February 13, 2009: Homage

When I was fifteen, I read Elizabeth Goudge’s The Child from the Sea, a historical novel about Lucy Walter, mother of Charles II’s eldest bastard. It’s a very sad book — I cried my eyes out for the last 100 pages, as Lucy loses almost everything she loves before her premature death in Paris, a city she’s portrayed as hating.

I haven’t read this book in decades, but it continues to influence me. I realized after the fact that to some degree my first book, The Prince of Hearts, was my way to rewrite the story, giving it a happy ending. The Benbury heron, which makes an appearance in my second book, Lord Sebastian’s Wife, is a deliberate reference to The Child from the Sea — the heron is the symbol of the Walter family.

It’s happening again, this desire to pay homage to that one book. Lucy’s childhood home, Roch Castle, gets burned out during the English Civil War, with only the kitchen left habitable. I’m going to do roughly the same thing: burn down a place Ilsabet loves, leaving only the kitchen. Why it happens and where it’s placed in the story: those will be different. But including it in the story? Pure homage.

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