Friday, 31 August 2012

The Chamption by Elizabeth Chadwick

Disgusted by the corruption in an English monastery,where he has been flogged for a minor misdemeanor,Alexander de Montroi flees to his older brother in Normandy, where he learns to excel in tourneys.

Monday, whose mother ran away from her father, Lord of Stafford, to marry a mere knight who earns his living in tourneys, dreams of being a lady gowned in silk instead of a sempstress.

Alexander and Monday's friendship is corrupted when, inebriated, they make love. Monday runs away to bear her child. A quirk of fate leads to her becoming the future King John of England's mistress.

Another quirk of fate brings Alexander and Monday together but they must fight for their happiness.

The Champion is peopled with imaginary and historical characters each of whom springs to life on the pages. I particularly liked Monday and Alexander's small son, Florian.

12th century life is expertly described with many interesting details including birth control.

I shall keep The Champion with other novels to be read again.

Tangled Love
Sunday's Child
New Release. False Pretences. October

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Reign of Terror Begins

By and large Europe regarded the democratic fervour in France with profound suspicion. In England, the Prime Minister, William Pitt, welcomed the new French government’s renunciation of war and aggression. However, the attitude toward the French monarchy, princes and nobles alarmed Europe with its kings, princes and aristocrats.

In June 1971 when King Louis attempted to flee anarchy he was captured on the way to the frontier and returned to Paris, by which time Leopold, the German Emperor was aware of the insults to his sister, Marie of Antoinette, Queen of France. Yet Leopold did not want to become involved in French affairs. However, after the royal family’s flight from Paris and their forcible return to Paris in summer 1791, he suggested joint European action to free “the most Christian King and his Queen.” Subsequently Leopold issued a Declaration “to place the King of France in harmony with the rights of sovereigns and the well-being of his people’.

In October, the *Girondins forced the king to accept a new Constitution. When the Assembly met for the first time it confiscated the √©migr√©’s property, and passed sentence of death of those who did not return to France by the end of the year.

The Girondins clamoured for a crusade against Leopold, the Austrian despot On January 11th, 1792 to the tune of “Liberty or Death” the government declared that if the Emperor did not relinquish his threat against France, his country would face invasion.

The French government sent agents to the Netherlands to promote rebellion against Austria. In the meantime, William Pitt, the British Prime Minister, pursued the path of peace. In his Budget Speech in February, 1792 Pitt stated that he believed “Europe was on the threshold of a long period of peace and prosperity.” In order to appease those who feared war, he made economies in the Army and Navy.

On the 20th of April, France declared war on Austria. The **Jacobin clubman, Robespierre, leader of a small group, declared war would assist the growth of tyranny. The Girondins refuted Robespierre’s argument on the grounds that the army’s revolutionary enthusiasm would lead to triumph. They were mistaken. The French rabble of an army fled from the Austrian troops.

King Louis attempted to veto a bill to, amongst other things, dismiss the Girondin Ministry. Jacobins and Girondins united and chose Danton, a 32 year-old lawyer from the Champagne to be their leader.

All too soon the great bell of the Cordeliers tolled at night. It signalled Danton had seized the Hotel de Ville prior to an attack on the Tuilleries. While Napoleon Bonaparte, who was writing a history of Corsica, watched the mob storm the Tuileries.

The Swiss Guards were massacred. The royal family fled. By that night Louis VII had been deposed and confined in a small cell.

The Prussians invaded France and took Verdun. Only the ill-equipped French army, energised by Danton, blocked the way between the Prussian army and Paris, where the Prussians boasted they would free the royal family. While Danton called for volunteers to swell the army, amongst whose elected officers were seven future marshals of the Napoleonic Wars, 1,600 prisoners were massacred; most of them liberally minded aristocrats.

To the east of Valmy, Brunswick, the Prussian general, defeated by the rain and mud, sickness and division in his army, called off his men. Goethe who accompanied the army discerned the truth. “From this day and this hour dates a new epoch in the history of the world.”

On the following day, without news of victory, the monarchy was abolished and the statement “the Republic was one and indivisible” was made.

The Prussians retreated. Led by Custine, the French army pursued them to Speyer and Worms. The nobility fled before Custine’s battle cry. “War to the tyrant’s palace! Peace to the poor man’s cottage.”

