Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Summer of Living Dangerously Party

Julie carefully steps through the crowds of people celebrating Christina's new book, picking up scraps of smoked salmon, whiskey bottles and at least one discarded kilt...

Hey everyone! It's Thursday and that means that we're officially still partying! Because we Heroine Addicts are frenzied party animals and also because my latest hardback, The Summer of Living Dangerously, comes out today.

If you're new to this here super party, here are the rules: everyone brings something special (including a date, if they fancy some company), and in return the Guest of Honour tells us Five Fast Facts about her book.

In this case, I'm both the Hostess and the Guest of Honour (I've always been quite good at multi-tasking, especially when it comes to having fun), so here's the cover blurb for The Summer of Living Dangerously:

Alice Woodstock has been running away.

Well, not literally. She spends most of her time glued to her desk, writing about grommets and model aeroplanes. No, Alice is avoiding the real world because there's something—someone—in her past that she's desperate to forget. So when she's commissioned to write about life in stately home Eversley Hall, she jumps at the chance to escape into Regency England, even if it does mean swapping her comfy T-shirt for an itchy corset. Perhaps she'll meet her own Mr Darcy...

But then her past resurfaces in the shape of Leo Allingham and Alice is brought down to earth with a bump. Reckless, unpredictable Leo reminds Alice of the painful price of following her heart. And the new Alice doesn't live dangerously.

Or does she?

I am so excited to party with this book because, with the Regency costume connection, it's the perfect excuse for us all to have hot dates in tight breeches. Here comes Brigid with a tall gentleman...

Brigid: I'm bringing Ciaran Hinds as he is in Persuasion. He is the perfect Captain Wentworth...pity I couldn't find a picture of him in tight breeches, but you can well imagine.

Julie: Yup. We can well imagine. Look at that smile on his face. That is the smile of a man saying, "Dude, I look gooooooood in these buckskins."

Next is Susanna, along with Christina:

Susanna: I'm bringing a beautiful regency gown for the heroine, Alice, to wear (modelled here by its maker, our own lovely Christina Courtenay, at the Romantic Novelists' Association's recent Regency Day). And my guest will be the dashing Richard Sharpe, because I love a man of action (and his uniform fits rather nicely...)

Julie: Since my heroine is a big reader, there are some Sharpe references in the novel...and also a dashing young gentleman who dresses in the uniform of Sharpe's regiment, the 95th Rifles. Good choice. And Christina looks so gorgeous in her gown! Here's what she's bringing:

Christina: I'm going to bring a fan because it always gets so hot at these parties and if there's Regency dancing - well, we know how strenuous that is! But then I get very hungry afterwards, and I absolutely refuse to eat macaroons, so I've made you a special strawberry cream cake to celebrate the launch of your novel - enjoy! I would like an escort this time (the dog I brought to my party was kind of exhausted so didn't want to come) - how about Chris Hemsworth? I love his old-fashioned manners in the movie Thor and I bet he'd look great in a Regency outfit :D

Anna: I’m feeling very lucky – I’m bringing Leslie Howard in his Scarlet Pimpernel guise as my date! A little out of our period, but I’m willing to stretch a point for that amount of intensity and charm... mmmmmm. And since we’re going to need some cooling off, I’m also bringing some ices like the ones they served at Gunters. What a treat!

Liz: As I am deeply fond of dry sherry...(a taste I acquired a summer I spent doing something akin to studying at Oxford) I would like to bring some, along with a beautiful Regency convex mirror that I have longed for. And of course never one to miss the opportunity of bringing a date and date in breeches...and as soon as I say that it has to be Colin Firth as Darcy.

Julie: So now that we're all here, I guess it's time for me to answer Five Fast Facts about my book.

Favourite scene in the book: My favourite fun scene is one of my heroine Alice's first days at Eversley Hall dressed as a Regency gentlewoman. She goes for a turn in the garden with another costumed interpreter, Miss Selina Fitzwilliam—the younger sister of the gorgeous Mr James Fitzwilliam—and to their alarm they see Mr Fitzwilliam's spaniel darting into a fountain, where his collar gets stuck in the decorative plants. Alice immediately throws herself into the fountain, rescuing the dog but also soaking her very expensive and historically accurate gown. Mr Fitzwilliam proceeds to rescue Alice, much to the chagrin of the beautiful but bitchy Miss Isabella Grantham. It's sort of my turnabout answer to Colin Firth in that lake.

Character who surprised you the most: I was constantly surprised and delighted by Leo Allingham, who is Alice's ex-husband in real life. He's a bit of a shady character at first but he has such depths to him, and such pain. And he rides a motorcycle.

A scene that made you smile: There's a big portrait of the original Mr James Fitzwilliam in Eversley Hall, and Alice discovers that every day at 2 pm, a rainbow is reflected from the crystal chandelier directly onto Mr Fitzwilliam's crotch. (This is something that we Addicts actually witnessed in the Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich. I stole it and put it in the book.)

