Writers: What Influences And Inspires You?

I’m at last getting back to work now that the house move is largely finished. You may recall that I’ve written previously that I managed to get through BOTH The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. (Author Herman Wouk is now 101 years old!) Written in the 1960s and 1970s, both massive novels (over 1,000 pages each) were famously adapted for American television in “big” productions in the 1980s and were huge hits.

But like too many other novels, I’ve felt those television versions, while they had their moments, didn’t really do full justice to the books. Yet maybe it is unfair even expecting that they could have?: the books are of an incredible scope and complexity. It’s almost as if the words “novel” or “book” are insufficient to describe them.

"The Winds of War," by Herman Wouk. [Photo by me, 2016.]
“The Winds of War,” by Herman Wouk. [Photo by me, 2016.]

One fault that can be found with them, however, is their scope is so gigantic that reading them can feel at times like trying to wade through an encyclopedia…. only suddenly to find yourself in the next chapter joining fictional characters trading barbed comments and sexual innuendoes at a formal dinner. That said, they also have some great characters and too many memorable bits to begin to recount. They are amazing writing efforts.

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At The Height Of A British Summer

I tore through a mass of unpacking yesterday, got the washing machine in place, mowed the (small) lawn, and generally attacked whatever else I could think of. Yet there still seems so much to do. You probably know the feeling: in any house move, all you see is what is left to be accomplished!

What still awaits. The unpacking continues. [Photo by me, 2016.]
What still awaits. The unpacking continues. [Photo by me, 2016.]

Leave it to us to move as well over the hottest days of the year here. Don’t be fooled, it can get very hot here. And I shouldn’t complain: at least it wasn’t raining!

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Our Varied Heritages

Ancestry.com is after me again. This below is from an email I received this morning:

Screen capture of Ancestry email.
Screen capture of Ancestry email.

A few years ago through Ancestry, I found one of the ship manifests that included my maternal great-grandmother as a young adult sailing to America. She had traveled with about a dozen other people of varying ages, all from the same village in Sicily. My great-grandfather was in America already, awaiting her arrival.

She was born near Syracuse (as was he). She departed Messina, stopped in Naples, stopped next in Marseille, and from there journeyed to New York’s Ellis Island. It was typical for the time and their nationality.

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To “The Honorable Ezekiel Gilbert”

Yesterday’s post was depressing. The present day isn’t exactly doing it for me lately. I thought let’s have a retreat to the past for this one….

Main entrance. George Washington's Mount Vernon. Virginia. [Photo by me, 2011.]
Main entrance. George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Virginia. [Photo by me, 2011.]
But naturally there were troubles back then, too. Moreover when it came to communicating with our representatives back in the U.S. as to what we abroad were witnessing, there wasn’t even email! And we definitely couldn’t “@” them on Twitter!

We would have sat down and composed an ink-splotted letter by candlelight that we hoped might get to its destination in two or three months if we were lucky….

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Stop: Don’t Throw The PC Out The Window

We spent the weekend down in Christchurch….

View towards Christchurch Priory. Christchurch, England. [Photo by me, 2011.]
View towards Christchurch Priory. Christchurch, England. [Photo by me, 2011.]

….visiting with the couple – our former neighbors there, where we used to live – who had generously lent us their flat in Tenerife back in the spring. They are also the inspiration for “Mrs and Mr Hall-Surrey” in the Atlantic Lives novels. And they know they are – and were such good sports about it when they discovered it.

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“Land of lovely dames”

A bit more “history.” Please don’t run for cover. I think you’ll find this amusing – especially given this is 4th of July weekend in the U.S.:

Excerpt, from Kindle for iPad.
Excerpt, from Kindle for iPad.

That excerpt is from a recent biography. The first part is from a 1782 letter written by the subject while he was traveling; the second half is from an 1811 letter he also wrote. In 1782 the writer had made his way across Sweden (including Finland, which was part of Sweden then) while returning from Russia.

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Sailing Away

I’m not a sailor. However, sailing ships of the 18th and 19th centuries have long interested me. Here are some “old” photos at Mystic Seaport, in Connecticut, from back in 2000, at the Charles W. Morgan:

At the helm of the Charles W. Morgan, Mystic, Connecticut, April 2000. [Photo by Mrs. Nello.]
At the helm of the Charles W. Morgan, Mystic, Connecticut, April 2000. [Photo by Mrs. Nello.]

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