15 March

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In this issue: Gosford Park, The Alewives, 30% off pre-orders for Bummer at Luna Beach, a new revision of the Wells book, and flowers.

Gosford Park

As readers may recall, I’m not a huge fan of current movies. Too much detailed violence, characters in pain, angst and dark psychology for me. I like the bodies to be dead when I get there.

So I recently had the pleasure of rewatching Gosford Park (2001), a film that had trouble getting funded (two of the participating actors contributed) but is one of the best Agatha Christie-style films of all time.

Scene from Gosford Park

It takes place, naturally, at a manor house shooting party. Not only is it directed by Robert Altman and written by up-and-comer Julian Fellowes, but the cast is nothing short of astonishing: Maggie Smith, Eileen Atkins, Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon, Clive Owen, and more. Using the “Upstairs, Downstairs” motif that would later feature in Downton Abbey, the cinematography is gorgeous, the acting sublime.

And the story? The murder doesn’t happen till significantly into the film, which I love. (Avid readers may have noticed that my mysteries work that way, too!)

Book recommendation: The Alewives

It’s not easy to write a believable novel set in the 14th century, but Elizabeth R. Anderson has done it with The Alewives: take a look!

Cover of The Alewives

Particularly appropriate for Women’s History Month, three women in dire financial straights after the Black Death set out to make their way as alewives. It’s a charming medieval murder mystery (bet you didn’t know I was a medievalist before I became a Victorianist) and timely—they are trying to reconstruct their lives after the plague. 

Writing stuff

Wondering what I’ve been up to, author-wise? Gearing up for the April 20 release of Bummer at Luna Beach! I’m even creating flyers and mailers for this one, since I expect it to be popular in coastal California. You may have already seen my virtual “billboard” for the fictitious town of San Benno.

Welcome to beautiful San Benno for the most on the coast

And yes, a few versions of this cozy mystery are available for pre-order now: Amazon (Kindle e-book) and Barnes & Noble (hardcover).  The paperback will be available everywhere soon.

OR you can pre-order the e-book or or signed paperback nwo directly from Grousable Bookshop and it will ship April 20. (For newsletter readers only, use the code NEWS30 for 30% off when you pre-order from Grousable Bookshop!)

In other writing news, I just finished re-editing my academic reference work, H.G. Wells on Science Education, 1886-1897. The revised edition will be released well before the man’s birthday in September. Those interested in reading work Wells wrote before The Time Machine (actually quite delightful even though it’s all about science teaching) should wait for the new release. Revised editions take a while to propagate through the system.

Flowers

After all the rains, the flowers in my garden went crazy. The little apple tree in the middle has never been this covered in blossoms. (For SoCal low-chill gardeners, those are Anna and Dorsett Golden types.)

So left to right, sparaxis, apples, Dutch iris. If you’re not familiar with sparaxis, it’s one of those South African bulbs that does really well in the alkaline soil and sunny conditions in southern California. Plus they take care of themselves, and come up every year. Can’t ask for more than that.

And more!

  • Want to read previous newsletters? They’re located here at my website, where you can also find information and buy links to all my books. You can post comments there too.
  • Want to read blog posts on history and writing, or even teaching online? See my Lisahistory blog.

Until next time, keep grousing!

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