What You Didn’t Know About Thanksgiving

cornucopia03It took more than 200 years after the first Thanksgiving before it became an official holiday.

The first Thanksgiving was a three day feast, which included hunting, athletic games, and eating. The Pilgrims dined on venison, NOT turkey. There was also NO pumpkin pie or potatoes or cranberry sauce.

In 1789, George Washington announced the first NATIONAL Thanksgiving holiday, but Thanksgiving did not become an annual tradition until the 19th Century. The Americans celebrated on Thursday, November 26, 1789.

As the first Thanksgiving (1622) was to celebrate the Pilgrims’ first successful harvest, the celebration was not repeated.

American writer, Sarah Josepha Hale, was inspired by A Diary of Pilgrim Life. In 1827, Hale began a 30 year campaign to make to make Thanksgiving a national tradition. At her own expense, Hale published recipes for pumpkin pie, stuffing, turkey, etc. (By the way, Hale is the author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb.)

In 1939, FDR moved the holiday to the 3rd Thursday in November to give retailers an extra week to make money during the holiday buying season. It was the Depression, after all.

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving will would be celebrated on the last Thursday of November.

Ironically, in 1941, FDR signed a bill to keep Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday of November.

turkey03In 1989, George H. W. Bush gave the first official turkey pardon.

These facts and lots more about Thanksgiving can be found at History.com.


This work is released under CC-BY-SA


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Are You Smarter Than a Sixty Year Old? A Fun Quiz…

I was listening recently to Emmy Rossum from Showtimes’s “Shameless.” She was talking about being older than the other members of the cast. Rossum is 28 and the next oldest “sibling” in the show’s dysfunctional family is 15. Rossum remarked how the young ones on set have never heard a dial tone. They know nothing of rewinding a movie to watch it again. Heaven forbid they would recognize an eight track. With that in mind, I thought we could do something fun before the work of Thanksgiving dinners, endless football games, and Black Friday shopping consume all our energies, as well as our brain cells. Try this test of your knowledge of pop culture.

Are You Smarter Than a 60 Year Old?

This is designed for those who might actually remember a bit history, simply because they lived through it or their parents have spoken of these events often enough that they have second-hand knowledge of the events. Have some fun my sharp-witted friends. This is a test for us ‘old kids’! The answers are printed below, but don’t cheat.

06-11--The Lone Ranger Unsmasked01. After the Lone Ranger saved the day and rode off into the sunset, the grateful citizens would ask, Who was that masked man? Invariably, someone would answer, I don’t know, but he left this behind. What did he leave behind?________________.

02. When the Beatles first came to the U.S. .In early 1964, we all watched them on The _______________ Show.

03 ’Get your kicks, __________________.’

04. ’The story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to ___________________.’

05. ’In the jungle, the mighty jungle, ________________.’

06. After the Twist, The Mashed Potato, and the Watusi, we ‘danced’ under a stick that was lowered as low as we could go in a dance called the ‘_____________.’

07. Nestle’s makes the very best . .. . . _______________.’

08. Satchmo was America ‘s ‘Ambassador of Goodwill.’ Our parents shared this great jazz trumpet player with us. His name was _________________.

09. What takes a licking and keeps on ticking? _______________.

freddie-244x30010. Red Skeleton’s hobo character was named __________________ and Red always ended his television show by saying, ‘Good Night, and ‘________ ________.’

11. Some Americans who protested the Vietnam War did so by burning their______________.

12. The cute little car with the engine in the back and the trunk in the front was called the VW. What other names did it go by? ____________ &_______________.

13. In 1971, singer Don MacLean sang a song about, ‘the day the music died.’ This was a tribute to ___________________.

14. We can remember the first satellite placed into orbit.The Russians did it. It was called ___________________.

15. One of the big fads of the late 50’s and 60’s was a large plastic ring that we twirled around our waist. It was called the ________________.



01..The Lone Ranger left behind a silver bullet.
02.The Ed Sullivan Show
03.On Route 66
04.To protect the innocent.
05.The Lion Sleeps Tonight
06.The limbo
08.Louis Armstrong
09.The Timex watch
10.Freddy, The Freeloader and ‘Good Night and God Bless.’
11.Draft cards (Bras were also burned. Not flags, as some have guessed)
12.Beetle or Bug
13.Buddy Holly

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John Ketch, Infamous Executioner

An infamous English executioner employed by King Charles II, John Ketch was an Irish immigrant who became famous through the way he performed his duties during the tumultuous 1680s. He was mentioned in the broadsheets of the time. Appointed in 1663, he executed the death sentences of William Russell in Lincoln’s Inn Fields on 21 July 1683 and that of James Scott, the First Duke of Monmouth on 15 July 1685, after the Monmouth Rebellion. Ketch’s notoriety grew from what was termed his barbarity. Because of Ketch’s botched executions, the name “Jack Ketch” is used for all executioners, especially those who saw to the hangings at Newgate Prison. “Jack Ketch” is also a proverbial name for Death or Satan.

