Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Good King Wencelas

A Christmas Carol of Good King Wencelas with
wonderful medieval pictures:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfKtrJ1GvOU

Seasons Greetings to all!

My best wishes Sandra

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all!

The Piano Guys : O Come Emmanuel: a Christmas version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugV6QGcafEE

A beautiful piece of music.

The First Noel by Celtic Woman:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Bts7ndhPw4

My best wishes Sandra

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Splendours of the magical fountains at Versailles

The magical fountains of Versailles are a wonder.

So special, so beautiful. 

I can imagine a time when Louis XIV and his courtiers would spend an
afternoon walking around the gardens of Versailles.  It must have been
a magical experience as it is today when the baroque music plays and
the wonders of the fountains seem to splash in time with the music.

It took some time for me to realise that there were several pathways to follow
and explore to find different fountains and themes at the end of many of the hedgerows
as I was quite entranced
by the beauty of the main displays.
The music was enchanting.  The day was wonderful in early June.

Statues and colourful garden floral displays give a real sense of creativity and beauty.
From the top of the steps looking down over the gardens the view and the perspective of the geometric patterns give a sense of wonderment and beauty.




 







A Christmas Garland by Anne Perry


A Christmas Garland



This is a novel set in Cawnpore, Northern India

during the nineteenth century.



Descriptive writing, almost haunting, the dry wind, the

tamarind trees and seed pods which fall on the ground

bring clarity and beauty to the story.

The dry earth not long before Christmas with reflections

of how different a Christmas in England might be for

Lieutenant Narraway.



A medical orderly is believed responsible for a heinous

crime of which he is to be tried and most likely to be

found guilty.



Lieutenant Narraway is young and new to the area. He is

given the task of defending John Tallis, the medical orderly.

Perhaps he was given this role as he may be able to view

the situation with fresh eyes. He is not familiar with the

situation at Cawnpore, where soldiers have been affected by

shocking events and atrocities which have

recently occurred in this area.



The little spark of hope and a belief in Christmas in an otherwise

bleak environment brings a special quality to this book.



Amongst the soldiers' dilapidated barracks, the dust and the heat

there is an enduring spirit of hope. Lieutenant Narraway assists

with Christmas decorations in a family home and is given a blue

Christmas garland by a young child bereft of a father.



In these special moments there is the belief in Christmas and hope.

Lieutenant Narraway questions his own belief and faith. He has to

hold on to hope but at the same time he cannot risk giving hope to

the medical orderly.



Where there seemed to be no hope for the prisoner Lieutenant Narraway

had to find a way to defend John Tallis and prove his innocence.



This book is wonderful to read and gives inspiration.

Christmas gives hope. It is a wonderful celebration.

A Christmas Garland is well recommended.







Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Preacher's Bride


The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund



I enjoyed reading this wonderful novel set in the early

seventeenth century of the Protectorate rule under Oliver Cromwell in England.



It is fascinating in its detail of the depiction of the lives of ordinary people who lived in Bedford, England and

made their living as bakers, tanners, merchants.



The heroine of the story, Elizabeth Whitbread, is a daughter

of a baker. She is the elder daughter of the family and by arrangement of her father is expected to marry an apprentice tanner from her neighbourhood by the end of the summer.



I loved the spark of romance in this novel regarding

Elizabeth and John, a widower with four children,

the youngest who is a baby.



Elizabeth is obliged to assist by request of a minister to help out the household and the four children, even against John's wishes. She believes that she is doing her duty and the baby may not otherwise have survived without her assistance. Early before dawn each day she would arise and make her way to the house of the preacher, John, and his four children.



A tinker by trade, John finds the time to often leave Bedford and walk in the surrounding areas to preach.

Eventually Elizabeth and John marry. Elizabeth would often watch John leaving in the mornings, his red hair flaming, carrying his tinker's bag and picking his way across the fields to another town or place to continue his work of preaching.



Later, in the story Elizabeth regrets that she had ever tried to encourage John to give up his preaching. She realises

that this was his true calling and it had been wrong of her to attempt to encourage him to stay at home. At the time Elizabeth's wishes for John to place his wife and family before his preaching had placed a strain upon the marriage.



This novel is a story of romance and true beauty, the beauty that is engendered by pursuing a life where worldly concerns cannot intervene or prevent John's true calling in life. Even when John is made aware that he may be arrested he still will continue to engage in a prayer meeting with local people rather than seek escape across the fields to freedom.



The romance sparkles, the dialogue flows, the story is a page turner and the characters give depth and character to the story.



There is also the beauty of working towards a higher and greater cause which is inspirational to read about.



One of John's friends, a minister, who would subsequently visit him in

prison, recognised his talent for writing and would encourage him to continue with his writing.