From the other side of the Channel the English regarded events in France with increasing bewilderment. Their reactions were slow but in time they would act.

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*The Girondins were radical democrats, a faction of the Jacobins. The Girondins forced the declaration of war against Austria, which began the Wars of the Revolution that would result in the Napoleonic Wars.

**Jacobins derive the name from the Jacobin Club of the French Revolution, which was formed in 1789. After the fall of the Girondins the Jacobin leaders instituted The Reign of Terror.

                                                                     * * * *
Available from MuseItUp publishing, Amazon kindle, kobo and elsewhere.

Sunday's Child a Regency Novel. Despite quixotic Major Tarrant's experience of brutality, honour,loss and past love, will it be possible for him to find happiness?

Tangled Love set in England in 1706. The tale of two great estates and their owners, duty, betrayal, despair and hope.

New Release. 27th October. False Pretences a Regency Novel. Will Annabelle escape an arranged marriage and discover who her parents are?

Friday, 24 August 2012

Simple Pleasures

These days children have so many indoor and outdoor toys, not to mention the i pads, laptops,computers,wi fi, on line games etc., etc.

This week my son sank a very small garden pond into my lawn. On Wednesday my daughter's sons filled it with water, then went home and caught some of the frogs in the long grass beneath their trampoline and them brought them to my house and put them in the pon. Worried because they thought the ponds might not be able to get out they put sticks in it to act as escape routes.

Yesterday, I took the boys and their 3 yr old sister to a pond centre. They loved the fountains, the ponds, the fresh water and tropical fish etc. We bought 6 water snails, a pond plant and some oxygenating plants. When we returned to my house they erupted into the garden to set up the modest pond.

The most expensive toy could not have bought the pleasure they gained from the little pond, the purpose of which is to attract frogs to eat slugs,

All the best,


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

A happy morning and a recipe for ice-cream.

Yesterday, I revised a scene from my novel set in England in the second Edward's reign. I needed to slip some historical facts into a small section of backstory.  So, to improve on the scene I used the main character's thoughts and dialogue. I think it reads well and hope my readers will enjoy it.

After I wrote, two of my grandsons and I picked blackberries in the field behind the allotments.  We gathered enough to freeze, some for blackberry and applie jam or jelly, and to make blackberry ice cream for lunch in my new ice crean machine. The boys scraped their dessert bowls clean but having eaten several helpings of cous cous were to full to have a second helping.

The recipe is as follows.

1 cup of condensed milk.

1 cup of cold full fat milk.

1 and a half cups of thick cream.

2 and half cups of soft fruit or mangoe.

If you don't have an ice cream maker and want to try it you could mix it in a blender until it is stiff and then freeze it. I haven't tried this method but I think it will work.

Weight-wise it's not too bad because it's very filling. As my mother used to say,'Everything in moderation.'

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Britain’s Disillusionment with France Prior to War

France rejoiced. After 200 years of absolute Monarchy it seemed the era of reason had arrived. In fact, the age of irrationality had arrived. Not only did the deputies in the Estates General lack political experience, they were irresponsible. Eventually Comte de Mirabeau, a renegade nobleman declared the Third Estate was the only constituent assembly. “We met together by National Will,” Mirabeau declared. “Force alone shall disperse us.”

Far from establishing the goal of national virtue, unrestrained violence ensued, beginning with the Storming of the Bastille.

Speculators profited, criminals from the provinces crowded Paris, rumour was rife, one of which was that the hated Austrian queen, Marie Antoinette, would order massacres. Fear replaced the old order.

In San Domingo the Declaration of the Right of Man led to the slaves rebelling and murdering their owners. In France bread was in short supply. The king and queen were referred to as ‘the baker and the baker’s wife.

On the 5th of October 1789 a mob incited by orators stormed Versailles. The royal family escaped through a secret passage. Rioters surrounded their coach. In Paris they were sent to the Palace of the Tuileries.

In England there was some sympathy for the French Revolution that was compared to the ‘Glorious Revolution in Britain in 1688”.

Although there were inevitable problems in Britain, King George III, a family man, was popular, and most of his subjects approved of Parson Woodforde’s prayer.

“And may so good a King long live to reign over us – and pray God that his amiable and beloved Queen Charlotte may now enjoy again every happiness this world can afford with so good a man, and may it long, very long continue with them both here and eternal happiness hereafter.”