Ketch is first mentioned in the Proceedings of the Old Bailey for 14 January 1676, although no printed notice of the new hangman occurred until 2 December 1678, when a broadside appeared called The Plotters Ballad, being Jack Ketch’s incomparable Receipt for the Cure of Traytorous Recusants and Wholesome Physick for a Popish Contagion. Ketch reportedly wrote a second pamphlet himself. It was entitled The Man of Destiny’s Hard Fortune. It claimed the hangman was confined for a time in the Marshalsea Prison.

A short entry in the autobiography of Anthony á Wood for 31 August 1681 describes how Stephen College was hanged in the Castle Yard, Oxford, says “and when he had hanged about half an hour, was cut down by Catch or Ketch and quartered under the gallows, his entrails were burnt in a fire made by the gallows.”

Lord Russell’s Execution:

Ketch’s execution of Lord Russell at Lincoln’s Fields Inn on 21 July 1683 was performed clumsily; in a pamphlet entitled The Apologie of John Ketch, Esquire he alleged that the prisoner did not “dispose himself as was most suitable” and that he was interrupted while taking aim.

On that occasion, Ketch wielded the instrument of death either with such sadistically nuanced skill or with such lack of simple dexterity—nobody could tell which—that the victim suffered horrifically under blow after blow, each excruciating but not in itself lethal. Even among the bloodthirsty throngs that habitually attended English beheadings, the gory and agonizing display had created such outrage that Ketch felt moved to write and publish a pamphlet title Apologie, in which he excused his performance with the claim that Lord Russell had failed to “dispose himself as was most suitable” and that he was therefore distracted while taking aim on his neck.

Monmouth’s execution on Tower Hill by Jack Ketch on 15 July 1685

Monmouth’s execution on Tower Hill by Jack Ketch on 15 July 1685

James Scott, First Duke of Monmouth’s Execution:

On the scaffold on July 15, 1685, James Scott, the First Duke of Monmouth, addressing Ketch, referred to his treatment of Lord Russell, thus disconcerting him, stating “Here are six guineas for you. Do not hack me as you did my Lord Russell. I have heard that you struck him three or four times. My servant will give you some more gold if you do the work well.” The duke subsequently undressed and felt the edge of the axe expressing some fear that it was not sharp enough, and laid his head on the block.” The first blow dealt by Ketch inflicted only a slight wound after which the Duke struggled, rose from the block, and looked reproachfully at the executioner before sinking down once more. Ketch struck the duke twice more, but still the neck was not severed, and the body continued to move. Yells of rage and horror rose from the onlooking crowd to which Ketch flung down the axe with a curse and stated that “I cannot do it, my heart fails me.” The sheriff present asked Ketch to “Take up the axe, man” to which Ketch responded by once more taking up the axe and dealing two more blows to the duke, killing him. Still, the head remained attached and Ketch used a butcher’s knife from the sheath on his hip to cut the last sinew and flesh that prevented the head from dropping. The crowd was so enraged that Ketch had to be escorted away under strong guard.

Monmouth’s reminder of Russell’s execution either unnerved or angered Ketch. Even as the first blow fell upon the duke, those who counted themselves connoisseurs of the headman’s art knew the axe had missed its mark. Ketch stood back, regarding his botched handiwork, and dealt another blow, then another, as Monmouth writhed, screamed, and moaned. According to the official record of the Tower of London, there were five blows in all, though some onlookers counted seven and others eight. Whether five, seven, or eight, none proved sufficient to sever the man’s head from his suffering body, and Ketch pulled a butcher’s knife from the sheath on his hip, which he drew across the last cords of sinew and flesh that prevented the head from dropping to the scaffold floor. With that, the life of James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, ended on July 15, 1685.

In his Diary, John Evelyn wrote of the duke’s execution that:

He [the duke] would not make use of a cap or other circumstance, but lying down, bid the fellow to do his office better than to the late Lord Russell, and gave him gold; but the wretch made five chops before he had his head off; which so incensed the people, that had he not been guarded and got away, they would have torn him to pieces.

The execution of the duke was considered to be worse than that of Lord Russell. In 1686, Ketch was deposed and imprisoned at Bridewell.

Later Life:

In 1686 Ketch was sent to prison for “affronting” a sheriff. His job was taken by his assistant, Paskah Rose, formerly a butcher. Rose was arrested after only four months in his office for robbery. Ketch was reappointed in his place and hanged his own assistant at Tyburn.

He died towards the close of 1686.




