Friday, February 12, 2016

An evening of romance - and chocolate roses!

If you've ever dismissed the romantic novel as inferior to other genres, Nicola Cornick made a few salient  points during her talk at Central Library last night.

Historian and best selling romantic novelist Nicola Cornick has a hugely successful 18 year writing career and with 40 novels under her belt (published in 27 different countries) she knows what she's talking about.

During her Valentine Day themed talk, at which there were book giveaways AND chocolate roses, Nicola charted the history of the novel, in particular the romantic novel, once considered a danger to women and children.

From its roots in the oral, medieval troubadour tradition to the 1970s and 80s lucrative writing market the romantic novel continues today to be as popular as ever.

Nicola talked about her own early reading experiences and her grandmother's secret library kept hidden in her lavender scented wardrobe. It was here that Nicola became acquainted with the romantic works of Ethel M. Dell whose writing career spanned from 1911 to her death in 1939.

Nicola has just finished the second of three time-slip novels. The first, House of Shadows, is set against the backdrop of Ashdown House where she works as a tour guide and historian.

Her second book, due out later this year, has another local setting, this time Savernake Forest, Wolf Hall and Littlecote House.

Nicola is now researching her third book in this series, which gets ever closer to home with an Old Town location and a big, local family name - and no, its not the Goddards.

Nicola's books are available from Amazon WH Smith and Waterstones and can be borrowed from Swindon libraries.

Catch up with Nicola on her own website, the Ashdown House blog and Word Wenches.

Here is the Ashdown and Lydiard House connection …

William, 1st Earl Craven and builder of Ashdown House, was the son of Sir William Craven and his wife Elizabeth Whitmore. Elizabeth’s younger sister Margaret married Sir John St John, 17th century owner of the Lydiard Estate. In 1630 he was recently widowed with 11 children to care for, she was a 54 year old widow and ten years his senior. Her portrait hangs in the dining room at Lydiard House and her effigy lies next to Sir John and his first wife Anne Leighton on the magnificent bedstead memorial in neighbouring St Mary’s Church.

More than 80 years later and Sir John’s great grandson Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke was to seek refuge at Ashdown House. In 1714, as the country awaited the death of Queen Anne, Henry allied himself with the Jacobites and Catholic James, the Old Pretender. William, 2nd Baron Craven allowed his fellow Tory to use Ashdown House as a bolt hole where he plotted and planned to restore James II’s Catholic son to the English throne.

Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia by Gerard Van Honthorst - one of Nicola's heroines in House of Shadows

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