The Week: 22nd – 28th July

Walk to the shops Tuggernanong Valley Brindabella Range Canberra Australia Winter Sunshine Blue Sky Sonya Heaney 21st July 2019 Sunny Warm Afternoon

This was actually last Sunday afternoon, when I walked to the local shops. The mountains around Canberra are beautiful.

This was a supremely busy week. I’ve been trying to get a new manuscript written in an impossible space of time (in addition to the other books I’ve been working on). From mid-morning on Tuesday to the early hours of Sunday I managed to type just under 30 000 words – about a third of a book!

I did, however, go into the city last night to see The White Crow, a movie about Rudolph Nureyev (and starring a few Ukrainians!). That was followed by an amazing dinner at Morning Glory.

The White Crow is the only ballet movie I’ve seen that is realistic. It also did a good job of reconstructing life in the Soviet Union. In fact – as someone with family and friends from one end of Ukraine and Russia to the other – it depicted life as it still is for many.

I hope to write a post about it soon, but I’m guessing that I’ll be too busy to remember!

Oh, and my publisher sent me this:

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What I did today.

Books Library Julia Quinn Miranda Neville Josephine Moon Jennifer McQuiston Lisa Kleypas Stephanie Laurens Sonya Heaney 22nd July 2019

Book Feature: Lady Rogue (The Royal Rewards #3) by Theresa Romain

Lady Rogue (The Royal Rewards #3) by Theresa Romain

The Week: 17th- 23rd June

My book is done! I’ve passed it back and forth with my editor six times, and now she has sent it off to the publisher. I plan to never read it again, in case I find glaring mistakes!

I was, however, rather excited to see myself popping up in advertising alongside some pretty big-name authors this week:

Sonya Heaney on Romance.com.au Coming Soon

On My Radar: The Last Days Of The Romanov Dancers by Kerri Turner

The Last Days Of The Romanov Dancers by Kerri Turner

My review of The Greek’s Pregnant Cinderella (Cinderella Seductions #2) by Michelle Smart

The Greek's Pregnant Cinderella (Cinderella Seductions #2) by Michelle Smart

Jennifer Weiner on the Power of Women’s Stories and Killing ‘Chick Lit’

Jennifer Weiner on the Power of Women's Stories and Killing 'Chick Lit' Mrs Everything.

On My Radar: The Last Days Of The Romanov Dancers by Kerri Turner

Now, I’m hesitant about this one, and at the same time I’m desperate to read it.

It does seem that The Last Days Of The Romanov Dancers makes no attempt to whitewash history, which I am thankful for.

Romanticising the Russian Empire is… Well, the Romanovs were really into cultural genocide (and actual murder) of all non-Russian ethnic groups of their realm. The repercussions of that are still being felt today. For some reason they always get a free pass when other historical empires do not.

Coming from one of those ethnic groups who had their language banned and their culture either suppressed or stolen, I’m a little touchy about it! Many famous Ukrainians’ (and others’) achievements have been appropriated – to this day some of the Empire’s most famous artists/composers/writers/dancers/etc. are called “Russian” when they were nothing of the sort.

And yet, author Kerri Turner knows her ballet. It’s so important for me – a former ballet dancer – that authors who tackle the topic know a lot about it!

Additionally, I’ve spent time in Saint Petersburg on several trips over the years.

In other words, I think this book looks fascinating, and it has some great reviews!

The Last Days Of The Romanov Dancers by Kerri Turner

The Last Days Of The Romanov Dancers by Kerri Turner

Petrograd, 1914. A country on a knife edge. The story of two people caught in the middle – with everything to lose… A stunning debut from a talented new Australian voice in historical fiction.

Valentina Yershova’s position in the Romanovs’ Imperial Russian Ballet is the only thing that keeps her from the clutches of poverty. With implacable determination, she has clawed her way through the ranks, relying not only on her talent but her alliances with influential men that grant them her body, but never her heart. Then Luka Zhirkov – the gifted son of a factory worker – joins the company, and suddenly everything she has built is put at risk.