This work is released under CC-BY-SA


Some facts come from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Ketch

Posted in British history, Great Britain, history, legends and myths, Living in the UK, political stance, real life tales | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Amazing Wisdom of Thomas Jefferson

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson Rembrandt Peale 1800

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson
Rembrandt Peale 1800

I found this most agreeable as Jefferson’s holds a place of reference on my family tree.
Thomas Jefferson (April 13 [O.S. April 2] 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and the third President of the United States (1801–1809). He was a spokesman for democracy, and embraced the principles of republicanism and the rights of the individual with worldwide influence. In opposition to Alexander Hamilton’s Federalism, Jefferson and his close friend, James Madison, organized the Democratic-Republican Party, and later resigned from Washington’s cabinet. Elected Vice President in 1796, Jefferson opposed Adams, and with Madison secretly wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which attempted to nullify the Alien and Sedition Acts.

A leader in the Enlightenment, Jefferson was a polymath in the arts, sciences, and politics. Considered an important architect in the classical tradition, he designed his home Monticello and other notable buildings. Jefferson was keenly interested in science, invention, architecture, religion, and philosophy; he was an active member and eventual president of the American Philosophical Society. He was conversant in French, Greek, Italian, Latin, and Spanish, and studied other languages and linguistics, interests which led him to found the University of Virginia after his presidency. Although not a notable orator, Jefferson was a skilled writer and corresponded with many influential people in America and Europe throughout his adult life. After Martha Jefferson, his wife of eleven years, died in 1782, Jefferson kept his promise to her that he would never remarry. Their marriage had produced six children, of whom two survived to adulthood.

So, let’s be more specific as to Jefferson’s accomplishments. This is amazing. There are two parts. Be sure to read the 2nd part.

Thomas Jefferson was a very remarkable man who started learning very early in life and never stopped.

At 5, began studying under his cousin’s tutor.
At 9, studied Latin, Greek and French.

At 14, studied classical literature and additional languages.

At 16, entered the College of William and Mary.
At 19, studied Law for 5 years starting under George Wythe.
At 23, started his own law practice.
At 25, was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
At 31, wrote the widely circulated “Summary View of the Rights of  British America” and retired from his law practice.
At 32, was a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress.
At 33, wrote the Declaration of Independence.
At 33, took three years to revise Virginia’s legal code and wrote a Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom.
At 36, was elected the second Governor of Virginia, succeeding Patrick Henry.
At 40, served in Congress for two years.

At 41, was the American minister to France, and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations along with Ben Franklin and John Adams.
At 46, served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington.
At 53, served as Vice President and was elected president of the American Philosophical Society.
At 55, drafted the Kentucky Resolutions, and became the active head of Republican Party.

At 57, was elected the third president of the United States.
At 60, obtained the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the nation’s size.
At 61, was elected to a second term as President.
At 65, retired to Monticello.
At 80, helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine.
At 81, almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia, and served as its first president.
At 83, died on the 50th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, along with John Adams

Thomas Jefferson studied the previous failed attempts at government. He understood actual history, the nature of God, his laws and the nature of man. That happens to be way more than what most understand today. Jefferson really knew his stuff. A voice from the past to lead us in the future:

John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the White House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement:
“This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.” — Thomas Jefferson

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who  are willing to work and give to those who would not..” — Thomas Jefferson

“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.” — Thomas Jefferson

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” — Thomas Jefferson

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results  from too much government.” — Thomas Jefferson

“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” — Thomas  Jefferson

“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” — Thomas Jefferson

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” — Thomas Jefferson

“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” — Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:
“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.
If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property – until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

Posted in America, Do You Remember?, history, presidents | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Featuring Jews in King George’s England in my Realm Romance, A Touch of Love

Over the years, the “backlash” regarding Georgette Heyer’s depiction of the Jewish has become better known (See http://vacuousminx.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/jewish-stereotypes-in-georgette-heyers-novels/


http://vacuousminx.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/authorial-intrusion-and-reader-response-my-georgette-heyer-experience/ for examples of the reported offending passages and the changes the current publisher of Heyer’s works made to those passages).

That being said, when I began writing Book 6 of my highly popular Realm series, I was most sensitive to the need to portray the Jewish characters in my book with realism. In A TOUCH OF LOVE, the heroine, Lucinda Warren, discovers her late husband had married another before he spoke his vows to her. Captain Warren had hidden his Judaeo-German background, his family having converted from the  Ashkenazim sect to the Church of England, but his situation became more complicated when he marries a Sephardic Jew from Portugal during the Peninsular War. A TOUCH OF LOVE speaks to the prejudice within England, upon the Continent, and between these two nations within the Jewish race, as well as speaking of the general prejudice found among the members of the haut ton.

270px-Board_of_deputies.svgSo, what was it like to be a Jew during the reign of King George III? In 1760, in imitation of the Deputies appointed to protect the civil rights of Protestant Dissenters, the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish population nominated deputados to oversee political developments of special interest to their well being and to approach the government on the group’s behalf when necessary. A standing committee was also appointed to express homage and devotion to the new sovereign.

