We’ll hazard a guess that, at least once in your life, you’ve fantasized about packing up your life and moving to (what feels like) a different world—an idyllic small town, a bustling metropolis, a remote windswept isle… In J. F. Riordan’s sparkling North of the Tension line series, a writer does just that, moving from Chicago to a sparsely populated island in Door County, Wisconsin. Her ensuing small-town adventures are presented with enormous heart throughout this delightful series. Today in the Bluestocking Salon, Bas Bleu sat down (virtually, no masks required!) with novelist J. F. Riordan to learn more about why she chose Door County as her setting, how opera helped shape her novelist’s voice, and what effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on her writing. Continue reading →
The telephone rang in the sleek, city office of Victor Eldridge. As he reached to answer the pain came again with a deep, resounding blow that made it difficult to breathe. He braced his hands against his desk, waiting for it to pass as it always did. The ringing phone, mixed in the wake of his agony, was almost beyond bearing.
Victor Eldridge was not a religious man, but what he experienced now was as much of a prayer as he would ever utter. Please, let this be the end of it. Please let the pain stop.
He did not care how.
The ringing and the pain faded at the same moment, and it seemed as if the room echoed with both. He stayed frozen in position, his breathing shallow.
He straightened slowly and leaned back in his chair. There. His breath became deeper and he could feel his heartbeat slowing to its normal pace. His reason returning from the chaos of suffering, he began to think. He had much to do but very little time. The pain was gone. For now. But he knew it would come again.
Miss Jane Marple was born in an English cathedral close, a gentlewoman and lifelong resident of the village of St. Mary Mead. While most women of her generation devoted themselves to homemaking, Miss Marple leveraged her unflappable constitution and needle-sharp understanding of human nature into an unorthodox career in criminal justice. Weathering criticism and scorn from those who question the intellect and skill of spinsters, Miss Marple has quietly cultivated a sterling reputation as “the finest detective God ever made,” unmasking criminals from all walks of life and earning the respect of Scotland Yard’s top brass. Her tireless work over the years has saved countless lives…and laid the groundwork for a presidency rooted in fairness and fearlessness in the face of evil. Thus it’s only natural that Miss Marple would choose former police officer Hercule Poirot as her estimable running mate. Monsieur Poirot’s devotion to law and order shapes all aspects of his life, work, and moustaches, and his little grey cells and sophisticated worldview are matched only by his reputation across Europe and the Orient as one of the most unique personalities in law enforcement. United in their quest for truth and justice, voters can rest assured: Marple and Poirot are on the case.
I’ve always loved the kind of murder mystery in which bodies are decorously laid out on the library floor without a lot of fuss and bother, and the rest of the books concern witty conversation and much drinking of tea–or tisanes. When I was living in Austria, I polished my German by reading translations of Agatha Christie novels. It was extremely helpful, but also led to a rather peculiar vocabulary.
I’m pretty sure that my taste for series of books in which readers can re-visit the characters like old friends came, in large part, from my affection for Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.
Miss Marple for President!
Today is the 202nd anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice. I doubt, when she wrote it, that she expected it to endure for two centuries, and I wonder how many of our contemporaries realize how perfectly modern–and perfectly biting–its humor is. If you haven’t read it, now’s the time.
Here’s to Pride and Prejudice. May it long endure.
January 28 marks the anniversary of Pride and Prejudice’s publication in 1813, a cultural milestone that almost never was thanks to a dismissive publisher who rejected Jane Austen’s manuscript First Impressions in 1797. Sixteen years later, Thomas Egerton bought the rights to Pride and Prejudice for just £110…and the rest, as they say, is literary history. So today, the twenty-eighth day of January, in honor of P&P’s birthday, Bas Bleu is sharing our list of twenty-eight life lessons we learned from Miss Austen, Lizzie Bennet, Mr. Darcy, and, yes, even Mr. Wickham.
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