Sunday Book Review Daphnis and Chloe

Leave a comment

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!

 

Sunday Book Review: Persuasion

4 Comments

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.

handwritten-letters6

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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.

Romance Your Way into Continuing with the Paris Climate Accord Without Trump.

Leave a comment

For the record, I try to stay away from politics and religion on my author blog, as I do not wish to alienate those who have views that differ from my own. Yet, in the light of yesterday’s news, I am going to break my own blog rule.Paris-climate-accord-1-e1475689925232

As some of us scratch our heads in dismay at the current U.S. administration’s choice to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, others view it as a sound business decision that put’s America first.

How do we–those of us that have a more global view of our shared responsibility for the health of the planet, and trust the scientific community’s overwhelming evidence that human contribution to climate change is real–interact with those who believe climate change is a hoax / that an environmentally conscientious lifestyle isn’t necessary?

If it’s a female friend, co-worker or neighbor you are trying to reach, you could romance her into considering a more environmental lifestyle. And I have just the man for the job: Jake Tillerman. If you haven’t met Jake, you are seriously missing out. He’s the male protagonist inHearts-heart-clipart my debut novel GREEN and the environmental and social debates that unfold in this opposites-attract story between Jake Tillerman and Ellie Ashburn are the perfect introduction to leading an environmental lifestyle, without bashing someone over the head with your ideology. (Let sexy Jake it for you!) 

He introduces Ellie and her office mates at the design and fashion magazine Duomo to a Seven Change Challenge, which provides daily steps to reduce your dependence on an oil-based economy and help save the planet. He also challenges Ellie on many levels to consider how her lifestyle affects the world around her.

Don’t worry. Ellie is strong andgreen steffi Thomas has her own opinions, and she isn’t afraid to verbally spar with Jake on every topic. That not-so-green friend of yours might even recognize herself in Ellie.

The love story is also quite compelling and as you get caught up in the plot, that green ideology slowly seeps into the reader’s conscience, as they consider not only love, but the broader sense of loving the planet. Sneaky plan, isn’t it? But it might open the door to a positive conversation; conversations we need to have with one another about the future of our shared home: Earth.

You can order a copy of GREEN on Amazon.com in both kindle and paperback format or through most U.S. bookstores.

Makes a great gift that just might start a conversation. Here is a link,

Other ideas to start the conversation:
1) We can take immediate action in our own lives as described in this 2015 New York Times article What You Can Do aBout Climate Change and just like Jake Tillerman, use those actions as a way to engage others to do the same.

2) We can be inspired by Al Gore’s response to Trumps pull-out from the Paris Climate Accord and learn what comes next on his website. Here’s an excerpt from Gore’s letter that came in my inbox yesterday:

“Civic leaders, mayors, governors, CEOs, investors and the majority of the business community will take up this challenge. We are in the middle of a clean energy revolution that no single person or group can stop. President Trump’s decision is profoundly in conflict with what the majority of Americans want from our president; but no matter what he does, we will ensure that our inevitable transition to a clean energy economy continues.” 

Learn more at Climate Reality Project.

3) You can feel the rage laced with humor of Arnold Schwarzenegger with his video.

4) Reach out, engage and expand your circle of friends, co-workers and neighbors who also want to take action so that together, we can be the grass roots revolution that makes the Paris Climate Accord a reality.

Wow! I really sound like Jake Tillerman right now. I know someone’s going to tell us that the glass is actually half empty, but I think Jake, Al, Arnold and I are all in agreement: it’s definitely half-full.

 

 

Chapter One

1 Comment

17311457_10154268386862213_983549551_oSo you’ve happened upon my blog. Welcome and I’m glad you found me! In a nutshell, I’m an indie author and I write contemporary romance with an eco-conscience. Today I have decided to share Chapter 1 of The Things We Said in Venice, my second novel that just came out this spring. Consider it a long teaser.

Because I’ve been influenced by Dutch directness, I’ll be direct; if you like what you read, you can order a new copy of The Things We Said in Venice here, now, as in today, in both Kindle or Paperback by clicking this link. Why the directness? Because stories are written to be . . . well. . . read. Of course if you live in Great Britain the Amazon UK site is best and if you live anywhere else in Europe the Amazon Germany site is best (cheaper shipping). You can also read reviews on the Amazon US site, see press on the press link of my blog, or Google it. Here’s that teaser . . .

The Things We Said in Venice
Chapter 1
Sarah

While the locals shuffle carefully over the snow-slicked sidewalks, Sarah runs like a mad woman toward the Belluno station. I will not miss this one, she chants in time to the distant, yet steady clickety-clack of the train’s metal wheels gliding over tracks. She picks up her pace, the icy air burning her nostrils, the straps of her pack chafing her shoulders despite her thick winter layers.

