Giving Tuesday Giveaway

Stories cover

I’ll be running this giveaway for one week, from December 2nd to December 9th, 2014. The giveaway is for one signed copy of Stories from the Other World. To enter to win, leave a comment here, or on Facebook. Bonne chance!


(Update: The giveaway is over, and the winner is…Ann Sutton! Thank you to all who entered and for all your support.)


Stories from the Other World

Stories cover

Just in time for the Day of the Dead, my new book of short stories is out and ready to take you on a short trip to the Other World.

“Beyond” the rainbow is a world we are all familiar with in our Technicolor dreams. But when a little girl arrives on a flat, gray farm carrying tales of that place, the consequences are not quite as we dreamed them. “Carry Me Home” is set in a summer camp where carefree kids happily spend their days canoeing, swimming and riding horses. Matt Harper, age nine and at the camp against his wishes, is not one of those kids. On a horse for the first time, Matt is in for the ride of his life. “The Wheel of Fortune” finds a group of women on an idyllic island on the night of a full moon, gathered together to play bridge and gamble the night away. Amanda Arrington basks in her success in bringing them all there, until a man in winged shoes arrives to offer them the final bet. “Being a Ghost Story of Christmas” begins in the familiar world of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” but, just as Scrooge begins to live his new life, Jacob Marley and the Spirits return from that other world…this time for Tiny Tim.

Read an excerpt from “Carry Me Home” here.

Nicholas Nickleby

1875 Household Edition of Nicholas Nickleby

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. Isn’t this a gorgeous book?

Nicholas, his sister Kate, their mother, and evil Uncle Ralph Nickleby

And it has wonderful illustrations by C.S. Reinhart.

"Unhand me, Sir!"

I have been reading this book as part of a Goodreads group, and sharing these pictures with them as well, as I believe that most of them are reading from editions that have no illustrations. I’ve actually read this book before (please don’t tell anyone in the group), but it has been interesting to hear other people’s thoughts on the book as they read it.

"Ah!" cried Mr. Mantalini, "Interrupted!"

Mr. Mantalini is one of my favorite characters, even if he is a “demmed” scoundrel, “demmed” and “demnition” being two of his favorite curses. Here he attempts to kill himself because his wife has accused him of ruining them, which he has. Since the attempt is being made with a “breakfast” knife, which I assume is like a butter knife, I doubt it is sincere.

The Infant Phenomenon

This young lady, a member of the theatrical troupe that Nicholas has joined, is billed as the “Infant Phenomenon”, and her talent, according to the manager of the troupe, who also happens to be her father, “…is not to be imagined.” When Nicholas asks her age, he is told she is ten, to which he replies, “Dear me!” It’s extraordinary.”

“It was, for the the infant phenomenon, though of short stature, had a comparatively aged countenance, and had moreover been precisely the same age- not perhaps to the full extent of the memory of the oldest inhabitant, but certainly for five good years. But she had been kept up late every night, and put upon an unlimited allowance of gin-and-water from infancy, to prevent her growing tall, and perhaps this system of training had produced in the infant phenomenon these additional phenomena.”

Dickens himself had been an actor on the stage for a time, and so one wonders if producing infant phenomena is such a manner as described by Dickens above actually occurred, or if it was just a product of Dickens’ fertile imagination. Regardless, despite the fact that this 1875 edition is a beauty inside and out, it is Dickens’ words that make any edition a treasure.

Charles Dickens 200th Birthday

February 7th, 2012 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, and all over the world, the occasion is being commemorated, celebrated, noted, and feted.  At Westminster Abbey, there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at Dickens “final resting place.” Somehow, I find it hard to imagine Dickens resting anywhere.

I have heard that as Dickens was writing, he would get up from his writing table (he even had a special traveling writing table with an inkpot and ready-made quill pens) and go to a mirror, where he would speak the lines he was writing for a character and make, on his face, the expressions, the grimaces, the features of each character, and when he had them down in his mind he would return to the writing table and write what he had just modeled in the mirror.

In later years, Dickens would travel the world, giving live performances of his writings, and folks would marvel at how he could embody each character so completely, down to their accents, their speech patterns, their facial expressions. their body language.