There is the simple life-style and aspirations of Elizabeth and many of the people of the town who have lived under the Puritan rule and the contrasts of life-style which become apparent and which Elizabeth encounters when she visits London on John's behalf.. and eventually in time there is the restoration of Charles II to the throne when eventually matters improve for John, when the King grants an Indulgence.



This is a lovely book, inspirational and beautiful.

Well worth reading!



This story is loosely based on the true story of John Bunyan, author of “The Pilgrim's Progress” which he wrote while in prison and the story of his second wife, Elizabeth.














Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Beautiful Fontainebleau Palace




Beautiful Fontainebleau



What a splendour!



Fontainebleau is a beautiful palace set in the Fontainebleau forest.



The setting in the forest, the little town of Fontainebleau and the palace

make for a magical and enchanting setting.



Inside the palace are wonderful treasures and inspiring pieces of art and beauty.



A visit to this magnificent palace of Fontainebleau is inspirational.



The name Fontainebleau derives from the legend of a dog named Bleu

who became lost during a hunt in the forest. This was the king's favourite

hunting dog and the king's men were sent into the forest to find the dog. Eventually

Bleu was found with a nymph and a stag at a stream in what must

have been a beautiful setting at the time. To this day there is a Nymph of

Fontainebleu which can be seen at the Louvre in Paris. The gates of the palace

were also decorated with a statue of the Nymph.



I enjoyed reading the book of “The Serpent and The Moon” by Princess Michael

of Kent as it gave fascinating detail of earlier times and the story of Diane de Poitiers

and Henri II, the son of Francis I, who was responsible for building the palace of

Fontainebleau during the renaissance era. The legend of the nymph of Fontainebleau

is mentioned in this book.



Art and decorative themes from earlier

times are on display.



Furniture and decorations enhance the rooms, colourful with candles, tapestries, pictures, chandeliers, mirrors and bedroom furniture. Statues and winged angels are sometimes depicted in the corners of ceilings and as wall features.

A throne room, queen's apartments, ballroom (which Francis I had started and which was

completed by Francis I's son, Henri II), Napoleon's library

and a gallery are impressive and beautiful.

 









 

Looking out from the windows can be seen views

of gardens and lake.

 
Resplendent candlelabra atop mirrors and beside open window frames

evoke an era of romance and elegance of a by-gone era.



The royal family often lived at this palace in earlier times as also did Napoleon and Josephine in a later era. It was sad and poignant to learn that a bedroom had been beautifully decorated for

Marie Antoinette but the unfortunate queen never stayed in this room because of the revolution. However, Josephine in later years stayed in the room. The furnishings were quite exquisite.



Reds, blues and greens seem to have been predominant themes in many of the rooms and the green would have reflected

the Emperor's colours of Napoleon which were quite beautiful. The style was befitting an Emperor of France and sufficiently reflected the grandeur of his position.



I can imagine Josephine sitting at her boudoir in a softening light reflecting on the furrniture writing a letter or preparing for a grand occasion of music and entertainment in the ballroom.

 

The theme of Fontainebleau, a quiet and serene palace seems quite different from any other

palace.



The palace grounds are peaceful and beautiful with a water fountain of

Diana, the huntress with her stag and dogs from which streaming water pours into the fountain.







Looking up at the palace is a balcony at the side of the palace which I noticed. It is quite unique as it stands out and I wondered who may have looked out on the gardens from this balcony. Lovely

statues also adorn the outside of the buildings in this area of the gardens.

 


 

Walking back to the main entrance gate and following the path through the gardens I noticed a sombre

sad looking tree which did have an unusual name of a hanging tree. This tree seemed to be sad

as though it reflected the troubled times which the royalty of previous times had endured and

was now no longer there enjoying the splendours and wonders of beautiful Fontainebleau. This was a most unusual tree.



 
In the book of “Louise de la Valliere” by Alexandre Dumas there is a scene noted where there was also a Royal Oak at Fontainbleau which was quite a famous tree. This “venerable oak” was a feature of the park in the time of Henri II and Diana of Poitiers and Henry IV and Gabrielle d'Estrees.



“...In this manner they reached the royal oak, the venerable relic of an oak which in its earlier days

had listened to the sighs of Henry II for the beautiful Diana of Poitiers, and later still to those of

Henry IV for the lovely Gabrielle d'Estrees.” (page 178 of the Alexandre Dumas novel which has as

a setting the wonderful palace of Fontainebleau.)



During the time of Louis XIV Fontainebleau would have been a lively and wonderful place with

entertainments. The park, lake and gardens would have provided a magical setting.



The book of “Royal Flush” by Margaret Irwin gives wonderful detail of this era of the court which gives a fascinating account of the story of Princess Henriette, known as “Madame” the Duchess of Orleans who married the brother of Louis XIV.



