Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Old Family Photos

For Memorial Day.

That's my father in the middle, with two of his brothers-in-law.  WWII.  He was a medical doctor on an LST.

They all three survived the war, though all three were badly wounded.

ETA:  Answering a question elsewhere . . . No.  That's not my mother.  That's my Aunt Doc.  And she's not terribly short.  The man in the middle -- my father -- is six foot, four inches tall which is why Aunt Doc looks short. 


  1. Anonymous11:48 AM

    It is no wonder you write so beautifully about strong and able men. Shades of Grey, Doyle, Adrian and Sebastian must have taken root in your mind very early. I'm so glad they all survived.

  2. I am glad myself. *g*

    There's something magical about old photos. Not the least of it is seeing my father looking so young.

  3. Christine12:48 PM

    Gorgeous photo. The woman in it is stunning as well.

    Did you ever notice how men years ago looked like... men? I suspect that is one of the appeals of Don Draper from Mad Men. He looks like a man, not a boy.

    Photos are magical, like a time machine.

    Thanks for sharing the photo.


  4. Hi Christine --

    I imagine the military in war time will do that to you -- making you a fully adult man.

    It is one of the things I try to add to my stories. Unless I am purposefully writing someone young and in the process of changing and growing, I want to write about adults. The decisions adults make are so much more interesting than the decisions adolescents make.

  5. Anonymous11:17 PM

    Yes, absolutely, adults are more interesting. For one thing, they tend to be dealing with real problems that the world gave them--not problems they created for them selves.

    And speaking of which--I just finished the Forbidden Rose. Talk about two wonderful very adult characters. (With, I might add, adult sexuality--very straightforward and no games. Beautifully done.) And its really amazing how you captured the feeling of the time period --I can't think of anything I've read in the last few years that puts me so vividly in a particular time and place.
    I can't believe you ever thought of taking the bunny out. It is so perfect for the start of the book.
    And now I have this amazing set of images of Adrian and Justine...wow. I can't wait. She's the one who shot him, right?
    And what she does at the end of the book blew me away. I had been expecting a child to crop up, but I never realized it was Severine.

    So I have to ask...how long until Justine? Don't get me wrong--take all the time it takes. But not a minute longer please!

  6. Anonymous9:18 AM

    Okay***maybe a FR spoiler***I could be completely wrong, but did we get a glimpse of a young Annique? Excellent memory...didn't want to see Maggie's face????

    Love FR - am smitten once again with Doyle. I do so love the giants.

  7. Hi DLS --

    FORBIDDEN is not more sexually explicit than the other books, but sometimes it uses blunter terminology. I'm inside Doyle's head and he's very earthy.

    Yes. Justine is going to shoot Adrian in 1802.

    I'm working on the JUSTINE manuscript, though not as hard as I should be. It's due to the publisher December 1. That is just scary soon in terms of writing it.

  8. Hi Anon.

    Yes. That is my own self-indulgent Easter Egg. That's Annique.

  9. Anonymous12:39 PM

    Sigh of happiness...that was a wonderful Easter Egg....thanks!

  10. Christine1:37 PM


    I just wanted to say Forbidden Rose was fantastic! It exceeded my expectations and I absolutely did not think that was possible. It is the best book I have read all year- and I read a **lot** of books :0)

    I really enjoyed Maggie and Doyle- they had such a different feel than the other couples. Maggie was still quite young as I recall but she felt more mature than your other heroines, and seemed to have more faith in Doyle (and he in her) if I am not imagining that.

    It was so unusual to be in Paris during the French Revolution and it's aftermath. Usually it's all "lets rescue the aristocrats and get back to England." It was wonderful to "experience" Paris. It's so easy to forget all the people didn't just walk off and leave- as you said before life goes on.

    You also did the impossible for me- and that was make me love Justine. I think I was quite prejudiced against her for shooting poor Adrian (although maybe he deserved it...I don't know yet do I) but within the first paragraph of meeting her I was completely won over. By the end of the book I was counting the minutes until I can read her and Adrian's story.

    I think it is safe to say you do NOT have to worry about reviews!

    Thanks so much for the wonderful story!


  11. Another hurrah for the Easter egg! Actually for all the old friends and acquaintances from the Bourne-verse; I will not name them here in case folks drop by who haven't yet read FR.

    I'm still sighing.

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  13. Hi Christine --

    Thank you so much for liking the book. Oh yes.

    Maggie is a bit older than my other heroines. She's 23 or maybe 24 in FORBIDDEN, where Jess was 21 and Annique just about to turn 20 in their stories.

    Two reasons Maggie seems older, I think.

    First is, Maggie didn't have the dysfunctional childhood of the other two. True, life took a turn for the uncomfortable in her mid-teens. But she was about grown up by then. Before that she was perfectly happy in her Normandy chateau with an indulgent, if mad, father and a sensible governess.

    So Maggie is whole and competent and comfortable in her spirit because she was NOT abandoned in mid-childhood like the other two.

    The other reason Maggie seems mature is that she's at the top of her social heap. When she was growing up, her governess and one or two relatives gave her orders. Virtually every other person in France would have scrambled to obey her from the time she was six.

    Maggie was old, old aristocracy in a country where aristocrats had unlimited power. When she was ten, grown men took their hats off and bowed when she talked to them.
    Deep in her bones there's -- 'I've told you what to do, now you will do it.' She doesn't approve of this philosophically; it's not true in 1794; but the old assumptions are still inside her.

    This comes out in Maggie not as arrogance, but in the 'take-charge' attitude of someone who can't imagine NOT taking charge.