Dickens made a cameo appearance in my book, Parisian by Heart, and I will include a bit of it here:

“Well, I…”  I saw Colette’s cat eyes shift to a place somewhere over my head. I looked at Marcel, he was also following her gaze. A voice spoke behind me.

“Please forgive me, Mesdames et Monsieur, but I could not resist taking the chance to speak to you without being formally introduced?” The voice had an English accent, and I turned around to look into the face of…

”Dickens. Charles Dickens.” He held out his hand to Marcel, who had risen, and after they shook hands, he reached for Colette’s hand, then didn’t seem to know whether he should shake it or kiss it. He tried a little of both. Colette smiled her cat smile.

Marcel spoke. “And may I present my traveling companion, Suzy.” Dickens gave me a little bow. I looked at Marcel, who gave a little shake with his head. “Madame Suzy; a pleasure to meet you. Well!” He clapped his hands together. “The two literary giants ofFrance! I would not have believed I could be so lucky as to meet you on my last night in Paris.” Colette leaned forward and gestured towards an empty chair at the table. Dickens seated himself and looked around the table at us all, delight written on his face.     “What brings you to Paris- may I call you Boz?  From one ‘literary giant’ to another?” Colette asked, lighting another cigarette from the one she was already holding.         “Oh, I should say, certainly you may!” He looked at Marcel, who said nothing. “I am here doing research for a new book I have in mind; I’m tentatively calling it “Tale of Two Cities”.

Marcel started forward in his chair, and Colette’s laugh rang out across the dining room. I noticed several discrete and a few not so discrete looks in our direction.       “Relax, Marcel, ma cherie, I do not think he means the two cities you are thinking of!” Dickens looked confused as Colette explained, “Marcel thinks you mean Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Marcel turned to Dickens and asked, “Two cities, Monsieur?”

“Why, yes – London and Paris. At the time of the Revolution. I have been working on the opening lines; would you like to hear them?” We all nodded.

Dickens pulled some folded pieces of paper from one of his pockets, and began to read: “It was a pretty good time, it was a really bad time…” He looked up at Marcel and Colette, who looked at each other as if waiting for the other to speak. When they did not, Dickens cleared his throat and said, “Needs work, eh? Yes, I thought so. Well, it’s not the best of beginnings, but it’s not the worst of them either…”

In honor of Charles Dickens 200th birthdday, I am having a giveaway of my book. Leave a comment here, or like my Facebook page, and you will be entered in the contest to receive a signed copy of Parisian by Heart.

Giveaway ends February 10th, 2012.

Happy 200th, Charles Dickens!

Two for the Price of One

You may already know that Marcel Proust is my favorite author.  Hence, this blog and my website, Madeleine Moments.  But do you know who my second favorite is?  I’ll give you a hint: his pen name was Boz.  Need another hint? 

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Yes, Charles Dickens.  The picture below is an 1873 set of Dickens’ works (all but 2 or 3 volumes which we have since acquired) which I read, in order of Boz having written them, one after the other.  It took me just over one year.

Works of Charles Dickens

Works of Charles Dickens

 So yesterday was my lucky day, because I had a Proust sighting and a Dickens sighting in the same sentence!  How’s that for excitement??  You’re overwhelmed, I can tell, as I was.  And it was in my favorite magazine- can you guess?  I won’t make you guess- it’s the New Yorker, the September 21st issue, to be exact, in Caleb Crain’s article entitled “It Happened One Decade: What the Great Depression did to culture”.

Here’s the sentence:

“(Dickstein) praises Henry Roth’s ‘Call it Sleep’ (1934) for its Dickensian polyphony of voices and Proustian sensibility.”

Dickensian and Proustian.  Doesn’t get any better than that. 

Bonus Proust sighting:

Peter Schjeldahl in the Sept. 21st issue of The New Yorker:

 “…the ailing writer Bergotte weighed the value of his life against that of a ‘little patch of yellow wall, with a sloping roof’ in Johannes Vermeer’s “View of Delft”…”

 Schjeldahl goes on to say: “It happens to be erroneous.  There is no yellow wall under a sloping roof in Vermeer’s cityscape. (There is a yellow sloping roof.)  Scholars have earnestly debated what Bergotte saw, failing to consider that, like the rest of us, Proust had a lousy memory.”

For shame, Peter Schjeldahl.  Where is your Proustian sensibility?