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26 November 2012

On weddings, holidays, and His Spanish Bride

Hope everyone celebrating U.S. Thanksgiving had a wonderful holiday weekend.
Ours was made extra special by the fact that my daughter Mélanie waked three tiny steps from the hearth to me. She did so naturally, I almost didn't realize what she'd done until my uncle commented on it. She also had a great time playing with one cousin's golf balls, which made great toys, and another cousin's kitten [who beat a prudent retreat to high places].

I've always tended to avoid the chaos of shopping on Black Friday {the day after Thanksgiving that kicks off the U.S. holiday retail season). This year, thanks to a friend who babysat, I spent the afternoon at a matinee of Skyfall. But the day had an extra significance for me. It was the release date for His Spanish Bride, my e-novella about the wedding of Malcolm and Suzanne, the central couple in my series.

Because Malcolm and Suzanne's marriage marks the start of their adventures not the culmination, this meant going back in time to when they have just met, an interesting exercise because marriage changed both of them, and so much of their identity for me is wrapped up in their being a couple, not to mention being parents. As might be expected for two spies who marry in the midst of the Peninsular War, their wedding is hardly a conventional affair. But it occurs in December, so the story combines two literary traditions - wedding stories and holiday stories. I have a fondness for both types of story, from wedding stories like The Philadelphia Story and Busman's Honeymoon to holiday tales like Lauren's delightful The Mischief of the Mistletoe. I think what i like about both types of story is that they bring together friends and family with plentiful opportunity for conflicts, reunions, and revelry. Parents and children, sibling rivalry, ex-lovers home for the holidays or attending the same wedding--or perhaps one disrupting the wedding of another. Jane Austen recognized the benefit of such gatherings for bringing characters together. Emma opens with a wedding and includes a holiday party.

Both weddings and holidays involve certain traditions which give a frame to the story yet to which individual characters give their own unique spin. It's fun seeing fictional characters, even historical ones, go through some of the same traditions we go through ourselves, and also fun to see the differences. Malcolm and Suzanne's wedding takes place at the British embassy and is wrapped up in the investigation of a missing letter that could drive a wedge between Britain and her Spanish allies in the war against the French. Not surprising, given that Malcolm is a diplomatic attaché and intelligence agent and Suzanne is-- well, that's part of the story.  They slip away from their betrothal party for a bit of skullduggery, and Suzanne arrives at the solution to the mystery on their wedding night. Both their motives for entering into the marriage are complicated, and perhaps they are even deceiving themselves about the true reasons. The story ends at an embassy Christmas party at which, again typically for them, Malcolm and Suzanne are wrapping up the investigation.

What are some of your favorite holiday and wedding stories? To celebrate the release of His Spanish Bride, I'll give a signed cover flat for my forthcoming The Paris Affair to one of the commenters.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Congratulations on First Steps!!! (in every way).

I have soft spots for Dickens' holiday novellas (maybe because I've performed in 2 of them: A Christmas Carol and A Cricket on the Hearth). As for wedding stories, another soft sport for the multiple weddings that ties up all the loose ends in Shakespearean comedies and give the audience and "all's right with the world" feeling, even as you know there may be strife bubbling beneath these unions in the future, because the Bard was such a master at depicting the universal truths in Real Life.

Movies: the original version of The Bishop's Wife (for a holiday story). And "Holiday" (with Hepburn and Grant)

6:43 AM  
Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Congrats on those first steps. She'll be running before you know it! Such a cutie!

And I am looking forward to reading about Malcolm and Suzanne's wedding.

I have a couple of shelves of historical romance Christmas anthologies and novels. I always pull them out at this time of year to keep me in the spirit of Christmas when my day job tends to try and pound the spirit out of me!

One of my very favorites is a story in Angel Christmas - an anthology from 1995. The story is Tin Angel by Patricia Rice and it just the sweetest most romantic story and in fact it ends with a marriage!

And I love the older Christmas movies - White Christmas, Holiday Inn, The Bishop's Wife, It's a Wonderful Life.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Thanks, Lesley! So true about Shakespeare's comedies - Midsummer Night's Dream in particular could be called a wedding story. I realized recently that one of my favorite plays, The Philadelphia Story, has a lot of [I think] conscious parallels to it. Speaking of Philip Barry, I love Holiday - I bought a DVD of it last holiday season.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Thanks, Louisa! Hope you enjoy His Spanish Bride. Rereading holiday novellas is such a great way to get into the holiday spirit. I've liked White Christmas ever since I first saw it as a child. There was a stage version in San Francisco a few years ago that was a lot of fun.

5:52 PM  

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