When the French mob threatened the royal family’s life even John Wilkes, a champion of peoples’ rights to do as they pleased, declared. “New France is not a democracy, it is a mobacracy.”

For the time being, Britain did not interfere, perhaps in the hope of good coming out of evil.

The Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, hated the thought of war and avoided the subject in1789 and 1800. Then the political philosopher, Edmund Burke, published his Reflections on Revolution. The French wrote and spoke much of liberty but to Burke liberty could not be seen when nuns, who nursed the sick, were stripped naked and scourged in the street. Liberty, he stated, must be based on justice, law and morality.

By 1790 Burke had realised the so called dawn of French Utopia was a violent storm about to be loosed by the illegal, brutal and cruel excesses of the French mob.

The statesman, Mirabeau, died in May 1791. From then on republican clubs in control of the mobs were in power. In retrospect it seems inevitable that the Reign of Terror would lead to the king and queen’s execution, as well as the wholesale slaughter of aristocrats and many less well-born victims, and Britain’s long struggle against France.

                                                                               * * * *

Available from MuseItUp publishing, Amazon kindle, kobo and elsewhere.

Sunday's Child a Regency Novel. Despite quixotic Major Tarrant's experience of brutality, honour,loss and past love, will it be possible for him to find happiness?

Tangled Love set in England in 1706. The tale of two great estates and their owners, duty, betrayal, despair and hope.

New Release. 27th October. False Pretences a Regency Novel. Will Annabelle escape an arranged marriage and discover who her parents are?

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Festival of Romance New Talent Award

New Talent Award aims to uncover romantic fiction authors of the future

The Festival of Romance is delighted to announce that the New Talent Award will run again this year. The industry judges are Georgina Hawtrey-Woore senior editor at Cornerstones, Random House and Diane Banks, literary agent at the Diane Banks Associates Literary Agency.

The Festival of Romance New Talent Award aims to cast a spotlight on the authors of tomorrow and is open to all writers who have not yet had a book commercially published. Writers may submit the opening chapter (up to 3,500 words) of a romantic novel of any type by 30th September 2012. The winner and runners-up will be announced and presented with trophies at the gala Festival of Romance Awards on Friday 16th November 2012. There is a small entry fee to cover the award administration. Entrants may also gain a critique of their entry written by a professional novelist.

“As part of the Festival of Romance we want to help new writers with talent get their break into the commercial fiction world,” says Kate Allan, chief romantic at the Festival of Romance. “At the Festival of Romance in November we are running writing workshops, an industry conference and chance to meet publishers face to face as well as the New Talent Award. I'm delighted that Georgina Hawtrey-Woore and Diane Banks have agreed to judge this year's entries.”

Winner of the 2011 New Talent Award Henriette Gyland subsequently garnered a book deal from publishers Choc Lit. Her debut novel Up Close will be published in December 2012.

For more details about how to enter the New Talent Award please see

Monday, 6 August 2012

1789 Prelude to Britain's Struggle Against France

Baroness Orczy’s Scarlet Pimpernel is the fictional hero, Sir Percy Blakeney Bart, who saved the victims of the French Revolution. Unfortunately, when it began there was no real life hero to save de Launey, Governor of the Bastille.

On the 14th July, 1789 the French revolution began. A violent crowd of men and women gathered in front of the Bastille. Shortly before five o’clock the rabble stormed the old Paris fortress and tore de Launey, 30 Swiss guards and 80 pensioners to pieces. Afterwards, holding severed heads aloft, they set out to murder the chief magistrate in the Hotel-de-Ville.

This event announced to the world that the French intended to overthrow the old order.

The foundation of society had been the feudal system. By 1789 taxation had impoverished the French workers living in abject misery in hovels.The people demanded change.Writers and philosophers extolled the virtues of a longed for age of reason.

During the reign of Louis XIV France was the most powerful nation in Europe. If William III of England and Marlborough had not defeated France, the French might have ruled Europe. Yet, in France, effective government was eroded by the aristocrats’ privileges, the middle classes exclusion from government and ever increasing dissatisfaction with the Church. The governing class lost touch with the masses, who, in 1788 and 1789 suffered from hunger and cold.