Katherine de Medici, one time queen of France, also held magnificent pageants at Fontainebleau and these entertainments are depicted in a series of tapestries.



Fontainebleau certainly is a historic place with the surrender of the Germans at the end of the Second World War being signed in one of the rooms.



Also, the famous staircase from where Napoleon said good-bye to his soldiers before leaving to go

into exile is a prominent feature. This staircase is quite magnificent. A poignant reminder of all that has gone before in this place of memories, pageantry and beauty.



 




















 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Enchanting Chenonceau


The wonderful Chateau of Chenonceau







 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



On a morning in June I visited this unique and wonderful chateau.



Its beauty certainly appeals set on the beautiful River Cher.



This chateau is famous for Diane de Poitiers, a mistress of Henri II, who was famously known

for her beauty.

The beautiful Chateau of Chenonceau was given to Diane by Henri II. Later Katherine de Medici

claimed the chateau and Diane moved to another Chateau of Chaumont.



There is a lovely walk through an avenue of trees which seemed to glimmer in the sunlight

and at the same time provide shade on the way to the entrance of the chateau.


Then, suddenly, a wonderful vision of a beautiful chateau which looms large as the visitors

of the group approach.



This is scenic wonder! So amazing and beautiful!



The salamander of Francis I, King of France, is visible over the doorway.



There is a beautiful chapelat the entrance, a wonderful hallway with a vase of flowers,

magnificent views over the river and surrounding countryside and a room dedicated to

Louis XIV as he visited the chateau in July 1650.



It is lovely to wander around this beautiful and stately chateau, view the open countryside

and flowing river from the windows high up in the chateau, visit the kitchens and the

bedrooms of previous queens. There is also a Diane de Poitiers bedroom and a bedroom of

Gabrielle d'Estrees, mistress of Henri IV.



There is an interesting little green room upstairs which is known as the room from where

Katherine de Medici reigned over France.



The gallery is magnificent and when I visited there was information regarding the time

when Rousseau stayed at the chateau as a guest of Madame Dupin. The chateau of

Chenonceau was a place of inspiration for Rousseau.



Beautiful tapestries, paintings and motifs from renaissance times adorn the chateau.



It is wonderful to visit.


The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer


The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer



I loved reading this book by Georgette Heyer.



A wonderful adventure story and romance.



This book is set in the countryside at many of the country inns

which were often habited by members of the nobility on their travels.



Characters, places, towns and settings add interest and sparkle

to this unique story.



The Corinthian is Sir Richard Wyndham of the Wyndham Fall,

made quite famous in fashionable London, by the tying of his

cravat. He is accused of being a dandy by a few people in the story, but he is not this at all.



At one time Sir Richard is told by a disgruntled matron
that she has “the greatest dislike of all forms of dandyism” and has “ever deplored the influence exerted by the Bow -Window set upon young men of respectable upbringing.”



This is at a time when the lady's niece, Miss Penelope

Creed, has run away and she is searching for her with a view to her marrying her son.



Sir Richard Wyndham and Miss Penelope Creed, who is living in disguise, unwittingly

come across a stolen necklace which needs to be returned to its owner and meet with

some unexpected happenings along the way when they encounter thieves and villains.



The story is amusing, enchanting and appealing. Humorous dialogue also carries the story.



I loved reading this story. The romance is quite extraordinary. The characters of the novel apealing.



There are two romances in the story and the parralel romance is quite unusual also, involving a mid-night excursion to Gretna Green for an elopement.



An extraordinary set of circumstances brings about this unusual twist in the tale. Two families who were at odds with each other as similarly in the story of the Montagues and Capulets in Romeo and Juliet gave an added dimension to this adventure story.



Georgette Heyer, known as the Queen of the Regency Romance,

writes well of these earlier times, with inclusion of thieves's cant,

a reference of the Rogues' Calendar, Bow Street Runners and the Beau Monde set,

the “haut ton” of the worldm, many who reside in London, including the mother, sister and brother-in-law of Sir Richard.



Sir Richard is also being pressured and expected to marry against his better inclinations to a daughter of a family whereby a business arrangement is expected as he is informed quite frankly and directly by the daughter of the family.



Sir Richard believes that Penelope Creed has come into his life in the guise of Providence, as he tells her, either that or of Disaster and at the moment in reflection he does not care which. The story is very humorous.



The story commences in London and it is a lovely story. Well worth reading!







Thursday, October 4, 2012

The wonderful world of Charlotte Betts' books Part II





The Apothecary's Daughter



Having read and enjoyed “The Painter's Apprentice” I was keen

to read the story which preceded this wonderful book.



The Apothecary's Daughter tells the story of Beth's mother

Susannah, who grew up in Fleet Street, London at her father's

apothecary shop. Beth had grown up learning her craft from

her father of herbal rememdies and cures and enjoyed working in her

father's apothecary shop.