However, the Ashkenazi faction presented a formal protest, claiming neglect. The Ashkenzami group nominated their own German Secret Committee for Public Affairs to act on their behalfs. The administration refused to deal with two separate groups, saying they would communicate only to the Committee of the Dutch Jews’ Synagogues and the two factions must find a means to communicate. These deputados represented 6000-8000 Jews, the majority of which lived in London. Approximately 25% of the population belonged to the more anglicized Spanish and Portuguese element. The Ashkenazim, though more numerous, were less assimilated and, generally, belonged to a lower social stratum.

“But, on every section, the alembic of English tolerance was working with remarkable speed and with an efficacy which, from the sectarian point of view, was only too complete. Not only was this the case with the native-born upper class, in whom the process was more notorious, but with their more modest association as well. An immigrant from Silesia, who at the outset of his career corresponded with his parents in Judaeo German and was anxious for the welfare of the religious institutions of his birthplace, could develop within twenty years into a staid British merchant, with his sons married to English girls – one a sea-captain and another in the colonial service, and Destined to be buried in Bath Abbey. So, too, the sons of a London synagogue functionary, all born in Germany, could lose touch with their co-religionists and enter English life as playwrights, authors, physicians, and even naval officers. This process was partially compensated by a modest though unmistakable trickle of proselytization, strenuously combated by the nervous communal leaders, which was to culminate most embarrassingly, notwithstanding their opposition, in the preposterous episode of the conversion to Judaism of the erstwhile Protestant champion, Lord George Gordon in 1787.”

(For a complete look at Jews During King George III’s Reign, please visithttp://www.iamthewitness.com/books/Cecil.Roth/A.History.of.the.Jews.in.England/P.10.The.Reign.of.George.III.1760-1815.htm). One thing that really struck a chord with me while doing my research for this book was the fact that Jews were permitted their rights to practice their religion, where I, a woman who was born a Pentacost, became a Baptist, practiced Existentialism for many years, and married a Catholic, would not have been given the same opportunity. There are all types of prejudice in the world.

Book Blurb
ATOLThe Realm has returned to England to claim the titles they left behind. Each man holds to the fleeting dream of finally knowing love and home, but first he must face his old enemy Shaheed Mir, a Baloch warlord, who believes one of the group has stolen a fist-sized emerald. Mir will have the emerald’s return or will exact his bloody revenge..


Aristotle Pennington has groomed SIR CARTER LOWERY as his successor as the Realm’s leader, and Carter has thought of little else for years. He has handcrafted his life, filled it with duties and responsibilities, and eventually, he will choose a marriage of convenience to bolster his career; yet, Lucinda Warren is a temptation he cannot resist. Every time he touches her, he recognizes his mistake because his desire for her is not easily quenched. To complicate matters, it was Mrs. Warren’s father, Colonel Roderick Rightnour, whom Sir Carter replaced at the Battle of Waterloo, an action which had named Carter a national hero and her father a failure as a military strategist.

LUCINDA WARREN’s late husband has left her to tend to a child belonging to another woman and has drowned her in multiple scandals. Her only hope to discover the boy’s true parentage and to remove her name from the lips of the ton’s censors is Sir Carter Lowery, a man who causes her body to course with awareness, as if he had etched his name upon her soul. A cruel twist of Fate has thrown them together three times, and Lucinda prays to hold off her cry for completion long enough to deny her heart and to release Sir Carter to his future: A future to which she will never belong.

And now for a short excerpt from A Touch of Love, Book 6 in the Realm Series
Lucinda had stood on the busy street corner for a quarter hour, attempting to shore up her nerves. She had carefully read the social register for the past few weeks, waiting for the return of the Duke of Thornhill to his London townhouse. A single line of type had reported Brantley Fowler’s presence at Briar House, and Lucinda had wasted no time in sending a note around, requesting an audience with the duke. Thornhill had responded immediately, setting the date and time.

Self-consciously, she checked Matthew’s pocket watch for the time. She regularly carried her late husband’s watch in her reticule. It was one of the few items she had kept to mark her days as Matthew Warren’s wife. “Time,” she murmured. Matthew never found the time to speak the truth, Lucinda thought bitterly. As she set her shoulders to cross the street, she wondered how Thornhill would take to her report of his old friend. I have no choice, she assured her rapid pulse.

She sidestepped a fresh pile of horse dung while dodging a young gentleman’s poorly driven curricle to step upon the curb before Briar House. It was a magnificent house: plenty of windows to permit the light and warmth of even a weak sun, as well as beautiful columns giving the exterior the look of a Roman theatre. Briar House spoke to the Fowlers’ place in Society. Her breath hitched, and Lucinda chastised herself for the very feminine desire to break into tears again. Her eyes swept the townhouse’s façade. Splendor she would never know.

With a deep steadying breath, she entered the gate and ascended the few steps to release the knocker. In less than a minute, the door swung wide to reveal the duke’s very proper butler. “Yes, Miss?”

