Friday, December 9, 2011


My research for the settings for Winter Shadows took me to rural Manitoba St. Andrew's, a parish on the Red River in Manitoba, which still has some of the old stone houses from around 1850.

The exterior of my house in the novel, Old Maples, is fashioned after that of Captain Kennedy's house along the Red River (now  a tea house and museum) and some of the interior comes from a typical small whitewashed Red River squared-logged house; the sort where the farmers and former servants of the Hudson's Bay Company lived; and also from the Governor's House at Lower Fort Garry, a few miles away - as Beatrice's father had once been a man of rank in the Hudson's Bay Company.

You will soon be able to see more photos of the area, houses and interiors under the Winter Shadows tab above, as I add them in the new year.

                                                  Governor's Kitchen - Lower Fort Garry

Above is hearth in the Governor's house at the fur trading post which gave me an idea of what the old hearth could look like in Old Maples - which Cass (in modern times) sees for the first time when the workmen renovating the old house tear off the wall that is hiding it. She finds an important link to the past inside the sooty hearth wall. There are a lot of hidden things in that old house! Even a ghost...

                                    Governor's Kitchen - Lower Fort Garry

This is the old kitchen at the fort, below, c 1850. Although it's not exactly the same as my other main character Beatrice's kitchen in 1856, it's pretty close. Her home kitchen at Old Maples is a bit larger, as it would be the centre of family life unlike the Governor's house. You can see the smoke hanging in the air. In Beatrice's kitchen there is also a large wooden table to work and to eat at and six wooden chairs - and her step-mother Ivy's locked store cupboard! A similar table is seen below.

 Cass and Beatrice share the same house over 150 years apart. Both are unhappy young women, each facing a tough new stepmother as well as other big changes in their lives. They often look out the windows of the old house to the river and trees beyond. Are they really seeing each other through time?

I'm not sure what this little sleigh, above is, except probably a "play" sleigh for a child or a form of highchair. But it has a very Christmas-y look to it!

There are more photos which I took when researching the area. I will be adding them in the new year under Winter Shadows' information.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Does the world of the Present need a Ghost of the Future?

"Ghost of the Future," he exclaimed, "I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me?"   A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

A Grand Denouement Can Be Delicious....

A Grand denouement can be delicious…
The word denouement is from the old French desnouer (to unknot) and from the Latin nodus (a knot). To untie a knot.

What a perfect way of putting it.

Officially, in a narrative, it is the event or events following the climax; the resolution or clarification of the plot.

                                                      Jane's Writing Desk and Ink Pot

Jane's writing: Persuasion

To my way of thinking, (arguably) the denouement occurs at the very moment that the knot is untied; when the uncertainties set up in a story become more certain. It is the moment when the reader realizes that the path to the final scenes have been laid and the outcome will be played out for out for their delectation.

My favorite denouement is “The” scene in Jane Austen’s novel, Persuasion. It is absolutely the most "delicious "denouement of all time, (in my opinion) and the most romantic, exciting, and stunning untying of the knot in any narrative, and one I reread just on its own now and again.

It occurs after Captain Wentworth realizes he is finally free to follow Anne Elliot to Bath. When he first arrives, he is certain that he has lost Anne to the grasping Mr. Elliot. But something she says to Captain Harville - a moving treatise on constancy….

All the privilege I claim for my own sex {it is not a very enviable one; you need not covet it, is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone.” ….makes Captain Wentworth (Frederick to me….) decide to take a risk and lay out his heart to Anne Elliot for the second time in their relationship - by sliding a note expressing his continued and undying love onto the table where she is sitting - before he takes his leave.

He begged their pardon, but he had forgotten his gloves, and instantly crossing the room to the writing table, he drew out a letter from under the scattered paper, placed it before Anne with eyes of glowing entreaty fixed on her for a time, and hastily collecting his gloves, was again out of the room…”

Anne Elliot reads:

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

'I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never."
I have never been a fan of the word delicious used other than for gastronomic delights, but aah, the delicious wonder of that moment!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Quote(s) of the Week

Two quotes by  Beverly Cleary. My daughter adored her books about Beezus and Ramona. And now her daughter loves them just as much.

"I don't necessarily start with the beginning of the book. I just start with the part of the story that's most vivid in my imagination and work forward and backward from there."

"I feel sometimes that in children's books there are more and more grim problems, but I don't know that I want to burden third- and fourth-graders with them."