History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

21 December 2011

Holiday settings

A very quick post from me today, as eight days ago I gave birth to a new hoyden - my daughter, Mélanie Cordelia. We're both doing great, but I haven't had time for much beyond settling in with her this past week. However, I have been thinking about the holidays and particularly holidays in literature. My mom and I wrote a couple of Christmas novellas, but I've never written a Christmas book, like Lauren's wonderful The Mischief of the Mistletoe. However, I have had holiday scenes in a few of my books. The epilogue to Vienna Waltz takes place at a Christmas Eve party given by Dorothée Talleyrand (who really did give a party on Christmas Eve in 1814 at the French embassy in the Kaunitz Palace in Vienna). And my historical romance, Rightfully His (which I just released as an ebook on Nook and Kindle) begins over the holidays in 1822.

In both books it was fun weaving in holiday traditions - Vienna Waltz allowed me to have a Christmas tree, a custom Dorothée brought with her from Berlin. I also made a mistake in anticipating the composition of Stille Nacht by two years. It's always the things I think I know and don't look up that trip me up... Rightfully His has scenes of Yuletide decorating, aholiday party, and assembling Christmas baskets. I was trying to remember today why I chose to start the book over the holidays. I'm not sure it was a conscious decision, but I think perhaps I wanted to juxtapose the holiday cheer against the less than cheerful events that begin the story. Which is quite different from the novellas my mom and I wrote where our aim was to evoke an atmosphere of holiday warmth and cheer.

What are your favorite books or stories that feature any of the mid-winter holidays?

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Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents." I'll always remember that opening line from LITTLE WOMEN, and I think of that novel as a "Christmas book," somehow; an autumnal/winter's tale. I also have a soft spot for the Dickens novellas, "A Christmas Carol" (and I am never failed to be moved by the universal message of the chilling words of the Second Spirit, which I paraphrase: "The Boy is Ignorance, the Girl is Want; beware them both, but most of all, beware the Boy..."). And years ago I played Dot Peerybingle in a stage adaptation of the lesser known "A Cricket on the Hearth," which has more light and less shadow than Dickens' more famous novella. Come to think of it, I've performed countless times in stage adaptations of "A Christmas Carol" as well, as Mrs. Cratchit. Could never get through the scene where Mr. C. comes home to dinner and Tiny Tim is there without crying.

And, Tracy ... I'm in awe that you're so diligently posting on the blog, and everything else as a brand new mom! You're setting a wonderful example for your daughter!

6:27 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Tracy, congratulations! That's fantastic. I don't really have a Christmas book apart from A Christmas Carol. Although I have read a few Mary Balogh novels that take place in Winter that I've loved. And if I remember correctly, Elizabeth Mansfield wrote a book called Frost Fair that I really enjoyed.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Little Women is a great example, Leslie - not a Christmas book per say but definitely seems to go with the holidays. In fact, Mélanie and I watched the most recent film version a coupe of nights ago while I wrote holiday cards. I felt like I was introducing the story to my daughter, though we'll have to try it again when she's a bit older :-).

Pride and Prejudice and Emma also both have scenes over the Christmas holidays. I like watching some of the film versions of them as well this time of year.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Thanks, Elizabeth! I remember reading and enjoying The Frost Fair years ago. I have a fondness for winter settings in general, both as a reader and as a writer. So much one can do with atmosphere and great to curl up with on chilly nights.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Diane Whiteside said...

Tracy & Leslie - Little Women was also my first thought for a Christmas book. Perhaps our basic image of midwinter holidays evokes Victorian warmth.

My book The Northern Devil takes place on a midwinter chase across the US via train during the 1870s. It concludes with homecoming at Christmas time, with warmth and forgiveness and good cheer. That scene is still one of my favorites, possibly because it felt like a present.

Congrats on your beautiful daughter! She's the best gift of all.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Thanks for the good wishes, Diane! I love the idea of a midwinter transcontinental train chase followed by holiday warmth. It's interesting how many of our holiday ideas are Victorian, isn't it? It makes writing Regency holiday scenes, pre - so many of those traditions, a challenge!

3:13 AM  
Blogger Isobel Carr said...

Oh, how exciting to see our first picture of Mélanie! She's adorable.

Mary Balogh has a book of Christmas-based short stories (Under The Mistletoe) that I was given many years ago. I still pull it out occasionally and re-read.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

I love Christmas-set short stories, Isobel - and Mary Balogh does them really well.

Can't wait for you to meet Mélanie!

1:37 PM  

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