Saturday, December 23, 2017

Royal Wedding of the Weekend

To continue the celebration of All Things Royal Wedding, we go back in time for several centuries this weekend, to take a look at Edward III and Philipa of Hainault.  Not much is known about the actual wedding, but their's was a rare happy royal medieval union!

They met when they were only teenagers, and in the middle of some of the biggest dramas of medieval England.  Edward's father, Edward II, had long been a bad ruler, controlled by a series of venal favorites, and Prince Edward's French mother Isabella, dispossessed of her dower and separated from her children, had enough.  She managed to get back to France, seek her brother the French king's help, and refused to return to England.  What was more, she got control of her eldest son, the heir to the throne, when he joined her in Paris (a major miscalculation on her husband's part).  One of her main objectives was to organize the prince's marriage to bring benefit to her own cause, and in 1326, then Edward was 14, she took him to Hainault to take a look at the count's five daughters, thinking he could marry one in exchange for his assistance in her English coup.

Philipa was a couple of years younger than Edward, the second daughter, dark-haired, a bit plump, kind-hearted and sensible.  A chronicler of the time described her thus:

The lady whom we saw has not uncomely hair, betwixt blue-black and brown. Her head is clean-shaped; her forehead high and broad, and standing somewhat forward. Her face narrows between the eyes, and the lower part of her face is still more narrow and slender than her forehead. Her eyes are blackish-brown and deep. Her nose is fairly smooth and even, save that it is somewhat broad at the tip and also flattened, and yet it is no snub-nose. Her nostrils are also broad, her mouth fairly wide. Her lips somewhat full, and especially the lower lip. Her teeth which have fallen and grown again are white enough, but the rest are not so white. The lower teeth project a little beyond the upper; yet this is but little seen. Her ears and chin are comely enough. Her neck, shoulders, and all her body are well set and unmaimed; and nought is amiss so far as a man may see. Moreover, she is brown of skin all over, and much like her father; and in all things she is pleasant enough, as it seems to us. And the damsel will be of the age of nine years on St. John's day next to come, as her mother saith. She is neither too tall nor too short for such an age; she is of fair carriage, and well taught in all that becometh her rank, and highly esteemed and well beloved of her father and mother and of all her meinie, in so far as we could inquire and learn the truth

But Edward and Philipa grew very fond of each other.  He was sorry to part with her when he and his mother left, and Philipa was said to have cried.  They were a rare royal couple who got to know each other a bit before the marriage!  When the time came to arrange a betrothal, he was strongly in favor of Philipa being the chosen bride, and so she was.  When Edward II was overthrown and Edward III proclaimed in his place, a proxy marriage took place, and Philipa left for England.  In January 1328, the wedding took place at York Minster, the last royal marriage there until the Duke and Duchess of Kent in 1961.  They were married 40 years until Philipa's death in 1369.

The marriage might have started off strong, and stayed that way (they were very well-matched, both interested in hunting, festivities, travel, romantic stories, and family life), but the beginning of heir reign was rocky.  Edward was young, and for a few years real rule was carried out by his mother and her lover Roger Mortimer.  Philipa was not given her dower, and her coronation was delayed for two years (she was six month pregnant with their first son, the Black Prince, when it happened).  Edward finally managed to overthrow his mother and take the throne for himself.  The couple went on to have 13 children, and were often on the move together between Scotland, France, and Flanders.  Edward was devastated when his wife died, and quickly descended into dementia.  They are buried together at Westminster Abbey.

A good source for this exciting reign is Ian Mortimer's Edward III: The Perfect King

Friday, December 22, 2017


My newest alter-ego, Amanda Allen, has her first book up for pre-order!!!  (It will be available in paperback next November, hardback and ebook in March).  I am so very excited for this series, since it's set in one of my favorite time periods (the 1920s) in my own hometown, Santa Fe.  Maddie is an artist, WWI widow, fashionista, and all around fun lady to write about!  If you need a last minute Prezzie (you can tuck the receipt in someone's stocking, and tell them they get a great gift in the spring) look no further. :)  (you can order here--Allen website coming soon...)

