JANE AND THE DAMNED BY Janet Mullany (Review)

Just a brief recommendation.

If you adore Jane Austen, would fancy becoming acquainted with a few Regency vampires, don’t object to a little alternative history (French soldiers have landed in the south of England and set up a a guillotine in Bath!) and would enjoy a completely original (and utterly unforgettable) take on the Prince Regent (after whom the whole Regency Period is named and to whom Jane – later – dedicated Emma) then this is most definitely the book for you. I loved it.

(I don’t want to spoil it, but I must note here that the ending, though of course inevitable, was not, for me, a happy one.)

SONGS OF INNOCENCE: INTRODUCTION (by William Blake)

Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me:

“Pipe a song about a Lamb!”
So I piped with merry chear.
“Piper, pipe that song again;”
So I piped: he wept to hear.

“Drop they pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy chear:”
So I sung the same again,
While he wept with joy to hear.

“Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book that all may read.”
So he vanish’d from my sight
and I pluck’d a hollow reed,

And I made a rural pen,
And I stain’d the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.

Plague and Pestilence in Brittany

Bonjour From Brittany

Unprecedented is a word that we have all heard many times since the scale of the current coronavirus disease pandemic became apparent. The authorities and the media talk of an “exceptional situation” a “unique threat” that is “unheard of in our country”. However, throughout our recorded history, contagions, epidemics and pandemics have been a regular feature of all human societies and often a source of instability and catalyst for change therein. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is worth reminding ourselves of the magnitude of some earlier disease events—and the resilience of societies when confronted with biological catastrophe.

Pandemics, such as the one we are currently enduring, have always been part of humanity’s lot; it is simply that it has, mercifully, been some time since we last experienced such a deadly outbreak. Perhaps the most infamous pandemic event and one that still holds a place in the popular imagination is the…

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PIAZZA PIECE (by John Crowe Ransom)

– I am a gentleman in a dustcoat trying
To make you hear. Your ears are soft and small
And listen to an old man not at all,
They want the young men’s whispering and sighing.
But see the roses on your trellis dying
And hear the spectral singing of the moon;
For I must have my lovely lady soon,
I am a gentleman in a dustcoat trying.

– I am a lady young in beauty waiting
Until my truelove comes, and then we kiss.
But what grey man among the vines is this
Whose words are dry and faint as in a dream?
Back from my trellis, Sir, before I scream !
I am a lady young in beauty waiting.