Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Guest Post: Linda Beutler talks about The Red Chrysanthemum + GIVEAWAY!!


Join me today in welcoming author Linda Beutler to Leatherbound Reviews. I am super excited for her novel The Red Chrysanthemum! I have heard of the language of the fan, but the thought of Darcy and Lizzy speaking to each other through the language of flowers I find intriguing. 

Thanks, Jakki, for the opportunity to be a guest blogger for Leatherbound Reviews. To get me started, Meryton Press publisher Michele Reed forwarded this quote from an email extending the invitation: "I would love to know more about Linda's floral knowledge, what gave her the idea to make that an integral part of her book, what she enjoyed the most about weaving that into P&P, and such. I think that would interest readers, too." Here’s my answer:

My mother is a cagey woman. As a child, when I approached to help in our garden, she shooed me away. From a young age I intuited time spent in the garden was special to her, and I was making myself a pest when she sought respite in simple tasks like planting, weeding, and pruning. Mom never wanted gardening to be a chore. I looked forward to having a garden, to take pleasure from it as my mother did, and still does.

   At the age of five, I was given a three by three foot plot of my own, and the plants, vegetables mostly, were chosen by me and were completely in my care. When my first crop, radishes, was decimated by slugs, a white hot fury was ignited that burns to this day, but I was not dissuaded. It was at that same age I was introduced to the tradition of placing May Day flowers on the porches of our neighbors. At my family’s summer cottage along the Oregon coast, I picked wildflowers from the meadows and the woodlands, displayed in jam jars on the dining table.

   If we come forward in time to the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, we see, in the very first scenes, Elizabeth Bennet wandering home from a ramble with hands full of wildflowers. I had already fallen in love with Jane Austen’s novels, but this scene resonated and is perhaps the reason I love Jennifer Ehle’s Lizzy more than any other.

Penny Lane in Linda's garden
Irises are the flowers of messages.
   Much of the business the actresses portraying the Bennet family in that production were given to do—to save us from many tedious interior scenes of ladies sitting at handwork as they chat—is of a decidedly flowery nature. Jane and Elizabeth are seen gardening. They gather daisies and lavender as they disparage Darcy’s ill-considered remarks after the Meryton assembly. Elizabeth is placing a pitcher of flowers on the dining table as Mr. Collins swoops in to propose. The two eldest Bennet sisters discuss Bingley’s return to Netherfield whilst bundling herbs and flowers for drying in the Longbourn stillroom. Gardens and gardening flow naturally throughout Andrew Davies “light and pleasing” screenplay.

Therein lies the germination of Elizabeth Bennet in The Red Chrysanthemum. She is a creature of the outdoors who, through practice, has learned lively manners and witty conversation to make her an attraction in the drawing rooms of Meryton, but in fact, she would most always rather be abroad in the Longbourn gardens or walking—it is even rumored she runs!—in any local wilderness she can find, wherever sightseeing and visits take her.

As I imagine is true for Elizabeth Bennet, I am primarily a self-taught gardener. Certainly there were garden mentors in the village of adults that raised me, and I took some botany courses in college. In my twenties, as I took on the role of family hostess, for holiday dinners I envisioned the centerpiece before selecting a menu. It was a natural progression to attend floral design school when a career change was wanted as I neared thirty.

More knowledge came from joining the ranks of fellow gardeners in various organizations, particularly the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon. I have made so many friends in the over 20 years of my membership. In a fairly direct way, HPSO led both to my opportunity to teach horticulture and to become a professional garden writer.

Linda's garden--her living laboratory
Although I have gardened everywhere I ever lived, the eight years spent in the first floor flat of Fred and Lucy Hardiman were particularly formative. With their enlightened sense of community, the Hardimans encouraged all their tenants to take ownership of the garden adjoining their rental properties. As Lucy’s evolution led her to a successful career in garden design, my own took me on an exploration of cutting gardens and a love of old garden roses. Together Lucy and I learned what plants we liked and didn’t (our tastes are far from the same), how to place plants thoughtfully, and how much one really needs to know about plants to grow them well.

 Writing has been second nature for me, so to speak, since about the age of ten or twelve. As an English major, I developed a facile ability to sit down and get to it whenever an essay or short story or sonnet was due. I ask a question, and off I go. When I met Brewster Rogerson, retired professor of English and avid clematis collector, everything seemed to coalesce. Gardening and writing and focusing on the genus Clematis combined to take my career in yet another direction, as curator of the Rogerson Clematis Collection.

Perhaps it was random chance that caused me to start reading Jane Austen Fan Fiction, but it pleases me to call it fate. Although I have come late to this particular parade, the more I read, the more I want to try my hand at providing answers Jane Austen never gave us in Pride and Prejudice. I was compelled to write.  One story developed into another, and I found myself with Elizabeth staying her full ten days in Lambton, but needed a way to get her to Pemberley more often than those visits accounted for in the canon. The language of flowers enabled me to grow a story much more unique than it otherwise would have been. And, I had the visual in my head: Elizabeth and Jane Bennet demonstrated a wholly plausible knowledge of plant lore in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.