For Luka, being accepted into the company fulfils a lifelong dream. But in the eyes of his proletariat father, it makes him a traitor. As civil war tightens its grip and the country starves, Luka is torn between his growing connection to Valentina and his guilt for their lavish way of life.

For the Imperial Russian Ballet has become the ultimate symbol of Romanov indulgence, and soon the lovers are forced to choose: their country, their art or each other…

A powerful novel of revolution, passion and just how much two people will sacrifice…

The Week: 18th – 24th June

Winter Sunshine Blue Sky Sonya Heaney 19th June 2018 Eucalyptus Tree Gum Tree Canberra Australia Australian Capital Territory Nature

Winter sunshine in Canberra.

And at the cemetery near the New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory state border on Friday afternoon.

And Lake Burley Griffin on Saturday afternoon.

R.I.P. Errol Pickford

Errol Pickford as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet © Leslie Spatt Royal Ballet Royal Opera House

Happy Birthday to an Icon

Oksana_Chusovitina_(vault)_04-2011

My review of Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

My review of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Beyond my limit!

How much more ridiculous can it get?

Cockygate apllication to trademark the word BIG cockybot

R.I.P. Errol Pickford

Errol Pickford as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet © Leslie Spatt Royal Ballet Royal Opera House

As Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. X

The weekend brought news of the death of Australian-born star of Britain’s Royal Ballet, Errol Pickford. After years in London he moved back to Perth to dance with the West Australian Ballet.

He was only fifty-one at the time of his death.

Errol Pickford as The Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty © Leslie Spatt Royal Ballet Royal Opera House

As the Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty.

Pickford was known for his powerful dancing, and was famous for his performances in The Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote.

 

The Merry Widow

We are off to see the ballet version of The Merry Widow tonight. Over the years, as I’ve learnt more and more about history (and read ninety million historical fiction books!), I’ve come to appreciate the ballet in different ways. For example, the way the “widow” character appears in the first act entirely in black, and gradually emerges from her mourning as the story continues over three acts.

In many ways, The Merry Widow is the ultimate historical romance, with an excellent secondary romance to boot (I’ve included the synopsis below).

I first saw this ballet in the early Nineties, at the final dress rehearsal in Canberra the day before the opening night of the production’s revival. They used original costumes, and backstage I got to touch the costumes worn by Dame Margot Fonteyn (considered one of the greatest ballerinas in world history) when she played the lead role.

I’ve seen numerous casts over the years, but I’d like to share a scene from the 1990s recording. The music, the pas de deux, the costumes, the sets… it’s all so gorgeous. I don’t see the same level of passion and beauty and grace in ballet often these days; this version, starring Lisa Pavane (who was one of my favourite ballet teachers, and now runs The Australian Ballet School) and Steven Heathcote (who I worked with a number of times over the years) is just gorgeous.

Synopsis: The action takes place in Paris in the year 1905.

ACT I
Scene 1:
An ante-room in the Pontevedrian Embassy
Minor officials and the French Attaché (Camille de Rosillon) are finishing work prior to the ball to be given in the Embassy that evening. The Ambassador’s secretary (Njegus) enters with a fresh heap of bills and all lament their country’s bankruptcy.

The Ambassador (Baron Zeta) and his young French wife (Valencienne) enter with a telegram announcing that a recently widowed Pontevedrian (Hanna Glawari) is to attend the ball. She is worth 20 million francs and seeks a new husband. However, should she marry a foreigner, Pontevedro will lose the benefit of her wealth and the country will be left penniless. The First Secretary (Count Danilo) is considered a prospective suitor.

Camille and Valencienne are left alone. He is passionately in love with her, and she with him, but she clings to her marriage vows. Njegus interrupts the lovers and they leave as Danilo enters – more than a little intoxicated. Njegus informs him of the marriage plan. He is amused at the suggestion and lapses into an alcoholic slumber. The Baron returns and orders Njegus to ensure that Danilo is sober before the ball begins.