Lucinda swallowed hard to clear his throat. “I am Mrs. Warren. His Grace is expecting me.”

The butler’s eyebrow rose as he peered behind her to look for her maid, but it had been more than a year since Lucinda could afford help of any kind. She pretended not to notice the servant’s disapproval. “This way, Mrs. Warren,” the butler said diplomatically.

Lucinda politely followed the man up the stairs and along an elaborately decorated passage. She had attended the Come Out ball for Thornhill’s sister, Lady Eleanor Fowler, and his cousin, Miss Velvet Aldridge. Now, Miss Aldridge was Brantley Fowler’s duchess, and by all accounts the man’s one true love. Yet, on that one evening, Lucinda had received the duke’s attentions, and although she had been a bit uncomfortable with Thornhill’s sudden adoration, the evening remained one of Lucinda’s favorite memories. A man of worth had revered her intelligence and her good sense. A man had found her attractive, something Matthew had never done.

The butler tapped on an already open door. “Your Grace. Mrs. Warren to speak to you.” The man stepped aside, and Lucinda entered a very masculine study. Dark wood panels spoke of a strong mind and an unqualified determination, both of which could easily describe the Duke of Thornhill.

The duke rose to greet her. His light brown hair was peppered with strands of gold. It was unstylishly long and tied back with a leather strap. Eyes of darkest chocolate glittered with genuine welcome, and Lucinda breathed a bit easier. “Thank you, Mr. Horace. If you will ask Cook to send in tea.”

“Of course, Your Grace.”

Defensa_del_Parque_de_Artillería_de_MonteleónBrantley Fowler caught Lucinda’s hand and brought it to his lips. “I was pleased to hear from you,” he said easily, “but I admit you have piqued my interest.” Lucinda had always liked the young lord. The future duke had spent but two months in the same company as had Lucinda’s late husband; and during the brief interval, Fowler and Matthew had renewed their university friendship. She was proud to say the young lord had always treated her with respect. She was the daughter of the second son of an earl, and the future duke accepted her as his equal socially. In fact, once when Matthew had found fault with the meal she had managed on the few supplies available, it had been Brantley Fowler who had taken up her defense.

“I appreciate your seeing me on such short notice, Your Grace.” The duke led her to a nearby settee before assuming the seat across from where Lucinda sat. “I beg your forgiveness for my bold gesture.”

The duke frowned. “I would hope you would view me as an ally, Lucinda.” His ready familiarity eased her tension.

The butler returned with the tray. “Mrs. Warren will serve, Horace.”

“As you wish, Your Grace.” The butler closed the door upon his exit.

Lucinda dutifully took up the service. This cup would be a treat for her. Her meager funds did not stretch to expensive tea. The duke must have read her mind for he said, “My sister Eleanor’s husband, Lord Worthing, declares he spent seven years of service to his country without a decent cup of tea.”

Lucinda nodded her understanding. “Even on English soil,” she said as a means to define her purpose in coming to Briar House, “many cannot afford the weak mix with which we suffered on the Continent. The military’s idea of tea is less than inspiring, but it would be welcome in many English households.”

A long pause kept Thornhill silent. The air was thick with nerves and unspoken truths. Finally, the duke asked, “Are you among those who cannot afford such luxuries?”

Lucinda had always prided herself on her frankness. She had come to beg Thornhill for his support, and the duke deserved the truth, as she knew it. “I am, Your Grace,” she said more calmly than she felt.

Setting his cup aside, the duke sat forward bracing his arms along his thighs. He cocked his head as if seeing her for the first time, and Lucinda fought the urge to squirm under the man’s close scrutiny. He said with concern, “When last we met, you spoke of a small settlement from your mother and, of course, your widow’s pension. Had I known…”

Lucinda cut off the duke’s offer. “I am not your responsibility, Your Grace, and a pity call was not my purpose this day.”

He jammed his knuckles into the side of his leg. The duke held a reputation for rescuing “damsels in distress.” It was one of the reasons Lucinda had sought his assistance. “But what of your parents? Or of the Warrens?”

She cleared her throat and hoped her voice did not betray the chaos rushing through her veins. “My mother passed some five months after my marriage to Matthew. The Colonel lost his life in Belgium.” She could not hide the grief, which tugged heavily at her heart. Losing her father had come close to sending her over the edge, both figuratively and literally. “I would prefer not to seek the assistance of the Earl of Charleton. The Colonel and Uncle William were often at odds. I would not wish to claim the role of poor dependent.” Lucinda did not think her father’s oldest brother would take kindly to the situation in which she now found herself.

“And the Warrens?” the duke prompted. His words caused her heart to stutter. Every time she thought of Matthew’s betrayal she wanted to curse the heavens.

