Sunday Book Review Daphnis and Chloe

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Penguin_Little_Black_Classics Have you seen these cute little black books? They are part of the PENGUIN Little Black Classics series, issued in 2015 to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Penguin Books.

Perhaps by making them pocket-sized, they had hoped to downplay the significance of these works and by doing so, make them appear less daunting / more palatable to the harried, multi-tasking contemporary reader. If that was their ploy, it certainly worked on me.

Why not start out with a highly accessible story in the series entitled Daphnis and Chloe by Longus? It is a pastoral love story that takes place in the 2nd century A.D. on the Greek Isle of Lesbos. This charming tale of two youths, both from unknown origins who were raised by simple farmers in the countryside, comes across as a very simple tale. Yet it has a magical timelessness about it.

Written in an era when people lived off the land, honored the sea nymphs and prayed to the Gods with impressive results, it definitely says 2nd century A.D. But it has a strange modernity about it as well. Homosexuality is seen as perfectly normal and timeless issues of wealth versus poverty, cultural conflicts, deceit, abduction, forgiveness, jealousy, greed, innocence and desire all play a role. Considering so many contemporary novels have mystical elements, Pan intervening on behalf of a love struck man seems almost contemporary.  And for an author of romance such as myself, I was of course happy to learn that at the heart of this little novel is love.

Raised as sheep and goat herders, Daphnis and Chloe spend a lot of time together tending to their flocks out in nature, away from others. Seeing as there’s lots of down time, like when the sheep are resting in the shade, they have plenty of leisure time to swim in the lakes and the rivers, play pipes, weave garlands for the sea nymphs and bathe in the pools of the sea nymphs. Considering the importance of nature and how efficiency in nature is important, it might even be fair to say Daphnis and Chloe is one of the first eco-romances.

Daphnis grows from a happy young boy into a handsome young man. The women of the village liken his beauty to that of the god Dionysus. Chloe transforms from his childhood playmate into a beautiful young woman.  As you can imagine, all of that bathing and touching and time in nature starts to awaken things in them. But do they even recognize what’s going on? No. They don’t. If The Blue Lagoon ever needed a source for depicting innocents discovering the joys of the human body, this could have been their reference book.

Although Daphnis and Chloe are innocent, those around them know the drill. Nevertheless, it takes quite some time before they are enlightened. When Chloe first falls for Daphnis, she has no idea what is happening to her.

“She cared not for her food, lay awake at night and disregarded her flock; she laughed, then she cried; she sat down, then she leaped up; her face was pale, and then again it was fired red.”

Daphnis and Chloe, p.11

Daphnis is equally clueless: “‘Whatever did Chloe’s kiss do to me? Her lips are softer than roses, her mouth is sweeter than honey, but her kiss is sharper than a bee sting. I’ve kissed kids many times, I’ve kissed newborn puppies many times . . . . But this kiss is something new. I’m short of breath, my heart is pounding, my soul is melting away: yet I want to kiss her again.'”

Daphnis and Chloe, p.15

Will these two young lovers ever discover how love works? You’d think with flocks of  animals around them, they could figure out the mechanics, but that would be too easy.  The Greek author Longus lines up a long cast of obstacles: other would-be suitors, abduction, near death, trickery, attempted rape, attacks by foreigners to strange discoveries of their origins. Longus is so good at spinning his tale that he leaves his readers from the 2nd century and the 21st century wondering if these would be lovers will end up together. He does not dissapoint.

Daphnis and Chloe is a fun tale that thoroughly explores the ancient art of falling in love and it’s many confusing phases. A recommended read!

 

Sharing the Love

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Most authors love to read. So it goes without saying that authors read other author’s works. Of course they do. Otherwise we’d be reading books written by robots. On occasion, real authors interview other real authors and write reviews.

In this case I’m not being hypothetical, but sharing a fact. Case in point; after reading my second novel The Things We Said in Venice, talented YA author NJ Simmonds interviewed me for her blog! It was a great experience that I’d like to share with all of you. Click on the title below to read the interview and her thoughts on my novel.

Romance & Europe – with Author Kristin Anderson

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You can also learn more about NJ Simmonds and her debut novel The Path Keeper, Book One in a YA fantasy-Romance series by clicking here. I enjoyed this novel so much, that I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up writing about it on my author blog in the future!

 

Sunday Book Review: Persuasion

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Among my list of qualifications for a great summer is time to read without pressure. The Dutch library system seems to agree; the three-week lending window is extended during the summer vacation and they even have a free app where you can borrow eBooks through August 31st.

