Summer Solstice – Nothing New Under the Sun

Summer Solstice resized

Enter summer

in ladies slippers

to walk through clover;

dressed in being

with tortoiseshell adornment

and sighing

all the fashion –






Scarlet Pimpernel Page 30its blush lasting

only as long as the day.


 

Some of you might remember – this is a re-post. Nothing new under the sun, except as everything is.

If this post drew you over here, please check out some of my previous ones.

Including the last one that offers a chance to win a copy of my new novel and sequel to A House Near Luccoli, To A Strange Somewhere Fled – all you need to do is go over to either of my guest posts at Unusual Historicals (Excerpt Thursday or today, Sunday’s Interview), leave a comment with your email address. What have you got to lose?

Here’s an Summer Solstice appropriate excerpt from To A Strange Somewhere Fled:

On the day of midsummer’s eve the Great Hall gleamed with polish and high sunlight, its woolen rugs taken up and flagstones scrubbed, regal-red upholstered chairs borrowed from Broughton Castle arranged in two short-rowed sections separated by an aisle not quite wide enough for layers of skirts. The fireplace was filled with a display of larkspur, lilies, gilliflowers, ferns, and branching honeysuckle picked and presented by Tobias, and arranged by Lidia under his fussy direction. Tobias also brought sweet peas from “his most successful crop ever” to make nosegays for the ladies while single blooms would suffice for the gentlemen and their buttonholes. The flowers were kept fresh by being kept cold along with the sorbet made possible because of the ice-house Roger had been experimenting with.

The dais at the north end was designated for the music of friends. Roger worried over the personalities that would perform, a program created that listed them in alphabetical order except Master Purcell was acknowledged first to perform last. The chairs and music stands were set up with the expectation they would be moved around to accommodate one complaint or other. Donatella tried to reassure Roger that musicians would always reconcile for the sake of the music, as she had seen Alessandro and Lonati do.

“This is a little madness, don’t you think?” Roger had been full of ideas for the concert, including a bonfire for the villagers behind the Abbey with a table set out on the terrace for sweetmeats and cider.

Happy Solstice
Summer or Winter!

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

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Be our Guest

I’m a guest at two separate sites in the blogosphere this week.

 

Illustration for Kindle Short Story: The Library Next Door

Illustration for Kindle Short Story: The Library Next Door

 

First is an interview I did with Marina Julia Neary, “America’s most Irish author to come out of Eastern Europe”. Certainly, and not surprisingly, her questions were out-of-the box and challenged me, so this interview is quite different from any I’ve done before. Here are Marina’s five questions:

What appeals to me about your work is your determination to draw attention to forgotten figures from the past. In his day, Alessandro Stradella, the heartthrob of your debut novel A House Near Luccoli, used to be something of a rock star in his day, a star that got prematurely extinguished.  How many people outside of the classical music circle know about him?

Let’s talk about the Anglo-Italian connections.  The English have always been fascinated by Italy.  Forester had set several of his novels in Italy – A Room with a View and Where Angels Fear to Tread. In your second novel, To a Strange Somewhere Fled, you actually have an Italian protagonist going to England.  On the surface it seems like the two cultures are diametrically opposite. When you think of England, you think of bland colorless boiled food and vitamin D deprived people.

Your maternal grandmother was a concert pianist in Chicago during the 1920s. What an exciting era to be in the performing arts, especially in a city like Chicago! Tell me a little bit about her repertoire. 1920s was a very turbulent time all over the world. Did the external environment affect your grandmother’s performance style?  

I am feeling uneasy about asking this question, but how much of yourself is there in Donatella?  I’m not implying that she is 100% autobiographical, but she is so well-rounded and so meticulously crafted, I sense she is your psychological child.  Perhaps, she’s not your spiritual twin, but rather a literary child.

You have a gift for illustration.  In fact, you’ve illustrated some of your own literary works.  Tell me how your brain processes the multi-media.  Do you envision an image first, and then describe it with words, or do you start off with words and then translate them into images?

To read my answers to the above
– I hope you do! –
CLICK HERE

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Also, this week and weekend I’m being hosted at Unusual Historicals: “a handful of historical authors (who) brave the wilds of unusual settings and times to create distinctive, exciting novels just outside of the mainstream.”

Here is a chance to win a copy of To A Strange Somewhere Fled.


To enter to win, you MUST comment
and leave your email address
on my ‘Excerpt Thursday’ post at Unusual Historicals
OR
on my interview this coming Sunday 6/21 at Unusual Historicals


Commenting on this bardessdmdenton post will not make you eligible,
BUT, of course, your thoughts are very welcome here
(in fact I’m feeling comment deprived of late)
 

For Except Thursday, featuring an excerpt from Chapter Three of To A Strange Somewhere Fled.

On Sunday, more details about the story behind the story will be offered in an interview.  Here are the questions I will be answering:

How would you describe your writing style?

Who designed the covers of your books?

Is there an underrepresented group or idea that is featured in your books?

How do you approach developing the world of a historical novel fully in your mind?

Did your research for both or either of your novels yield any surprises in terms of historical events or illuminate a character in a particular way?

Why did you decide to write a sequel to A House Near Luccoli, why did you set it in England, and does To A Strange Somewhere Fled end the ‘series’?

What writing projects are you presently working on?