However, there were changes in the air, not always

for the best for Susannah at first glance, though she eventually

finds her place in the world. Susannah's father, a widow, had

decided to marry again which turned Susannah's world upside

down.



This book is magnificent in detail with great descriptive writing.

However, as this book is set twenty years previously to “The Painter's

Apprentice” it brings the reader to the grim realities of London during

the plague years of 1665 and the Great Fire of London of 1666.



This book is emotional and sentimental with wonderful depictions of

life as it was in London during these troubled times of the seventeenth

century.



This story is also a beautiful romance which appeals though I tend to enjoy “The Painter's

Apprentice” for the beauty of the romance. Many of the settings of London

were quite beautiful with golden sunsets, day trips and boat rides on the river Thames.



The romance is between Susannah and one of her father's customers at the apothecary shop,

Doctor William Ambrose, a fairly sombre professional man who works hard in London tending

his many patients. This romance evolves during the story.



There is some wonderful writing by Charlotte Betts describing the horror

and fear in London.



There are also beautiful descriptions given in the

writing of the sunsets, the River Thames, London streets and alleys

and also of beautiful Merryfields, the place

where Susannah eventually leaves London to live.



Strong writing and character make this book wonderful to read.




The wonderful world of Charlotte Betts' books:




I am constantly impressed by the talent and creativity

of contemporary authors of today.



I have recently read two books by Charlotte Betts which are

set in the seventeenth century.



I enjoyed reading both of these books.



The Painter's Apprentice is a wonderful descriptive story of London

set during the time of James II and depicts life as it was during

those fascinating times in London. Horses and carriages, an elegant style of living and the manners and mores of the times are evident in the writing.



The settings of London and its surrounds are quite fascinating and

the characters of the story are endearing.



I loved the romance of the story of Beth who falls in love with a

a budding and ambitious architect from the New World

who assists Sir Christopher Wren with many

of the new works including a church which are flourishing in London at this time.



Beth visits London to assist the Bishop at Fulham Palace with drawing and depicting the flowers and plants of his botanical gardens.



Beth has come from an unusual but loving home whereby her parents

helped and assisted unfortunate people of society who did not have

anywhere else to go to and would have been sent to the Bedlam Asylum

if not for the repose offered at Beth's home of Merryfields.



It was here

that Beth gained her invaluable skills as an apprentice painter to one of the

long term residents. This aspect of the story is quite fascinating with

variable descriptions of previous events in history which may have affected

some of the residents.



The story also gives an indication of the times and the way of life of seventeenth

century London. The mood of the times, the populace of London and

aspects of the reign of James II are also described.



The story gives descriptions of the events which eventually

lead to the Glorious Revolution and Princess Mary, daughter of James II and her

husband, William of Orange, succeeding to the throne of England.



The romance and sense of adventure, the fascinating portrayal of members of Beth's

family and the enduring beauty of many of the scenes with descriptive and expressive

writing give credence to this wonderful story.




Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The novel of Louise de la Valliere by Alexandre Dumas

 
The novel of Louise de la Valliere by Alexandre Dumas

Alexandre Dumas novel of Louise de la Valliere evokes a gentle
and idyllic time of beauty at the court of the Sun King, Louis XIV.

Nobility of spirit, gentility, gallantry and sentimentality seem to jump
from the pages of this classic. The style, the exuberance, the humour
and wit and descriptions of life at Fontainebleau and during the seventeenth
century in France combine to make the story a work of art.

So creative and endearing are the frolics of the characters and the amusements,
poetic style and form of the novel that it certainly is a masterpiece of creativity.

I loved reading this book as it conjures up another world of the gentility and also
beauty of life. In this the king was quite adept.

An array of fascinating characters enlighten the story – from the King who falls in love
with Louise de la Valliere, the musketeers, d'Artagnon, Aramis, Porthos and the
Count of Bragelonne, son of Athos who is sensitive and noble of spirit who has wished to marry
Louise de la Valliere. Humorous episodes are recounted as when Porthos is taken
to a grocer's country seat by d'Artagnon on their travels to Fontainebleau.

Towards the end of the novel is a very descriptive scene of Charles II at Hampton
Court where the Count of Bragelonne has been residing.

Madame Henriette (Princess Henriette d'Angleterre) with her enduring vivacity and
brightness, Montalais, a friend of Louise de la Valliere and the Count of Guiche who falls in love with Madame all
play a fascinating role in the story.
Also the courtiers who surround the king including
Saint Aignan and Malicorne who had a canny way of knowing what would be to the
king's liking, as for example, when he advises people of the king's party and a painter
to arrive late so as to give Louise de la Valliere and the king a few moments together
before the painting of the portrait.

