Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Come Live with me and BE my love: Ed's humiliation

OK - so I can blame last minute decisions and adjustments for the missing speech marks and faulty italicizing. But I have no excuse for missing the errors introduced by the OCR process into a crucial scene in Chapter 8 (pp.94-5).

It's the first "official" meeting between Rosamund and Henry Ravensworth: a scene that reminds me of Elizabeth Bennet's first impressions of Mr D'Arcy. They have been tasked by Lady Kesteven with providing some after-dinner music.

Henry sings Christopher Marlowe's lyric The Passionate Shepherd To His Love, sometimes referred to by its first line: "Come live with me and be my love". He hams up his performance with exaggerated gestures and grimaces; Rosamund suspects him of trying to make her giggle or lose her place in the lute accompaniment.

Rosamund is furious with Henry and answers him by singing the lyric rebuttal written by Sir Walter Raleigh, The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd, which has as its last line: "To live with thee and be thy love".

The OCR program misinterpreted this line, and in two different ways, and I didn’t spot either of them until too late. Plenty of consolation, though, in these two performances of Marlowe's lyric online on youtube.

The first is a "trad" version by the opera/broadside trio Pantagruel, probably using the tune Kathleen Herbert had in mind for Henry, and showing its susceptibility to parody.

Then a driving, yearning delivery from Annie Lennox (from a compilation CD "When Love Speaks" -mostly spoken pieces of  Shakespeare).

In a much darker scene, Rosamund hears Henry singing the same tune to very different words: "Come live with me and be my Whore".

This is a bawdy version of the song, then called The Wooing Rogue, and published in Westminster Drollery, in 1671, which also suggested that "The Tune is, My Freedom is all my Joy."

Rosamund's fear and disgust at this performance drive her to flee in panic into the back-streets of Lancaster, and into a situation which has irreversible consequences.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Men or Women?

Are readers of historical fiction predominately male or female? Answers please on this blog! The wittiest /most interesting wins a free copy of Moon in Leo. Editors' decision is final, and no, that isn't a punctuation error- two editors will decide- the book editor and the blog editor!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Of Stones and Roses

Whilst it is entirely possible to read Moon in Leo as a cracking good adventure story, and a satisfying love story, it is also teases us with big questions about its deeper significance. Why does Kathleen's heroine have such strange beliefs, and what is the significance of the unusual names?

Editor Mike Jensen answers these and other questions in new articles: Border Lands in Time and Space and The Philosopher's Stone

These articles, and the notes in Comments Notes and FAQs arose from readers' queries. Please keep your comments and questions coming in! Moon in Leo is a complex, multilayered book, and we see something new each time we read it.

Monday, 7 March 2011


I have been looking through some old letters of Kathleen’s- I have any number, and they make wonderful reading; perhaps I will publish them some day!

However, the letter that made me sit up was dated 1994:

I have looked over my novel about Furness during the Popish Plot- which is firmly based on truth. It was too long and too remote from London to be tempting to publishers when the last recession hit us- though Bodley Head said it was the best thing I had done. …
Then during these last weeks, the story has suddenly become incredibly topical- …for the background  we have:

  • a King called Charles, with a complicated marital and family life
  • a society of the rich and famous who produce a new scandal with every edition of the newspapers
  • a government that has been in office for 18 years and is not only stale but starting to smell
  • an opposition that is playing the cards of integrity, decency and social conscience but has some background material that would make the usual whoring and grafting sound like the biography of Florence Nightingale
  • an established religion that for the time has run out of steam, and numbers of cults that are boiling with enthusiasm- some for good, some for evil, both inside and outside Christianity
  • and a large number of “alternative” Englands that are barely suspected to exist by “official” England- some just want to be allowed to live, some would like to smash everything in their way-
It’s 1678, but change the clothes and it could be today. So, now- if ever- it might find a reckless publisher.

Well, it didn’t. Not then.

And Kathleen became less capable of mustering her resources to approach publishers; in the same letter she writes about teaching herself to read, write and type again after her stroke.

Bodley Head had been bought up and ceased to trade in their former way, and so it lay for a further 16 years, until it came to me in two “for life” carrier bags.

Is it still as relevant today as in 1994, given that we have recently had a change of government? I think so, but you will have to judge for yourselves: buy a copy today, and treat yourself to a good read.

My neighbour, a self confessed reluctant reader only bought a copy from me to be polite, but phoned me up a week later and cursed me for depriving him of his sleep- he had been up every night until three o’clock to finish it!


Last week I travelled to London to give Kathleen Herbert a copy of her new book. After her recent trauma of breaking a hip, and a lengthy stay in hospital, she is now living in sheltered accommodation. She received us like a queen, and basked in the admiration of friends and staff as I handed her her own copy of Moon in Leo, inscribed with our names: with love from her publisher, editor and designer. She sat frail but upright, looking tiny and ethereal, and enquiring after our doings.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Fantastic Sales!

We used new technology to publish Moon in Leo- namely Print on Demand, which means that without having to warehouse vast quantities of books, they are available world wide to virtually any customer who walks into any bookshop or library, within a few days. However, we did order a short run just to supply local bookshops and readers. In just a fortnight from publication, nearly all of them have gone. We have a few left- hurry and reserve a copy, or order from Smiths, Amazon, Waterstones or your local bookshop or library.