She cuts through the abandoned village park, her laborious movements at odds with the utter stillness as Belluno train station finally pops into view. As she slows her pace, her body relays physical complaints to her mind: the surprising weight of her backpack cutting into her shoulders, the ache of ice-cold air in her lungs, the burning sensation of snowflakes on her cheeks.

When she comes to a standstill, a rush of heat explodes through her body. Moments later, perspiration builds beneath her thick winter layers, cooling her down. Damp curls form a blanket of cold around her neck. She shakes her head involuntarily as the first shiver crawls up her spine.

As means of distraction, Sarah people watches, though the pickings are slim—a thickly built woman holding the hand of a stout, large-eared boy, presumably her son, and an older, clean-shaven man in military uniform. All three sport dry hair.

By the time the train pulls into the station and Sarah hears the familiar hiss of the doors opening, her teeth are chattering. She finds a free place in the third railcar and finally unstraps the cumbersome backpack, setting it in the seat beside her. The whistle sounds and the train is about to take off, but it doesn’t. There is some sort of commotion. The doors open and close again. She can hear two men talking, perhaps the conductor and a male passenger. Although she can’t make out the words, one voice is laced with tension and a bit too loud. The other voice, which she assumes belongs to the conductor, remains calm.

Back home, she would need to know why the doors had to open once more and what these men are discussing. But in the past four weeks of free-wheeling through western Europe on her own, she has adjusted her way of responding to things beyond her control. She has learned to let go. It is so different from how she acts at home that she has given her newfound skill a name: European Style Detachment.

Her feet and hands begin to return to body temperature as the train finally leaves the station. She leans into her large backpack and closes her eyes. She feels a slight pulsing in her subconscious, like an alarm clock going off in the neighboring hotel room; something you hear, but can choose to ignore. Except that she can’t. Something’s not right. It could be that slightly angry conversation she overheard, or it could be that the bag she is leaning into doesn’t smell like her bag. It has the faint scent of cinnamon and musk tinged with sweat; the scent of a man.

Sarah straightens in her seat, scrutinizing the travel backpack as one might scrutinize a naked stranger you have unwittingly brought into your bed—curiosity tempered with fear. It is black like hers. It has the white North Face logo of her bag and the same rainbow strap she put on it to differentiate her black bag from all the other black bags of the world. But isn’t the strap in a different place? And come to think of it, it felt heavier than her bag when she was sprinting to the train station.

Maybe it smells so manly from being in the pile of luggage where she stashed it while she grabbed a brioche at the café. Or, it could have been shuffled around in the compartment beneath the shuttle bus from Cortina to Belluno; cologne from a man’s bag spilling on hers.

I’m being ridiculous, she tells herself. But she unbuckles the exterior straps anyway and peers into the top compartment.

“Oh my God!” Sarah exclaims as she shuffles through the doppelganger of her bag. Several passengers turn toward her momentarily and then look away, exemplifying European Style Detachment. At the top of the backpack is a photography magazine written in what she thinks must be German. She pushes aside the magazine, revealing an impressive stash of Cote d’Or chocolate bars in their distinctive red and gold cardboard wrappers, cloth handkerchiefs in a Ziploc bag, a leather-bound journal, water, men’s plaid underwear size XL, slacks, long sleeve shirts, pants and thick woolen socks. On the inside tag of the top compartment is a name written in black permanent marker: Fokke van der Veld. She stops her search and pushes the bag away in shock. How the hell did this happen?

It has stopped snowing outside and sun reflects off the whitened fields, punching into the window. Sarah reaches automatically into the side pocket for her sunglasses, but of course they’re not there. Her mother is in a thick pea coat, wearing Sarah’s missing sunglasses and deathly blue lipstick that promises to make her forthcoming tirade all the graver:

What are you going to do now Sarah? You should have taken your time in Cortina d’Ampezzo to make sure you had your own bag! Your passport, your money, your iPad. Everything is in that bag! You could be mistaken for a terrorist and thrown in prison for traveling without identification.

The locals say Cortina, not Cortina d’Ampezzo, Sarah counters. As a school counselor, she is well aware it’s abnormal to be seeing visions of her mother in her head, not to mention silently conversing with her. But as usual, mom’s got a point. Sarah thinks about Italian corruption, envisions a musty 17th century prison cell with a mangy rat family in one corner and instruments of torture in the other. She stands suddenly, wanting to take action; wanting her mom to shut up. She has thirty euros in her jacket pocket along with the train ticket and the address of the hotel in Treviso where she will be staying. That’s at least something. But how on earth is she going to get her bag back? And who the hell is Fokke van der Veld?

END CHAPTER ONE

Did you enjoy this teaser? You can continue reading by ordering a copy of The Things We Said in Venice in Kindle or Paperback by clicking this link. Please help support this author by purchasing a new copy. Authors get no royalties from second hand books. Royalties help support authors and encourage them to keep writing.

THANK YOU FOR READING.

Yours truly,

Kristin Anderson