Colbert and Fouquet also make appearances in the novel as in a wonderful stage play.
The descriptions given of Fouquet are quite admirable and he seemed to be a popular
and amenable character who falls in love with the Marquise de Plessie-Belliere who also
assists him in raising money for the king by selling her jewellery. This scene is earlier in the
book and Fouquet at times is also shown to be quite vulnerable in many respects. This, because
of demands which are made of him by Colbert, as for example, raising money for the king and putting on an entertainment for the king and also by being advised by Aramis to send a
letter to Louise de la Valliere believing at the time that the king was in love with Madame (Princess
Henriette.) Louise de la Valliere was in the entourage of the court of Madame.

The scenes of bathing in the River Seine during the peak of the summer months and the beautiful
descriptions of settings at Fontainebleau, including a wonderful old historic oak tree cast a magic
spell over the novel. At times I can almost be reminded of “A Mid-Summer Night's Dream” such
is the evocative and enduring beauty.

This book is indeed worth reading for people who love reading of the era of the Sun King.
It is quite spell binding and riveting. Almost as though every word on the page is a delightful
gift from the master craftsman.

Alexandre Dumas has written a worthy novel of the early years of the king's court and I now
look forward to reading the sequel “The Man in the Iron Mask.”

I will also look at the previous book of the series “The Count of Bragelonne.”



















Saturday, July 7, 2012

More from St Malo

I loved the areas of the Brittany coast, windswept, rugged and wild.

The stone churches were also wonderful to visit.

















Friday, July 6, 2012

Wonderful St Malo!



Oh, to be in wonderful St Malo!

This is a magnificent walled city of fascinating landmarks and inspiring scenery.

In early June I enjoyed walking around the ramparts of this city in the early morning
 looking out over the views of the wide expanse of sea and sky which seemed
to greet the new day.

I loved the history, the folk lore and the sense of adventure which is to be found in the stories
which are told of the explorers, corsairs, merchants and traders who made the city a prosperous 
place.  

Two cruise ships could be seen in the harbour and also a brightly coloured pirate ship which 
was quite inspirational as it evoked a sense of the times of the pirates and corsairs who 
plied their trade on the Brittany coast so many years ago. 

I admired the architecture, the shops and brightly coloured buildings and the little streets with fascinating
outlooks towards the water.  Such is the street of Le Chat qui Danse with a plaque in the wall for 
this famous cat of history.

A statue of a sailor and corsair who was recognised and decorated by Napoleon
is Robert Surcouf, who unfortunately did not always agree with Napoleon on certain matters as for
example wishing for a terrace of coins which Napoleon did not approve.

There is a plaque for explorer, Jacques Cartier who left St Malo for Canada.

The stained glass windows of the Cathedral give an aura of beauty and peace. 

There were little coffee shops getting ready for the lunch time shoppers and workers and the
place had a friendly atmosphere.  

St Malo beckons again with its wonderful sense of history and enlightening stories of the past.








Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

 
The Lantern

An evocative, deeply moving tale of
past and present make this story quite
wonderful and fascinating to read.

An appealing aspect of this book is
the wonderful setting in the Provence
area of France in which fascinating
descriptions are given of the surrounding
areas and villages. The beauty and the
timelessness of rural France. The spectacular
mountain scenery which is described vividly
and is often a back drop to some of the villages
enhancing the beauty of the settings.

At times the book seems to have an element
of the unexpected and mystical. For example,
the lantern which is seen at nights without
any obvious explanation and other seemingly
unexplained occurrences which give a fleetingly
haunting element of beauty to the story.

There are two stories which run parallel in the book,
the modern and a time in the not so distant past
of a few decades earlier at the farm house.

I found
this aspect of the story quite magical and entrancing
for the details of life in the rural village and at the
farm house in earlier years where life seemed more
simple. The stories surrounding Benedicte,
her mother, grand-mother, blind sister and brother
and neighbouring villagers were told with panache
and insight.
It was a wondrous and beautiful time
in France full of magic with the changing landscapes
and colours of the seasons, the beauty and serenity.

There were fetes and
festivals in the surrounding villages and Benedicte's
father made walnut wine at the farm house. At one time
the place had been a thriving, prospering community where
there was often ready assistance from the neighbours and villagers.

The lavender and perfumes of Provence play a significant role
in the story and the descriptions of the flowers and herbs
of the areas give beauty and a trace of the exotic to the novel.

The story of the blind girl is quite fascinating, who because of
her talent for scent which had been developed from a young age,
achieves success in Paris as a perfumier.

The modern aspect of the story is also quite compelling to read
of a romance. This story can be unsettling at times and there is also
mystery surrounding the tale. Shades of the film “Rebecca” come to
mind. The author has mentioned in her notes that she read Rebecca
by Daphne du Maurier before writing the novel.

