Several readers of the Christmastime series have told me that they have a special ritual for beginning the books. They get comfortable in their favorite reading chair, adjust the lighting just so — perhaps lighting a candle, or if they’re really lucky, curling up in front of a fireplace — and most importantly, they have a cup of something hot at their side to sip on while reading. Hot chocolate, a cup of tea, a fragrant cup of coffee.
So, along with a few comments from readers, I’ve gathered some images from my Pinterest boards that might inspire you to do the same. Enjoy!
“We would recommend it for anyone looking for a good book to curl up with by the fireplace.”
“This is a perfect holiday novella to read on an overcast cold and windy November or December day.”
“You will want to wrap yourself in a warm blanket with a cup of hot-buttered rum or hot chocolate as you journey your way through this story.”
“A quick, tender hearted, holiday read, Christmastime 1939 will warm your heart in all the right ways. Snuggle up next to the fire, make yourself some cocoa, and settle in.”
“This is one of those series that I will probably reread every Christmas and make it my new tradition.”
“This is a great book to kick back and read with a nice cup of tea!”
“A great…story to read as Christmas approaches! Get some hot cocoa and jump into these books!”
What is it about October that seems so well suited to the raven and all it has traditionally symbolized — thoughts of mortality, loss, longing, and loneliness. Dread, ill omen.
Is it the closing of the year, with its shorter nights and falling temperatures that force us indoors to ponder such thoughts? Is it the proximity of Halloween?
All these dark sensibilities are perfectly evoked in Edgar Allen Poe’s narrative poem, The Raven, written in 1845. Poe said the raven is meant to symbolize “Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance.” Though set in “bleak December,” the poem is perfect for October and Halloween — with haunting elements of the supernatural, gripping “sorrow for the lost Lenore,” and a late night visitor “tapping at my door” uttering the unsettling refrain of “Nevermore!” Spooky.
Raven, rook, crow — there’s something authoritative about the sleek black bird. It perches high in trees and pierces the air with its call. Its sound is not the dulcet, sympathetic tones of the mourning dove, another bird associated with loss, but a more insistent and raucous “caw!” Forcing us listen to its bleak message whether we want to or not.
In honor of Edgar Allen Poe, and in celebration of this time of year, I give you the raven (all images are from Pinterest). I hope you enjoy them!
The following photographs are from my Pinterest boards. I started to collect images of the 1940s when I began writing the Christmastime series — stories that take place on the home front during World War II.
I wanted to get a sense of the times in order to better portray Lillian and her friend Izzy, and all the women in the series — women who live and work in New York City,
as well as those who run an orchard and live on a farm.
There are young mothers and career women, volunteers and performers, of all ages. And of course, there are a few images on the boards of men, to help portray the relationships in the books.
Some of the photographs on the Pinterest boards are of famous women,
others depict the not-so-average women of the day,
whose lives were turned upside down by the war. They rose to the challenge — going without, making do, and stepping into roles they never imagined for themselves.
These images helped me to tap into the spirit of the times and funnel some of the charm and energy into the characters of the Christmastime series.
Once in a while I put out a request for book reviews. I’m always trying to increase my numbers, especially on Amazon and Goodreads, as it leads to greater discoverability.
If you have read The Garden House, I would deeply appreciate a review (and by that I mean a few words or even a simple star review).
If you have not read The Garden House but would like to and are willing to leave an honest review on Amazon, please contact me at email@example.com and I will send you a free ebook through BookFunnel.
And to all of you who have left reviews, thank you ever so much. Your stamp of approval means the world to me!
Lately, I’ve been thinking about a movie I’ve always loved, Enchanted April, based on the 1922 novel by Elizabeth von Arnim. I remembered that I had bought the book a few years ago and decided to read it — and watch the movie again. Set shortly after WWI, the story is about two women who are unhappy with their dreary, loveless lives in rainy London.
After seeing an advertisement for “Wisteria and Sunshine,”
they become filled with the dream of renting a villa in Italy for the month of April.
The impetuous Lotty convinces her friend Rose to make the dream a reality.
They find two other women, who are also dissatisfied with their lives, to join them in order to help lessen the cost, and set off for Italy.
A month of strolling through the terraced hillsides, enjoying the rocky shore, dining al fresco, and resting in the tranquility of the gardens enables their spirits to heal.
The result is a reawakening to life, love, beauty, and newfound friendship .