(if you would like  a review copy, let me know at amccabe7551 AT yahoo)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Royal Wedding Weekend: Queen Mary Tudor

Have you heard the news?? (I know you have!)  Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be married at St. George's Chapel, Windsor, on May 19, and I am SO excited at the news.  To celebrate, I've decided to blog about a few royal weddings of the past.  Some ended happily, many did not, but there were always beautiful clothes, pageantry, and some kind of hope for the future.

We'll start in the 1500s, with the wedding of Queen Mary Tudor and Philip II of Spain, on July 25, 1554.  Mary had not been queen long, after her dramatic accession, and she was eager to marry.  She was 37, loved children, and really wanted to be a traditional wife, which she had been denied for her whole life.  There were also the concerns of state, the need for an heir.  But her choice was not a popular one.  Encouraged by her cousin and longtime mentor, Charles V, and with nostalgic memories of her Spanish mother, she determined to marry Charles's son Philip II.  Philip was 10 years younger but already a widower, and said to be very handsome.  Mary's council, and most of the country's population, were not big on foreigners, and had qualms that the two would unite in their uber-Catholicism.  Mary brushed them off, maybe already somewhat infatuated with the idea of a bit of romance in her life at long last, and declared she would marry him.  After quelling some anti-Spanish riots, she did just that.

The royal couple married at majestic Winchester Cathedral two days after meeting (Mary was enthusiastic; Philip less so, but no doubt being declared King of England made him happy enough).  As Philip spoke no English, the service was conducted in a mix of Latin, Spanish, and English, and it was hours long and quite grand.  Philip wore "breeches and doublet were white...over all a mantle of cloth of gold...ornamented with pearl and precious stones, and wearing the collar of the Garter."  The cathedral itself was "richly hanged with arras and cloth of gold," with a dais draped in scarlet and set with two thrones.  (Philip had been declared King of England, to rule alongside his wife).

Mary herself wore a dress of the French style, "rich tissue with a border and wide sleeves, embroidered upon purple satin, set with pearls," and a kirtle and train of white and silver satin.  (A splendid replica was made to be displayed at the cathedral)

The ceremony was followed with a lavish banquet and dancing, amid the uneasy mixing of Spanish and English courtiers (the Spanish didn't think much of Mary's looks), and then the marriage bed was blesed by Archbishop Gardiner and the couple put to bed.  The marriage was almost certainly consumated, because a few months later Mary thought herself pregnant, her blessing from God complete.  (It turned out to be a false pregnancy, a humiliating blow Mary never recovered from).  The marriage was marred by war, illness, and long separations, though Mary was devoted to her husband.

When Mary died in 1558, Philip was in Brussels and had not seen her in many months.  He declared he felt a "reasonable regret" for her death, and later tried to court her half-sister Elizabeth, and then married a French princess.  Much later, he went to war with the country where he was so briefly king, with the disastrous Armada.  I always feel so sorry for Mary.

There are many interesting biographies of Mary and Philip, but a couple of my favorites are:
Linda Porter, Mary Tudor: The First Queen
Anna Whitelock, Mary Tudor, England's First Queen

You can see more about the Act of Marriage here.

(and on a totally different note, if you are in the mood for a Regency Christmas read, my Wallflower's Mistletoe Wedding is still available!!  I promise it's a lot more fun than the fateful union of Mary and Philip....)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Sale Today!

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving, full of family, friends (and pie)!!  I know we are all inundated with sales today, but I have one more to add--I just found out The Queen's Christmas Summons (my Armada/Elizabethan Court Christmas story) is only .99!  I'm not sure how long it lasts, but if you need to escape the holiday crazies with a read, it's out there :)

Order Here

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Contest Winners!

