Tag Archives: Catherine LeVendeur

Pictures and Pears and Other Randomness

Helen Jones, of Journey to Ambeth, just posted some lovely pictures for her “Thursday Doors” series, of the church in Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire. Take a look, here. I love the way Helen’s pictures can grab me and just, for a few minutes, toss me into another place, right across the other side of the globe. And then, bing, I’m back in my Canadian existence, just a little richer for my tiny little armchair travel experience. (Check out this crazy lapis-lazuli-and-gold swimming pool she posted pictures of the other day. I mean, doesn’t that make you feel like your mind has expanded just a tiny bit, knowing this ludicrously, gloriously extravagant piece of achitectural razzle-dazzle exists in the world?)

One of the things that caught my attention in today’s post, though, was the name of that one and only English Pope, Nicholas Breakspear (who apparently came from Abbots Langley, hence his inclusion in the post). I’d never heard of him before. Now, frivolously-minded person that I am, it didn’t make me think deep thoughts about history – it just set me to wondering if he’s any relation to The Bard. You know, 12th-century Breakspear to 16th-century Shakespeare… Maybe in the intervening 400 years, the family figured out how to wave about their weaponry without cracking it – from Nick “break spear” to Will “shake spear”… [Yeah, I know, it’s bad. I just couldn’t resist.]

Nicholas Breakspear would have been Pope right around the time Brother Cadfael did his sleuthing in Shrewsbury Abbey, and Catherine LeVendeur hers in Paris. As far as I know, those two never did cross paths, although I’m sure they would have got along swimmingly. Neither did Lord Peter Wimsey and Inspector Roderick Alleyn, although by rights they should have – both attended Oxford right around the same time, were younger sons of the peerage, had mothers who read almost like identical twins, and married women involved in the arts/writing scene. And that’s not even taking into account the Scotland Yard connection. Lord Peter’s brother-in-law, Charles Parker, in fact occupies Inspector Alleyn’s chair as Chief Inspector, right around the same time. We must be dealing with parallel universes here; I’m sure Scotland Yard Chief Inspectors aren’t as thickly strewn on the ground as all that. (While we’re at it, Carola Dunn’s Alec Fletcher, the Hon. Daisy Dalrymple‘s husband, is another contender for that Chief Inspector’s chair. That seat must have been one hotly contested piece of furniture in the 1920s.) IMG_20160211_125146

Anyway. To wrap up today’s silliness, here’s a picture of Steve on a laundry basket. Just because you, I’m sure, needed to see a photo of a bear sitting on a household implement today. You’re welcome.

Life, the Universe, Fictional Sleuths, Pictures and Pears. And bears, of course, as well.

PS: Have you put in a pre-order for Checkmate yet? Just eight more days…

PPS: Now that I think of it, none of this has anything to do with pears, just spears. But I like the alliteration.

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Reading Break

IMG_20151230_092227A friend of mine posted a meme on Facebook on Sunday. It went something like this: “Enjoy your last pyjama day. Tomorrow, we have to go back to adulting.” Sigh, yeah. Adulting. That’s where you have to get up in the morning, get dressed, and be responsible. You can’t just stay in bed all day and read books.

What, that’s not how you spent your holidays? I sure did. I had a great reading break. (That, my dear college students, is a break for reading, not from reading. Just in case you were confused on the matter.) Okay, maybe I didn’t stay in bed all day. I got up. I put on my house coat and slippers – sometimes even my leggings and a big T-shirt – and I went downstairs. And then I sat on the couch, and read books all day. It was awesome.

Even as a kid, that was what I loved most about school holidays, the freedom to indulge in fiction first thing in the morning. And I use the word “indulge” consciously: I was raised with the attitude that reading is indulgence – it’s being a couch potato, something for rest and relaxation in the evening and on days off, not something you do on a normal school or work day in the middle of the day. So parking my rear on the couch and vegging out with a book feels very holiday-ish and self-indulgent. [Heh – “vegging out” – “being a couch potato” – what’s with all those derogatory references to vegetables? The English language seems to be rather biased towards carnivores.]

I really had planned on doing a few other things during the holidays, as well – like maybe excavate my workshop and make some pottery; or go hang out with friends. But it all fell by the wayside. The people I did hang out with quite extensively were Sharan Newman‘s Catherine LeVendeur and her cousin Solomon of Paris, ca. AD 1145. (It’s a really excellent series; I’d highly recommend it if you like historic mysteries – I haven’t read anything this well-researched since Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael. Unfortunately, the earlier books are from the early 90s, so not as easy to find; I had to get several of them by Interlibrary Loan. But they’re well worth the effort.) And when I ran out of Catherine books to read, there were a couple new Shanna Swendson ones – e.g. the third in her Fairy Tale series (that’s the one on my Kobo, on the top of the stack). From 12th-century France to 21st-century New York with rogue fairies running amok – what’s not to like?

So, yeah. I had a good vacation. The house went to pot, we spent days eating Christmas leftovers (isn’t that the whole point of Christmas dinner, to have leftovers?), I didn’t talk to any of my friends – but I read my fill. For a little while, at least.

Life, the Universe, and a Reading Break. Do I really have to go back to adulting now?

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