Unusual Historicals Blog Image resized

 

Thank you to all who visit here

and support my efforts

at writing and illustrating!

 

 

Copyright 2015 by DM Denton & JM DiGiacomo

Copyright 2015 by DM Denton & JM DiGiacomo

Returning to a First View of Wroxton

Excerpt from Historical Perspectives of To A Strange Somewhere Fled

The Setting

Old Photo Village of Wroxton

Old photo of the Main Street and duck pond of Wroxton village

I hardly expected my 17th century Genoese journey through the writing of A House Near Luccoli to direct me back to Oxfordshire, England where I lived from 1974 to 1990. Then I began to consider a sequel that would require a destination for Donatella beyond Genoa. Her flight from grief returned me to a first view of “Wroces Stan” – old English meaning buzzards’ stone – a village mentioned in the Doomsday book grown out of ancient crossroads, valley slopes, ochre stone, straw thatch, Augustinian principals, and aristocratic privilege.

Where is Wroxton? Click here!

It was a place small enough to comfort and stately enough to unsettle, reclusive and inviting, its character formed as much by its lower as upper class  – as is seen in the character of demon-obsessed Tobias, who is based on a real village resident I had known – a world as wild as it was well-designed, its seasons defined by flowers, fungi, berries, and trees, ever increasing clouds, fog and frost, rain and more rain so sunny banks and deep shadows were always noticed.

Image corrected to original work. Colour space is Adobe RGB (1998) Gamma is Windows 2.2

Porch, Wroxton Abbey – early 17th century

Wroxton Abbey, situated in a secluded parkland to the southeast of the village, was documented as a manor in the 11th century. One hundred and twenty-eight years later, a tenant, Guy de Reinbeudcurt, founded an Augustinian priory there. Due to the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, much of it was destroyed. What was left of its buildings and demesne was leased to the treasurer of Henry’s Court of Augmentations, responsible for the dissolved monasteries, Sir Thomas Pope, who was the founder of Trinity College, Oxford. In 1551 Sir Thomas granted his brother, John, a ninety-nine year tenancy, and in 1556 endowed the manor and lands to Trinity College that subsequently renewed the lease for John’s heirs.

Old Photo Great Hall Wroxton Abbey

Thanks to Fairleigh Dickinson University Wroxton College for this old photo of the Great Hall, including minstrel’s gallery. I can hear the 17th century violinist Nicola Matteis playing in the minstrel’s gallery – as Roger North put it “the staccatos, tremolos, divisions … every stroke delicious.”(Matteis is credited with changing the English taste for violin playing from the French style to the ‘newer’ Italian one)

Construction on the manor surviving as the central portion of its present structure was begun around the turn of the 17th century by John Pope’s son, William, the 3rd Earl of Downe. A lack of male descendants eventually passed the leasehold to the 3rd Earl’s daughters, and one of them, Frances, married Sir Francis North, the lawyer involved with the settlement of the Pope estate. Sir Francis was succeeded as 2nd baron by his son Francis; his great-grandson Frederick, the most famous North, 2nd Earl of Guilford, titled Lord, and serving as Prime Minister to George III, made extensive alterations to the grounds and some to the house. A library and chapel were most likely added by the famous architect and landscape designer Sanderson Miller in the mid 18th century, but a shortage of funds limited further enhancements. The current interior decoration and windows owe much to Prime Minister North’s granddaughter Baroness Susan, who also oversaw the completion of a south wing that finally gave the house symmetry as viewed from its west-facing front and fulfilled the North family motto: Animo et Fide Perage. Carry through to completion in courage and faith.

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Wroxton Abbey in the 1680’s by DM Denton

Baroness Susan’s Irish husband took her surname, and their son, William, managed the estate until his death in 1932 at the age of ninety-six, marking the end of over 250 years of the Norths’ occupancy. All the family’s effects were sold off and the Abbey was turned into a warehouse during WWII. In 1948, Trinity College of Oxford leased it to Lady Pearson, who rented out large portions, which caused extensive damage. Fairleigh Dickinson University of New Jersey purchased it in 1963 and undertook an enormous effort to repair and modernize the building as well as restore and enhance the gardens and pleasure grounds, creating the splendid campus celebrating its fifty year anniversary in 2015.

Visit and like Fairleigh Dickinson University Wroxton College Facebook Page.

Antique Print of Wroxton Abbey

Antique Print of Wroxton Abbey

I was a junior in college, accepted into the program at Wroxton Abbey to study English history, literature, and theater, when my life-changing connection to Wroxton Abbey and village was initiated. A three month semester spanning the last chilly damp weeks of an Oxfordshire winter and the muddy beginnings and eventual warming and burgeoning of its spring turned into sixteen simple and complicated years of my calling Wroxton home.

Spring flowers in woods

Spring Flowers by DM Denton imposed on real photo of Wroxton Abbey woods

As I began writing To A Strange Somewhere Fled, what I thought would come out of my memories and feared would be limited by my experience and prejudice slowly emerged from a more informed and imaginative perspective, a past long before mine that not only furthered Donatella’s exploration into life and love, but made me more understanding and appreciative of the unique opportunity I’d had once and then again: to linger and live in Wroxton and even the Abbey itself, and make a little private history of my own there.

That's me in 1974 - 2nd row from front, 4th from right

That’s me in 1974 – 2nd row from front, 4th from right

To A Strange Somewhere front cover