the Lord Mayor of London), the Bank of England, the Treasury, Custom House, and Royal Exchange.

The Bank of England, the Royal Exchange, and Mansion House by Nicholas-Toussaint Charlet.

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Beside great houses of commerce, Cheapside was famous for its retail establishments. Some of the best shopping to be had in Jane Austen’s time was in Cheapside.

A booksellers shop at No. 73 Cheapside, about 1790.

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From hat-makers to perfumeries, stationers to pianofortes, time-pieces to cottons and silks—the finest merchandise could be found in the warehouses and shops at Cheapside.

The London to Brighton Coach making a stop at Cheapside about 1830, by William Turner.

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Even on Gracechurch Street, where the Gardiners lived, shops and businesses of all sorts mingled with family homes.

The interior yard of the Spread Eagle Inn on Gracechurch street, about 1850.

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It’s no wonder, then, that merchants in Cheapside were extremely successful, and Mr. Gardiner was no exception.

The old Royal Exchange with the dome of St. Paul’s in the background, depicted in 1795 by Thomas Girtin. The Royal Exchange pictured burned down in 1838 but was rebuilt on the same site. It’s located on Threadneedle Street at the east end of Cheapside.

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Mr. Gardiner supported his family very well, indeed. Jane Austen described the Gardiners as well-bred and elegant. His income allowed him to host parties at the theater, while Mrs. Gardiner was free to squire Elizabeth, Sir William Lucas, and Maria Lucas through a day of shopping in London.

A 1930 photograph of the oldest house in Cheapside. Legend has it this building on the corner of Cheapside and Friday Street survived the Great Fire of 1666.

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Mr. Gardiner’s business was sound enough to allow him to take time off on a fairly regular basis. He and his family made frequent trips to visit the Bennets for as long as a week at a time.

View of The Monument from the south end of Gracechurch Street. Beydon The Monument is Fish Street Hill and old London Bridge. The church spire belongs to St. Magnus Martyr. The Monument was erected to commemorate the Great Fire of 1666.

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And in March 1812 the Gardiners invited Elizabeth to join them on a lengthy “pleasure tour” of the Lakes. In the end, unexpected business concerns forced Mr. Gardiner to postpone their travels until July of that year, but they still intended to spend a month touring Derbyshire.

Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet in the BBC miniseries looks over the countryside of the Peak District in Derbyshire.

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I have to admit Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner are two of my favorite Pride and Prejudice characters. Mr. Gardiner is an effective foil for his sister Mrs. Bennet, and Mrs. Gardiner is a loving and trusted confidante to the two eldest Bennet sisters, Jane and Elizabeth.

Joanna David and Tim Wylton as Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner in the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice

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I’m looking forward to writing about the Gardiners’ home in Cheapside and the many visitors they receive there. (Hint: one of their callers will be a very proud young man from Derbyshire.)

Stay tuned for more . . .

Classic Agatha Christie Murder and Mayhem

I love Agatha Christie mysteries, so I’m looking forward to watching Lifetime’s new version of “And Then There Were None.” The first episode airs tomorrow with Miranda Richardson, Sam Neill, Charles Dance, Anna Maxwell-Martin (who looks kind of creepy in the trailer), and the gorgeous Aiden Turner among the cast.

Not too long ago I saw the 1940’s version with Barry Fitzgerald in one of the lead roles, and enjoyed it; so I’m ready to be thoroughly entertained by this new, atmospheric version of the classic murder mystery.

imagesSo what do Agatha Christie murder mysteries have to do with Regency-era romance?

Absolutely nothing.

But every now and then we all need to cleanse our palates from the every-day stuff. Murder does that for me. A dose of poison and some mayhem give me a much-needed break from my usual world of excruciatingly proper manners and witty ballroom repartee. So I’m going to spend my Sunday evening watching to see how and when the first guest at dinner will fall. Judging from the trailer, there may even be a couple of made-you-jump moments.

But that’s Sunday. By the time I wake up on Monday morning, I’ll be refreshed and ready to type away at my next story of polite heroines and witty heroes.

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New Pinterest Board: The Brighton Pavilion

For the last few weeks I’ve been revising and editing my book Miss Hamilton’s Hero so it can be released as an e-book (it was originally published as a paperback by Zebra Books in 1999).

Original Front Cover 1997

The original 1997 cover for Miss Hamilton’s Hero.

As I was editing and rechecking facts, I was struck by how different my writing process is now. Back in the 1990s I used a big 3-ring binder to capture all my notes and research. I kept a photo album from my trip to England open on my desk so I could constantly flip through my photos of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton. And when I imagined how Rosemount (the hero’s estate) would look, I used … well, my imagination, because at the time I didn’t have an actual photo of an English manor house constructed of rose-colored stone.

Stables at Royal Pavilion by John Nash

Even the stables at the Royal Pavilion were magnificent, as seen in this illustration by John Nash.

What a difference sixteen years make! Today I use Scrivener to organize my writing and research, and Pinterest is my one-stop resource for finding and saving photos of the Royal Pavilion at Brighton. I also used Pinterest to save images of Aston Hall in Birmingham, England, which perfectly matches the way I imagined Rosemount would look.

Aston Hall from Pictures of England dot com

Aston Hall from Pinterest.

You’re invited to stop by and view my inspiration board. I hope you enjoy it! Just click here to visit Pinterest and see all the images that inspired me and fired my imagination.

Miss Hamilton’s Hero will be released on Amazon Kindle in late February 2016.

When Miss Penelope Hamilton is sent to live with her grandmother, the fashionable Mrs. Kendrick, Pen’s carriage is held up by the most wanted highwayman in all of England. But that’s just the beginning of adventure for Pen, for she soon discovers that Mrs. Kendrick’s magnificent estate is not what it seems…and neither is her serious and handsome step-son, Owen. For Owen is keeping a secret that will soon impact Pen and her grandmother, unless Pen can find a way to earn Owen’s trust … and win his heart in the process.

 

A Mothers’ Day Story

Sunday is Mother’s Day and I’m already wishing I could spend the day with my mother. In fact, I’d settle for spending just an hour or two with her; but since she’s living three states away, we both know that my wish won’t come true . . . not this year, at least.

Cover_Sweet Companion 2015 resizedEven though we can’t be together, my thoughts are already with her. Mother’s Day is a commemoration that seems to bring out the best in people. It’s a day to dwell on family, appreciation for possibly the toughest job in the world, and celebrating the one person you can always rely on to love you no matter what.

A few years ago I wrote a Mother’s Day story called Sweet Companion (set during the Regency Period, of course!) about a son who learns to appreciate his mother a little more, thanks to an interfering young lady.

Sweet Companion is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. Click a link below to read the story on your favorite device.

iBookstore     Nook button     Amazon Kindle

Jane Austen on the £10 Bank Note

The Bank of England announced that Jane Austen’s image will appear on the new £10 bank note.

Bank of England Jane Austen 10 Pound Note

The new bank note featuring the beloved author of Pride and Prejudice will probably start appearing in 2017.

In addition to Jane Austen’s image, the bank note’s planned design includes:

  • A quote from Pride and Prejudice – “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”
  • An illustration of Elizabeth Bennet, one of the characters in Pride and Prejudice
  • An image of Godmersham Park in Kent – the home of Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight, and the inspiration for a number of novels
  • A central background design of the author’s writing table which she used at home at Chawton Cottage in Hampshire

Click here to read about the announcement and the public campaign that influenced the Bank of England’s decision.