Thus one of my first vacation-minded stops was the library where I checked out a hardback version of Persuasion. I’ve read Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility, but this was my first encounter with Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

Considering my three-meter tall stack of books on my to-read list, let alone the millions of titles available from the past two centuries, you might wonder why I would choose a novel written in the year of 1815 to 1816.

Because it’s Jane Austen! That, and I half-listened to The New York Times Book Review Podcast on July 14th, which included an interview with Deborah Yaffe, a self-proclaimed Janeite. A Janeite is a person who is a die-hard Jane Austen fan. Yaffe was talking about her life as a Janeite, her encounters with other Janeites and promoting her book entitled Among the Janeites. I didn’t realize until I heard the podcast that this summer marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death (July 18th, 1817).

Was it the right choice to kick off my summer reading program? Absolutely! Persuasion was so good that here I am, 200 years after her death, writing a review of Austen’s novel.

It usually takes me about 30 to 40 pages to adjust to literature written in another century. This wasn’t the case when I read Persuasion. Austen’s smooth and consistent writing style drew me in within the first few chapters. I found it fascinating to be pulled so accurately and personally into another century.

I had to shift into an era where time was slowed down.  For example, if the cast of characters needed to communicate with friends at a distance, they couldn’t pick up a phone or cell phone, send an email or sms. They drafted letters and sent them via a servant on horseback.

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random letter courtesy http://www.dodd.com

Letters are important in this society. They are poured over, read multiple times, and when appropriate, shared with friends and family members. The content is debated and discussed the way we discuss news, politics or gossip today.

Letters play a significant role throughout the novel, from conveying grave news, evidence of someone’s traitorous character to declaring true intentions.

 

Once I had adjusted to the 19th century era of Persuasion, I found myself reading for long stretches of time, drawn into the dramas that unfolded. Daily life of the gentry class is so well described, that you feel a part of it. Men are gentlemen who help you into a carriage and make sure you don’t get caught in the rain. Women go for social visits not longer than 30 minutes where they exchange pleasantries with their neighbors. Evenings include dinners and conversation, playing the piano and polite dancing.

The societal and emotional issues presented–class consciousness, the influence of wealth, regret, seeking the right partner, family conflicts, second chances, the fickle or steadfast heart–were beautifully portrayed.

Anne Elliot, the clear heroine, is 27 years old when the novel begins. While that is still considered young in our contemporary world, in the 1800s you are almost over the hill. Eight years earlier at the age of nineteen, she had fallen for a young navy lieutenant named Frederick Wentworth and they were engaged to be married. But a family friend talked her out of the engagement. Why? This young lieutenant had not yet made his fortune and was therefore viewed as an inappropriate match for someone of Anne’s social stature.

Eight years later, he has made his fortune, advanced the naval ladder and is back in town. When Anne hears of his return, she tells herself she is over him, but her heart begs to differ. Is the now Captain Wentworth’s first stop to see Anne Elliot to try to woo her again? Unfortunately not. It seems that Frederick Wentworth  views Anne Elliot in a rather negative light and is still holding onto the shame of being turned down rather than the deep connection and implicit understanding they had of one another. These days, it also seems that any young woman of a certain social class will do as his future wife.

Yet Anne displays grace and kindness where just about every other member of her social circle displays shallowness, haughtiness and pride. As Anne and Frederick continue to encounter one another, it is clear they are the best match. But of course it’s not that simple. Austen has an amazing ability to create one conflict after another for these two potential mates, without overdoing it.

The story gains depth through Austen’s clear mockery of the very social class to which she belonged. She creates characters that are so engrained in their sense of superiority brought on by social class, that they are blind to their own faults; faults that are so obvious that everyone around them can’t help but notice. She does this in such a fluid, humorous way, that I often found a mirthful smile on my face while reading. Jane Austen was letting me in on a private joke, poking fun at entitlement and the pitfalls of classism.  Money is important, but integrity and authenticity are equally valuable–a fact overlooked by many.

The majority of the novel centers around the courtships that form between young men and women within Anne Elliot’s social circle, but also displays how much women are dependent upon marriage to secure their future as well as male relatives to represent them in society.

Austen is perhaps the quintessential author of romance, who set the stage for the modern day romance novel back in the 1800s. I would recommend Persuasion to anyone who is interested in history, who would like insight into 19th century British society and who likes a good old fashioned story of courtship and love. But keep in mind that you will have to step out of our fast-paced world and slow your way into another century before you can truly value this engaging tale.

 

 

She Asked Me About Cake

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Since I ventured into the world of becoming an  indie author, I’ve gotten to know other authors from Canada, the U.S., England, Spain, The Netherlands, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. I realize this might give you the impression that I’m a contemporary nomad, traveling the world to promote my novels at book signings, attending writing conferences and lecturing on panels with other authors. That’s a pretty sweet picture. I like it so much, that I’ll add it to my author vision board (once I get around to making it).