And the winners of the signed Christmas books are--RegencyGirl01, Manda Ward, Tammy Y, and Daniele K!  Please send me your contact info at amccabe7551 AT yahoo, and let me know which book you would like (or both--I need to clean out these closets!)

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Contest Time!

I've been neglecting the blog something shameful, but I promise to be back with far more articles in 2019!  (with books out concerning Victorian Paris and 1920s Santa Fe, I'll be sure to have LOTS to talk about, along with more historical heroines and the adventures of my Poodle Abigail, trips to take and cocktails to sample.  But right now, in the spirit of the coming season (and because of my overflowing storage space!) we have a contest!  Three copies of The Demure Miss Manning and 3 of The Queen's Christmas Summons (since it IS that time of year!).  Also, if there are any particular foreign language copies you might like, let me know--I have more of those than I know what to do with it!

To enter is super-easy.  Comment here (what are your holiday plans??  Favorite recent reads??  Old comfort holiday reads??), or Like/Comment on my Facebook page Amanda McCabe Books, or go to my website and sign up for my newsletter (they're very short and only appear 3/4 times a year, I promise!), just mention you'd like to be entered in the contest.  Or do all three for more chances to win!!

Thanks for helping with my house cleaning, and don't forget The Wallflower's Mistletoe Wedding is out now!!!

p.s. The contest will run to the end of the week, winners chosen on Saturday!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

(Fictional) Heroine of the Weekend: Amelie

I've recently joined a group called Upbeat Authors, started by Trish Milburn.  The stated mission of the group is "focusing on spreading happiness and positivity as far as we can."  We're living in unusual, sometimes frightening times, and it's easy to feel stressed and lose our sense of creativity and just simple joy in life (for me, anyway, who am prone to severe anxiety in the best of times!).  It always helps to remember what we love--writing, reading, looking at beautiful paintings, listening to music, watching a sunset, loving our families/pets/homes.  Every Monday, look for us on Facebook, Twitter, all sorts of social media, with the hashtag #UpbeatAuthors.

So this weekend I am taking a look at one of my very favorite (and upbeat!) movies of all time, Amelie, starring the adorable Audrey Tautou, from 2001.  This is of my favorites not just because it's set in my very favorite city (and it's a very Parisian movie), but because the heroine just makes me--smile.  Which is her mission in life.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, "Amelie is a fanciful comedy about a young woman who discreetly orchestrates the lives of the people around her, creating a world of her own making."  And she does this despite her own paralyzing shyness, thanks to an active imagination, a whimsical sense of mischief (the bit where she cracks the creme brulee with her spoon ad then smiles is gorgeous!).  She returns a precious childhood box to an old man, leading to a reunion with his estranged family; matchmakes foe co-worker, Gina, with hilarious and ultimately disastrous results, helps a bullied shopworker; and even gets her widowed father to follow his dreams of travel using his garden gnome.

With the help of her disabled neighbor, Monsieur Dufayel, who paints Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party over and over, though he can never figure out the girl drinking from the water glass, Amelie even comes out of her own shell.  The girl in the painting, and Amelie herself, have been frozen by their own fears.  She releases herself, and finds love with the equally quirky Nino (after a series of bizarre courting games!)

It was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, and won the French Cesar Award.  If any movie is guaranteed to make me feel #upbeat, it's this one!  What is yours?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

New Cover Alert!

The cover for my November release, The Wallflower's Mistletoe Wedding, is finally here!  And, even though it's about 90 degrees in the shade here, it reminds me Christmas is just around the corner:

A country Christmas at Barton Park 
Plain, sensible Rose Parker is a self-proclaimed wallflower, but she's always dreamed of dancing with Captain Harry St George… 
Once, Harry wouldn't even have noticed Rose. But now, after a hard war, Harry knows he's a different man. Shy, sweet Rose intrigues him more than any gregarious young lady—but he must marry a rich bride to save his mortgaged estates…and Rose is no heiress. Now, more than ever, Harry needs the magic of a mistletoe kiss…

(If you're already feeling in the holiday spirit, it's up for pre-order here!)