I am reminded of another story where there were two parallel
stories of the past and the present. This was the wonderful book
of “The Aviary Gate” by Kate Whitaker.
The story of the past was a
beautiful love story where an English woman, Celia Lamprey,
had been captured at sea while on her way
to be married to an English merchant and was taken as a prisoner
to the Sultan's harem at the palace at Old Constantinople. The story was quite
powerful.
There was also a modern story in the book where the heroine of earlier
times was the subject of a research by a modern scholar in Istanbul.
This aspect
of the story appealed for the wonderful descriptions
of the settings in modern day Turkey, the city of Istanbul and places out of the city which
were built close to the water and were serene and beautiful.



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Book of Lost Fragrances by M J Rose

I found this suspenseful book fascinating to read.
Of exotic perfumes, an adventure story and ancient
history all combined to make a wonderful compelling
and mystical tale.

The heroine of the story, Jac or (Jacinthe as she was known by her father)
followed myths and
legends around the world and determined the truth of
many of these ancient legends.

I loved the settings of Paris and New York and the exquisite
nature of the tale with ancient perfumes deriving from ancient
Egypt.

Descriptions of the furniture of the home of the old work shop in Paris
where there were so many memories of earlier times were quite wonderful
and seemed so authentic. The atmosphere of an old fashioned home was
recreated from earlier eras with art works and decorative design of beauty
and majesty.

I enjoyed the re-telling of so many of the stories from the
past. Romances, the flower gardens and perfumes of Queen Cleopatra which provided
exotic and fascinating settings. It was almost as though past and future would mingle.

There were other exotic elements in the story which weaved
together, as for example, the Tibetan lore and the story of a
Tibetan boy who had been kidnapped and taken to China and
became a renowned artist in the field of the beautiful art of calligraphy and whose
works were finally presented in Paris.

A lost fragrance which could also recall past lives? This story has
all the elements of excitement and expectation of a grand finale.
This story is writing at its best and well recommended for people
with scope and imagination. Anything is possible and I found the
tale to be quite magical.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The delightful "Arabella" by Georgette Heyer


This book is a delight to read. The story is refreshing,
light and wonderful. I enjoyed this book immensely.

Arabella is sent to London to make her debut in polite society
of the Regency times. Coming from a country town London
is quite fascinating and new to her. There is much to delight in and
enjoy with the new fashions and parties and society balls.

Georgette Heyer is known as the queen
of the Regency romance and this book certainly lives up to form
with the wonderful descriptions of dress, fashions and formality during
these years. The etiquette, manners and decorum all play their
place in the story. I loved reading of the refinement of the times, London in
the Regency where elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen would display
their fine horses and curricles in the parks where they would often go for
an outing in the mornings; the humour of a situation where Mr Beaumarris's grand-mother
tells him that his grand-father would turn in his grave to see the young men
dressed without lace at their collars and wrists and without powder in their hair.

Mr Beaumarris is the perfect English gentleman whom Arabella
forms an attachment to.

The story sparkles and Arabella does unknowingly give herself away as not quite
the society girl as people are led to believe with her concerns
for a chimney sweep and a poorly treated mongrel dog who she requests
Mr Beaumarris to look after when she realises that the dog may not be welcome after
all at her place of residence in London.

Being young, a little rebellious and acting without thinking Arabella does inadvertently get into a scrape of momentous proportions as regards the expectations of society where she is mistakenly believed to be a wealthy heiress.
Matters are not helped by the appearance of a younger brother in London who becomes embroiled
in difficulties of great magnitude.
I was surprised by the ending of the story which is quite admirable and pleasing. Mr Beaumarris proves his worth as a romantic hero of the story.

A wonderful romance well worth reading.

I will have to look out for more Georgette Heyer books as they are such a delight
to read.

“These Old Shades” is a book I remember enjoying as it was
an exquisiste story of a girl who became disguised as a page and also
found “The Conqueror” to be an excellent informative account of the Norman conquest
of England.
In recent years I also
read “The Nonesuch” which I enjoyed reading.

When I see you smile

Another lovely song: This by Bic Runga:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGH8McmPndw

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Mists of Islay

Another enchanting song from Hayley Westenra:

The Mists of Islay:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE6iCJNNrd8

This song seems to evoke a beautiful place in Ireland.

Best wishes

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dear Heart, How Like You This? by Wendy J Dunn


Is it possible to write a perfect book? This book comes close
to perfection in its well crafted descriptions of beauty, sensitivity and poetry.

This novel tells the story of Anne Boleyn
and Sir Thomas Wyatt and his enduring love for the doomed queen.

A beautiful gem of a novel full of insight and the magical, beautiful
times of the earlier tudor years.