    There's a scene in 'Kim' where Kim is describing his English classmates and how they operate in India. Part of this:

    . . . "There were boys of fifteen who had spent a day and a half on an islet in the middle of a flooded river, taking charge, as by right, of a camp of frantic pilgrims returning from a shrine. "


    I'm trying to build something of that I-will-take-charge-of-course and I-have-the-duty-to-take-charge into my Maggie.

    All of which is a very long-winded way to say Maggie is a different kinda person from Annique and Jess, at least I hope so.

  14. Hi Annie --

    The whole Easter-Egg thingum is somewhat self-indulgent. But I couldn't resist.

  15. Anonymous10:56 PM

    I didn't mean that the sensual scenes were more explicit. I meant that Doyle and Maggie were more direct about what they wanted both sexually and emotionally and more comfortable with wanting it. I guess Sebastian and Grey have that level of comfort but both Jess and Annique do not. I was also thinking of Maggie's golden toenails. She's comfortable doing things to attract Doyle sexually.
    Their problems are totally external, whereas Annique also doesnt' trust her own feelings.

  16. Speaking of FR spoilers, I've been reading the reviews on Amazon (all glowing, BTW) and was interested to see FR referred to as a prequel. Being a bear whose brain activity is ponderously slow, this had not occurred to me. Further, the reviewer advises that the books should be read in order, by which she means chronologically by time period rather than the order in which they were written. I've been ruminating on the implications for the (or more particularly, my) reading experience ever since. Would I have read TSL differently if I'd encountered Adrian and Doyle first in FR? Would the intriguing hints about their pasts delight me more or less knowing what I know now? I'm not sure I agree with the reviewer that it's better to read the books "in order," presuming we know what measure to apply. But as it's impossible for me to go back and read the books in a different order, I obviously can't compare the reading experiences. I've always thought of time as simultaneous such that the lives of each individual take place in a kind of eternal present. I can't bring myself, for example, to think of my parents' lives as a prequel to mine.

    Jo, do you have an opinion?

  17. Hi Anon --

    One difference between Maggie and the other lead females is that Maggie is willing to sleep with someone she does not necessarily plan to marry.

    Maggie is living in a place and time where women of her class are not allowed to pick their husbands, but are frequently powerful enough to take lovers as they choose.

    So for Maggie, the love-making is not a commitment. It can come earlier in the book, when she doesn't know him as well.

    The Eighteenth Century in France brought us lovemaking as a skilled art. I think Maggie would know a little of that.

    (. . . and I cannot spell at all, says jo, going back and removing an extra 't' from committment.)

  18. Hi Annie --

    What I'd like to do is pull this comment up top and make a posting out of it.

    Because it is sort of an interesting question.

  19. Anonymous2:01 PM

    Definitely an interesting post, Annie. I don't know what to recommend either. I read them in the order they were written and I have been loving finding little hints of what I already know to come. The chess set (the one which played a little role in the lovely Galba and Annique scene) was one of the many things that come to mind. I don't know that if I read them in chronological order, I would recognize that set from the priest in Doyle's prison scene. That being said, I just gave my copy of FR to a friend who has not yet read the series. I will ask when she's finished if she was as aware of some those 'Easter Eggs'.

    And, Joanna, I just adored the end of FR!

  20. Hi Anon --

    I am so glad the ending of FORBIDDEN worked for you. I don't think a writer is entitled to use easy, emotional shortcuts, unless she's laid the groundwork beforehand. I hope I laid that groundwork.

    I do not know whether a reader should approach the books in chronological order, or in the order they were written. I am still thinking about this . .

    I WILL put a post up. I've just been snowed under this last week.

  21. Jo, I can't even imagine how hectic this past week has been!

    I don't think there's a right or a wrong order in which to read your books. Just read them, Everyone!

    But because I'm obsessive by nature, I've been brooding about how the reading experience would be changed by reading your books in a different order. I have a few thoughts that I will express obliquely so as not to be spoilery.

    Whether they're called Easter eggs or allusions or hints or whatever, knowing stuff increases the reader’s enjoyment. To use an example with some relevance to FR, if Keats mentions "Bacchus and his 'pards," in "Ode to a Nightingale" I feel all clever if I know that Bacchus is driving a chariot drawn by leopards when he rescues Ariadne. The virtuous reason it's good to know this is because it helps me understand the poem better. But really, it’s just loads of fun catching the reference. It's why Jeopardy has been on the air forever.

    The first time I read TSL, I worried about the fate of one of the characters who appears in the opening scenes. If I'd read FR first, I don't think I'd have been worried, which means my reading experience would have been different. On the other hand, if I’d read FR first, the toast to a young spy embarking on a dangerous mission in TSL might have resonated with me more than it did. (I’m now hoping for his story, btw.) If someone reads FR first, she’ll be all over the allusion to a certain senior spy in Paris when she reads TSL, whereas I barely attended to that when I read it. In other words, the reading experience will be different but not necessarily better.

    As Doyle reflects on the Enlightenment authors he’s read, I love playing “which of these things is not like the other.” What's best about all of these allusions is not the insider information but the confidence they inspire in the fictive world. I believe and trust in the sturdiness of the world, and thus I am invested in the fate of the characters.

  22. Just one more clarification. When I say that catching the reference is fun, I don't mean that in a trivial way. It's serious fun, because it deepens our understanding of the story.

    Jo, you referred to one of the Easter eggs as self-indulgent, but I don't think of them that way at all. All the ones I noticed, and I'm sure I missed a bunch, felt integral to the story. I think they also serve to connect the reader more closely to the world. It's like being invited to a ball instead of having to peer in through the window.

    Whatever order someone encounters your books, she's going to be emersed in the world you created from page 1.