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Tiara of the Weekend

Instead of a heroine this weekend, I'm taking a look at a tiara that has belonged to several queenly heroines, Queen Alexandra's kokoshnik.  The Order of Sartorial Splendor site (one of my my very favorites, and a must-read for anyone obsessed with royalty like I am!) called it a "straight-up wall of diamonds."  If you know me at all, you know how much I am bound to LOVE that!  In fact, I loved it so much I had to put it in a scene of my new WIP last week, when Alexandra has a walk-on role.  (the new book is set in Paris during the Exposition of 1889, when the Prince and Princess of Wales made an "incognito" visit to take in the sites.  She only has a cameo role, but of course that required an afternoon of heavy research to decide on her jewels!)

In 1888, Queen (then Princess of Wales) Alexandra and her husband celebrated their Silver Wedding anniversary, which called for some heavy-duty gifts.  A committee called the Ladies of Society, led by 2 marchionesses and 2 countesses, raised a collection for a present of jewels, and Alexandra requested a tiara in the style of a kokoshnik, like those worn by her sister, Empress of Marie of Russia.  The Ladies commissioned royal jeweler Garrard, who designed the tiara, like Marie's, in a style of individual pave-set bars of diamonds (77 bars, with 400 diamonds in total), which could also be worn as a necklace.  The cost was 4400 pounds, and the royal family has since gotten their money's worth out of it.  It's been a favorite piece of 3 queens, with hopefully many more to come.

The tiara had its first big outing in 1893, when Alexandra wore it to the wedding of her son George to May of Teck.  When she passed in 1925, May became Queen Mary, and inherited her mother-in-law's gems.  She didn't often wear pieces from Queen Alexandra, being a first-class jewel magpie of her own, but the kokoshnik was a favorite of hers, too.  In 1953, the current queen inherited her grandmother's collection, and has often worn the kokoshnik to state banquets, foreign tours, and the theater (it's second only to the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara in terms of wears).  I would love to see it on the Duchess of Cambridge one day!  It's a "wall of diamonds," but it also has a lightness and elegance about it, a timelessness, that's hard to beat.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Heroine of the Weekend: Edith Cavell

(I'm currently at the Historical Novel Society conference--more on that next week when I am home and over Conference Fatigue, lol!  But today we have a Heroine for a belated Memorial Day tribute, Nurse Edith Cavell, who lost her life in WWI)

Edith Cavell (1865-1915) was a vicar's daughter, educated at Norwich School for Girls, who started her working career as a governess in Belgium (which gave her a lifelong love for the country, where she could indulge in interests in art and her facility for languages) before returning for nurse's training in London and jobs in various hospitals, where she as always seen as a compassionate and efficient medical professional.  She was recruited to be matron at a new nurses' training school in Brussels, and by 1910 had launched nursing journals, recruiting nurses for over 3 hospitals and 24 new branches of the school, just in time for the huge demand of World War I.

The Red Cross took over the hospital when the war started, and Cavell became a war nurse.  She also helped wounded British soldiers out of occupied Belgium into the Netherlands, becoming part of a large network of underground escape routes.  She was arrested by the Germans on august 3, 1915 and charged with harboring Allied soldiers.

She was held in prison for 10 weeks, confessing to sheltering 60 British and 15 French soldiers, as well as French and Belgian civilians before being condemned to death.  The British diplomatic service could do nothing for her, despite the fact that she was a British national and should not have been charged with treason.  On the night before she was executed, she wrote "Patriotism is not enough.  I must have no hatred or bitterness toward anyone."  (the words now carved on her statue in Trafalgar Square).  She was executed by firing squad on October 11, and her death was a huge propaganda tool for the Allied cause.