A scene you hated writing: There is a lot of pain in Alice and Leo's shared past, and that was hard to write about. There is a very short chapter in which they both lose what they love most in the world, and they're unable to share their emotions with each other. It was very difficult to write and I still cry when I read it.

A book your hero probably has on his bookshelf: Well, I sort of have two heroes. Leo Allingham, the real-life hero, would have The Motorcycle Diaries and Mr James Fitzwilliam, the Regency hero, would have Pride and Prejudice.

Like Christina, I'll give away a copy of The Summer of Living Dangerously to a person who joins the party and leaves a comment below! Just tell us what you'll be bringing to the this point, Alka-Seltzer is probably welcome, but personally, I shall be swigging champagne.

I'll leave you with a photo of the beautiful, summery flowers my publisher have sent me today. And thanks for coming to celebrate with us!


  1. Ooh good - I get to the bubbles while they are still fresh and twinkly.

    I'm bringing a tub of exceedingly more-ish lemon biscuits adapted from a Regency recipe. (No hogsheads involved, and Mr Waitrose assures me his flour is well-sifted for grit before packaging)

  2. Hi Julie

    What a fabulous blog post and The Summer of Living Dangerously looks like a must read. I think I'll bring my fan with me - all those men in tight breeches are making me a bit hot under the decollatage.


  3. Hi Julie...can't wait to read this one...hoping my copy is waiting for me when I get back to London.

    I'll just settle down with a glass of champagne and one of Jan's lemon biscuits and see what happens next!


  4. Looking forward to reading your book, Julie. I've spent an hour deciding who will escort me - it was a toss up between Michael J Fox or Steve McQueen. Since I already know Steve McQueen looks hot on a motorbike, he'll be coming with me. Having decided that, I hope you all like popping corn. We don't need a microwave, as Steve's smouldering eyes will heat the room. He can pop my kernel anytime.
    Great party, ladies.
    Laura James x

  5. Congratulations, Julie! I can't decide on a date - so many men in cravats, so little time...

  6. Can't wait to read this one, Julie. Well, seen as an ex is involved and my first boyfriend was Michael Fox and Laura's just thrown him to one side, I'll pick him up and bring him with me. Not that I like leftovers (apart from the champagne) but she obviously never saw him on a motorbike ;-)

    I'm also bringing a regency umbrella. For all the kernel showers.

    Congratulations on publication day!

    Catherine xx

  7. Happy publication day, Julie!

    Looks like the party is in full swing, it's kind of hot in here so can I try one of those ices please? They look great! I think I'm just going to sit on the side for a while and check out all these gorgeous escorts *sighs happily*

  8. Congratulations Julie! That strawberry cake looks incredible, I want a piece of that for my date :)

  9. Keep some of that champagne for me, please, girls. Two glasses and I'll say yes to, hang on, make that anything. I'm wearing my ostrich-feathered turban from Madame Lisette's boutique in Bond Street and bringing a posset; as it seems a lot of fevered folk will need a little something to cool them down. And my date is Rupert Penry-Jones in his tight breeches and cravat.
    I'm looking forward to reading this book. Congratulations, Julie.

  10. Congratulations on launch day, Julie! And - my - but do we know how to throw a party?!

    Just looking around the room I'm blushing....

    Anna Louise Lucia

  11. Sorry, what? I've been totally distracted by all the men in tight breeches, here...

    And oh, the rainbow crotch! I had forgotten that! How clever of you to find a place for it in the book. Every time I read that now, I'll probably sigh and say, "Ah, Greenwich..." in a wistful sort of way.

    Enjoying the sherry and ices immensely. But hands off my rifleman, ladies.

  12. Anyone for a country dance?

    *Peers into various dark alcoves from whence giggles, sighs and the clink of glasses originate*



  13. The Downey and I are up for a country dance! (Oh wait...did I mention that Robert Downey Jr is my date? He has very little to do with the Regency period and as far as I'm aware has never worn breeches so he is currently...NOT in breeches. Ahem.)

    Who will join us? Brigid and Ciaran? Christina and Chris? Susanna and Sharpe (or is it Sean)? Jan and her biscuits? Laura and Catherine and Steve and Michael? Beth and Rupert? Owen and her cake? Elizabeth and Mr Darcy? (Don't think the parallel has escaped me, Liz.)

    I think we have enough to make up a set, don't you? Watch out for the popcorn all over the floor, though...

  14. As a writer, I am bringing Edgar Poe and he is bringing his Raven. Are there gargoyles at Eversley Hall? The Raven will want to perch there. Poe is the perfect date - dark, mysterious and has an aching past.

  15. gargoyles on a Palladian mansion, but I'm sure we can find a shadowy corner somewhere. And hello there, Mr Poe. How very nice to see you and your date Annette. Absinthe, you say? Noooo, I don't believe we have absinthe.

    *hides the absinthe*

  16. Oh, I love ravens - can I meet him please? (And that's my favourite poem ever!) I like gargoyles too, oh dear, this is getting weird. Better get back to the dancing ...

  17. Darn, Julie, thought I slip that one past you...scampers to the other end of the dance floor...