The story is told by Sir Thomas Wyatt from his early years of
childhood spent at the childhood home of Anne Boleyn at Hever
Castle. He often reminiscences of his earlier, happy years spent
in the company of Anne and George Boleyn.

The majestic and inspirational poetry of Sir Thomas Wyatt often
seems to tell its own story written from the heart. This is an exquisite story
of beauty, truth and love. It is a historical
fiction novel. It is mentioned in the notes in a biographical sketch
of Sir Thomas Wyatt that Anne
Boleyn gave to one of her ladies her treasured prayer book for Sir Thomas Wyatt.
This was moments before her impending execution at the scaffold.

I loved following the story, the travels of
Sir Thomas Wyatt to the French
court and also to Italy. He was a diplomat of the tudor court and in his work often spent time
away from the court on government business.
Set during the earlier years of the reign of Henry
VIII this book gives valuable insights into the court of Henry VIII and the
politics of the time during these quite turbulent years.

A story which captures emotion, drama and the mood of the times so well and
is often written from a reflective view point. Quite beautiful!

Some novelists have a gift. Another novel of great beauty and sensitivity is brought
to mind: “Farewell, My Queen” by Chantal Thomas which is a story of the reader
who sat with Marie Antoinette during the final years of the court
and who subsequently wrote her story many years later in Vienna.








Sea Witch by Helen Hollick

Romance and adventure set during the times of the
the swashbuckling seventeenth century and early eighteenth century
give splendour to the story of “Sea Witch” which is a ship named after
Tiola Oldstagh, whose name in an anagram means “All that is good.”

The two main characters, Jesamiah Acorne and Tiola Oldstagh come
from very unlikely backgrounds which tend to fascinate and also shock. Tiola,
from a coastal village in England from which she had been forced to flee with the assistance of family members and Jesamiah from a plantation in the New World, where
he had been obliged to move on and make a new life for himself. Tiola and Jesamiah learn to overcome their background family traumas to hopefully
move on to a better life.

Tiola and Jesamiah both seem to have been
victimised as a consequence of events beyond their control. Tiola should have been free to
pursue a happy life and eventual marriage in her home village which would have been expected
in those times. Jesamiah should have been
welcome to work or pursue a career at his father's plantation.

The story is quite enchanting with a romance between Tiola and Jesamiah The fantasy aspects of the story appeal and are quite refreshing. Sometimes mystical, sometimes magical or was it only a drream? Quite fascinating!

Tiola is beautiful. Almost like a sea nymph. She is also gifted with special healing talents aided by concoctions from medicinal herbs. Jesamiah seems to be more of
a complex character. He is fascinating and popular with his sea going
friends. Jesamiah, with his blue ribbons in his wind-swept hair on board a ship appeals. This is the first time Tiola glimpses him from the deck of another ship.

The settings of the story are exotic and different.e.g. Cape Town in South Africa and the Bahamas,
Nasau and Port Royal. The descriptions given in the story bring the reader to the far off and distant places, often portrayed with vivid landscapes, as for example the beautiful scenery at Table Mountain, Cape Town in the early days. The author has realistically evoked the far off times and the places well with wonderful descriptions which give colour, brightness and beauty to the novel.

Piracy on the high seas
and the adventures of a likeable pirate, Jesamiah Acorne, make this story believable and wonderful. Other characters in the story, e.g. Rue, a friend and sea-going companion of Jesamiah and
Jenny, a companion/nurse/governess of Tiola give added depth to the story. Several of the characters are fascinating to read about, including William Dampier, Mr Overvanstratton, governors, sea-captains, sea-crew and acquaintances,
including people Jesamiah has known from his past.

It was interesting to read of nautical terms and learn more about the sailing of the ships. The book
gives very good descriptions of the complexities involved during those times of the master and crew sailing the ship.
There is an index given in the book of the nautical terms.

I look forward to following the story of Tiola and Jesamiah in the following
books in the series “Pirate Code” “Bring It Closer” and “Ripples in the Sand.” I loved the romance and adventure of the story and the descriptions given on land and on the ocean wave were magnificent. Sea battles, chases, the lure of the ocean, romance and humour make for an enjoyable read!
This book is bright and wonderful. Jesamiah is a bold and adventurous pirate.






Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Musical Melodies

I attended a Musical Medodies show of a singer singing beautiful songs yesterday morning
at a chapel which overlooks beautiful gardens and bush and stream.  The chapel was quite different in the respect that
there were not any ornamentations though this was unnecessary as the beauty of the surroundings outside the windows more than compensated.  The chapel was an interesting and unique design. 

The songs were wonderful.  Many old time favourite love songs.
"Autumn leaves" "True Love" "Have I told you lately" "Smile"and many other
magical songs.  The singer has a repertoire of old and more modern songs.
It was beautiful and inspirational to listen to the songs in such a wonderful setting.
I was fortunate to win a cd of songs in a raffle draw.

