27 March 2007

The Prolific Plaidy

I don't like to call anyone my mentor (for some reason I equate that word with Svengali) but when it comes to European history, Jean Plaidy comes close. She is possibly the author I've read the most of, although I haven't quite finished every novel she wrote.

Though I've always been a Ravenous Reader, I didn't really get into historical novels until 2000, when I picked up The Captive of Kensington Palace, a Jean Plaidy book about the pre-queen life of Victoria. It's probably not her best work, but it was enough to fire up my curiosity about English history, so I took out another Plaidy book, The Revolt of the Eaglets. This one covered the early Plantagenet period and introduced me to Eleanor of Acquitaine. I was officially hooked.
After that it was one Plaidy after another. She wrote about every king and queen of England from the Norman conquest to Queen Victoria. Not only that, but she did it from the point of view of every important character of the time, so you can see history from different angles. Of course, some of it must have been conjecture on the part of the writer, because one cannot possibly know what everyone was thinking at the time. Still, it was amazing to sympathize with people that one would previously have considered to be pure evil. I think the only person I couldn't feel bad for no matter what was Henry VIII. He's just not likable, I'm sorry.

In over six years, I've completed 39 of her novels - and there are many more to go. They are not difficult reading, but at the same time it's not simplified. I am amazed to see the amount of historical knowledge Jean Plaidy (her pseudonym) had and was able to organize into stories. I mean, I've heard of experts of the Regency period or the Tudor era, but hundreds of years is a lot to be an expert on. Though I don't think I'll ever come that close (and perhaps I don't want to,) I must say as a result of reading these books, I wanted to know more. This led to me reading more about history than I ever thought possible - this coming from the girl who failed her American History Regents exam. Plus I was curious enough to read historical novels from other writers over the years.

Though Jean Plaidy (whose real name was Eleanor Hibbert) died in 1993, I can't say she left me wanting more. She wrote more books than any other writer I've ever been into. Even if I did end up reading all her books - and I probably won't since under the name Victoria Holt she wrote stuff I just can't get into - I'm glad I picked up Plaidy. It's been quite a ride.

21 March 2007

Bubble Buddies

I was pleased to find out Tavalon has bubble tea. I was even more eager cash in my coupon for free bubble tea this Monday. I had the Green Tea Latte - though I'd never add milk to hot green tea, put it over ice and tapioca pearls and it's refreshing. It was a little bit like green tea ice cream. Bonnie tried the Taro Tornado. She agreed with the staff that it tasted like good cereal milk (think after Lucky Charms.) I'll be sure to return to Tavalon - though it's not a large place, they are knowledgeable about tea and that's the main thing. (By the way, the first picture is from their website.)

13 March 2007


Though I'm not looking forward to summer, I have at least one event that will be exciting: the "Next" Jasper Fforde book. It's a Thursday Next this time around, and it's been three years.

Between that and Spiderman 3, there are some diversions in life that will keep me from getting too depressed about not going away any time soon.

10 March 2007

My Tea Things #3

This is a strawberry teapot. I don't think I needed to say that.

I'm not really a strawberry eater - I've only had a few good ones in my life and the "straw" parts get on my nerves. They don't gross me out like tomatoes, though. I think they are one of the best looking fruits, actually.

Whenever I look at this teapot, though, I am reminded of a plush strawberry doll Marie and I came across in a home in Plumstead (east of London.) It was so vacant looking it brought out the ridiculous in us. So, armed with my new (at the time) camcorder and Marie's cartoon voice, we did a mock children's show that I'll probably never show to anyone. Still, good times. In case you were wondering, his name is "Mr. Strawberry." He didn't smell like Strawberry Shortcake.

The teapot is kind of small, so it's mostly used for decoration. I've had it forever, don't really remember where I got it. That's kind of unusual for me.

07 March 2007

Should I like this or be insulted?

I stumbled across teabirds today. It's a blog that features cute girls drinking tea. It's kind of a humorous idea, and I have no problem with someone appreciating attractive tea lovers. My only issue is that the girls tend to look the same - mostly white, extremely thin (do they stick a finger in their throat after sampling the scones? I know that's mean, but I'm catty, especially when it comes to tea.) The biggest problem is the lack of comment moderation. Someone left a really nasty comment in a past post, and no one thought to remove it. Whoever submits pictures to this site needs to expect to be objectified.

I think I'll keep my own tea drinking pics right here. It would be bad enough to have someone leave a nasty comment about me - it would be even worse to have my picture rejected. Oh the horror!

What will they think of next?

(Similar sentiments exist for Babes with Books.)

06 March 2007

You just don't see this in Astoria

Since I literally cannot travel anytime soon (unless one of you lovely people out there would like to finance a trip for me :}), I have to enjoy whatever memorabilia or photos I have from trips past.
I've never been inside the Tower of London, though I've been right next to it, but someday I guess I should take a tour. Amazing how this place went from being a royal residence to a daunting prison. At least one Catherine I know (Howard, the fifth wife of Henry III) was beheaded here. Her cousin Elizabeth survived her stay at the Tower, and lived long enough to send others here to their ultimate demise (or sometimes just a frightening stay.)
That's just a fraction of the historical events that transpired at the Tower, I don't even want to get into the torturing. But I have to say, stare at this place from the bridge and you'll be impressed. If you're from the U.S., this is even more true, as we just don't have buildings dating back to the eleventh century.