A Birthday For Jane Austen

It’s Jane Austen’s birthday today. She would have been, poor thing, 245 years old. But Jane was no poor thing. Her books are timeless. 

Readers of my blog will know I joined the Jane Austen Society of North America this year, in part to keep at bay the awful news of each day.

JASNA encourages members to bake a cake for Jane’s birthday today. Now, though I love to bake, I won’t be doing that. Social distancing means I can’t really share a cake and yours truly and hubby don’t want to eat cake alone. However, in The British Museum Cookbook, one of my treasured volumes of recipes from the past, I found one for “Mrs. Raffald’s Chocolate Puffs.” These little meringue-like cookies are delicious.

Elizabeth Raffald was an extraordinary woman. Almost a generation older than Jane Austen, she was an entrepreneur as well as a chef. Born into the working class, she was first a maid, then housekeeper to an aristocratic family in Cheshire, England. After marriage to the estate’s head gardener, she and her husband moved to Manchester. Elizabeth opened an employment agency for domestic workers and ran a cookery school, selling high-end ready-prepared food from the premises.

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How Trees Socialize

When I started writing my new novel, Joyous Lies, my main character, Maelle, popped into my head. Brought up on the organic farm of her hippie grandparents, Maelle feels an affinity for trees, a psychic bond. 

As a young adult, she studies the communication properties of trees.

When I started the book, this idea was just beginning to be understood by plant biologists.
Trees communicate through their roots, and more specifically, by fungi attached to the roots. Maelle tries to prove they hear and learn.

Imagine my astonishment to read The New York Times magazine’s feature story on December 5. The article profiles Suzanne Simard, a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia, and her discoveries about tree communication and cooperation. Research is uncovering the most astounding facts about the secret life of plants.

I’m thrilled if my forthcoming book provokes interest in this astonishing world right in front of us, but not fully perceived.

Read the article at https://nyti.ms/33BX6cz

And watch this space for the release date of Joyous Lies, published by The Wild Rose Press!


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