Friday Favourites

It’s been a busy few weeks as we’ve just acquired an investment property a few miles away and we have to reorganise the refurbishment before we can advertise for tenants but these are some of the links and sites that I’ve enjoyed visiting recently….

So many people have finished polishing their novel and are daunted by the prospect of sending it out to publishers and agents. I know I am – I’m still editing but the submission process is looming on the horizon.  I loved this long but interesting and so informative blog post by Jessie Burton, author of the recently published debut novel The Miniaturist, explaining how she approached and chose her agent, Juliet Mushens.  It made me feel a lot more confident and who knows, I may even pluck up the courage to send my MS to Juliet.

Historical and crime novelist Sara Sheridan wrote this great piece for the BBC about the taboo of toplessness and the way in which so many Victorian no-nos (society was rather more relaxed about nipples prior to the prudishness of Queen Victoria) have been over-turned but horrors about women’s breasts is still prevalent. Sara discusses the ongoing debate as to whether breasts are an example of the sexualisation of women’s bodies by men or whether the exposing of them is a feminist statement, a way of reclaiming our bodies. She discusses this in the context of her own decision to pose topless for a book festival author photograph and the historical attitude to breasts.  Given the recent debate as to whether Claridge’s hotel was right to ask a breastfeeding mother to conceal herself and her baby beneath a table cloth, it’s a particularly topical area.

On a very different note, I wish I was even slightly artistic but I’m really quite ham-fisted and even my dear friend, book artist Rachel Hazell, struggles to say more than ‘well, you’ve enjoyed yourself’ about my crafty efforts.  However, these instructions for making lip balm from The Art of Homemaking blog look pretty straightforward and I might try this sometime. Just as soon as I can work out what to do with a couple of dozen tins of lipbalm…

I love obituaries and they often reveal that even the most outwardly ordinary people can have lived extraordinary lives.  Lady Mary Douglas Hamilton was a New York socialite when World War Two broke out.  That moment in history, as for so many women, was significant in that it drove her life in a completely different direction – raising money to support embattled British citizens with knitted blankets and socks but then fundraising enabled her to supply X-ray machines, ambulances, blood-transfusion equipment and more. Contrary to this paragraph’s opening sentence, she wasn’t particularly ordinary to start with but she took that privilege and used it in an extraordinary way.  We’re all far more privileged than we think and maybe 2014 is the year to see how we can use that to make a difference.

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