But the truth of it is, I’ve met most of the authors I know online. Such is the case with author Isabella May, whose novel Oh! What a Pavlova will be released in October of 2017.

After discovering that we are both avid readers and that our novels have some similarities (a penchant for travel, including Italy and food), she interviewed me on her website. Her questions weren’t the ordinary ones. She asked me about cake, ESD and more. She’s even visited my little (population 5,000) home town of Solvang in California!

You can read the interview by clicking on this title:

 We talk Venice, ‘European Style Detachment’ and Carrot Cake…

Like the interview? Please share it on Twitter and Facebook by clicking on those options at the end of her interview. After this experience, I am inclined to start interviewing other authors as well.

 

 

 

 

From Dormouse to Santa Ynez Valley Star

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As a kid, I was terribly shy. So my mom–showing sensitivity and understanding for my inherent shyness–threw me head first into a summer drama program.

I started out on a large stage in the small role of the Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland at the Solvang Theaterfest.  I moved on to play a street urchin in Oliver!  Despite my height as a youth, I even had a role as a dwarf in The Hobbit before eventually getting a lead role as Gerda in The Snow Queen.  In other words, I had the shy beaten out of me, one play at a time. 

I’m now an extroverted introvert who begins conversations with others, can network and even speak in public, though my stomach still gets all tied up in knots every darned time I step on a stage.

The good thing is, I actually like talking to people now. I even like talking to reporters, most of the time.  So I guess, after all of these years, I am thankful to mom, to the drama teacher Maria Bland and her opera singing brother Jo, who taught me to use my voice. I’m also thankful to that motley crew of fellow youth actors who bolstered my confidence in those early years in the Santa Ynez Valley.

You need a voice in life after all, especially if you want to be a known author.

Right now I’m a known author to a small but growing circle of  readers, family and friends. I wouldn’t mind being a star. Or at least mentioned in the Santa Ynez Valley Star. 

Mission accomplished! (SEE BELOW)

Thank you home town paper! Question is, after reading this interview, do you feel like continuing the reading experience by ordering my novel? That would be the true test. 

Reading and talk at Haagse Hout Library, Saturday June 24th, 2017

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Now that my book launch is over, I’m back to being an author behind the computer screen, escaping into fictional worlds I create, or those of others (I’m one of those authors that LOVES TO READ other authors as well).

But I will come out from behind the screen once again on Saturday, June 24th, 2017 as part of the Parels in Bezuidenhout celebration.


The Parelroute features 47 “pearls” or venues where you can see everything from art and music, participate in workshops and meet authors.

I will be giving a presentation at the Haagse Hout Library (Theresiastraat 195, The Hague) at 1:00pm and 3:00pm. I will discuss how living in The Hague influenced the narrative of my latest novel The Things We Said in Venice, do a reading and there is a chance to purchase a copy of one or both of my titles on this day as well. Not able to make it that day? My book is also available at The American Book Center, The Hague (Lange Poten 23) and via Amazon in your respective countries (best shipping rates to The Netherlands is via Amazon.de).


Here’s the map of the event. As you can see, there’s no shortage of participants! You can see the full schedule on this website and plan your own route for the Parel Dag.

What a Book Launch Looks Like

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Weekend before last, it was finally here; my book launch of The Things We Said in Venice at the American Book Center in The Hague.  Thank you friends, book lovers and friendly strangers who filled the room with energy, listened to the Q&A, asked questions, purchased my novel and supported me as an author. In case you missed the launch, here are a few photos.

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Bo Rodenhuis, local teacher and speaker does a Q&A with the author (me!) Photo: Mischa van den Brandhof

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Taking questions from the audience (Photo: Mischa van den Brandhof)

 

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Signing a copy of The Things We Said in Venice for Dr. Ute Limacher

 

 

Based on my face, Ms. Rodenhuis must have just asked a surprising question!

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Kristin Anderson reading from her novel The Things We Said in Venice

Author Kristin Anderson and Q&A leader Bo Rodenhuis relaxing after the event

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From left to right: Author Kristin Anderson, pianist Guy Livingston, author NJ Simmonds (her book signing for her novel The Path Keeper is June 1st at the American Book Center!) and baby masseuse Floor Tuinstra.

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Kristin with Hague dentist Renu Sani

Didn’t get a chance to make it to the book release? That’s okay. There are more events planned, like participation in Parelroute in Bezuidenhout, where I will talk about how living in The Hague influenced the context of my novel. Parelroute is Saturday, June 24th, 2017.

Just want a live link for an instant gratification purchase? Here you go.

Thank you for reading all the way to the end!