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"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Jun 1, 2024

Travelogue: May in England

 My annual return to Great Britain took place in May. It was, as usual, a multi-purpose trip, a combination of personal (family, friends) and professional (book promotion, research) activities.

At London's Ritz Hotel, setting for scenes in A Change of Location

My base for the first week was a farm in a West Sussex village where an ancestor of mine had lived. It was perfectly situated for revisiting favourite gardens and country houses and castles. 

Sussex farmhouse

View from the terrace

A church where many of my ancestors were baptised, married & buried

Petworth House, a baroque masterpiece

Arundel Castle gardens

A Sussex pheasant, posing for me

Mural at Wakehurst Place

The fine weather followed me to London, where my schedule was considerably more packed, and the flowers were just as beautiful.

Lobby arrangement at the Langham Hotel

The Hyde Park Rose Garden

Queen Mary's Rose Garden, Regent's Park

I spent a lot of time in art galleries. 

The new portrait of King Charles by Jonathan Yeo

Angelica Kauffman exhibit at the Royal Academy

I spent a morning at Westminster Abbey, touring the Jubilee Galleries and paying respects at the grave of characters in my next historical biographical novel.

In Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey

Spending time with friends was a highlight of my time in London. I met an author friend for lunch at the Royal Academy. Dined at the historic, beautifully renovated home of another author friend. And enjoyed an evening of delicious French food and conversation at Brasserie Zédel.

Brasserie Zédel

Chanteuse and musicians

The Ritz Hotel and its Rivoli Bar will appear in the next contemporary novel, as in A Change of Location.

The Long Gallery, Ritz Hotel

The Palm Court, Ritz Hotel

Entrance to the Rivoli Bar, Ritz Hotel

As it was last year, the wisteria was blooming everywhere ... making possible this juxtaposition of my book's cover and the lovely purple fronds.

Now it's June, and the roses and perennials in my own garden are bursting forth. I'll be revising the completed follow-up novel to A Change of Location and incorporating recent research into the next historical manuscript.

I hope everyone has a wonderful summer!