The House of Pelerin

Notes for my novels-in-progress: all things 18th century Europe, blood, women in threes, snakes, dogs, peculiar biology, writing thoughts. Oh, and pieces of a soundtrack.
Posts I Like
She had taught that the ruin of an empire could start not with rebellion in the farthest reaches of the empire, but in the attic or bedroom or the kitchen of the emperor’s palace where he had allowed domestic chaos to fester and eventually bring down the palace, and with the palace the empire could follow.
Edward P. Jones, The Known World

Nancy Wake, who has died in London just before her 99th birthday, was a New Zealander brought up in Australia. She became a nurse, a journalist who interviewed Adolf Hitler, a wealthy French socialite, a British agent and a French resistance leader. She led 7,000 guerrilla fighters in battles against the Nazis in the northern Auvergne, just before the D-Day landings in 1944. On one occasion, she strangled an SS sentry with her bare hands. On another, she cycled 500 miles to replace lost codes. In June 1944, she led her fighters in an attack on the Gestapo headquarters at Montlucon in central France.

Ms Wake was furious the TV series [later made about her life] suggested she had had a love affair with one of her fellow fighters. She was too busy killing Nazis for amorous entanglements, she said.

Nancy recalled later in life that her parachute had snagged in a tree. The French resistance fighter who freed her said he wished all trees bore “such beautiful fruit.” Nancy retorted: “Don’t give me that French shit.”

"Resistance heroine who led 7,000 men against the Nazis," The Independent. (via madelinecoleman)

"Ms Wake […] had mixed feelings about previous cinematic efforts to portray her wartime exploits, including a TV mini-series made in 1987.

'It was well-acted but in parts it was extremely stupid,' she said. 'At one stage they had me cooking eggs and bacon to feed the men. For goodness' sake, did the Allies parachute me into France to fry eggs and bacon for the men? There wasn't an egg to be had for love nor money. Even if there had been why would I be frying it? I had men to do that sort of thing.’”

(via kerrypolka)

(via shadowtobabylon)


Anecdote about Henry IV of France

While looking through 18th-century jest and mirth books in the McMaster University archives, I found this gem. I didn’t understand some of the jokes that referred to matters outside my cultural and historical knowledge ken. This particular anecdote, however, seems to be timeless in its ability to amuse: long-winded politicians will always plague “a sensible man,” I’m sure. This image is from The Social Magazine, or, Cabinet of Wit: being a complete repository of original bon mots, epigrams, &c, Society of Gentlemen, Members of the Club of Odd Fellows (Printed for H.D. Symonds, [1800]).

A special issue of the journal is devoted to “The Senses of Humour/Les Sens de l’humour”; find more details and the call for articles here:

In other words, nobles had to spend money to remain nobles, and in order to ensure they had certain assets and consumer goods, even if it meant getting seriously into debt. There were even institutions whose purpose was secretly to assist impoverished nobles so that they could maintain a certain decorum. There was a great deal of debate in the eighteenth century as to whether conspicuous consumption by the nobility stimulated the economy or depressed it.

–Raffaella Sarti

Plus ça change.


18th century demon

(via shadowtobabylon)


The Beauxbatons pleasure garden in winter.

(via metalshell)

In [the 16th century], the notaries of Venice recorded the presence of an instrument even in modest households, while for the aristocracy and the merchant class, 90 per cent of inventories included harpsichords, cithers, lyres, harps and other instruments. The streets and small squares of Venice must have resounded to their playing.
Raffaella Sarti


So, here’s a working list of panels I will be participating in at WisCon this year. There may be a few other ones still in the works, and I’m still willing to volunteer for panels needing more people at this time.

  • The Once and Future Badass: Historical Women who Inspire, Challenge and…

Anticipating a thought-provoking, overwhelming four days in Wisconsin. Ready to be challenged; ready to learn.


Nicola Samorì

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

(via victorsoren)

It has been one of those days on every front—day job, writing, home—and it ended with this staring at me while I was eating dinner.

So allow me to wax personal, and nostalgic, for a moment. I grew up a few blocks from these “Condominium Residences,” in two different rental apartments that we were successively priced out of. All of my early memories are from this neighborhood.

On Friday nights—just some Fridays, mind, those Fridays when there was a little extra in the bank account—we would go out to eat. There was a Chinese restaurant on 23rd between 8th and 9th, in a sort of Polynesian-Chinese style, the kind of place where you could get a Mai Tai with your fried rice.  All the dishes came on metal pedestals, and they would make me a Shirley Temple with a paper umbrella and a maraschino cherry, which was pretty awesome.

Our other option was a pizza parlor on 8th between 23rd and 24th, right by the shoe store that sold Buster Browns. I remember the dog and the boy on the sign in the shoe store window, and the amateur Snoopy painting on the side of the pizza oven, and the crushed ice that they put in the small Pepsi I was permitted. Across the street was Lamston’s, which still had a soda counter that gave you drinks in paper cones, and there was bowling above the five and dime.

After dinner we would walk down 8th Avenue (probably because I was bouncing off the walls) and go to the Seminary, which is the same Seminary referenced in the ad above. I don’t know if you can still go to the Seminary, in the way that I did. They stayed open late, and you could walk around their courtyard. It was lovely there, all black wrought iron and flagstones and the dark stone buildings, but at twilight it was magical. And every spring the lilac bloomed, enormous cascades of pale purple flowers tumbling from vines that might have been decades old.

I cannot describe the smell. It was the kind of rich perfume I’ve only found in other wild places—rundown gardens in New Orleans and Berkeley, a rain-soaked corner of a London park. But every spring we would walk in the Seminary and I would think myself in some other world, in some storybook land, with the overwhelming scent of the flowers and that cool, fresh spring air and the dark Gothic architecture all around. I never wanted to leave; I always felt that if I managed to stay inside after the gates were locked, something wonderful would happen.

There were other special places in the neighborhood, too: the doll hospital, the sewing machine shop, Grassy Point Woods. There were darker places, such as the OTB, or the guitar shop next to the dimly-lit Spanish restaurant. But nothing quite matched the Seminary in springtime.

When we had to leave Chelsea, I always believed that one day I would be able to move back, that I would always have spring nights in the Seminary.

Fuck gentrification.


Sales Book of Sample Buttons, 18th century. Folding envelope: paper. France. Via Cooper Hewitt

(via costumehistory)

I have been described by you, for hundreds of years. And now, I can describe you. That’s part of the panic.
James Baldwin (via jessehimself)

(via monology)

A man once asked me … how I managed in my books to write such natural conversation between men when they were by themselves. Was I, by any chance, a member of a large, mixed family with a lot of male friends? I replied that, on the contrary, I was an only child and had practically never seen or spoken to any men of my own age till I was about twenty-five. “Well,” said the man, “I shouldn’t have expected a woman (meaning me) to have been able to make it so convincing.” I replied that I had coped with this difficult problem by making my men talk, as far as possible, like ordinary human beings. This aspect of the matter seemed to surprise the other speaker; he said no more, but took it away to chew it over. One of these days it may quite likely occur to him that women, as well as men, when left to themselves, talk very much like human beings also.

Dorothy L. SayersAre Women Human?: Astute and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society

Book Geek Quote #445

(via bookgeekconfessions)

(via dduane)

So I was tagged to write about process, and did.