1914 England and the sun
is shining down on those it always shines on, English upper-class fortunates. A
thinly-disguised Henry James even makes an appearance. These fortunates are in
Rye, walking in their gardens and trying to ignore the slow-motion slide into
The War, the one before numbering was shown to be necessary. It was a moment
when a woman of privilege could speak of never riding on public railway cars
but, instead, having a private car which was cleaned by two of her maids before
she got it. (A private railway car? Just for her use? Did the train wait at the
station while the maids cleaned it? I am still wondering.)
I had echoes in my head
of Hillary’s acceptance speech as I read how the (unmarried, of course) heroine was forced to account for every penny she spent from her own inheritance and how she had to fight for a job she
was more than qualified for. And, beyond that, the casual cruelties of 98 years ago: a gay man threatened with being outed—a way too modern term for what
discovery would have meant, a lesbian couple living in shadowy ambiguity, a
pregnant rape survivor shunned by “polite society.” Human rights…..women’s
rights….The pieces of the plot, totally right for the time, felt shocking in
the context of what I had been watching for the past days.
And underneath it all,
the war. Waving banners, patriotic parades, young women handing out white feathers
to brand unenlisted men as cowards, and only the most astute observers
understanding that this was not likely to be an exciting and brief adventure.
Especially for the poor recruits on the front lines. Especially given the class
distinctions which persisted through who got on the ambulances, who was treated
in which hospitals.
My photo on the home page is by Peter Urban.
My author photo is by James Dalsimer.
The book trailer video is by A. Dalsimer.
The cover of Afterwords was designed by Kate Misail.
The painting on the cover of Afterwords is by Eric Sealine.
The painting on the cover of Container Gardening is by Faith Hochberg.
The photo on the cover of Brightness Falls is by Lora Brody.