I include a Spanish guitar piece which I also think is wonderful:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEfFbuT3I6A

I am sure that it is music for the soul which makes the world go round.

So many forms of beautiful music.

My best wishes

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Poet at the Library

A poet was at the library, in the foyer today composing poems
for people who were entering and leaving he library.

I believed this was a very unique service to provide for people.

The poem which Louise Moriarty gave me is very nice:

"Heart shell opens to reveal
a gem that lights up the darkness
Little moments of connection
mean more than she could know
Her ways are an anchor
to people who need a friend
She shines brighter than she thinks.
Her words will live on.

Louise Moriarty

Something different for the day.

There is a place on the internet to look for a poem a day.
Perhaps I will do this each day as it may be inspirational
for me and brighten each new day.

The Knight and his Lady

“The Knight and his Lady” is a poem which
I wrote for Australia Day poetry. A poem
was required with an Australian flavour for
the Australia Day poetry of Poetry in Paradise
group.  I also think of the poem as The Lady
and her Knight.

This poem has also been included in Joan Small's
e-book of poetry for Australia Day from poets of
Poetry in Paradise which Joan has
very kindly put together.

I include the poem here and there were a few late minute
revisions and editing which have not been included in
the e-book version of my poem. The last paragraph
unfortunately has been omitted. This may have been due to
time pressures.


The Knight and his Lady

And in this land of great contrasts,
where ocean swells and sunset spells
cast magic over the gathering night
purple mountains and crimson light
the outback, desert, storm weathered trees
and silent plains,
in silhouette
enduring beauty lasts;-

Where birds of great plumage
Stir in trees, sparking colours
in the breeze
And a golden daffodil sways on a hill
And a little gold-fish swims in a pool so still
And out of the darkness reached this light
A golden beam ever bright
The Knight and his Lady
from the Night;

The Knight and his Lady
from distant times:
His bow was courteous
And her curtsy swept the floor:
“Oh, My Lord! Is it really you?
Did you not know that I was ever true?”

A horse so sturdy from the land,
Bedecked in colours from his hand
In majestic circles pawed the ground
This one time the Knight was found:
In the Lady's dreams or not?

For down through the ages
Bereft or still
The Lady dreamt of her Knight!

And today, in Australia
on these golden shores
Where the sea-gulls
echo, and cry and soar
Where azure skies do meet the sea
and the sand glistens, mesmerising, beautiful
And the lady on the shore
Looks out as before:
Awaiting her Knight
From old-time lore:-

This Knight and the Lady
presently met
Where from old times
they always went
And time together
was often spent;

Now in passing
She wonders why
The Lord and his Lady-
The times went by:

Now in increasing shadows and loneliness
The Lady reasons with her Knight
Why from Australia must they flee in flight?
A beauteous country,
Australia IS:

If only there is room for the Lady and her Knight:
God speed and good wishes for the Lady and her Knight:
A beauteous dream if there ever be:
A good Lady and her courtly knight:
From the casement windows of a keep
The Lady sees the contours and the sheep
As it was in England after a long sleep:

“ Oh, My Lord, is it really you?
I sang your praises loud and true:
I watched as sunlight glinted bright
And the Heavens gleamed in a starry night:
And the birds would echo, arch and soar
flap golden wings
ocean flecked spray and sunlight as before:”

There from the shadows
Spied she
The Knight's bright carriages
and entourage,
They travelled far
in these wind-swept times;
Songs of love
and distant shows
Courtly minstrels recited poetry
As evening glows:

How far we've come
to a distant shore:-
the land of blizzards
and temperate clime
Where the eels and lizzards
find their space
From the space of another time;

Now in the evening glow
As fire-light crackles
And the sparks do jump
With great forests of ever-green:
The Lord and his Lady enjoy the scene:
As their life has once been
Now will they
their lives redeem:

“My Lord, for you
I would always care-
This I knew
For many a year.”
Good luck, good wishes
and all the best
Now for a love ever blessed:

God in his mercy
looks down from above
Sees the beauty of enduring love.

I would also like to wish everyone a Happy New Year
for 2012 and hope that this year is a good year.

I have also been fortunate to find two wonderful books
with illustrations by Pro Hart of poetry of Banjo Patterson
and Henry Lawson which I will enjoy reading which was
available at a sale. 
I once also found the wonderful book of
"The Sun-King's Garden" by Ian 
which is a magnificent illustrated
book from a sale at Australia Fair.
For an e-book of Australian Poetry for Australia Day
from Poetry in Paradise please refer to Joan Small's
link for the free download: A Kaleidoscope of Aussie Poetry:



Best wishes from Sandra