If you haven’t watched that version lately, you might want to revisit it before reading The Red Chrysanthemum

From the publisher:
“Pride and Prejudice” and the language of flowers…
When Fitzwilliam Darcy leaves the inn in Lambton after a tense but fruitful visit with Elizabeth Bennet, her words cultivate his hopes. “Less naturally amiable tempers than Mr. Bingley’s have found ways to forgive you.” Has she excused his flaws of character and errors in judgement? While dining at Pemberley, Elizabeth is confounded when Darcy says of her scent, “Now I find I am more fond of lavender than ever… certainly even more fond of it than I was in, say, April.” Has he pardoned her intemperate assault on his pride?

As her esteem blossoms into love and his desire flourishes into devotion, the meanings of every leaf and petal allow Elizabeth and Darcy to express emotions too vulnerable to speak aloud. But can messages in fronds and leaflets save their fragile hearts when scandalous news arrives from Longbourn?

Perhaps flowers do not always say it best.



Interested in The Red Chrysanthemum? Join several bloggers as they take part in The  Red Chrysanthemum Blog Tour November 4-13. (I hear there may be a few giveaways)! 

Connect with Linda Beutler
Read It Now!
Kindle | B&N


***GIVEAWAY TIME***

Meryton Press has generously offered up ONE (1) trade paperback and ONE (1) ebook of The Red Chrysanthemum--BOTH open INTERNATIONALLY!!
To enter, comment on this blog post. Feel free to ask Linda any questions. 
For extra entires comment that you have done the following:
Follow Leatherbound Reviews 
Like Linda Beutler's Facebook Page
Follow me @J_Leatherberry on Twitter
Follow Linda Beutler @Oregonclematis on Twitter
Giveaway ends October 15!

35 comments:

  1. First, I must say that Linda's garden is gorgeous! I love flowers but I've never been able to grow any because of the apartment I live in, and I really don't know anything about gardening.

    I love the scenes mentioned from the 95 P&P; the beautiful scenery is one of the many reasons it's my favorite version. I've heard great things about Linda's book, too. I've been *trying* to put myself on lockdown as far as buying books, til after my move next month. We'll see how that goes lol. This one's definitely on my wishlist.

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    1. Monica,
      Best of luck with this giveaway, and even more luck for your upcoming move. Nothing like a change of address to put all of the "stuff" we all carry around into sharper focus. Perhaps now you will have room for a little garden? Or a few plants in containers?
      Regards and faithfully,
      Linda B

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    2. I'm like you, Monica. I don't know the first thing about gardening. I keep telling DH that when we finally buy our next house I want to have a beautiful English garden in the back, though I am not sure who would take care of it. I *hate* dead heading flowers and can't keep anything alive to save my soul.
      I think reading about beautiful flowers is better suited for me. ;)
      Good luck in the giveaway!!
      And, what?! You are finally making the move?! Oh, I'm so excited for you!! :)

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  2. I "tweetered" (as my niece would say).

    https://mobile.twitter.com/jaffobsession/status/387690997401939968?p=v

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  4. I am not a great gardener, but I enjoy the quiet time spent weeding and pruning. Your book sounds very interesting and I look forward to reading it! Thank you for the giveaway! BTW, I follow you and Linda Beutler on Twitter.

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    1. Thanks, Wendy! If you enjoy the quiet time spent gardening, then I bet you ARE a great gardener! Hope you enjoy The Red Chrysanthemum, however you come by it!
      Regards and faithfully,
      Linda B

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    2. Thanks for stopping by, Wendy! You are more than welcome to come over to my house and do my weeding and pruning. It's my least favorite job, even with my pretty pink gloves on. ;) I hope you enjoy Linda's story as much as you enjoy gardening! :)

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  5. I love flowers as it can brighten up the environment. I admire beautifully cultivated gardens from afar but I'm not willing and don't have the patience to spend my time pruning and preening to make it pretty.

    Btw Linda, the premise is very original and I look forward to reading the book if I do win it.

    I'm a GFC follower of this blog, Jakki.

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    1. Thanks for entering the giveaway! It is hard to tell from the pictures, but my garden is tiny, only an urban garden. The real fun for me is discovering new plants that pique my interest, then doing the research and gaining word-of-mouth endorsements...just like picking out a book to read!

      Regards and faithfully,
      Linda B

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    2. Hey, Luthien! I agree with you; flowers can cheer up almost any environment. :) They are so pretty, and if they are fragrant, even better!
      Best of luck in the giveaway! :)

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  6. follow on email meikleblog at gmail dot com

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  7. follow @J_Leatherberry - vesper1931

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  8. follow @Oregonclematis on Twitter - vesper1931

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  9. Although I like to look at plants as I am hiking I am not someone who can sit in a garden or spend time gardening - I dislike the heat too much for that but this heat I can put up with while out hiking

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    1. Vesper,
      The great outdoors is where the best garden plants came from in the first place! Think of yourself as a plant explorer. Best of luck with the giveaway.
      Regards and faithfully,
      Linda B

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  10. Enjoyed your post, Linda, and your garden looks beautiful! I love flowers and plants. I enjoy walking around and through the garden admiring and 'watching the flowers grow'! :) I can remember my dad doing that very thing. In the mornings he would have a cup of coffee and walk all through his garden admiring it. I like to do the same thing. It gives so much pleasure. I don't have as 'green a thumb' as he did but I still love it. Thanks for sharing your pictures and your story.