Scene 2: The ballroom in the Pontevedrian Embassy Hanna Glawari arrives and Danilo is presented to her. They are dumbfounded, having met when she was a peasant girl in Pontevedro ten years ago. Danilo had put an end to the affair at the insistence of his aristocratic parents. He is amazed at the transformation of Hanna and, in his confusion, mops his forehead with a handkerchief which Hanna recognises as a keepsake she gave him when they parted. He tells Hanna that he has always loved her, but she, thinking that he is only interested in her money, rejects him.

The Baron bids Hanna choose a partner for the dance. Hanna regrets her coldness and chooses Danilo, but he, still smarting, refuses, and waltzes with another guest.

Valencienne urges Camille to prevent a ‘situation’. Hanna accepts his arm and they dance together. In the course of changing partners, Hanna finds herself alone with Danilo. She continues to resist his attentions but cannot really disguise her love for him.

ACT II
Scene:
The garden of Hanna’s villa
Hanna is holding a Pontevedrian soiree at her villa and the guests celebrate with their national dances. As they all go into supper, Zeta, Danilo, and Njegus agree to meet at eight o’clock in the pavilion for a small diplomatic discussion on Danilo’s progress with Hanna. All is going well and they are growing closer to each other, despite a slight mutual distrust.

Valencienne and Camille sneak into the deserted garden and as she finally succumbs to his persuasive passion, they withdraw into the darkness of the pavilion – observed, however, by Njegus. As the Baron and Danilo approach, Njegus panics and locks the pavilion door. Looking through the keyhole, the Baron sees all. In the ensuing scuffle to wrest the key from Njegus, Hanna appears and realises the situation. She releases Valencienne through a side door and takes her place inside.

The Baron unlocks the door and orders the guilty couple to emerge. To his amazement, Camille comes out with Hanna, who dumbfounds everyone by announcing their engagement. The astounded guests offer frigid congratulations and depart. Danilo is the last to leave and, in a frenzy, throws at her feet the handkerchief with which she had, a moment ago, retied their union. She picks it up knowing that he truly loves her.

ACT III
Scene:
Chez Maxime
The Pontevedrians have come to drown their sorrows and spend their last francs at Chez Maxime. Gaiety prevails until Camille unwisely appears – hoping, of course, to meet Valencienne. The Pontevedrians, led by Valencienne, jeer at him. Her mockery, however, is more emotional than patriotic.

Hanna suddenly appears and accepts Camille’s unwillingly offered arm. This is too much for Danilo who advances to challenge him to a duel, but Hanna and Valencienne intervene. The Baron perceives, from his wife’s protection of Camille, that his fears are not without foundation and resignedly accepts the inevitable.

All have left and Hanna stands forlornly alone. Danilo quietly returns and folds her into a loving embrace that turns into an ecstatic waltz.

The Week: 19th – 25th March

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Moody sky at Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra on Saturday afternoon.

First autumn leaves in Canberra.

Our crazy resident brushtail possum and her baby curled up in the tree outside my room on Tuesday afternoon.

kaetlyn-osmond Canada_s Kaetlyn Osmond. 2018 World Figure Skating Champion.

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Huge congratulations to Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond, who just became the 2018 World Figure Skating Champion. I am SO disappointed this wasn’t the result at the Olympics a few weeks ago. Osmond is a complete skater, not a jumping machine with zero artistic merit.

This week the world’s last male white rhinoceros died. The species is about to become extinct. And the United States is run by a family who goes to Africa to trophy-hunt endangered animals…

One week until Easter, and March is basically over. What happened?! I am going away over the long weekend.

Coming Up for Mary Balogh

Someone to Trust (Westcott Book #5) by Mary Balogh

My review of First Comes Marriage (Huxtable Quintet #1) by Mary Balogh

First Comes Marriage (Huxtable Quintet #1) by Mary Balogh

My review of Offsetting Penalties by Ally Mathews

Offsetting Penalties by Ally Mathews

My review of Running Blind (Men of Steele #4) by Gwen Hernandez

Running Blind (Men of Steele #4) by Gwen Hernandez

Make a date with Harlequin: Prince

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