After the war, she was taken back to England for a service at Westminster Abbey and laid to rest at her family home in Norwich.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Heroine of the Weekend: Frida Kahlo

One of the things I missed about doing this blog was finding Heroines to feature every weekend--women in history both famous and not-so-famous (and sometimes not even very heroic!), but who I found to be interesting.  Today I'm taking a look at the artist Frida Kahlo, because I just happened to go to an exhibit last week centered around her life.  ("Mirror, Mirror: Photographs of Frida Kahlo" at the Spanish Colonial Arts Museum).  I've always been fascinated by her (as so many people are!) and loved getting a closer look at her life and style.

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) was born Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderon in Coyocoan, Mexico City, to a Mexican mother and German photographer father, and had 3 sisters, growing up in the Casa Azul (now a museum, and on my bucket list).  At age 6, she was stricken with polio, bedridden for months and emerging with a pronounced limp.  Her father encouraged her to get into sports, and she enrolled in 1922 at the National Preparatory School (one of the few female students), and took art classes.  But her new life didn't last long.  On September 17, 1925, she was horribly injured in a trolley crash, spending months in the hospital and then facing a lifetime of surgeries and constant pain.  But she took that pain, that suffering, and used it in an art never seen before, one that was deeply personal, graphic, and often surreal.  She also became radical in her politics, joining the Mexican Communist Party.

In 1928, she met the famous mural painter Diego Rivera, and married him the next year.  They spent much time on the move for his work, living in California, New York City, and Detroit for many years.  Affairs by both partners (including one by Rivera with Frida's sister), as well as several miscarriages and professional complications (Rivera was famously fired from a mural project at Rockefeller Center for sneaking in a portrait of Lenin to the image).  They divorced in 1939, Kahlo then moving for a time to Paris, but remarried the next year and stayed together for the rest of Kahlo's life, though living in separate but conjoined houses/studios.

The 1950s were a time of increasingly bad health, and Kahlo became almost completely bedridden, especially after a leg amputation (though she had an easel installed above her bed and continued working!).  In 1953, she had her first solo exhibit in Mexico, and was taken to the opening party by ambulance, where she drank and partied from a specially installed bed.  She died July 13, 1954 at age 47, at Casa Azul.  In 2002, a movie of her life was made with Salma Hayak nominated as an Oscar for her main role.

I've always been in awe of her strength, her uniqueness, her great talent, her fearlessness, and her ability to know and be true to herself.  She's really a Heroine.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

What Amanda Is Doing Now

So, what have I been up to while this blog has been on (too long) hiatus???  It turns out, a lot.  Some back to back deadlines, a little illness, husband's new job, and just enjoying living in my favorite place on earth, Santa Fe, has been sucking away energy.  But now I am VERY pleased to announce there are many, many projects in the pipeline here.

I've just finished the first title in a new mystery series, written by a whole new persona--Amanda Allen!  Santa Fe Mourning, book one in the Madeline Alwin 1920s Mysteries, will be out from Crooked Lane Books in the summer of 2018.  Maddie is an artist and heiress from New York, widowed too young by World War I, who lands in sunny Santa Fe to pursue her artistic career, solve some murders, and (maybe) even find some new romance.  Look for a pre-order link soon!

Amanda McCabe is also still at work.  I've started the first in a whole new historical romance series, "The Grantley Girls Go To Paris," a trilogy centered around 3 heroines who become BFFs at Miss Grantley's School For Elegant Young Ladies, and are now off to the Paris Exposition of 1889 to find adventure and love.  Miss Diana Martin, the heroine of the first book (title TBA) is a fashion journalist, so I am forced (forced, I tell you!) to research many Worth gowns and get out my scrapbooks of Paris trips of my own.  In the meantime, my next historical romance, The Wallflower's Mistletoe Wedding, (the latest in the Bancrofts of Barton Park Series) is going to be out just in time for the holidays in November.  (you can pre-order here)

Here are a few Worth creations to enjoy for the moment (I also have a House of Worth page on Pinterest, where I spend way too much time!), and I promise I will be back here very soon, with more Heroines, more cocktails, and more lovely summer patio reviews!