Lucinda schooled her expression. Matthew’s parents had turned from her after their son’s death. At the time, she had not understood the reasons the Warrens had placed distance between them. Matthew’s parents had pledged their only child to Lucinda when they were but babes, and the Thornbys had gloried in the connection. She felt the shame for her parents’ hopes. Although she could not say she had loved Matthew Warren, she had always held her husband in great affection; they had been friends for as long as she could recall. “Father Warren has indicated I am no longer welcome at Coltman Hall.”

The duke’s mouth formed a thin line of disapproval. “I had once thought Matthew’s parents perfect in every way,” he confessed.

Lucinda thought, Perfect in their outward displays, but greatly lacking in essentials. “If you hold no objections, Your Grace, I would care to speak to the reasons for my calling upon you.”

“By all means.” The duke leaned back into the chair’s cushions. “I am your servant.”

The nerves she had tamped down had roared to life again. A thousand frightening scenarios flitted through her brain. Purposefully, Lucinda took another sip of the tea. It really was quite lovely to taste the bitter leaves. Setting the cup on the tray, she caught Fowler’s gaze and held it. “Some three months past, I was presented a most difficult situation. I opened the door to my let rooms to find a small boy setting upon the threshold. There were no adults about and upon investigation, no one knew of how the child came to waiting outside my quarters.”

“Was there no identification?” Thornhill inquired earnestly.

Lucinda set her shoulders in a stiff slant. She dreaded what was to come, but the duke would accept nothing less than the absolute facts. “Only a note pinned to the child’s jacket.” When the duke did not respond, she continued. “The note announced the child to be Matthew’s. By his wife, a woman he had married in ’09, some two years before he returned to Devon for the pronouncing of our vows.” Lucinda kept part of the truth as her own special torment. She did not tell him the complete facts of the child’s mother.

The duke appeared perplexed. “How may that be so? You are telling me, Matthew Warren took another without his parents’ knowledge?”

Lucinda had asked herself that very question repeatedly. “I would hope the Warrens did not knowingly foist a sham of a marriage upon me.” She forced the tremble from her words.

The duke was up and pacing. “I have heard of such perfidy, but I would never place Matthew Warren among those who would practice such duplicity. The extent of this falsehood is of the gravest debasement.”

Lucinda said softly, “The boy was conceived after our joining.” She would not permit the duke to observe how the thought of her husband with another woman had ripped her heart from her chest; yet, she had cried her last tear for the soul of a dishonest man.

Thornhill dejectedly returned to his seat. “This is all too much.” With a heavy sigh, he asked, “Where is the child now?”

Lucinda glanced to the sun streaming through one of the windows. There was only one small window in her rooms, and she sorely missed the air upon her countenance. Too many years of following drum, she thought. “Today, young Simon is with my landlady. The child is staying with me.” Again, she withheld an important fact that would likely color everything with a black stroke.

The duke set forward again. “You have taken it upon yourself to care for the offspring of your husband’s betrayal?” he asked incredulously. “You must realize, Mrs. Warren, that your raising this child within your home will bring you nothing but ostracism. You are opening yourself to public humiliation when this situation becomes common knowledge.”

Lucinda fought back the tears stinging her lashes. “The child has the right to know the touch of love. I could not turn the boy out on the streets, but is Simon’s presence, which has brought me to your door. The child has complicated my life in ways I could not anticipate. If Matthew married another before speaking his vows to me, I am not his widow, and my only source of income for the boy and me has vanished into a foggy London sky. I require someone to discover the truth of the note’s claim. I can easily voice a myriad of questions, but I possess no resources to discover the answers.”

Posted in British history, excerpt, George IV, Georgian Era, Great Britain, Living in the Regency, political stance, real life tales, Regency era, Regency personalities, religion | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

“Mirror, Mirror” – The Employment of Filmic Devices to Tell a Story

“Mirror, Mirror” – Use of Filmic Devices to Tell a Story
“Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall” (Previously Posted on PrideandPrejudice05 Blog)

Often in the visual representations of Jane Austen’s works, the media employs props or artifacts as visual cues to Austen’s themes of flawed impressions, misconceptions, and false interpretations. For example, in Austen’s Emma, Harriet’s sketch serves as a means to reveal how the other characters feel about Emma’s friend. Mr. Elton flatters Emma’s representation of her subject rather than remark on Harriet. Mr. Woodhouse’s sensibility and his need for fires in all the hearths shows through when he says Harriet has been subjected to the elements when she is portrayed without a shawl. Even Mr. Knightley gives the viewer a clue to how he feels about Emma’s efforts to raise Harriet up in Society. Upon observing the sketch, he says Emma has made Harriet “too tall.”

The resetting of the miniature of Captain Benwick in Persuasion serves as a the perfect symbol for Captain Harville’s and Anne’s “debate” over the constancy of females and males in love. In Mansfield Park, the distorted and mistaken impressions of the characters plays out in theatricals. Edward Ferrars’ ring is a prime example. In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor Dashwood mistakenly believes it is a lock of her hair encased within. In truth, the lock belongs to Lucy Steele.

