Saturday, November 20, 2010

Housekeeping in Old Virginia


Sorry I missed posting last Saturday. I was a bit under the weather.

My fifth Alafair Tucker mystery, Crying Blood, is scheduled to launch this coming February. This means, of course, that the advance reading copies (ARCs) have already been sent to the reviewers, as well as to other mystery authors far better known than myself, in hopes they will supply favorable cover quotes for the book.

I hit the jackpot this time, cover-quote-wise, with lovely accolades from Joanna Carl, Carolyn Hart, and Margaret Maron. See my website (doniscasey.com) to read what these lovely women had to say.

As many of you Dear Readers know by now, the great Margaret Maron was involved in a car accident on the very day her latest Deborah Knox mystery, Christmas Mourning, was to launch. Margaret was pretty banged up, but will recover, thank goodness. However, this incident really screwed up her scheduled promotional activities for the book. If there’s anything I can commiserate with, it’s the extreme annoyance of having to crash and burn your entire book tour at the last minute. So in solidarity, my mystery loving sisters and brothers, go buy Margaret’s latest book immediately.

Shortly after Margaret sent her quote to my publisher, she also sent me a copy of a book entitled Housekeeping in Old Virginia. She wrote to me that she thought it would be interesting and useful for writing about my early Twentieth Century Oklahoma farm wife.
Is it ever. It is a 1965 reprint of an 1879 book of “contributions from two hundred and fifty of Virginia’s noted housewives, distinguished for their skill in the culinary art and other branches of domestic economy,” edited by one Marion Cabell Tyree. If there’s anything my Alafair character is, it’s distinguished for her skill. I include at the back of my books more than just Alafair’s recipes for the dishes she makes for her family, I also talk about how she acquired and prepared the ingredients, for as you can imagine, there was no Fresh n’ Easy on the corner in 1915 in Muskogee County, Oklahoma. This is “slow food” to the max.

In looking through Housekeeping, I have to say that I was rather impressed with the section on how to care for the sick. I expected to see a lot more recipes for turpentine poultices and muriate or morphia pills for a cold. But some of Marion’s advice on caring for a sick person is surprisingly modern. To wit:

The modern science of physics has come to recognize sunshine as one of the most powerful of remedial agencies, and cases are not rare in which invalids have been restored to health by using sun-baths, and otherwise freely enjoying the sunshine.

She also talks about the importance of pure air, pleasant odors, cleanliness, cheerful colors, and “A room thoroughly cleaned, aired, and adorned with fresh flowers...It is well to keep the convalescent cheered, by projecting each day some new and pleasant little plan for the morrow.”

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Margaret, and each day some new and pleasant little plan for the morrow.

And a very Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

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