In January 1789, the treasury was bankrupt, the last harvest had been ruined, and the streets of Paris were flooded with unfortunate wretches. After two centuries of absolute rule the king summoned the States General to meet at Versailles. After three weeks, the Third Estate took control. This declaration was a prelude to the storming of the Bastille and, eventually, Britain’s 22 year struggle against France.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

1793 Britain's Struggle Against France Begins

In Bernard Cornwall’s novels we follow his hero Sharpe as he fights in the Iberian Peninsula and at the Battle of Waterloo; but when did Britain’s war against France begin?

On the morning of a bitterly cold February day in 1793 George the III and his sons the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York approached the parade ground at Whitehall, followed by the Queen and Princesses in carriages.

In front of Horse Guards the king rode down the lines of five battalions of the three regiments of Foot Guards. Then 2,000 soldiers commanded by their officers on horseback marched in slow time to the road to Greenwich, to the adulation of an enthusiastic crowd.

Ill-equipped they embarked in leaking ships for Holland. Thus the first troops crossed the sea to participate in what would be a 22 year war against France.

The population of the prosperous British Isles was half or less than that of France. After the last Stuart monarch, Queen Anne, the Hanoverian princes became kings of Britain, but they were constitutional monarchs. The great landowners ruled exercised power behind the throne. They entailed their vast estates on their eldest sons, secured positions for their younger ones in the Army or Navy, the church, as lawyers, bankers and merchants, and arranged prestigious marriages for their daughters. England was governed without a police force, a Civil Service, although Samuel Pepys is regarded as its founder, and had not equivalent to the Bastille.

England’s prosperity forcibly struck foreigners.

When the young Comte de la Rochefoucauld visited Norfolk in 1784, he admitted the houses in little villages with clean houses. He wrote that they had ‘the appearance of cosiness, in which ours in France are lacking. There is something indefinable about these houses which make them appear better than they actually are.’

In England droit administrative did not exist to crush dissenters, to the contrary the rule of law was upheld. It would be to protect the rule of law and to prevent the French destroying the old order that Britain would be at war with France for 22 years.

Sunday's Child a Regency Novel. Despite quixotic Major Tarrant's experience of brutality, honour,loss and past love, experience of brutality will it be possible for him to find happiness?

Tangled Love set in England in 1706. The tale of two great estates and their owners, duty, betrayal, despair and hope.

New Release. 27th October. False Pretences a Regency Novel. Will Annabelle escape an arranged marriage and discover who her parents are?

Available from MuseItUp publishing, amazon kindle, barnesand noble, kobo and elsewhere.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

The Napoleonic Wars - The Long Struggle

When I think of the French Revolution, the reign of George III and Regency, so many authors spring to mind. Dickens, Thackery, Jane Austin, Georgette Heyer, Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe, and many others.

At the moment I am studying the late 18th century and the early 19th century.

For twenty-two years, from 1793 to 1815, France tried to dominate the world. At the beginning of this period, some men and women who had seen the Protector Richard Cromwell were still alive. At the end of it those who would live until Adolf Hitler was young had been born. On a personal note my grandfather remembered my long-lived great grandfather speaking about the Battle of Waterloo.

During those years of struggle the French wanted to overturn the old order, however the British did not accept a government not based on the rule of law. At one time Britain fought nearly the whole of Europe with little hope of victory. To make matters worse, when Britain was on the verge of bankruptcy, revolutionary France benefitted from Napoleon Bonaparte, considered by many to be the greatest military genius in the history of the world.

Until Sir John Moore fought Napoleon in Spain, only the Russians triumphed over Napoleon for a few months between 1806 and 1807.

Trafalgar and the battle of Waterloo are so well-known that the first ten years of struggle, which William Pitt called ‘the virtues of adversity endured and adversity resisted, of adversity encountered and adversity surmounted, which ended in the Peace of Amiens, are often forgotten.

The peace did not last but it did give Britain the breathing space necessary for the war to continue until 1815.

Available from https;//, Amazon kindle,Good Reads, Kobo and elsewhere

Sunday's Child a Regency Novel. Despite quixotic Major Tarrant's experience of brutality, honour,loss and past love, experience of brutality will it be possible for him to find happiness?

Tangled Love set in England in 1706. The tale of two great estates and their owners, duty, betrayal, despair and hope.

New Release. 27th October. False Pretences a Regency Novel. Will Annabelle escape an arranged marriage and discover who her parents are?