These “mistaken interpretations” and many more of Austen’s subtle thematic layers appear in the film versions of Austen’s works in the form of a mirror. It is a bit of irony that Austen never uses the prop as part of her story lines (except in the case of Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion). Yet, Hollywood loves a good prop, and a mirror can tell the viewer so many unspoken tales. The mirror is often used in film to double a shot’s space or to display a character’s feelings or even to take on metaphorical dimensions. Film history gives up multiple examples of the use of the mirror as important role (Orson Welles’s 1948 The Lady from Shanghai; Walt Disney’s 1939 Snow White, etc.). ladyfromshangai

A mirror in its stillness reflects a “fundamental absence,” as Christian Metz terms the prop’s use. It is a reflection within a reflection. Ariane Hudelet says in “Deciphering Appearances in Jane Austen’s Novels and Films” that “To look at a heroine looking at herself transforms the character into a self-spectacle, a motif we could link with the emphasis on interiority in Austen’s novels. The mirror objects can thus stand for conflicting notions of blindness or introspection, vanity or revelation, according to the films and sequences. Whether it is used as a symbol to reflect the characters’ thoughts or nature, or as a metaphor of the relationships between the characters which can sometimes contrast with the contents of the dialogue and reveal ironic distance, the mirror image constitutes a privileged example of the way Austen’s very modern questioning of the perception of reality can become a post-modern questioning of the reception and distortion of images.”ppmirror

So, when we as viewers encounter a filmic scene in which the director has used a mirror, we immediately translate the prop’s use to represent introspection on the part of the character. Or we may immediately interpret the character’s self-absorption. Or we may recognize the illusory blindness of the character. In Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, the scene where Elizabeth Bennet “reflects” on Mr. Darcy’s letter is a very poignant one in the film. She discovers her own misconstructions. Those are summarized by Elizabeth’s response to Charlotte Lucas’s inquiry to her mindset. “I hardly know.”

pride_prejudice09Wright’s film relies on stillness to create the conflict. Following the proposal scene in the pouring rain, the viewer follows Elizabeth’s slow progression through Hunsford cottage to stand before the mirror. We, the viewers, are on the inside of the mirror, looking back at Elizabeth’s inner journey. The scene begins with Elizabeth sitting on her bed. This is what is known as a medium close shot. She does not move. It is a back lit shot to create a claire-obscure effect. Elizabeth moves along a narrow corridor to stand before the mirror. In his commentary on the DVD, Joe Wright says, “We are her,” in referring to the viewing audience becoming Elizabeth’s reflection.

Time progresses behind Elizabeth, but she remains still and expressionless. Darcy appears behind her to deliver his letter. Images are purposely blurred to tell the viewer that these characters have often misconstrued the other.

Elizabeth is learning about Mr. Darcy but also about herself. Her “vision” is both blurred and clear. She turns around to find what she now sees clearly as having disappeared. When she can finally recognize Darcy for the man he is, he is no longer available. Wright uses the mirror as an image of revelation. In the novel, Elizabeth looks long and hard at an image of Darcy in the Pemberley gallery. She recognizes the man she should have seen from the beginning.

Now, it is your turn. Tell me other instances of when the mirror is used as a prop in an Austen adaptation. I, personally, can think of several others, but I’ll leave it to you to list some before I pour forth others. We can even explore the use of the mirror in other modern films if you like.

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Celebrating with Jacki Delecki: A Well-Dressed Man of the Ages + an Excerpt from her Latest Release of “A Christmas Code,” + an Audiobook Giveaway

Through the Ages: The Well-Dressed Man

Fun facts on men’s fashion over time from Jacki Delecki, author of the Code Breakers series: A Code of Love, A Christmas Code (now available) and Cantata of Love (Spring 2015).

Delecki: Fashion and clothing styles have changed over the centuries, due in equal measures to societal customs, functional needs and cultural values. As a historical romantic suspense author, I often discover fascinating tidbits while doing research. Here are a few gems I’ve gathered about men’s fashion over the ages.

During the Renaissance period (14th to 17th centuries), it was required that hats were worn in public and violators were fined up to a week’s worth of wages! Poorer classes typically wore flat hats, while nobility wore taller hats.

Rococo Style for Men

Rococo Style for Men

During the early 18th century Enlightenment period, French influence on fashion led to the Rococo style, which is easily recognizable from its tendency toward lavish, excessive adornment. Men typically wore a coat, waistcoat, breeches, stockings and heeled shoes. Waistcoats were elaborately embroidered or comprised of patterned fabric and coats were worn open to show off waistcoats. Tricorne hats decorated with braid and feathers were also popular during this period.

Beau Brummell was the arbiter of men’s Regency fashion, abandoning overly ornate garments for understated tailored coats, trousers, and knotted cravats. Many credit him with introducing the men’s suit, a big jump from knee breeches and stockings.

