Hello! Welcome to my stop on the Grand Tour for Lydia by Natasha Farrant! Today Natasha joins me to share her favourite place to write, and shares an extract from the book! Enjoy!
I like to write in cafés. People ask how I can work surrounded by noise, but it helps me concentrate. If people at neighbouring tables are too loud, I listen to music on headphones to distract me from the particulars of their conversation. I almost always listen to the same music: Bach’s Goldberg Variations in the morning, which are very ordered and structured and ease me into writing; Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto in the afternoons, which is more frantic and passionate and gives me a kick up the backside if I am flagging. The reason for always listening to the same music however is that I am not, actually, listening. It has become a trigger for my writing ritual, along with the cup of coffee, the Moleskine notebook, the Pilot pen. Different music would distract me, like loud conversation.
I don’t mind which café I work in as long as the coffee is good, but earlier this summer I went to a café under the railway arches of my local park, and sat outside and wrote for hours surrounded by the sound of birdsong and the trains rattling overhead. It was magical.
Lydia Bennett, for all her many qualities, is not known for her love of books. But now she has met a boy… who reads all the time… and somehow she has convinced him that not only is she highly educated, but has a deep interest in the writings of Saint Augustine (don’t ask…). She has just a few days to get educated before she sees him again…
Sunday 1st June
My lack of education, as Mary calls it, is entirely Father’s fault. There’s no point blaming Mamma. She knows even less about anything than I do. But Father, who spends whole days in his library, could have taught me something. If we had been boys, we should all have been sent to school, but I don’t see what being a boy has to do with anything. Plenty of girls go to school – even Harriet did. We cannot all be like Mary, always educating ourselves. Some of us require motivation, and it is too bad Father never saw fit to give it, or I shouldn’t be in the trouble I am now.
After returning from the spa yesterday, I went immediately to the library, where, ignoring the assembled company, the tea, the coffee and the fashionable periodicals, I made straight for the books and looked for the librarian. My courage almost failed me when he appeared. He looked so exactly as a librarian should, with his grey whiskers and faded brown coat and little spectacles on the end of his nose like Mary’s – so very studious and learned. But my mission was urgent. I girded my loins.
“I should like to read the works of Saint Augustine,” I said haughtily. “And I also need some poetry, novels, and plays.”
“I see.” The librarian frowned, and his spectacles slipped even farther down his nose. “Do you have anything more specific in mind?”
I crumbled. “Nothing at all!” I cried. “I have just four days in which to become educated.”
“How educated?” the librarian asked.
I slumped into a nearby armchair, feeling discouraged. There seemed no point in dissembling.
“Just enough to be convincing,” I admitted.
The librarian – who is a charming man – patted my shoulder, gave me Saint Augustine, and scurried away to gather a veritable tower of learning, the names of which I must write down to anchor them for ever in my memory. They were:
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet and the Sonnets
John Milton, Paradise Lost
Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock
Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
“I have also included Mrs. Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho,” he said. “I find a knowledge of contemporary culture is a very pleasing thing, and it is of course immensely fashionable.”
“Of course.” I gulped. “But all this – all this is what I have to read to appear intelligent?”
The librarian said, “Well, it’s a start.”
Thank you to Natasha for joining me on the blog today! Make sure you go and follow the rest of the tour and check all the other wonderful posts on the tour out! The blog tour banner is below!