    Jakki, don't enter me in the giveaway as I have Linda's book and enjoyed reading about the language of flowers with Darcy and Elizabeth.

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    1. Thanks, Janet! When it isn't wet out (what a fair weather gardener I have become!) I can be found with my morning coffee sitting at the edge of my deck looking at my garden. Sadly, it leads to guilt caused by my neglect. I look and think—wow! some one had an amazing garden here, once...

      Janet doesn't mention she's the artist who created the cover of TRC!

      Regards and faithfully,
      Linda B

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  11. No need to enter me, as I'm on the blog tour. Just wanted to say I thoroughly enjoyed this post, and now I really can't wait to read the book. I love flowers, but all of my attempts at gardening have been disastrous. I think I'll stick to reading about them. :)

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    1. Anna,
      Can't wait to meet you on the blog tour! I love the Chinese proverb: A book is like a garden you carry in your pocket. Of course that presumes some odd items in the lint trap of one's dryer!

      Regards and faithfully,
      Linda B

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  12. Hi!
    I just moved into a flat with a small garden - my first own garden. It´s partly a wilderness and the gras is no real, nice gras, but I love my garden non the less. It´s a garden. I have bought some flower bulbs so that there is going to bloom something here in spring, but the real gardenwork is going to start in spring.
    I´m very optimistic - I hope I don´t loose my optimism and my joy about it, because I am totally relying on books and on my grandmas tips (which are the best one can get, but it´s still me who has to do the gardening then lol)

    Linda, you have shown me P&P1995 through a different perspective! Thank you! I love it, that Jane and Lizzie are shown so much outdoors gardening and cutting flowers and lavender, but I never paided that much attention to it as I will now watching it next time! Thank you!

    I followed you on twitter, and I follow Jakki for a longer while now (@kaewink) ;).
    And I tweeted this post! https://twitter.com/Kaewink/status/388179979768324096

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    1. kaewink,
      Now you can enjoy the P & P 1995 version with the eyes of a gardener, yet another way to love it! Best of luck with the giveaway!
      Regards and faithfully,
      Linda B

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  13. This book sounds very good. THANKS for your post.

    Your blog is cute...stopping by from seeing your name in a comment of SO LITTLE TIME'S WWW post and wanted to stop. I am glad I did.

    I followed by e-mail and GFC.

    Enjoy your evening.

    Elizabeth
    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog

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    1. Elizabeth,
      You are most welcome, and thanks for taking a little stroll through Wandering Pemberley's Gardens (if that's the blog you meant, other than the guest blog here). Best of luck with this giveaway. I have a guest post at So Little Time coming up after we're through here. And of course Jakki is hosting the blog tour in November.
      Regards and faithfully,
      Linda B

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  14. The Red Chrysanthemum sounds intriguing and interesting, so I would love to read it! And I have one question to Linda: why do you think most authors, writing P&P variations, give Elizabeth the scent of lavender?

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    1. oloore,
      One reason I gave Elizabeth the scent of lavender is because I love it! But that's just me...Traditionally lavender is considered a soothing herb, as opposed to, for instance, Rosemary, which is considered stimulating to the brain. Lavender was always used as a skin tonic. The traditional meaning of lavender is devotion, although you will find the rare old herbal that gives it another meaning. England has a long history of growing and using lavender, so perhaps all of those things combined are the answer!
      The herbal used by the characters in TRC is made up. I'd love to have an old "language of flowers decoder" from the Regency era, and the search has me haunting old book stores.
      Best of luck with the giveaway!
      Regards and Faithfully,
      Linda B

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    2. Thank you for reply and helpful clarification! I hope your search for rare Regency herbal will be successful and very soon!

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  15. I just 'like' Linda Beutler's FB page. Hope I win.

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  16. Congratulations on your new book. It sounds wonderful! I have heard nothing but great things. I am eager to get my hands on it! Thanks for the giveaway!
    kellik115(at)yahoo(dot)com
    I follow Leatherbound Reviews

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    1. Kelli,
      I hope you enjoy it, and best of luck on the giveaway! Glad you're hearing good things, it's very reassuring to a writer new to this genre.
      Regards and faithfully,
      Linda B

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  17. Thanks! It is great to know a little more the motivation that led to this book. I look forward to reading it.

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    1. Sarah,
      Kind of you to call it motivation, when it was more truly a compulsion! Best of luck with the giveaway!
      Regards and faithfully,
      Linda B

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  18. Great post. I love this idea. thank for the giveaway!

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