Belts were not a common fashion accessory in the 19th century. Instead, pants had fitted, adjustable waists and fall fronts (with an option of narrow or broad). These flaps were secured by buttons.

Flat front opening for britches; Beau Brummell; high heeled shoes for men

Flat front opening for britches; Beau Brummell; high heeled shoes for men

For hundreds of years, men wore high heels out of necessity, not vanity…for a while. In Persia and other countries of that region, men wore heels to secure his stance in riding stirrups so he could more accurately aim his bow and arrow. In the 17th century, aristocracy wore heels because of their inherent impracticality—such shoes were a sign of privilege and luxury.

Regency Era Fashion for Men

Regency Era Fashion for Men

I have to admit, as outlandish as some of the men’s fashion customs were, there’s nothing like a well-dressed Regency gentleman! What is your favorite historical fashion statement?


JackiDelecki_AChristmasCode_HRHeart-pounding adventure filled with danger, intrigue and romance from Jacki Delecki, award-winning author of the Regency suspense series “The Code Breakers” and the contemporary mystery series “Grayce Walters.” Enjoy her latest release “A Christmas Code.”


Hot and breathless from performing the newly imported French dance steps of the Quadrille, Gwyneth paused during the break in the music. She fanned her heated cheeks repeatedly attempting to cool herself. Lord Henley glanced down at her. His lips were tight; his eyes beaded with need. She had seen the same look on the faces of many men, but never on the face of the only man who mattered.
She wanted to see the same burning desire and possessiveness in the eyes of her childhood infatuation like she knew blazed in her eyes when she looked at the impossible but dazzling Viscount Ashworth.

The gentleman, newly arrived, had barely glanced at her despite the new gown made especially to entice the hard-headed rake. Her friend and dress designer, Amelia, obsessed with the simplicity of Greek togas, had crisscrossed sky blue silk across Gwyneth’s ample chest with a revealing décolletage. The back of the gown was draped in the same manner with a revealing “V”. It was simple design, but sensual in the way the fabric clung to her body.

She felt enticing and hopeful that tonight Ash would finally throw off all the restraints. She had felt his eyes on her back, knowing he watched her as she gaily danced the intricate pattern she had just learned from her French dance master.

Lord Henley offered his arm as the quadrille ended. “May I take you to the refreshment table for a glass of punch? This new French dance is very demanding.”

“Thank you. I’m not thirsty. Can you please take me to my dear friend, Miss Bonnington?”

Lord Henley’s eyes clouded with emotion. Gwyneth couldn’t refuse the dance, but she needed to escape the gentleman before he embarrassed himself. She wanted to spare the gentleman the pain of rejection. After her five marriage proposals this season, she had become somewhat of an expert in recognizing the signs of imminent declaration.

Lord Henley escorted Gwyneth to Amelia, who also had finished dancing and now stood alone.

“Thank you, sir for the dance.” Gwyneth did a brief curtsy.

Lord Henley bowed. “It was my pleasure.” He hesitated, then sharply nodded his head. She didn’t want to be unkind, but there was no reason to pretend interest and encourage hope when there was none.

They watched Lord Henley circle to the other side of the room.

Amelia hid her face behind her fan. Her bright eyes dancing in merriment. “Another stricken gentleman.”

“I believe he was about to ask if he could call on my brother tomorrow. I think I did an excellent job of extricating myself before the gentleman declared his feelings.”

“Lord Henley is quite a catch. He’s heir to a vast fortune. His interest can’t be limited only to your dowry.”

“Thank you. I’m glad it isn’t only money that makes me attractive.” Gwyneth liked to believe it was her wit, her sparkling eyes, but she knew her position as sister to an earl and heiress to a hefty inheritance gave her a definite cache with the gentleman. And it was just like Amelia to joke about her wealth.

“Your following of swains has nothing to do with your luscious figure, your dramatic looks, or your amiable personality. My unique skill as designer has brought all these gentleman to swoon at your feet.” Amelia snickered, which set off Gwyneth to laugh.

Tears were running down Gwyneth’s cheeks. “You do know how to level a woman’s confidence.”

The comment drove both to louder laughter.

Ash had turned to gaze at Gwyneth when she was laughing. He smiled.

Lost in the merriment, she smiled back before she realized she had resolved not to appear as a puppy, waiting at his feet for a pat on the head. She could hide her feelings as well as he did. Forbidden by some unwritten gentleman’s code, Ash, considered her off limits. She wasn’t sure if it was the age difference of eight years, his rakish past, or her position as his best friend’s younger sister.

He still kept her at a distance, maintaining she was a mere youngster, and they were simply childhood friends. She had spent the entire season trying to convince him otherwise, but she was tiring of the game.


Picture 001Connect with Jacki Delecki online!
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Posted in book excerpts, book release, British history, Living in the Regency, Regency era | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments